April 26, 2005

Focus on the Family Targets Business of Senator's Wife

The Colorado conservative group, headed by James Dobson, has taken to attacking the business of Sen. Ken Salazar's (D-Co) wife. Sen. Salazar, viaProgress Now:

"Today, supporters of Focus on the Family attempted to disrupt business at the Dairy Queen owned by my wife Hope."

"It is one thing to disagree with me on controversial issues of the day, and I accept and welcome differing views."

"But it is something else to target my wife's business, in an attempt to intimidate me. These tactics are outrageous and un-American, and simply won't work."

"We make progress in America when cooler heads work to find solutions to common problems. That is how I approach my job in the US Senate, as an independent voice tackling the issues that matter to Coloradans every day."

Why? Salazar has attacked Focus on the Family for their overheated rhetoric.

Posted by Eric at 04:20 AM | Comments (1)

April 25, 2005

Democrats an Opposition Party?

Sirota on the Washington Post's Unexpectedly, Capitol Hill Democrats Stand Firm and this Roll Call article on a rift between moderates and liberals (e.g. bankruptcy):

Both of these stories are positive. The first story shows that on some key issues, Democrats have been very effective. The second story shows that on other key issues where the party has fractured - bankruptcy, class-action reform, the estate tax and energy policy - progressives are finding their voice, and are increasingly willing to tell it like it is to their colleagues (big kudos to Pelosi). That's a major step forward in building the kind of durable, sturdy opposition party that will be necessary to defeat the GOP. Far from "hurting the party," these progressives are emboldening it for the long run, as they are moving Democrats back to their traditional position as defenders of middle and working class America.
Sam Rosenfeld on the Roll Call article:
It’s hard to say how pervasive or growing this rift is, since a large majority of the article concerns disagreement over the bankruptcy bill alone. On that particular score, however, it’s very hard to countenance the moderates’ argument. Can anybody make a convincing case that getting behind this bill was a requirement for red-district Democrats? That when Democrats are hobbled by a public perception of being too left-wing and out of the mainstream, the party’s opposition to legislation like this is what people are thinking about? The “personal responsibility” line the bill’s supporters tossed around worked on welfare reform because Americans hated free-loading welfare queens, and had for decades. Was there any indication that such an argument resonated on this issue?

It’s just silly to justify supporting the bankruptcy bill on public opinion or party image grounds. One can either defend it on the merits -- a tough challenge in itself -- or make a brass tacks argument that the Democrats can’t alienate the credit and banking industries completely if they want their campaigns funded. But judging from the quotes in this piece, that’s not what moderates are arguing.

It’s dispiriting to see internal party debates carried out in this way, since there are issues where moderates’ arguments for adhering to a degree of political realism are valuable. But the kind of corporate whore legislation that Republicans don’t even make a big public spectacle out of supporting surely does not fall under that category.

Posted by Eric at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

Dean vs Terry McAuliffe

Writes US News of the current and former DNC head:

Let's just state the obvious: New Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is no Terry McAuliffe . Where the flashy former Clinton fundraiser was a gregarious ringmaster accustomed to the bling-bling of the highest non-publicly elected Democratic job around, Dean is almost a seminarian in his approach to the post. And, oddly, his style seems to fit with the party's bid to build its blue-collar base--just as McAuliffe's meshed with the DNC's need to raise gobs of money and go high tech.

What's so different? McAuliffe would limo around town, dropping in at the Palm to huddle with Washington big shots. The 2004 presidential hopeful, by contrast, takes the bus or subway, buying his own $1.35 ticket. Sometimes he bums rides from staffers or walks the four blocks to the Capitol for meetings. "Please Call Me Howard" never flies first class and always carries his own bags.

Other signs of the ex-guv's modest style: He eats at his desk, stays in a cheap D.C. hotel, and likes oxford shirts and penny loafers. Affectionately dubbed a "geek" by pals, he's often glued to his cellphone and loves E-mail. "His expertise is grass roots and his lifestyle is no different," says an associate. So far, Washington likes what it sees, surprised he's not the oddball that newsies pegged him as last year. Says an aide, smiling: "They're giving him a shot."

