Show Them The Door



Can we please get real here? Up until today, I was willing to cut Hillary Clinton some slack. Of course, she should stay in the race as long as she wants, as long as she’s willing and able to discuss issues and policies, and get off the personal attacks.

Now, it’s time for the Clintons to go away, and take the Democratic Leadership Council with them.

The Clintons have apparently become so desperate to get back into the White House that they  have given up every semblance of credibility they once had and repeatedly lied outright. Now, I could live with Hillary lying about NAFTA — anyone who believed that wasn’t paying attention, anyway.

But their latest lie is the biggest one ever, and far beneath what little dignity they have left at this point.

Apparently, Hillary is courting superdelegates by declaring in very stark terms that Barack Obama can’t win in November.

See, this is why I have always hated the DLC. They are the worst politicians I have ever seen, but they think they’re the best.

I think it’s time for someone from the electorate — someone who actually knows voters and knows what they think — to explain just why the DLC is the worst thing to happen to Democrats in a century or more.

And I would love to…

The DLC was the brainchild, for lack of a better term, of Al From in 1985, as a reaction to Walter Mondale’s shellacking by Ronald Reagan the year before. Now, Al From is absolutely one of the worst political minds in American history, possibly even worse than Bob Shrum and Terry McAuliffe, which is no mean feat. He doesn’t have the slightest idea how politics works, and that fact is evidenced in the DLC’s election strategies over the years, in which politicians one after the other stake out the political middle, in a lame attempt to get more votes, by supposedly appealing to the "majority" of voters.

Standing in the middle, and allowing everyone else to walk around you is political suicide. If you think I’m kidding, consider this; since the DLC’s inception, Democrats have gained seats in Congress exactly twice (and not may seats either time), and one Democratic president has been elected, arguably in spite of the DLC, and not because of it.  Democrats lost Congress in 1994, and didn’t gain it back until 2006, when Howard Dean, a non-DLC disciple, took over the Democratic Party and went against DLC doctrine, and competed in as many races as possible. The Democratic Party is poised to gain more in 2008 than in any election since the 1960s, precisely because the Party has largely dumped the DLC’s strategy, in favor of something that actually works.

The problem with the DLC’s political strategy is that it’s based on a fake pragmatism, and it’s based on many false assumptions about how the electorate chooses candidates. It began with a false premise; they surmised that Ronald Reagan won in 1984 because of his stands on the issues, and that Walter Mondale lost because he was a "liberal" who advocated raising taxes. This was, of course, a major crock. Ronald Reagan won because he stood for something. One of the most compelling commercials in political history was the infamous "Morning in America" commercial. It set the tone for Reagan’s reelection, and it was Mondale’s failure to set himself up as a viable alternative that spelled his doom.  People didn’t cower in fear because he might raise their taxes; they simply had no clue what he was about. Ironically, in attempting to prevent another massacre on the Mondale scale, the DLC adopted the Mondale candidate model as a template, and they’ve run every campaign the same way ever since.

The DLC has this habit of looking at the absolute wrong things when it comes to analyzing why some politicians win and some lose. Michael Dukakis in 1988, Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 all had one thing in common, folks, and it wasn’t the smears they received at the hands of the right wing smear machine. Yet, if you listen to Hillary Clinton, and her DLC handlers, it’s obvious that’s what they think cost all of those people the election.

Michael Dukakis wasn’t done in by the Willie Horton ads, or his lack of reaction to them.

Al Gore was not done in by the constant attacks on him as a liar and the inventor of the Internet.

John Kerry did not lose the election because of the Swift Boat attacks.

Let’s dispel that myth right now; the Republican slime machine does NOT win them elections, nor did it cause Democrats to lose elections. What costs Democrats elections is the lack of a sense that they stand for something. When you look at presidential candidates in the DLC era, there is one common thread through all of them, and that is an absolute lack of conviction about anything. The strategy has always been the same; find the "safe" position on most issues; the position that will create the least friction, and not offend anyone. The idea was/is, to stake out the absolute center on every issue, because that’s where the most voters are. That sounds like a great strategy, right? I mean, who could lose with that strategy?

How about everyone?

Dukakis, Gore and Kerry were all smeared with lies and distortions. If they had staked out a principled campaign when they ran, and they had actually showed the American people great leadership skills, then the negatives wouldn’t have stuck. If John Kerry had set himself up as a man with strong principles early on, and taken the rhetorical high ground, the response to the Swift Boaters by the public would have been "yeah, right."

Well, how many times must Democrats lose elections before someone figures out that the DLC’s way isn’t working? And when is someone going to think about it, and ask a few crucial questions, such as, if staking out the exact center is such a winner, then please explain why we keep losing elections to stiffs, who represent the wrong values?

The answer is simple, folks.

Voters in this country are trying to choose the person for office who is most likely to get the job done. Only, we don’t know what that job will be. There’s a reason they’re called "pundits" and not "psychics" folks.  No one knows what the next president is going to face. Therefore, specific plans don’t resonate. The average voter cares far less about a candidates stances on individual issues than he or she does about getting a sense that the person they’re electing actually stands for something, and will do the right thing  for the country when called upon.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking; where does George W. Bush fit into this?

