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Friday, July 22, 2005

Sound Off: DLC-DC Axis Drags Dems Down

David Sirota lays out the disturbing facts about the Democratic Party's DLC wing -- you know, the spineless wing that encourages Democrats to pretend they're Republicans and support many anti-worker and anti-middle class initiatives, like unrestrained, unregulated "free" trade. Check out Sirotablog. All hail the Dems-In-Name Only (DINOs).

It's depressing to learn that many of those who believe they can be the next Dem candidate for president are streaming like lemmings to Ohio for an upcoming DLC conference. As reported by Daily Kos, "Evan Bayh, Hillary Clinton, and Tom Vilsack are all dutifully trecking to Ohio to worship at the altar of the "vital center" -- that elusive moving target that has conspired to rob Democrats of all conviction."

What is wrong with these people? I guess the lure of big buck donors in the megamedia and megacorporate world is just too seductive for these presidential-candidate wannabes. The only energy within the Party, whether locally or nationally, is obviously coming from the grassroots Democratic Wing of the Party, not the kiss-corporate-butt segment in DC. I guess they believe they can get along without us in 2008, or they believe we'll support any candidate, Republican-lite or not. They have it wrong of course. I hope they wake up in time. For the good of the Party and the nation.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say they will absolutely abandon the Democratic Party for good if it continues to follow the DLC line of least resistance. You know all those millions of dollars in small donations and millions of hours of volunteer time the Dem Party and its candidates got from the base and beyond in the 2004 election? They're history if the Party insists on continuing to listen to DC conventional wisdom insiders like the venal Bruce Reed and Al From, James Carville and Bob Shrum and any number of staffers and consultants at the DCCC and DSCC who have incredibly dismal track records. No matter, they keep on getting heeded and hired in some quarters. They've become "the usual suspects" in the minds of many more forward-looking Dems, and they've lost any semblance of respect outside the Beltway.

Worth a read on how this situation came to be: "Fire the Consultants," an article in the Washington Monthly by Amy Sullivan. Excerpt:

Over his 30-year career, (Bob) Shrum has worked on the campaigns of seven losing presidential candidates—from George McGovern to Bob Kerrey—capping his record with a leading role in the disaster that was the Gore campaign. Yet, instead of abiding by the "seven strikes and you're out" rule, Democrats have continued to pay top dollar for his services (sums that are supplemented by the percentage Shrum's firm, Shrum, Devine & Donilon, gets for purchasing air time for commercials). Although Shrum has never put anyone in the White House, in the bizarro world of Democratic politics, he's seen as a kingmaker—merely hiring the media strategist gives a candidate such instant credibility with big-ticket liberal funders that John Kerry and John Edwards fought a fierce battle heading into the 2004 primaries to lure Shrum to their camps. Ultimately, Shrum chose Kerry, and on Nov. 3, he extended his perfect losing record.

So what do you think about all this?

--Barbara Wold

July 22, 2005 at 04:01 PM in Democratic Party | Permalink


I'm curious.... Bill Clinton helped found the DLC - do you consider him part of the "the spineless wing that encourages Democrats to pretend they're Republicans and support many anti-worker and anti-middle class initiatives..."

Posted by: LocalDem | Jul 22, 2005 5:31:25 PM

I think Clinton certainly acted that way in terms of urging support for NAFTA and signing it, as well as the telecommunications bill that has resulted in so much media conglomeration. Here in 2005, almost all of the negative results predicted by those who opposed these initiatives have come true in spades.

I do hold him responsible for selling the idea that the Dem base/grassroots wasn't necessary since you could do it all with ads paid for by big donors and support from swing voters. The idea was that minorities and other members of the base had nowhere to go anyway, so they could essentially be ignored.

This may have worked back then, given the circumstances that prevailed, but it hasn't worked since. And my guess is that it wasn't the "centrist" strategy that worked so much as Clinton's charisma.

At any rate, this far down the line and many elections later, it seems clear to me that it's the Party that needs to be rebuilt and replenished with those who would naturally vote Dem but don't do so because they don't believe the Party speaks for them. This would include minorities, liberals or progressives as well as the working class who have been left in the dust as the Party traded it's labor-supportive stances for more corporatist stances.

Posted by: barb | Jul 22, 2005 5:49:05 PM

Ok - I'm far from a Bob Shrum fan - but to get all the facts out here - he's worked on 26 winning senate campaign, six Governors, the Mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, and the Democratic Leader of the House (Gephadt before the Pres. race) His presidential record is, well, not good is being nice... but lets not forget he pulled Kerry out of the weeds during the primary and has had a lot of non-presidential success.

And I'm interested who the Non-DLC part of the Dem. Party would like to see nominated for President? When you go through the list of folks looking at it, I don't see a lot of non-centrist candidates (Clinton, Richardson, Warner, Bayh, Vilsack, Edwards, Biden) The only one I can think of is Feingold.

Posted by: | Jul 22, 2005 6:01:41 PM

Yes, Shrum has had successes as you say, but in what capacity and how long ago? I just don't believe some of these folks understand how much has changed since the Clinton era. I definitely think we need some new blood and fresh ideas.

And you're right about there being a dearth of noncentrist candidates for prez, which is what depresses me and others who share my view. Oh yeah, let's get excited about someone like Bayh, Vilsack or Warner.

Even though Edwards is a little too slick for my taste and has roots in the DLC camp, I think I could get behind him due to his populist tendencies economically. And, believe it or not, Wesley Clark is starting to sound attractive again given the names on your list.

I guess I'm most disappointed with Hillary's grabbing onto the DLC so early on. I had some hope she'd depart some from Bill's positioning, but it looks like she's gonna stick with his theories. Still, she's expedient enough that there's a chance she could see the light in the future. She's malleable.

I strongly believe those in DC need to register how very angry so many people are who worked their arses off for Kerry, despite misgivings about his positions and strategy. If we don't retain a majority of these people, we have no chance in 2008, to my reckoning.

Posted by: barb | Jul 22, 2005 6:15:13 PM

While we're on the subject of bad campaigns. Am I the only one that is more pissed at the way Gore ran his campaign than the way Kerry ran his? Gore pulled out of Ohio three weeks out and barely lost there and he didn't play in Florida until the last two weeks. And don't get me started on his people vs. the powerful thing. I know what he was trying to say, and I agree with him, but his packaging of it was terrible. Edwards has the same message but how much better does his sound than Gore's did.

Posted by: | Jul 22, 2005 6:39:59 PM

In regards to the defense of Bob Shrum I'd just like to point out that Michael Whouley was the one who helped to pull Sen. Kerrey out of the weeds in Iowa where it could have been all over for him.

Roger Simon wrote a pretty detailed accoung of this in last February's Newsweek (i think).

Posted by: joaquin | Jul 23, 2005 2:25:49 PM

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