Posted by Eric at 10:42 PM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2005

Clark in '08?

Whether or not he runs for something in 2006 (e.g. an Arkansas seat) may indicate his intentions in 2008, but if this is any indication, he's going to run. The Clark campaign was the first major campaign I worked on, so I'd likely support him. Here's video.

Here's what I said when Clark dropped out. As Jeralyn mentioned on Talk Left, he has favorable positions on domestic issues that matter to the grassroots. Further, he appeals to those beyond the Democratic base. I don't feel like talking up a candidate too much since 2008 is far away, but the response I got when pushing Clark to moderates and conservatives in New Hampshire, and other places, was very strong. Because of his non-partisan background, and media skills (CNN commentator days), Clark can pull voters from across the aisle, and bolster Democrats on national security.

Posted by Eric at 02:34 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2005

Dean in Action

What's Howard Dean currently doing in his new gig as DNC chair? From the Berkeley Daily Planet:

There were remnants of this anger in the audience that met with Howard Dean. Unlike McAuliffe, Dean chose to listen to every question, no matter how difficult, and then to propose solutions. Affirming that the national DNC made progress under Terry McAuliffe, Dean plans now to build a functional Democratic committee in every state, no matter how red. He emphasized the necessity for Democrats to create a viable grassroots organization in every community, and from that base to “rebuild the party from the ground up.”

The new DNC chair made two distinctions between the Republican way of doing things and what he sees as the Democratic way. The first is that the Republican Party is hierarchical and controlling; everything is run from Washington—these days by Karl Rove—and states, counties, and precincts obediently follow party directives. (Some have likened this organizational model to the multi-level marketing approach used by Amway.) In contrast, Dean argued, Democrats, at their best, are democratic; therefore, they must begin the rebuilding process at the precinct level by listening to locals and thereby motivating them to take responsibility for the get-out-the-vote organization. Over time, this will result in a new Democratic consensus.

The second distinction that Dean made is between the fundamental process of the two parties: Republicans seek to control their volunteers, while Democrats opt to “empower” theirs. The new DNC leader recognized that it takes more time to empower than it does to dictate, remarking that his approach would take at least four years to bear fruit.

While the main focus of Dean’s remarks, and of the questions from the audience, was on building a better system for the party, he also touched on the core Democratic message. He began by observing that many Americans don’t understand what the Democrats stand for. His solution is not for the party to change its positions, but rather to modify the way that it delivers them. (Here, it seemed, he had been strongly influenced by the “messaging” ideas of UC Berkeley Professor George Lakoff.) For example, Dean observed that Democrats have been backed into a corner where they are “framed” as being in favor of “abortion on demand.”

“Nobody wants more abortions,” he observed, adding that the party must clarify that it is not “for” abortion, but rather for protecting the right of a woman to make her own medical decisions.

Meanwhile, Dean is also visiting 'red states' such as Kansas.

Posted by Eric at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2005

Martin Frost

Well, I certainly agree with this from Paul Waldman:

If you watch this video, you'll see a news report about the congressional race DNC Chair contender Martin Frost ran in 2004, including a clip of a Frost ad bragging about how much he loves, among other people, George W. Bush and Dennis Hastert. I can certainly understand how, given the fact that he was redistricted into a Republican district, Frost wasn't too eager to paste "Democrat" in big letters on his lawn signs. But when you're actively trying to pose as a member of the other party, accepting that the other party's leaders are great guys and gals with whom you want nothing better than to pal around, you've crossed a line. That line doesn't mean you should be shunned, and it doesn't mean you can't be part of the caucus should you manage to stay in Congress, but it does mean that maybe you shouldn't be leading the party you worked so hard to distance yourself from.

Near as I can tell, the rationale Frost offers for his candidacy is, "I'm from the South, where people hate Democrats!" Any DNC member who thinks the party has a chance to win Texas in 2008 should go ahead and vote for him.

