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DNC Chair

If the race for DNC Chair were decided by the blogospheric elite, Simon Rosenberg would be winning in a landslide. Unfortunately for him -- and I do think it's unfortunate -- the members of the Democratic National Committee get to vote instead.

January 28, 2005 | Permalink

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Do you mean, it's unfortunate because Rosenberg ought to win, or, it's unfortunate because the DNC members shouldn't be the ones doing the voting?

Posted by: The Navigator | Jan 28, 2005 11:01:19 AM

I don't get the appeal of Rosenberg. What good is it to be a "reformer" if you're going to reform us into the wrong things. Rosenberg is in the pocket of the corporations--the classic DLC mistake. NAFTA and other free trade agreements without wage and environmental controls, medicare reform without health benefits and other safety nets, and other Clintonian mistakes are what lost us the South and the heartland in the first place. Rosenberg is wrong for the DNC. We need a populist progressive ala Sirota's columns.

Posted by: Allyson Mattanah | Jan 28, 2005 11:36:53 AM

The issue Josh Marshall was addressing is that the Democratic Party has to be a coalition of all of the factions who are now in the party. That, obviously, includes the DLC and its supporters. And, equally obvious to me at least, is that the party will be compromising between positions of all of the factions. It does no good to insist upon a party that adheres only to the desires of those who oppose the DLC, or, for that matter, those who support the DLC. Apparently Rosenberg is someone who can lead us towards the coalition, while it isn't as certain that any of the other candidates can. I think the DNC understands that too, and I am confident that they will make their selection with that in mind.

Posted by: Vaughn Hopkins | Jan 28, 2005 11:52:03 AM

I couldn't agree more. After the election, I offered these two pieces on the DNC chairman race:

- "Simon Says: Rosenberg for DNC Chair"

- "Doctor Dean: Wrong Prescription for Democrats"

Posted by: Jon | Jan 28, 2005 12:12:36 PM

A problem the Democrats have is that they are, truly, a "big tent." The Republicans say the same for themselves, but it's simply not true. While I believe being a big tent party is good on a social, cultural level, it's very bad on a power/dominance level. The Democratic party is now way too fragmented. And it doesn't hang together outside of election years, which is also not a good thing for obtaining power.

To elaborate, the GOP has very defined principles for itself. Now, we can debate 'til the cows come home how sound those principles are, but they are well-defined, simple, and easy to relate to. Pro-family (anti-gay), pro-military, pro-individualism, pro-faith, etc. Many people feel as though they can sign on-board for those beliefs. That's why so many folks call themselves (or at least vote) Republican.

On the flip side, the Democratic party just has this general idealogy that, hey, everything's ok. Do what you wanna' do. While this may be an appealing philosophy to some, you can't get away from the fact that it's quite vague, and that turns people off. People want to belong to something that has an obvious identity. The Democratic party currently doesn't have this.

There are some who vote Democrat because they're gay, and feel more accepted within the party than with the GOP. Others may vote Democratic because they're with a union, and unions traditionally vote Democratic. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they're liberal, and they could possibly have a high dislike for gays. There's one rift, for you. Next we have the aging hippie faction, who populate the universities of the country, and perhaps might not run in the same circles as the unionists. The African-American population is typically a staunch Dem voting bloc, although one wonders why, as they tend to be very church-going, and very conservative. So, they don't probably mix well with the other elements of the party. Then, I've also noticed a lot of women who fit many of the Republican traits, but still identify themselves as Democratic for one reason, and one reason only - pro-choice.

What I'm trying to illustrate is that you have one party (the Democrats) which is made up of people from different walks of life that are voting for Dems for separate reasons. Meanwhile, you have another part (the GOP) which is made up of people from different walks of life, who all tend to vote for Repubs for the same, basic, solified reasons. This creates more unity for the party, and allows it to stay focused and together during the non-election years.

The problem with the Democrats is, there were a lot of people voting for Kerry for way too many different reasons, because they come from polar opposite areas of life, and don't normally have much to do with another outside of an election season. And a party which can only come together during an election season, is a party with a problem.

Just my two cents.

The new DNC chairman has got their work cut out for them.

