Thursday, November 02, 2017

Do The DC Democrats Stand For Something? They Used To


I wish Stephen Jaffe's insurgent campaign in San Francisco was catching on faster. For one thing, it might focus Pelosi on saving her own hide and leave her with less time and energy for interfering in so many primaries across the country. Pelosi isn't even especially ideological in her interference. The DCCC always picks New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- this cycle conservatives like Jay Hulings (TX-23), Paul Davis (KS-02), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Brad Ashford (NE-02), Dave Min (CA-45), Hans Keirstead (CA-45), Angie Craig (MN-02), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Roger Huffstetler (VA-05), Jana Lynne Sanchez (TX-06), Gretchen Driskell (MI-07), Dan McCready (NC-09) and Brendan Kelly (IL-12)-- but Pelosi has a different criteria than the conservatism and penchant for corruption that motivates the DCCC. Pelosi is looking for multimillionaires like herself. Congress has more multimillionaires than ever before-- and they're not all Republicans. I know it's a tangent but I bet you want to see the list. These are the 2 dozen richest members of the House:
Greg Gianforte (R-MT)- $315 million
Darrell Issa (R-CA)- $255 million
Michael McCaul (R-TX)- $108 million
John Delaney (New Dem-MD)- $92 million
Jared Polis (New Dem-CO)- $91 million
David Trott (R-MI)- $73 million
Vern Buchanan (R-FL)- $50 million
Diane Black (R-TN)- $46 million
Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)- $40 million
James Renacci (R-OH)- $32 million
Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA)- $31 million
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)- $29 million
Roger Williams (R-TX)- $27 million
Tom MacArthur (R-NJ)- $26 million
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)- $25 million
Chris Collins (R-NY)- $24 million
Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA)- $19 million
Don Beyer (New Dem-VA)- $16 million
Fred Upton (R-MI)- $14 million
Kenny Marchant (R-TX)- $14 million
Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)- $13 million
Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)- $13 million
Nita Lowey (D-NY)- $12 million
Trent Franks (R-AZ)- $10 million
There are dozens more multimillionaires in the House-- and for some reason no one can understand-- Pelosi busies herself recruiting more. What the Democrats need more of in Congress are Americans from working families who are in touch with the problems other American working families are concerned with-- more men and women like Randy Bryce (D-WI), Jared Golden (D-ME), Katie Hill (D-CA), Jenny Marshall (D-NC), Paul Clements (D-MI), Sam Jammal (D-CA), Lillian Salerno (D-TX) who understand what solidarity means. Instead, Pelosi recruits multimillionaires to run against them.

The most outrageous example this cycle is how the DCCC steered some worthless multimillionaire into working and middle class district nowhere near his $10 million beach front mansion. CA-39 doesn't have a beach-- or $10 million mansions, but the DCCC had another multimillionaire in mind as the candidate in Gil Cisneros' district (Hans Keirstead) so they plopped Cisneros, an "ex"-Republican who won $266 million in a lottery-- much of which he's been willing to spread around to buy endorsements from corrupt Democrats-- in CA-39, where Sam Jammal, a regular middle class guy, is running. What's funny is that another multimillionaire jumped into the race and gave his campaign $2,000,000 on day one-- 4 times more than Cisneros has put top of his own loot so far.

In Maine there's something called The Donors' Table, led by notorious hedge fund billionaire, slumlord and Pelosi donor Donald Sussman. Even though Maine Democrats were coalescing around a working class kid from the district-- veteran and state House majority whip Jared Golden-- someone who has what it takes to engage and beat GOP incumbent Bruce Poliquin-- Sussman saw an opportunity to buy a congressional seat for a fellow multimillionaire, inheritor Lucas St Clair from Portland, the kind of riche-rich outsider candidate ME-02 voters will never back in a million years, not even in a Democratic wave election. But Sussman and Pelosi insist that Congress needs someone with a bank account like theirs.