And this from Kos:
To be clear, I don't care what Democrats might have to say to get elected in deep red districts. But if you spend a year distancing yourself from the Democratic Party and sucking up to Bush, Hastert and Hutchinson, then you have no business trying to run the Democratic Party.

I don't care if someone is a moderate, liberal or conservative Democrat. You could be any of those things and still be a partisan Democrat.

The DNC chairmanship is a partisan position. As such, Martin Frost is grossly unqualified for the position.

Posted by Eric at 08:20 AM | Comments (1)

January 12, 2005

Fire the Consultants

It should amaze anyone how Democrats keep hiring the same old people - the same ol' people who lose races over and over and ... Amy Sullivan:

Despite widespread grumbling about his aggressive sales tactics, Hansen is still part of the DSCC (he stepped down as field director midway through 2002 as criticism mounted; officially, he is now a "consultant" for the committee). What's most surprising, though, is that Democratic candidates continue to hire him despite his lousy record. After losing seven of nine close races in 2002, Hansen was again a man in demand during the last election cycle. His firm handled five of the most competitive Senate races in 2004, including the two – Tony Knowles in Alaska and Erskine Bowles in North Carolina – that prognosticators thought were most winnable. Only one of Hansen's candidates, Ken Salazar in Colorado, pulled out a victory.

Hansen is part of a clique of Washington consultants who, through their insider ties, continue to get rewarded with business even after losing continually. Pollster Mark Mellman is popular among Democrats because he tells them what they so desperately want to hear: Their policies are sound, Americans really agree with them more than with Republicans, and if they just repeat their mantras loud enough, voters will eventually embrace the party. As Noam Scheiber pointed out in a New Republic article following the great Democratic debacle of '02, Mellman was, perhaps more than anyone else, the architect of that defeat. As the DSCC's recommended pollster, he advised congressional Democrats to ignore national security and Iraq in favor of an endless campaign about prescription drugs and education. After the party got its clock cleaned based on his advice, Mellman should have been exiled but was instead ... promoted. He became the lead pollster for John Kerry's presidential campaign, where he proffered eerily similar advice – stress domestic policy, stay away from attacking Bush – to much the same effect.

And the biggest loser in political consulting ...
Hansen and Mellman are joined by the poster boy of Democratic social promotion, Bob Shrum. Over his 30-year career, 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.
That's our lovely Democrats.

Posted by Eric at 08:41 PM | Comments (12)

January 10, 2005

How a DNC Chair is Elected

If you're curious, and a political science nerd, you may be interested in Matt Stoller's post on Simon Rosenberg's blog (I currently take no position on who should be the DNC chair, FYI) on how a DNC chair is elected.

Posted by Eric at 09:37 PM | Comments (26)

December 15, 2004

Democrats Made Some Gains

Yes, the pessimist in all of us wants to kick the donkey when it's down, but as USA Today notes, there were some gains for Democrats in "hidden elections":

Democrats had great success in state legislative races this year, even as they performed poorly in the presidential race and campaigns for Congress. Many Democratic gains came in the heart of Republican territory.

Colorado Democrats took control of both the House and Senate for the first time since 1974. Montana Democrats won the state Senate and could control the state House, depending on the outcome of a legislative race that finished in a tie and is the subject of a court battle.

Overall, Democrats took power in seven legislatures and earned a tie in the Iowa Senate. Republicans won control in four chambers and added legislators in southern states that have been shifting to the party for 20 years.

Nationwide, Democrats added more than 60 legislative seats, reversing the 2002 results that gave Republicans more state legislators than Democrats for the first time in a half century.

Democratic state legislators now outnumber Republicans by two: 3,658 to 3,656. A pair of undecided races could leave it tied.

Posted by Eric at 03:56 PM | Comments (2)

December 10, 2004

Biden to Run in 2008

From the hotel-friendly USA Today (link via political wire):

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., on Wednesday became the first to declare his 2008 intentions, if not his candidacy, in what may well turn into a stampede of hopefuls in both parties.

