November 11, 2006

Casting Out Brothers For Devils

There's congratulations in plenty to go around for recent Republican majority thumping related program activities.

What people need to get about the blogs' part in this is that blogs are force multipliers and media movers that can be incredibly useful in certain aspects of electioneering. Or, together with other varieties of grassroots activists, they can pointedly leave you to fight on your lonesome when you do dumb things like have James Carville attack the political figure, Dean, that most resonates with them, because the blogs are here to stay. This is not a mistake someone like Sen. Harry Reid, not a big fan of Dean's when he first started at the DNC, is likely to make now that he's cheerfully come around to the spirit of the whole netroots thing. But Carville didn't come up with this idea on his own, so one wonders who he's working for now.

Dean, for all that he wasn't the presidential primary choice of all bloggers, legitimized online political organizing for good and all. He's sort of become the patron saint of the left blogosphere and is a wicked smart long-term thinker to boot. With him as chair of the DNC, you get not only excellent fundraising in general, but the support of the left-blogging 'establishment' in particular. That means small donors by the truckload, extra volunteers for campaign season, public attacks on your opponents and good publicity (often, though not without exception) for your candidates.

And about that long-term thinking, forget the blogosphere for a moment. We're just the noisiest, swearingest, rabble-rousingest members of the coalition that Dean brings to the table. The state party officials of Montana, Idaho and Utah are not going to abandon the first DNC chair to give enough of a damn about them to visit since anyone can remember. Nebraska's Democratic Party, and probably Virginia's too, is sure to tell Carville to kiss their ... wallets.

The DNC's voting members, as Eric Schmeltzer notes, have seen plenty of "bling bling and ching ching" since he became chair. Indeed, Dean had the unmitigated gall to actually spend money on party infrastructure in Mississippi and Utah where surely there was nothing for them to do, really irritating Carville's favorite pal, Paul Begala, once upon a time. Indiana Democrats answered Begala's insult of Dean's strategy like this, emphasis mine:

... "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. ...

When I was listening to the radio on my way back from the last of the canvassing Tuesday night, those three Indiana races were big news. All three were nail-biter races against Republican incumbents and were referred to on NPR that night as bellwethers by the overheated commentators. The Democratic challengers took all three. If there really is a contingent of Beltway Dems who want to try and oust Dean, they're probably going to have to do it without the help of Democrats from Indiana.

And I can tell you for sure, they're going to have to try and replace Dean without the help of Democrats from Washington State. Hundreds of new precinct committee officers left over from Dean's 2004 presidential run would make life miserable for any party official so rash as to join Carville. Or indeed, for any party official so incautious as to not vigorously support Dean against all comers. Neither hostility nor inaction would be tolerated.

Not that it would come to that. The vote on who got to be the current chair of the Washington State Democratic Party (inside baseball digression alert) was between one candidate who contributed to Dean at least as far back as August of 2003, and another who was sitting at the table when all of us WA State volunteers for Dean who'd traveled to work the Iowa caucus for him got together over dinner one evening. I think it was an Italian place, in Des Moines, just a day or so before the big disappointment and Scream. The race for WA party chair was decided in large part over the question of which of them had maintained sufficient loyalty to Dean during the final selection of state delegates to the national convention when, not to put too fine a point on it, Dean had already clearly lost his bid to become the nominee. Because, you see, the Kerry camp had offered a seat to one of them, a prominent and well-known Dean supporter, as an olive branch. Accepting it allowed the taker to be tarred as a turncoat. On such things, much turns.

Point is, Dean built up the infrastructure that occasional, offline volunteers like me brush up against when we try to get a little bit more involved, even before he became chair. He said that Democratic activists needed to take the party back in the same breath that he said we needed to take the country back. He was taken at his word. He turned his presidential campaign organization, Dean for America, into an activist group, Democracy for America, that's still organizing people today to train activists and support the election and recruitment of Democratic candidates. He campaigned and raised money for Kerry after the primary all the way to election day 2004, never going back on his promise to back the Democratic Party's nominee for president, a man who had smeared him only months before. When Dean was running for chair, party-building was the promise he made to the people who voted for him. He kept that promise. We all remember. We were watching, and we kept watching as he won people over around the country far beyond the circles of the original Deaniacs.

Dean was kicked around without let by the D.C. Democratic establishment with the media's cheerful cooperation. He came back and worked for the party anyway, worked to keep the people he brought into the political process fully engaged. Dean has been tirelessly loyal to his party, has kept his word and has delivered unprecedented results.

I'm with Chris Bowers on this one, nobody who trashes Dean, or stands by for a putsch, gets my help. I'll go him one further: nobody who employs James Carville gets my help from now on, either. I may not be anybody in particular, but the experience of the Dean campaign taught me that a lot of nobodys in particular can get together and provoke rapt attention among even the very aloof.

"Ye have cast out yer brothers for devils and now complain ye, lamenting, that ye've been left to fight alone." - Lord Omar's Epistle to the Paranoids, Principia Discordia

Posted by natasha at November 11, 2006 05:25 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |

Amen sister,

5. Verily, verily I say unto you, [yes, you Carville] not all the Sinister Ministers of the Bavarian Illuminati, working together in multitudes, could so entwine the land with tribulation as have yer baseless warnings.

Hail Eris, All hail Discordia. Fnord

Posted by: Gary Denton at November 11, 2006 01:08 PM

Who's decision is it anyways to constantly trot out Carville and Begala as the face of the Democratic party. With Carville, it aint much of a face and he has the speaking skills of a twelve-year-old. After I saw him on O'Reilly with Begala I lost all respect for those two clowns. Show that episode to any doubters and your point will be nailed home. They were invited on to talk about Fox's republican bias. They both fell apart when challenged by O'Reilly to make their case. Not one of them could site a single example of Fox's bias and Bill was just smirking as the fools fell all over themselves laughing and talking over each other and shaking their heads. It was truly embarrassing.

For these fools to now go after Dean is petty beyond words and just pathological. Read the article "Rahm's Losers" by John Walsh at Counterpunch in which he explains how the candidates Rahm supported did not do so hot and the pro-war candidates he favored in the primaries, like Tammy Duckworth, lost to their republican challengers.

It seems that some are truly determined to snatch defeat from the arms of victory. With someone like Carville, who marries someone who's values are the opposite of progressive, I wonder how deeply felt are his supposed beliefs.

Posted by: Pablo at November 12, 2006 09:40 AM