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Joseph A. Palermo

Joseph A. Palermo

Posted: November 12, 2008 04:09 PM

The Times' Adam Nagourney Sows Seeds of Conflict Inside Democratic Ranks Where None Exist


In his "Political Memo" today in The New York Times titled "Dean Seeks a Share of Credit in Obama Victory," political guru Adam Nagourney draws some bizarre conclusions and makes some strange inferences about alleged internal conflicts and petty beefs inside the Democratic Party. It's interesting that at a time when the Republican Party is facing its most bitter and vindictive internal battles, so bad that Newt Gingrich and David Brooks liken it to a "circular firing squad," Nagourney chooses to ignore that story and jumps head first into "analyzing" non-existent antagonisms within the party that just won a sweeping mandate from the American people not more than two weeks ago. As far as Howard Dean's role is concerned in pushing the 50-state strategy as Democratic National Committee chair, Nagourney writes: "A year in which Democrats were running against a party freighted by the most unpopular president in history -- and amid an economic collapse -- is probably not the best laboratory for measuring the success of his experiment." Sniff, sniff.

Nagourney even dredges up the old beef between the Obama and Clinton campaigns in the Democratic primaries over the delegations in Michigan and Florida as "evidence" of still simmering internal divisions inside the Democratic Party and between the Obama campaign and the DNC. That's a pretty weird "analysis" of the current state of the Democratic Party. But what do you expect from a reporter who was writing front-page love letters to John McCain and his campaign in the early days of the race?

The only quotation Nagourney uses from a political strategist in his article is from Katon Dawson, the South Carolina Republican chairman, as if the views of South Carolina Republicans are really important when assessing conflicts with the Democratic Party. He does not bother to get a quote from either a member of the Obama campaign or from Howard Dean or anyone at the DNC to corroborate his theory. And you know why? Because people from both Democratic camps, still savoring their historic victory of November 4th, would have informed Nagourney that he is barking up the wrong tree and seeing "conflicts" where in fact none exist. Nagourney seems to be consciously trying to drive wedges between factions of Democrats ignoring the fact that the party is more united today than it has been in many, many years.

Nagourney closes his piece with a final volley implying that Dean, who is poised to join President-elect Obama's cabinet, is somehow in conflict with the Obama White House staff: "[T]he man with whom Mr. Dean fought bitterly over his 50-state strategy was Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, who headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and whom Mr. Obama named last week as his chief of staff." Nagourney closes with this line to imply future problems - no doubt to be fanned by future Nagourney "analyses" - between the Obama White House and the DNC. That's bizarre because Obama himself will be appointing Dean's successor at the DNC. I guess Nagourney believes that Obama is going to appoint someone to head the party who is at odds with his own administration's agenda? Nagourney here is creating straw men to give the impression of disunity in Democratic ranks. But why does he choose to do that? The President-Elect hasn't even been sworn in and Nagourney apparently wants to give Times readers the impression that it is Democrats, not Republicans, who are in a "circular firing squad."

Nagourney's time would be better spent if he focused that laser-like brain of his on the very real and profound identity crisis and recriminations going on within the Republican Party's ranks right now. Or maybe he thinks the GOP will do better in 2012 under Sarah Palin's leadership and after the fluke of the election of 2008 (which he believes is not a good indicator of Democratic success) fades from memory?

I think Nagourney, who likes to play amateur historian at times, should look into the interesting historical parallel I've noticed between the Savings and Loan scandal that broke out in the last two years of Ronald Reagan's second term (and after the Republicans lost the Senate in 1986), and the current financial meltdown that began in the last two years of George W. Bush's second term (and after losing both the House and the Senate in 2006). It looks like a pattern wherein the cronies and profiteers associated with the last two-term Republican administrations "get in while the gettin's good" and rip off federally insured deposits in the waning days of GOP rule. The Reagan era S&L scandal cost taxpayers at least $125 billion and that was after years of the Reconstruction Trust Corporation selling off assets and spending countless time and money that could have gone into other more beneficial pursuits. The current crisis is costing taxpayers $1.3 trillion and counting - but of course it would be expected that George W. Bush's people would go big and outdo Reagan's people. The point is, Nagourney should focus on what brought the nation to this terrible state of affairs in the first place and on the circular firing squad now devouring the Republican Party instead of exaggerating non-existent squabbles in his own head that he claims plague the Democratic Party.

Next we'll probably be hearing Nagourney on Charlie Rose telling us about how much Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama hate each other. The fact is the tables have turned in the United States; the electoral map has changed; former Bush states that have turned blue will not be easily turned back to red; and mainstream journalists like Nagourney should figure it out: the Democrats are united under the leadership of Barack Obama; the Republicans are disunited under the pseudo-leadership of Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Tim Pawlenty and any other backbencher who surfaces. Now that's a story worth telling.

Get Real Adam!