For months people have been talking about whether Michael Steele, the head of the RNC, should be fired. He says ridiculous things, gets himself and his party in needless trouble, has nearly run out of money and caused dissension within the ranks. But he has also won three important elections. Tim Kaine, the head of the DNC, on the other hand, has caused no trouble but lost nearly every election. So, who is really the one that should be held accountable?
Do I actually think Michael Steele deserves credit for the Republican wins in Virginia, New Jersey and now in Massachusetts? Not remotely. He happened to be at the right place at the right time. And I look forward to him claiming victory, saying more absurd things and generally hurting the Republican Party.
Well, conversely, is Tim Kaine also the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Yes and no. These elections definitely mean something. You could have dismissed Virginia as leaning conservative and New Jersey as unique in their anger at Corzine. But there is no excuse for Massachusetts. This is a national election for a senate seat, not a local governor's race with local issues. And three is an undeniable trend. Houston, we have a problem.
Is it fair to blame that problem on Kaine? Well, results matter. When Howard Dean was the chair of the DNC, the Democrats were getting crushing victories. As soon as he left, the losses started piling up. Yes, circumstances also matter. When Dean was chair, it was easy to blame Republicans but now the Democrats own the national problems. Before the economy was the Republicans' problem, now it's the Democrats'.
But tactics also matter. Tim Kaine seems to be running the reverse 50 state strategy -- we can lose anywhere in the country. So, what's he doing wrong? He's gone back to the old days at the DNC, where all you do is raise money and hope that you can win without a message. This is principally the Rahm Emanuel strategy -- cave in to lobbyists, collect their money, choke off Republican fundraising efforts by better serving corporate America and win elections by outspending the opposition. The only problem is that it doesn't work.
For this Emanuel strategy to work no one has to find out what you're doing. This was fairly easy in the old days when the public only got their news from the corporate media. Television news stations almost never mention the idea that politicians might be voting based on corporate donations and not based on actual principles. So, as long as they covered Rahm's ass, he was fine. But now people get their news online, and we have no incentive to lie to them. So, the American people are on to them.
You think they don't know that the Democrats sold out to corporate America at every turn in the first year of the Obama administration? Of course, they know. When Obama gave a speech on health care reform, the crowd booed when he mentioned Max Baucus. Before online news, no one would have even known who Baucus is and they certainly would not have known that he writes health care bills to make money off the health care industry. Television certainly didn't tell them. Who did? We did.
The jig is up. The electorate is perfectly aware that the Obama administration and the Democrats have done next to nothing to fight the power of corporate America and Wall Street. And they're not going to stand for it. This quote from pollster Celinda Lake absolutely nailed it:
"If Scott Brown wins tonight he'll win because he became the change-oriented candidate. Voters are still voting for the change they voted for in 2008, but they want to see it. And right now they think they've got economic policies for Washington that are delivering more for banks than Main Street."
So, the Democrats can bury their head in the sand and pretend people still believe in the magical charm of Obama or they can get their head out of their ass and actually do what they were elected to do -- bring the change they promised.
More likely, they will make the terrible mistake of going further right to try to appear to be more "centrist." That, of course, means selling out more to the lobbyists. Which will mean more electoral losses. Giving more money to the bankers is not a conservative or moderate or liberal position. It has only one purpose -- collecting lobbyist cash. That was the old way of doing things. That's what Rahm Emanuel pushed for and what Tim Kaine accepted. Kaine should be fired for choosing the wrong strategy and getting the wrong results. Three states and you're out.
But wait; shouldn't Emanuel also be fired for coming up with this craven, misguided and ultimately disastrous strategy in the first place? Absolutely.
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