"Are you going to run this time?" Don Imus asked him on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning.

"Well, I'm going to proceed as if I'm going to run," Biden said. He said he would make a "hard" decision in two years, based on whether he thinks the country is ready for him and his ideas. "I don't want to do this for the exercise," he said.

At least three other senators are proceeding as if they're going to run: this year's Democratic ticket, John Kerry and John Edwards, and Republican John McCain of Arizona. All are making or planning trips to Iowa or New Hampshire, states with early contests.

Posted by Eric at 10:15 AM | Comments (39)

December 08, 2004

Howard Dean Remarks @ GWU

Talking about the Democratic Party and its future. Dean, as you may know, is "emerging as the early front-runner" for DNC head. Partial transcript:

We need to embrace real political reform -- because only real reform will pry government from the grasp of the special interests who have made a mockery of reform and progress for far too long.

The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our Democracy is a moral value. Honesty is a moral value.

If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won.

It is time for the Democratic Party to start framing the debate.

We have to learn to punch our way off the ropes.

We have to set the agenda.

Full trans below.

Remarks made by Governor Howard Dean on the Future of the Democratic Party. Given at The George Washington University on December 8, 2004.

Thank you for that introduction. It's a pleasure to be here.

Let me tell you what my plan for this Party is:

We're going to win in Mississippi
...and Alabama
...and Idaho
...and South Carolina.

Four years ago, the President won 49 percent of the vote. The Republican Party treated it like it was a mandate, and we let them get away with it.

Fifty one percent is not a mandate either. And this time we're not going to let them get away with it.

Our challenge today is not to re-hash what has happened, but to look forward, to make the Democratic Party a 50-state party again, and, most importantly, to win.

To win the White House and a majority in Congress, yes. But also to do the real work that will make these victories possible -- to put Democratic ideas and Democratic candidates in every office -- whether it be Secretary of State, supervisor of elections, county commissioner or school board member.

Here in Washington, it seems that after every losing election, there's a consensus reached among decision-makers in the Democratic Party is that the way to win is to be more like Republicans.

I suppose you could call that philosophy: if you didn't beat 'em, join them.

I'm not one for making predictions -- but if we accept that philosophy this time around, another Democrat will be standing here in four years giving this same speech. we cannot win by being "Republican-lite." We've tried it; it doesn't work.
The question is not whether we move left or right. It's not about our direction. What we need to start focusing on... is the destination.

There are some practical elements to the destination.

The destination of the Democratic Party requires that it be financially viable, able to raise money not only from big donors but small contributors, not only through dinners and telephone solicitations and direct mail, but also through the Internet and person-to-person outreach.

The destination of the Democratic Party means making it a party that can communicate with its supporters and with all Americans. Politics is at its best when we create and inspire a sense of community. The tools that were pioneered in my campaign -- like blogs, and meetups, and streaming video -- are just a start. We must use all of the power and potential of technology as part of an aggressive outreach to meet and include voters, to work with the state parties, and to influence media coverage.

The most practical destination is winning elective office. And we must do that at every level of government. The way we will rebuild the Democratic Party is not from consultants down, but from the ground up.

We have some successes to build on. We raised more money than the RNC, and we did so by attracting thousands of new small donors. This is the first time in my memory that the DNC is not coming out of a national campaign in debt. We trained tens of thousands of new activists. We put together the most sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation our Party has ever had. We registered millions of new voters, including a record number of minority and young voters. And we saw those new voters overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

Now we need to build on our successes while transforming the Democratic Party into a grassroots organization that can win in 50 states.

I have seen all the doomsday predictions that the Democratic Party could shrink to become a regional Party. A Party of the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest.

We cannot be a Party that seeks the presidency by running an 18-state campaign. We cannot be a party that cedes a single state, a single District, a single precinct, nor should we cede a single voter.

As many of the candidates supported by my organization Democracy for America showed -- people in places that we've too long ignored are hungry for an alternative; they're hungry for new ideas and new candidates, and they're willing to elect Democrats.