He doesn’t. Bush didn’t get close enough to steal two elections because he stands for something the average voter thinks a president should stand for. He got there because Al Gore and John Kerry didn’t stand for anything. They didn’t have a very distinct political personality; they seemed to stand for whatever the people in whichever audience they stood before wanted to hear, or what they thought they wanted to hear. George Bush got as many votes as he did because neither Al Gore nor John Kerry compelled people to vote for them. It’s been a generation since there was a Democratic presidential candidate that people wanted to vote for. People come to the polls in droves when there is someone to vote for; they are less likely to turn out when they are forced to simply vote against someone else.

And before you mention Bill Clinton, I should remind you that Clinton, while being a master politician in many ways, never received more than 50% of the vote as president, and won largely because he ran against extremely weak opponents, who — are you ready? — pretty much stood for nothing themselves. I would also note that Bill Clinton did not have very long coattails, which is a very strong indication that many Clinton voters were not particularly thrilled with having to choose him for president.

This is why Hillary Clinton will not get the Democratic nomination, and why Barack Obama will not only get the nomination, but also win the presidency, and probably in a cakewalk. The DLC doesn’t understand this basic fact of national electoral politics; the majority of voters in the middle are looking to be wooed. They’re looking to be courted by  a politician. While policy wonks poo-poo soaring rhetoric, it’s the stuff of which great politicians have always been made. When it comes to choosing a president, most voters are looking for someone who will represent the United States in the best light possible. When presented with two candidates, neither of which make them feel that way, they will often stay home, or vote against their interests, in the hope that the shock the system receives will wake the next candidate.

When Barack Obama decided to run for president, I was among those who wondered if he was ready. I was thinking 2012 or 2016 was a better bet. His first few months of campaigning were a little shaky, so I didn’t change my mind right away. I thought, like the rest of the media, that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in for the nomination, and that Obama’s time would come a bit later.

The strange thing is, what changed my mind about Obama was not Obama himself, but rathe
r, Hillary Clinton.

The people who have been advising Hillary Clinton are DLC faithful, and it shows, because the woman stands for nothing. Okay, perhaps she does, but I’d like for someone to tell me what it is. Of course, if you have to tell me what it is, that’s a sign that her entire campaign staff should be fired. Look at the themes of her campaign. "Experience" and "Ready on Day One." The two stupidest campaign themes I have ever seen in my life. Those two themes demonstrate an absolute lack of understanding with regard to the electorate these days. Voters are looking for change, major change. George W. Bush has experience. And John  McCain, it could be argued, would also be quite "ready on day one." Big deal! What do you stand for, Hillary? Why are you running for president? The answer seems to be that it’s her turn; that she’s destined to the first woman president, because in the three years that she’s been running, she’s given us very little reason to vote for her other than that. Listen to her staunchest supporters; they don’t point to an overarching reason why she should be president, except for the fact that in their opinion, she’d make a good president. Again; big deal. So would any of the candidates in the Democratic field over the last year.

Obama is winning because he stands for something; he’s providing something that people can rally around; something that people can vote for.  There’s a reason he’s able to raise so much money, and will continue to do so for the rest of the year. It’s no secret to anyone, except the DLC. Hillary may dismiss Obama’s rhetoric as "just talk," but it’s been a long time since a politician has inspired people to work for him, vote for him, and give him money. His individual stands on issues, and the sketchiness of his specific "plans" are almost beside the point; he gives you the impression that he understands what motivates people, and that he will do something about it. That’s what people want. They want a guy who will get in there and do things. One of the most valid complaints about Bill Clinton was that he governed based on polls, which is a lousy way to govern, frankly. We hire them to lead, not follow. Obama shows no indication that he’s a follower. He looks and acts like a leader; like someone who’s comfortable in his own skin. It’s obvious he listens to people, but he listens for good ideas, not just the most popular.

We cannot allow Hillary Clinton and her husband to even attempt to perpetrate the fiction that Barack Obama can’t win in November. First of all, those of us who follow politics and understand basic strategy know that John McCain is what is often called a "sacrificial lamb." If you look closely at the actions of the RNC this year, it’s obvious that they know this is not their year, and they have no intention of wasting a lot of political capital on this year’s presidential race. They’re battening down the hatches for now, and probably plotting for 2012 or later. The odds of John McCain beating any Democrat are slim and none.

But Barack Obama has far more chance of beating McCain to a pulp, because he stands for something, and he stands for something very special. He stands for hope. As I said, Hillary has had two of the worst slogans in political history. Compare "Ready on day one" with "Change you can believe in."

After eight years of Bush, be honest; which one of those two messages do you think resonates with voters? More importantly, which one of those is more likely to bring more Congresspersons and Senators along, as well?

The DLC is over, folks, and Hillary is just the latest unfortunate victim of their political stupidity. When she cries that Obama can’t win, she seals the deal; she really doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

Comments are closed.