Want me to go on? There are at least 9 Democrats vying to run for the north Dallas seat occupied by Republican slime dog Pete Sessions. But who do you think the Democratic Establishment favors? Ed Meier has $438,414.21 in cash on hand, and reported, as part of his $585,951.45 haul, personal donations from multiple top officials from Clinton and Obama world, such as former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, former Clinton aide Neera Tanden, Washington attorney Robert B. Barnett, Georgetown professor Peter Edelman, former Biden chief of staff Ron Klain, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, longtime Clinton loyalist Minyon Moore (a slimy payday lender lobbyist), Monsanto lobbyist Jerry Crawford, former Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines, former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar (Blue Dog) of Colorado, Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan, former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (New Dem) of California and the leadership PAC of conservative Virginia Senator Mark Warner.

The progressive in the race, Lillian Salerno, is trying to win the primary by running a campaign based on ideas and by presenting solutions to real problems that face real voters. And that brings us to A Post-Obama Democratic Party in Search of Itself, Robert Draper's piece for the New York Times Magazine this week. His premise is that Obama "left behind a party struggling to find an identity-- and to reconnect with voters in time for the 2018 elections." Clueless beyond fathom, Pelosi and the DCCC is behaving as if the answer is multimillionaire candidates... lots and lots of them-- "to reconnect with voters?" As an identity? Really?

Immediately after the Democratic Party electoral collapse exactly 12 months ago, Pelosi set up a conference call with her members. There was no way Trump could win. He did. There was no way the DSCC wouldn't win back the Senate. They didn't. There was every opportunity for the Democrats to slash the GOP majority in the House, maybe even win back power. What a joke!

Several members on the call later told me they expected their leader to offer some show of contrition, an inventory of mistakes made or, at minimum, an acknowledgment that responsibility for the previous night’s disaster began at the top. Already, Trump’s sweep of what had for years been Democratic strongholds in the Rust Belt had led to a fast-congealing belief that the party had lost touch with white working-class voters.

But Pelosi sounded downright peppy on the call, noting a few vulnerable House seats that the Democrats had managed to hang onto. As for those working-class voters, “To say we don’t care about them is hard to believe,” Pelosi insisted, according to a transcript of the call I obtained. “I have to take issue and say I don’t think anybody was unaware of the anger.” The Democrats weren’t out of touch, she said. They just hadn’t made their case clearly enough to voters-- or as she put it, “We have to get out there and say it in a different way.”

...In late July, Pelosi, Bustos, Jeffries and Cicilline stood on a stage with six other Democrats under a wiltingly hot summer sky in the city park of Berryville, Va.-- a town of 4,306 residents in a purple district within easy driving distance of Washington-- and unveiled their new agenda, titled “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.” The phrase, which had been poll-tested by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was an intentional echo of F.D.R.’s New Deal — and, less intentionally, of a Papa John’s pizza slogan. But its biggest debt was to the author of The Art of the Deal, and to his crimson-jowled populism.

“A Better Deal” called for retraining in America’s fading manufacturing sector, renegotiating trade deals, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and fighting the corporate consolidation that had affected the prices of everything from eyeglasses to beer. None of the 10 speakers invoked President Barack Obama. In fact, one of the key provisions in “A Better Deal”-- renegotiating drug prices for Medicare recipients-- was an implicit rebuke of the former president, who had agreed with the pharmaceutical industry to freeze Medicare drug prices in exchange for its support of the Affordable Care Act.

But even before the rollout, Pelosi diminished the substance of “A Better Deal” in an interview with the Washington Post, clarifying that it was not “a course correction, but it’s a presentation correction.” A Quinnipiac poll in August found that only 33 percent of Democrats and 12 percent of independents had a favorable opinion of the new Democratic agenda. The self-consciousness of the rebranding, one congressman mused to me at the time, “seems like what you would do in a different era.”

