Saturday, January 28, 2006



So I'm at this meeting of Democratic activists the other day and we're talking about all the opportunities the Republican corruption scandals-- among other things-- are affording the Democrats. One of the problems, however, is a lack of candidates. In some districts there are no candidates running against vulnerable Republicans (who could wind up indicted-- or even in jail-- before November) and in some districts it's unclear who exactly is running and what they stand for. I talked about the first problem a bit yesterday.

Today I've been trying to get my head around the idea of figuring out why we have a whole slew of declared candidates who aren't saying anything about the burning issues of the day. Is the DCCC telling them to keep their cards close to the vest? Not only does this stifle debate on our winning issues, it fosters a political class that can't debate an issue effectively. I'm always yelling how we need Democratic leaders who stand for something they believe in and can make people understand. I swear to you that I talk to candidates who don't have a clue. I asked one guy who wants to be a congressman how he feels about Iraq and he pretty much told me he'd get back to me after he discussed it with his consultant! This is the Democratic Party that's gonna save us from fascism?

A few months ago I met a candidate for a neighboring district. He's running against an endangered Republican who I've written half a dozen stories about-- real mean ones too. Because of my history as a donor, almost all Democratic candidates for president call me at least once-- even the so-called "moderates." So I go up to this guy and tell him how excited I am about him taking on this Republican and tell him I'd like to sit down and ask him some questions about where he stands on the issues. I've asked 3 times and I've also asked through Democratic Party operatives. He never says no; he just never says yes. I still have no idea where he stands on anything, except that he's... pro-middle class. Whew! Thank God! That's a winning issue (not)!

On his website he has a category about issues-- which is actually daring compared to some candidates' websites! There are 3 issues: "Protecting the Middle Class," "Promoting Small Business" and "Supporting Our Troops, Honoring Our Veterans." If you're wondering where the promise to support mom and apple pie is, believe me: I looked! Almost any Republican candidate could run on his platform. Here's what he has to say about the war in Iraq: "We have the greatest military in the world. We shouldn’t hold our men and women in uniform responsible for the lies and failed policies of this administration.” OK, maybe he-- and the DLC and DCCC-- think this needs to be said. Why I'm not sure, but it doesn't hurt anyone. Everyone blames Bush, Cheney and the neo-cons they've surrounded themselves with; no one blames the soldiers. But fine; what else?

"With new leadership in Washington, we can develop a real plan to achieve Iraqi military sufficiency, to build domestic political consensus inside Iraq around a new government, to achieve regional political stability, and to finally achieve an efficient reconstruction effort."

Oh Jesus Christ! WE cannot achieve Iraqi military sufficiency; WE cannot build domestic political consensus in Iraq; WE cannot force our version of regional stability on the Middle East; and "an efficient reconstruction effort" is an outrageous boondoggle for political campaign contributors and nothing more. Maybe THAT can be addressed-- by bringing war profiteers to trial. The rest sounds like a bunch of the kind of naive bunk Wes Clark is peddling. What we've managed to accomplish in Iraq is ill-thought out regime change: a stable and ruthless dictatorship has been replaced by a civil war. Is there a remedy: maybe. Are we part of it? Um... maybe as part of the UN
but as the primary actor, NO WAY.

"We can then go to our friends and former allies, regain their trust and respect and secure the support needed to change the face of the occupier by replacing our troops with those from European and Muslim nations." Uh, huh... sure we can. Or maybe the tooth fairy will lend a hand. Has this guy paid no attention whatsoever to Jack Murtha? I would bet on it! And there's more.

"The sacrifice that our men and women in uniform are making can never fully be repaid. We must support our troops and not insult them as the Bush Administration did at the outset of this terrible war by proposing a cut in combat pay over budgetary concerns, while at the same time handing out billions of dollars in bloated reconstruction contracts. There are nearly 30 million veterans in the United States, including many who risked their lives to protect the American way of life. We must continue to thank and honor them by ensuring that the Department of Veterans Affairs is fully funded, and that they have access to educational opportunities, home loan programs, health care and other benefits."

Well and good. Is there the making of a debate there between this guy and the Republican he's challenging? Not a chance! Who doesn't at least say they support the troops?

And this guy at least makes believe he has issues. Other campaign websites I've looked at from DCCC challengers don't even go that far! I've met neither of the 2 Democratic candidates who want to take on the execrable Republican closet queen in Florida, Mark Foley. I've never read about either of these two and I never heard of either of them either. But I found their websites and I'll ask you to take a look yourself: alphabetically, they are David Lutrin and Timothy Mahoney. One guy seems passionate about issues and the other...> Who knows? My guess is that Lutrin is a grassroots activist and that Mahoney is a DCCC recruit. Just a guess from reading the 2 websites. I've asked the DWT Art Department, which is based in that congressional district, to meet the two candidates and report back (but to do it sober... so it may be some time before we hear).

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party and, more important, by far, American progressives and anti-fascist patriots, don't have a lot of time. As far as the latter have depended on the machinery of the former and the inherently almost-as-corrupt-as-the-Republicans party leaders to save us from the right-wing scourge, we've cooked our own goose. Last night I refered to Mark Taibbi's ROLLING STONE story because of the contempible picture it paints of Blunt, Boehner, Dreier, Hastert ("boarlike"), Gingrich, etc. But Taibbi ends with a dire warning: "The Democrats, whose innocence in the crimes of the last five years to date corresponds exactly to their lack of opportunities for corruption, may now get a chance at the helm. But it won't take much exposure to cheap stunts like a beaming Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi signing a 'Declaration of Honest Leadership' before people begin to remember how much the other guys can suck, too. Bush haters are celebrating this week as old villains descend to the death chamber, but they should be careful what they wish for. Trusting Washington to fix itself is a whole new kind of torture."


One of the dynamics being fought out within the Democratic Party was synopsized very well this morning at the DAILY KOS in a short piece called "Lobbyists versus the Netroots". Take a look. With professional losers like Steve Elmendorf calling the shots for our side we will never win. But unless progressives fight for the party apparatus, the Elmendorfs and Emanuels of the world will always call the shots and the Democratic Party will always be... well, just a bit better than the Republicans. And just a tool for the career advancement of a bunch of slimy pols who don't believe in much more than their own well-being.


You may have detected how outraged I was that I was finding putatively DCCC-backed candidates who don't express (or possibly don't even have) any opinions on the burning issues of the day. One had to confer with his consultant before he could tell me what he thought of the war in Iraq and most of the non-activists challengers' websites, steer clear of any positions or ideas more controversial than being in favor of the middle class and honoring our troops. I've been apoplectic over this stuff but then someone recommended an article by Alexander Cockburn in COUNTERPUNCH from last month called "Only Millionaire-Frence Straddlers Need Apply-- Meet Rahm Emanuel, the Democrats' New Gatekeeper". Referring to an Emanuel recruited candidate's non-answer to a question about the war, Cockburn writes "That sort of equivocation must certainly have commended her to Emanuel, who greeted Congressman Murtha's fervent and well-informed denunciation of the war with the words 'Jack Murtha went out and spoke for Jack Murtha' and has declared that 'At the right time we will have a position' on the war. Oh? "At the right time?" Emanuel is out of his skull. If Democrats do the seemingly impossible and lose in November at least they'll know who to blame for their death by triangulation.

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