Feb 12, 2005

Call to Howard Dean: Fire the Losers, Get Rid of the Parasites

Congratulations to Howard Dean on winning the chair of the DNC. Although I had suggested that he should run for the Senate, he can now be a positive force in Democratic politics if he sticks to his pledge to change "business as usual." The Republicans, while Clinton was in office, went all out to oppose the president and distinguish themselves as a different political entity. It quickly worked. The Dems have the issues but they lack in the messenger and operation departments. Maybe this will change. Ultimately, it will be the candidates who win or lose, but the chairman, being what he is now, can play a big role in articulating the Democratic agenda and he can change the inner workings of the machine.

What Dean can do to immediately help the party is to fire the losers, the very wealthy consultants who have been advising the candidates. In an unbelievably long streak of bad losses, those entrenched operatives have a stranglehold on Democratic politics. They are the mafia within the party. They control the purses, and, of course, they play favorites. Dean's extraordinary success was due to his own devices not to traditional party support! A voice like his could not have risen from within the establishment of the DNC, and I say we need more voices like Howard's. This tell you a great deal about the attitude and the direction the insiders want to push the party. After all, they feed at the trough.

In order to get access to the money, a candidate has to hire the "recommended" consultants, who turn to "affiliated" (often their own) businesses for the campaign's needs. If you don't hire them, then you're not considered a "viable" candidate! This means no money, and most likely an active opposition. Joe Hansen is one of the hacks. As one of the "embedded" Democratic operatives ( he's now a "consultant" to the Dem. Senatorial Campaign Committee after some conflict-of-interest issues arose). He's responsible for a lousy record of losses for many years. In the last election, his firm handled 5 of the most competitive senatorial candidates. Out of them, only Salazar won in Colorado. In 2002, he worked for 9 of the closest Senate contests. Only 2 were successful!

DSCC's recommended Pollster Mark Mellman is another one. His strength derives from his connections (duh!), and because he tells the candidates what they want to hear. He's considered by many the architect of the disastrous defeat in 2002. He recommended to the congressional candidates to ignore national security and Iraq as prevalent issues. The Reps increased their lead in the House as a result. Mellman's track record was good enough for the party bosses, so he was promoted to be the chief pollster for Kerry's presidential run!

Last, but not least, is Bob Shrum. Over a 30-year career, he has worked on the losing campaigns of 7 presidential candidates, from McGovern to Kerry. He commands millions for his services. He got $5 million after the 2004 election (bonus for a job well done?), and now back from his vacation in Tuscany he's advising Jon Corzine who's running for governor in NJ. Mellman and Hansen are both doing fine lining up customers, in case you care.

Chairman Dean has an opportunity to clan house and he should do it fast. Business as usual is a losing proposition. The establishment, much of which opposed Dean during his presidential run and now for the chair of the DNC, will kick and scream, but for the first time the Democratic base, after a disheartening election loss, is still greatly energized. It's shouting, "throw the bums out!" It's this base, including the independent bloggers, and the thousands of grass-roots organizations that pushed for a change at the DNC. Maybe there is hope. Instead of being more like the GOP or playing a passive partner in the Congress, the Democratic Party can rise to the occasion. These are not ordinary times. The re-election of Dubya and his neo-con politics will be inflicting damage to America and the world for the many years to come, well after he leaves office.

Most of the consultants in both parties are part of the same clique in Washington D.C. They go to the same parties, they belong to the same country clubs, and, worse, they share the same mentality, and the same greed to further their own interests above all. No matter what happens in an election, their fortunes don't change much. It's the rest of us who have to deal with the consequences of an election and failed policies. These people have lost touch with the party's base and with real America.

It is no accident that fresh ideas, new faces, and thinking outside the box, have won the day and elections. Some examples are: Pat Caddell (Carter), James Carville, George Stephanopoulos, Paul Begala (Clinton), all of which were unknown before winning. Same when R. Reagan relied on his California people. Karen Hughes, Karl Rove and Mark Mckinnon, also largely unknown and outside the Beltway, made G.W. Bush president.

Many Republicans are happy today because they think the Democratic party has a "death wish" (as Newt was quick to tell us) by electing Dean to its leadership. The party has to stick to its traditional values and the many achievements and not become another shade of the GOP. However, the Dems should also be the party of change and of modernity, and it should start from within. Keeping the losers and the parasites is not the way to go forward. Howard, you have a mandate and an obligation to clean house!

A recent article by Amy Sullivan in the Washington Monthly is an excellent read on why the consultants must be fired.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know that the party could be so stupid! I mean, I had no doubt that parasites and other idiots were present, but trying the same people and recipe over and over again only to lose, it's beyond common sense.
Hope Howard picks up the broom.
Jeremy, CA

Anonymous said...

I think the bloggers and the other truly independent media should make a point of the high fees those consultants are getting paid. It's insane to pay tens of million of dollars to these people, especially when they fumble so often, and at the same time ask for our $25-100 donations.
John S. CT

Anonymous said...

Are you saying, bring back the "winners" like Carville and Begala?

Andros said...

No, I'm not saying that. We need people from the "outside". They are several talented people out there; I know a few. Look at the local/state races where the Dems have had success.
One example is in Montana which elected a Dem as gov. for the first time in some 30 years!

Anonymous said...

The messenger is very important. I think we know this much. In an election where we had serious issues to be decided and two very different candidates, many were looking for the "image" or who was "more likeable". Likewise, Hilary Clinton is not a winning candidate in 2008. She can have the issues and the times on her sides, but because of who she is she can't be elected, sadly.
But, I also think the party has to freshen up a bit and shake off the fat cats entrenched within it.
Howard Dean seems to have the energy and the insight to go after the "red states" and try to bolster the party there. I think the western states, some of them now "red," hold much promise for the Dems. Nevada, New Mexico, even Arizona can swing the other way.


Anonymous said...

There are some who want to reward Dean, so several bloggers have already raised over $100,000 for the DNC... just to show that the base is active and supporting this change.
Deaniak, NH

Andros said...

There is a discussion going on between those who have come out right away to contribute to the DNC as soon as Howard Dean was elected chairman, and those of us who are sitting on the fence waiting to see if/when Dean picks up the broom to clean house...
The former argue to "give Dean the ammunition he needs" to proceed. The latter, we say that we need to see proof first. It may actually be more valuable to show that in addition to the person elected we support his revamping of the Democratic party, after of course, he begins the clean up.
At any rate, for those who are so inclined to contribute today, ActBlue is the way to do it: http://actblue.com/list/dnc
On the site you can aslo see how much this effort has raised for the DNC.

Andros said...

Good news friends... Dem leader, Senator Reid, and Dem House leader Pelosi have read our posting and are taking action!
This is worth a separate blog entry...

Gothamimage said...

This is an awesome post - I wish I said the same stuff!!!

Tuscany! Figures! Hanging out with all those Effing German lefties and getting bad tans, drinking good wine - he loses touch!

Nothing against Tuscany, but you know what I mean.

Can you imagine the Yankees or the Red Sox running stuff like the DNC? Even the worst teams are far more adroit.

I know some people in both parties who are on the side areas on being 'inside.' They lose touch rapidly.