There was a stiff-jointedness to the whole spectacle, a sense of the Democrats’ trying to regain the use of muscles they had let atrophy over the previous eight years. Obama, after all, used to make this sort of thing look easy. Conflating the American story with his own-- “This is who we are”-- the president conveyed, even in policy irresolution, an unshakable sense of his and America’s place in the world. “I love the guy, I miss him,” Scott Peters [a conservative, multimillionaire New Dem] said of Obama. “But organizationally, the party is in disarray. We’re at the lowest level of elected officeholders since Hoover. We got a bit lazy and found ourselves relying on Barack Obama’s charisma, and it left us in bad shape.”

Organizational and technological lapses do not fully account for the Democratic Party’s travails. “All that stuff is like the field-goal team,” the Obama strategist David Axelrod told me. “None of it will help you if you haven’t already moved 80 yards down the field. Being technologically proficient wouldn’t have saved Obama if he didn’t also have a consistent, compelling message.”

But that message had grown threadbare by 2016. No longer was it sufficient to campaign on hope and change, or even on the president’s successful efforts in 2009 to stave off a deep recession. The uneven economic recovery raised questions about the party’s obliviousness to the impunity of Wall Street and the gap between the megawealthy and everyone else. Hakeem Jeffries, the New York congressman who was an author of “A Better Deal,” admits, “We developed a blind spot for the economic challenges that still remained unmet.”

By the end of Obama’s presidency, the Democratic Party had lost nearly a thousand seats in state legislatures across America. It had forfeited its majority in both the House and the Senate. A mere 16 of the nation’s 50 governors were Democrats-- and that number dwindled to 15 in August, when Jim Justice of West Virginia announced with a grinning Donald Trump at his side that he, too, had decided to become a Republican.

But in four special elections to fill seats vacated by House Republican incumbents this year, the Democrats fell short-- and in the case of Georgia’s Jon Ossoff, lost by four points even after raising an unheard-of $23 million. His was the most expensive House race ever, and the fact that Democratic donors spent so heavily on a loss may help explain why the party’s fund-raising has diminished since then. The Democrats’ base-- young and nonwhite voters-- is no better than Trump’s at showing up for midterm elections and is unhelpfully clustered in urban districts. Many suburban and rural districts were artfully gerrymandered by Republican state legislators after the 2010 census and have proved impenetrable since then; they aren’t likely to change hands without a healthy number of recent Republican voters being persuaded to vote Democratic. [Draper is incorrect about that; the Democrats don't need any Republican voters at all-- just lots and lots of independent voters, though demoralized Republicans staying home will also help.]

There is also a less quantifiable problem, the one that vexed Pelosi’s team in the months after the election: the Democratic Party’s chronic difficulty explaining just what it stands for. “There’s a deep worldview among conservative intellectuals that moved its way through a fear of fascism in the 1940s, through think tanks and campaigns and the California tax revolt of the 1970s,” Felicia Wong, president of the progressive Roosevelt Institute, says. “And basically the Democrats don’t have that. The New Deal was one thing, and the Great Society was another thing. The party never fully recognized that Jim Crow and segregation were economic decisions. That left Democrats with an incoherent economic argument. The result is that they lack a historical vocabulary.”

Questions about the interplay of race and economics, of course, aren’t just historical after the 2016 election-- as much as politicians and operatives might want them to be. Plenty of progressives hold the view, as the MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid has argued on Twitter, that white working-class voters “resent the changes that racial and religious multiculturalism have brought to societies where people like them have been the majority.” But a former colleague of Reid’s at MSNBC, Krystal Ball, now president of the People’s House Project-- which seeks to elect Democratic congressional candidates in G.O.P. districts-- insists that the primary motivation of these voters is economic. “People who are holding onto their livelihoods by their fingernails thought that at least Trump gave a crap,” she says. “Maybe it was a pack of lies he was selling them, but at least he didn’t hold them in contempt. And frankly there’s a lot of contempt from certain corners of our party. And a billion dollars’ worth of ads saying we’re not elitists won’t change that.”