Since we started Dean for America last March, we raised over $5 million, mostly from small donors. That money was given to 748 candidates in 46 states and at every level of government.

We helped a Democratic governor get elected in Montana and a Democratic mayor get elected in Salt Lake County, Utah.

We helped Lori Saldana in San Diego. Lori, a Latina grassroots environmental organizer was outspent in both the primary and the general, won a seat on the state assembly.
We also helped Anita Kelly become the first African-American woman elected to her circuit court in Montgomery Alabama.

Fifteen of the candidates who we helped win last month never ran for elective office before.

And in Texas, a little known candidate who had been written off completely ran the first competitive race against Tom Delay in over a decade.

There are no red states or blue states, just American states. And if we can compete at all levels and in the most conservative parts of the country, we can win ... at any level and anywhere.

People will vote for Democratic candidates in Texas, and Alabama, and Utah if we knock on their door, introduce ourselves, and tell them what we believe.

There is another destination beyond strong finances, outreach, and campaigns.

That destination is a better, stronger, smarter, safer, healthier America.

An America where we don't turn our back on our own people.

That's the America we can only build with conviction.

When some people say we should change direction, in essence they are arguing that our basic or guiding principles can be altered or modified.

They can't.

On issue after issue, we are where the majority of the American people are.

What I want to know is at what point did it become a radical notion to stand up for what we believe?

Over fifty years ago, Harry Truman said, "We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don't need to try it."

Yet here we are still making the same mistakes.

Let me tell you something: there's only one thing Republican power brokers want more than for us to lurch to the left -- and that's for us to lurch to the right.

What they fear most is that we may really begin fighting for what we believe -- the fiscally responsible, socially progressive values for which Democrats have always stood and fought.

I'll give this to Republicans. They know the America they want. They want a government so small that, in the words of one prominent Republican, it can be drowned in a bathtub.

They want a government that runs big deficits, but is small enough to fit into your bedroom.
They want a government that is of, by, and for their special interest friends.

They want a government that preaches compassion but practices division.

They want wealth rewarded over work.

And they are willing to use any means to get there.

In going from record surpluses to record deficits, the Republican Party has relinquished the mantle of fiscal responsibility.

And now they're talking about borrowing another $2 trillion to take benefits away from our Senior Citizens.

In going from record job creation to record job loss, they have abandoned the mantle of economic responsibility.

In cutting health care, education, and community policing programs... and in failing to invest in America's inner cities, or distressed rural communities... they certainly have no desire to even claim the mantle of social responsibility.

In their refusal to embrace real electoral reform or conduct the business in government in the light of day, they are hardly the model of civic responsibility.

In their willingness to change the rules so that their indicted leaders can stay in power, they have even given up any claim on personal responsibility.

And in starting an international conflict based on misleading information, I believe they have abdicated America's moral responsibility, as well.

There is a Party of fiscal responsibility... economic responsibility.... social responsibility... civic responsibility... personal responsibility... and moral responsibility.

It's the Democratic Party.

We need to be able to say strongly, firmly, and proudly what we believe.

Because we are what we believe.

And we believe every person in America should have access to affordable health care. It is wrong that we remain the only industrialized nation in the world that does not assure health care for all of its citizens.

We believe the path to a better future goes directly through our public schools. I have nothing against private schools, parochial schools and home schooling. Parents with the means and inclination should choose whatever they believe is best for their children. But those choices must never come at the expense of what has been -- and must always be -- the great equalizer in our society -- public education.

We believe that if you put in a lifetime of work, you have earned a retirement of dignity -- not one that is put at risk by your government or unethical business practices.

The first time our nation balanced its budget, it was Andrew Jackson, father of the Democratic Party, who did it. The last time our nation balanced its budget, it was Bill Clinton who did it. I did it every year as Governor. Democrats believe in fiscal responsibility and we're the only ones who have delivered it.

We believe that every single American has a voice and that it should be heard in the halls of power everyday. And it most certainly must be heard on Election Day. Democracies around the world look to us as a model. How can we be worthy of their aspirations when we have done enough to guarantee accurate elections for our own citizens.

