Tuesday, May 16, 2006



Today a good friend of mine told me he and Paul Begala went to school together. I managed to not throw up and held down my comments to a moderate-- hey I'm INSIDE THE BELTWAY this week-- "I think Begala's time has passed." But it turns out my friend wasn't telling me he had gone to school with Begala to start a story lauding him. Quite the contrary in fact. He was launching into an attack on Begala's liege lord lady, Hillary Clinton and other corporate-whores inside the Democratic Party Establishment. Begala works for Hillary and my friend had told him a week or two ago that Hillary has no chance of winning the presidency and that Begala should get a clue-- (and an honest job?). But this isn't about Hillary and the perils of presidential politics. It's about the utter cluelessness of Paul Begala.

You may have noticed that I've never been a fan of Democrats taking advice from Republican propagandists like Bob Novak, a dangerous and partisan gossip-monger (and probable wartime traitor). Last week Novak joined in the vast right-wing conspiracy-- the non-partisan one-- to discredit grassroots progressive hero Howard Dean by trumpeting the ignorant Inside-the-Beltway claptrap Begala has been pushing. Novak's crocodile tears for DNC assets being spent ineffectively by Dean should be a clear warning that Begala and Novak are all wet and that progressives need to support Howard Dean and his 50 state strategy.

Quoth The Raven Begala about Dean: "He's in trouble, in that campaign managers, candidates, are really angry with him. He has raised $74 million and spent $64 million. He says it's a long-term strategy. But what he has spent it on, apparently, is just hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around Utah and Mississippi and pick their nose. That's not how you build a party. You win elections. That's how you build a party."

As you know, Indiana Democrats were gigantically successful 3 weeks ago in turning out more Democrats than the Republicans turned out for the primaries in the 3 battleground congressional districts in that state. Three Democratic pick-ups in a state that red would signal a real tsunami-- a tsumani that Dean and the state party chairmen have been working on at the grassroots while Inside the Beltway blovators like Begala have been... blovating. Here's a nice open letter the Indiana Democratic Party Chairman, Dan Parker, sent to Begala.

Dear Mr. Begala:

I write to express my extreme dismay at the comments you recently made concerning Gov. Howard Dean’s leadership of the Democratic National Committee and his implementation of a national vision that includes a funding component for every state.

You clearly aren't aware of the political landscape in the Midwest and have spent too much time in Washington, D.C. You've done a great disservice to our Party and to those of us working
at the grassroots level to win back Congressional seats, as well as statewide and local offices.

Indiana could have easily been lumped in with Utah and Mississippi as Republican bastions. I know we look like a red state to folks on the East Coast. As Presidential races go, we turn crimson on CNN an hour after our polls close.

But we had Democratic Governors at the Statehouse for 16 years prior to 2004. A majority of our mayors are Democrats. We are poised to win back a Democratic majority in the Indiana House of Representatives which we have held for 14 of the last 18 years.

If that history doesn't impress you, here's a fact that's made other ears inside the Beltway perk up: This year, Indiana has three – one, two, three – nationally targeted Congressional races. That means we could send a trifecta of Democrats to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, potentially delivering 20 percent of the seats Democrats need to win back a
majority in that chamber.

We couldn't be doing the work we're doing without the support of the DNC and Howard Dean.

Indiana has always been one of those passed-over states when it comes to federal funding because we don't look useful to the 'Presidential-only' pundits. Howard Dean doesn't see it that way. He sees a country where every state-– even those oozing Republican red-– is home for at
least a few good Democrats.

The 50-state funding we received from the DNC last year has allowed us to employ a full-time communications director and two field staffers who are organizing party support at the grassroots level in two of our nationally targeted congressional districts.

They're hardly walking around "picking their noses."

They're helping Democrats win.

In our primary election two weeks ago, the two Congressional candidates with DNC-funded field staff members outpolled their GOP opponents by thousands of votes. Did I mention those results came in Republican-leaning districts in which John Kerry received 38 and 40 percent of the vote in 2004?

Without the DNC employees, we only have five full-time employees at our state party. The addition of a full-time communications director has allowed the rest of our staff to focus on
fundraising while she deals with the media and disseminates our statewide message. This addition also has been partly responsible for the dramatic slide of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ approval ratings.

As an aside, I also want you to know that the DNC is committed to helping Indiana fight a strict GOP-backed voter identification law that passed our General Assembly last year. After we lost at the district court level, the DNC pledged both financial and legal resources for our appeal. We never would have received that kind of assistance before.

At the heart of my frustration with your comments is the notion that we should all be in this together. We're all Democrats. And you should be building the party up, not slinging mud at someone who’s helping the cause both financially and psychologically.

I think you owe a personal apology to Howard Dean, to the state chairs across America who
have benefited from his leadership and to the DNC-funded staff members who are working hard
to elect Democrats at every level of government.

On a personal note, I want you to know that I've issued an edict to my staff that if they pick Their noses, scratch their derrieres or pop their pimples on work time, they have to move to
Washington to work for you.

Democratically yours,

Daniel J. Parker
Indiana Democratic Party


Zack Exley has another excellent open letter to Paul Begala on HUFF PO about his moronic attack on Howard Dean's 50-state strategy. "Yes, Paul, we have to win elections. But a myopic obsession with squeaking through in a few high-profile races is not party building, it's suicide. Your comments came as part of a series of attacks on Dean and the DNC from big-name members of your Clinton Class of '92. A whole generation of new Democratic activists finds these attacks totally bewildering and appalling... before you insult the 50 State program organizers any more, go down to DNC headquarters and see who these people are and what they're actually accomplishing. I've been there frequently over the past year, and that big meeting room on the first floor is almost always filled with organizers from all over the country being trained in how to win elections. The program has trained more than 190 organizers from 40 states, in areas such as:
- Building strong precinct programs.
- Voter contact.
- Targeting and using voter files.
- Communicating a unified Democratic message, tailored to states and local communities.
- Internet organizing and communications and use of other new technologies to expand the base.
- Reaching out to all constituencies, including seniors, veterans, rural voters and faith-based voters.
- Leadership skills, leadership development and organization building.
Most exciting to me, these organizers are being hired at the local level and are rooted in their own communities -- these are not the typical kids on an adventure between college and grad school that you'll find flocking to your beloved high-profile Senate races this year. These organizers are in it for the long haul."


At 10:33 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

What a great letter!

It's understandable that right-wingers like the loathsome Novak would be fraidy-scared of Howard Dean's plan to rebuild the Democratic Party. It's inexcusable that Democrats like Paul Begala join in the attack, thereby helping do the Republicans' dirty work for them.

I can't help thinking that once upon a time--like when he was helping put Bill Clinton in the White House--Begala was a lot smarter about what it means to "win elections" than the Inside-the-Beltway asshole he's turned into.

The Indiana example seems to me a clear vindication of Dean's vision of a reborn Democratic Party, a forward-looking, enlightened party that can not only win elections but offer us some hope for the future, in contrast to the pall of Emanuelism, whose greatest possible achievement, even in this year of potential GOP catastrophe, is likely to be an almost imperceptibly tiny power shift within the D.C. status quo.


At 12:03 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Thank you Daniel Parker. I felt so relieved hearing you slam that DLC blowhard in a way he so richly deserves.


Post a Comment

<< Home