Early on the morning of July 27, a group of House Democrats held a private gathering in the Capitol basement with a special guest: Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayor and former Obama chief of staff, who over a decade ago, when he was an Illinois congressman, served as chairman of the D.C.C.C. Looking ahead to 2018, Emanuel offered a broad-brushstroke plan of attack: “Find the specific issues that resonate in your district,” he said, according to one meeting participant’s notes. “We want to appeal to Trump voters who are already pulling away from him.” In particular, “Suburbs are our best opportunities.” On the matter of ideological purity, he was blunt: “It’s not a question of left versus center-- it’s forward versus backward.”

If this advice sounded familiar, it was because Emanuel advocated the same strategy a dozen years earlier, when he was trying to lift his party out of the trough it had occupied since the Newt Gingrich-led takeover of the House by the Republicans in 1994. Emanuel focused on recruiting more centrist candidates who were well liked in their districts rather than on ideological darlings of the national party. “The people who criticized me back in 2006 were from my own party,” he told me recently. “When I was recruiting candidates, I’d get yelled at: ‘Why is he getting all these sheriffs and military guys?’ It’s because they were running in red districts!”
Nearly every one of Rahm's recruits, mostly New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party lost their seat-- and their conservatism dragged the party into perdition in 2010 from which it still hasn't recovered. Emanuel's candidates, which included all the same kind of garbage candidates the DCCC is recruiting again this cycle, including the "ex"-Republicans, turned off the Democratic base and ruined the Democratic legislative agenda. Democrats didn't come out to vote in 2010 and 63 Democrats lost their House seats, Rahm Emanuel's biggest accomplishment other than his personal accomplishments of enriching himself by working for Wall Street in a fake $14 million job after pushing through NAFTA. That completely alienated Democratic voters from the Democratic Party which was, pre-Emanuel/pre-Clinton, still widely seen as a vehicle for the legitimate interests of the working class. Draper's interpretation" "The election cemented Emanuel’s legend as a tactician."

Then Draper really buys into the Beltway convention wisdom that's never righted never will be right. He gets right into David Krone, Harry Reid’s former chief of staff, who thinks it's all about winning, no matter what a piece of shit you actually win. Sound like Trump, doesn't it? Krone's ideas are all ass-backwards-- pass garbage like ObamaCare because "compromise" even if its so flawed that it's barely supportable and has given the right a weapon to beat the Democrats nearly to death. But... "compromise." He worships Emanuel and Pelosi (and, of course, Reid) and can't see how their poor excuse for leadership has destroyed the Democratic Party from inside. "Prevailing in some red districts," he wrote, "may require, at minimum, tempering the party’s progressivism on social issues." Why's that? Just because every numbskull loser has said it before. Tempering = losing. That's what Democrats have been doing-- tempering and losing. This week Tony Fabrizio, Trump's top campaign pollster, admitted that Bernie would have won. He fights for what's right, untempered-- and people figured it out. Draper, though, would rather interview right-wing Democrat Christian Bustos and let her lie unchallenged-- and without even identifying her as a Blue Dog and mentioning her horrible voting record (an "F" from ProgressivePunch) as she intones about how her "core values are very much in line with what hard-core Democrats believe."

Draper is supposed to have some kind of political credibility but he hadn't watched the most important campaign video of the cycle, Randy Bryce's intro clip, until everyone he interviewed told him to. The guy who was instrumental in making Bryce's video, Bill Hyers:
“What’s terrible about Democrats like Rahm Emanuel,” Hyers said, “is that it matters more to them if you’re a candidate who can raise money from very wealthy people than if you have an argument to make. They look at everything through the old Clinton triangulation strategy. Put out very carefully prepared statements. Don’t let anyone get to your right. Deny and ignore. Never have an honest dialogue. It was a bad strategy back in the ’90s. But it’s even worse today, because we can now have 24-7 access to candidates, and people can see when they’re not being authentic. Everything Hillary Clinton did was carefully scripted-- they could see that.”