We believe in a strong and secure America... And we believe we will be stronger by having a moral foreign policy.

We need to embrace real political reform -- because only real reform will pry government from the grasp of the special interests who have made a mockery of reform and progress for far too long.

The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our Democracy is a moral value. Honesty is a moral value.

If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won.

It is time for the Democratic Party to start framing the debate.

We have to learn to punch our way off the ropes.

We have to set the agenda.

We should not hesitate to call for reform -- reform in elections, reform in health care and education, reforms that promote ethical business practices. And, yes, we need to talk about some internal reform in the Democratic Party as well, and I'll be discussing that more specifically in the days ahead.

Reform is the hallmark of a strong Democratic Party.

Those who stand in the way of reform cannot be the focus of our attention for only four months out of every four years.

Reform is a daily battle.

And we must pursue those reforms with conviction -- every day, at all levels, in 50 states.

A little while back, at a fundraiser, a woman came up to me. She identified herself as an evangelical Christian from Texas. I asked her what you are all wondering -- why was she supporting me. She said there were two reasons. The first was that she had a child who had poly-cystic kidney disease, and what that illness made it impossible for their family to get health care.

The second thing she said was, "The other reason we're with you is because evangelical Christians are people of deep conviction, and you're a person of deep conviction. I may not agree with you on everything, but what we want more than anything else from our government is that when something happens to our family or something happens to our country -- it's that the people in office have deep conviction."

We are what we believe. And the American people know it.

And I believe that over the next two... four... ten years...

Election by election...

State by state...

Precinct by precinct...

Door by door...

Vote by vote...

We're going to lift our Party up...

And we're going to take this country back for the people who built it.

Posted by Eric at 02:34 PM | Comments (31)

November 17, 2004

Kerry on 2008: "We'll See"

From the AP:

In his first extensive interview since his Nov. 2 defeat, Kerry was asked by the Fox News affiliate in Boston about running again in 2008 and reminded the questioner that Ohio is still counting votes from 2004.

He then said, ``It is so premature to be thinking about something that far down the road. What I've said is I'm not opening any doors, I'm not shutting any doors.'' Kerry added, ``If there's a next time, we'll do a better job. We'll see.''

Reflecting on his loss, Kerry said he was not sitting around thinking about it. ``You've got to go on,'' he said. ``Do I find it some mark of failure or distress, the answer is no.''

Posted by Eric at 07:27 AM | Comments (14)

November 08, 2004

[AP] Dean to become DNC

[AP] Dean to become DNC head? Former Vermont gov ponders bid:

"I strongly urged (Dean) to seek the position," he ["Steve Grossman, himself a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee"] said. "Howard is a voice of political empowerment and that to me is important, for the Democrats to get their sea legs back as quickly as possible, to get beyond the disappointment of the last week and to believe there is a bright future ahead for the Democratic Party."
Previously: Clinton perfect for DNC head role, LAT writes.

Posted by Eric at 10:48 PM | Comments (3)

[US News] Hillary 2008 speculation

[US News] Hillary 2008 speculation once again as 'friends' say the NY Senator is exploring a run.

Friends of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton tell us that the New York Democrat is set to begin the hard work of running for president in 2008. Associates say that she already has organized a team to target fundraising prospects, create voter lists, and draw up a campaign agenda. The presidential effort will run in tandem with Clinton's 2006 senatorial re-election bid.

Posted by Eric at 05:12 AM | Comments (3)

November 07, 2004

[LAT Editorial] LA Times says

[LAT Editorial] LA Times says Clinton is perfect for new DNC head role.

How about a slightly raffish, smooth-talking Southerner, a statesman with a strategic mind who delights in outsmarting his opponents? Someone who can go into a black church and rouse the congregation. Someone with a proven track record, an astute political analyst admired for his ability to split political differences and make it sound like a good thing.

Posted by Eric at 08:43 AM | Comments (11)