Friday, April 17, 2009

Leaders? Pick One: Amy Klobuchar, Kendrick Meek, Jan Schakowsky


No leaders in this snapshot

An old friend, a very wise one, told me that if I expect leadership from politicians I'm bound to be very disappointed. They follow. Usually they follow which way the wind is blowing. The better ones follow actual leaders. Earlier today I wanted to see if momentum is starting to build towards recalling Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is using his state's Senate seat as a hostage of national Republican obstructionism. Wednesday Public Policy Polling had reported that 63% of Minnesota voters think Coleman lost the race and should concede. 59% believe Pawlenty should certify Al Franken's election so that he can be seated immediately. (60% of Minnesota voters think Obama has done a good job and 30% don't. In November Obama won the state with 54%.)

And yesterday I saw that they released another poll. What I was looking for was Pawlenty's job approval. As I expected, it was dismal. Only 46% of Minnesota voters think he's doing a good job; 40% disapprove. If the state Supreme Court rules, as expected, that Coleman lost, and Pawlenty still refuses to sign the election certificate, he could, in my estimation, lose a recall initiative. That's what I was looking for. But then a saw another number.

It doesn't surprise me that freshman Senator Amy Klobuchar has a high approval rating. She seems to work hard, especially now that she's handling constituent services for two senators, and she has been a moderate backer of much of Obama's agenda for change. But her approval rating was remarkable-- 62%. "That’s the best PPP has found for any of the 18 Senators it’s taken approval ratings of across the country over the last year. " By way of comparison, approval ratings for three senators up for re-election in 2010:

Richard Burr (R-NC)- 35%
Jim Bunning (R-KY)- 28%
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)- 45%

So why is Klobuchar soaring? She certainly hasn't distinguished herself as a great leader or innovative thinker or even a partisan hero. She's just a quiet middle-of-the-pack freshman who doesn't make any trouble and tends to her constituents in a conscientious way. You don't see brilliant policy proposals coming from her the way you expect from Bernie Sanders or Dick Durbin or Russ Feingold or Tom Harkin.

Let's take an entirely different example. No one would ever accuse Florida Congressman Kendrick Meek of showing any leadership in any area other than in currying favor with lobbyists. He's a definition of a mindless rubber stamp, a go-along-to-get-along hack. Most observers have also noticed that his ethics are abysmal, if not criminal. And yet, he's the favorite candidate of national Democratic insiders for the Florida Senate nomination-- this despite the fact that he's never been tested and wouldn't win a statewide race against even the worst of the possible GOP candidates. He has something far more valued than leadership; he does what he's told and doesn't ask why. Like Klobuchar, Meek is "nice." That's a far more valued commodity. (By the way, although both are moderates, I'm not trying to lump Klobuchar in with Meek. He's a pitiful hack; she's a solid public servant. And she isn't corrupt.)

Rather than leaders we're used to seeing useless hacks and shills like Bernie Thompson (D-MS) grandstanding and playing up to yahoos and wealthy campaign donors, the way he just did over the release of the Department of Homeland Security document warning of possible dangers of terrorism on the far right (like in the case of the Oklahoma City bombing).

If you were looking for Democratic elected leaders to publicly stand up against the manipulated Know Nothing teabagger parties yesterday, you would have been sorely disappointed. I can't say I checked every single congressional website, although I checked many. I get press releases from dozens of members of Congress. I read a lot too-- and widely. But I've only found one Democratic leader willing to stand up and criticize the faux grassroots teabaggery: Jan Schakowsky, who, correctly rated them despicable. Like secessionist loon Rick Perry (R-TX), many far right Republicans, of course, are trying to embrace the teabaggery.
"The ‘tea parties’ being held today by groups of right-wing activists, and fueled by FOX News Channel, are an effort to mislead the public about the Obama economic plan that cuts taxes for 95 percent of Americans and creates 3.5 million jobs," Schakowsky said in a statement.

"It’s despicable that right-wing Republicans would attempt to cheapen a significant, honorable moment of American history with a shameful political stunt," she added. "Not a single American household or business will be taxed at a higher rate this year. Made to look like a grassroots uprising, this is an Obama bashing party promoted by corporate interests, as well as Republican lobbyists and politicians.”

She's running for the U.S. Senate too. If her voting record in the House is any indication-- and she's currently the #4 best out of 435 members-- and if her leadership capacity is something you think is a positive, you'll probably agree that she'd make a great addition.

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At 9:27 AM, Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

I Want Texas To Secede!

But before they do, we need to disarm them, close all the bases, army, navy and air force, and withdraw all the equipment and troops...

Then let 'em go.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Like I mentioned the other day, when Rick Perry was elected governor in 2006, he managed to garner 1,714,618 votes (39%). Last year 3,528,633 Texans voted for President Obama (just over 44%). Also worth noting, the most recent Public Policy Poll of Texas, February 26, shows that President Obama has a 45% approval rating. Not that great. But Governor Perry's is only 41%-- with a startlingly high 48% holding him in an unfavorable light. 75% of Texans want to stay in the U.S.A.; the rest are just the ignorant Limbaugh/GOP base. And let's face it-- every state has its kooks and nuts.


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