Hyers’s client Bryce has been the undisputed breakout star of the 2018 cycle so far; the announcement ad has attracted millions of views. (Such enthusiasm, it should be said, does not yet make Bryce any less of a long shot: The D.C.C.C. does not currently include Wisconsin’s First District among its 80 targeted seats.) The afternoon we met, Hyers showed me a rough cut of an ad for his newest client, a former Army champion boxer and ex-opioid addict from Staten Island named Boyd Melson-- known in the ring as the Rainmaker-- who is running for New York’s 11th District. Melson’s YouTube rollout, like Bryce’s, is replete with stirring proletarian imagery: neighborhoods festooned with American flags, an aloof Republican incumbent dodging town halls, Melson alone in the ring pummeling the air with slow-motion jabs. It suggests a trailer for “Rocky Goes to Washington.”
Melson turned out to be a dud of a candidate and is about to withdraw from the race. The other two awesome videos Draper ballyhooes were for Amy McGrath (KY) and Hans Keirstead CA), but both have turned out to be typical DCCC candidates who look good on paper (or even film) but just don't have what it takes.

Goal ThermometerBut Draper spoke to another blue collar candidate like Bryce, Jared Golden from Lewiston, Maine, one of the great candidates I mentioned earlier who Pelosi and her allies are trying to bury under sea of money. "Lewiston today is a hollowed-out exoskeleton of a textile mill town," wrote Draper, who then quoted Golden: "Our way of life is under attack here. We’re a classic case of the America that’s being left behind. The social-identity issues that have been emphasized in Portland don’t resonate in rural Maine. It’s damaged the Democratic brand here, to be honest. We’re a community of hard-working people who may not be highly educated, but that doesn’t mean we’re not intelligent. The majority of the folks here voted for Donald Trump, and I can tell you that the description of them as a basket of deplorables is just dead wrong." Golden has little use for the national Democrats' "A Better Deal" slogan. "It’s going to take more than a glossy new policy document to take back the U.S. House." That thermometer on the right? That's to help Bryce and Golden and other candidates like them. Please click on it and check it out.

The Republicans have a one-size-fits-all attack strategy they use against Democratic candidates: Pelosi puppet! It worked against a hollow nerd like Ossoff. Bryce and Golden are far more aware of Pelosi's actual short-comings than either Ryan or Poliquin. That kind of Republican attack isn't going to work in WI-01 or ME-02.

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At 6:29 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...


At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much ado...

"The people don't want a phony Democrat. If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time..." -- HST 1952

Truman was correct, however today's democrap party *IS* genuine republican. So... how to parse...

15 million who realized in 2010 that THERE ARE NO DEMOCRATS to vote for any more stayed home. Most of them haven't returned, once again, because THERE ARE NO DEMOCRATS to vote for any more!!

While in a select few races, like WI-01, there might be a real democrat, even if they all get elected, the democrap party will squelch their influence under the tonnage of big money bribes and 40 years of institutional corruption.

So, once again, why vote for any D? It's not going to change anything at all.

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

polling has shown the voters far to the left of the democrap party for decades.

Yet they keep electing democraps.. though fewer than before.

Maybe if they FINALLY decided that electing democraps was not productive...

At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wanna know what the DNC stands for? Ask Donna Brazille. Ask Elizabeth Warren. And if Warren knew, so did Bernie.

Then ask why these people STILL supported the lying bank whore. Why would Warren and Bernie support a corrupted process so obviously tilted in favor of the lying bank whore?

Because they are democraps. And democraps stand for party over country over integrity. Even better democraps are still democraps.


At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the five votes under my roof, three don't vote for Democrats and two have become very selective.


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