Posted by: Matt (not MY) | Jan 28, 2005 12:24:33 PM

Perhaps if the blogoshperic elite concentrated on something other than pontificating in cyberspace, they'd get somewhere. Or at least somewhere else.

Posted by: weboy | Jan 28, 2005 12:44:52 PM

"Blogospheric elite."

OK, next movement.

Posted by: froh | Jan 28, 2005 1:35:10 PM

Has anyone fully though out what the appropriate role of the DNC chair is? Party spokesman or party manager? If the latter, there is no other choice than Rosenberg. If the former, he doesn't make the shortlist. Both roles are important, and I think the issue is can you more easily make up for a deficiciency in one area or the other?

Dean, say, is a far better party spokesman, but couldn't somebody implement the needed changes Josh talks about below him? Rosenberg appears to be a unifier who can get everyone on board with the needed changes, but he's such a poor spokesman that I think the party would need to hire someone to fill that role for him.

I'm not sure where I stand on this issue. While I didn't (and don't) support Dean's candidacy for president, I'm not sure there's anyone in the party that does a better a better job of framing issues, standing up for core party values, and combatting the other side with a smile on the talkshows. He seems born for the role. The problem is that his prior candidacy and potential future candidacy (or at least suspicions of such ambitions) would likely create problems with other party bigwigs.

My fear is that many in the party don't get the larger issue of how the party needs to reform itself, so Rosenberg won't get enough support, and they'll ultimately unite behind some lame Anyone But Dean candidate due to fears of his ambitions. We won't get a good reformer or spokesman. In short, we'll continue to muddle along in a rudderless fashion.

Posted by: dan | Jan 28, 2005 1:46:48 PM

"I don't get the appeal of Rosenberg. What good is it to be a reformer if you're going to reform us into the wrong things. Rosenberg is in the pocket of the corporations--the classic DLC mistake."

There are two approaches to winning elections. Here's one:

1. You use polls to find out what the public thinks.
2. You "position" yourself exactly where the public is.

Call this the "DLC" approach. It doesn't work.

1. You stake out a position based on your own beliefs.
2. You speak eloquently until you convince the public.

Call this the "follow your heart" approach. It works well, because it's real. People can sense a man with convictions.

Now let's say you're a person who believes in the latter approach - you believe that the only way to win elections is to follow your heart and speak from the heart. But let's say you're also a bit conservative. In other words, you arrived at your conservative views through long hours of introspection, NOT by following the polls. You still believe that following your heart is the only way to make an impact - and your heart is a little conservative.

Now let's say you're running for chair of the DNC. You know full well that the Democratic party is full of liberals. When you get elected, what do you plan to do? To tell them to become more conservative, like you, or to follow their hearts, like you?

I think the answer is: if I were truly somebody who believed in following his heart, I would try to persuade them to *become* more conservative. But I wouldn't tell them to *pretend* to be conservative. I would be wise enough to know that just doesn't work.

I don't mind if Simon occasionally recommends a free-trade policy to our leaders, or the like. As long as he's simultaneously trying to convince them to think for themselves and to stand on their principles, I'm happy.

Posted by: Josh Yelon | Jan 28, 2005 1:48:10 PM

"Party spokesman or party manager?"

He doesn't get nearly enough airtime to be a meaningful spokesperson. How many times do you remember McAuliffe meaningfully interjecting anything into the public discourse? None, that I can think of.

Management, yes.

But there's another important role that I think you left out: "spine transplantor." We've got so many wimps in Washington, it's sickening. They always seem to need a "push" to actually stand for anything. So what that means is that we need people with spines scattered throughout influential roles in the party. It isn't so important what their *technical* role in the party is. As long as they have the ear of senators and congressman, and can apply small bits of pressure here and there, they're valuable to us.

Posted by: Josh Yelon | Jan 28, 2005 1:56:39 PM

What Josh Yelon said.

Posted by: JP | Jan 28, 2005 1:59:05 PM

Vaughn and Jon,
How many supporters does the DLC actually have? I take others' points that there are multiple ideological poles among the Dems, but I very strongly suspect that the "DLC" pole has far and away the fewest number of actual voters supporting it. I think it's heavily overrepresented among netizen/blogosphere/symbolic analyst/disfavored-term-of-your-choice types, but that's not a good reason to make DLC appeasement a priority for party chief - we're all still a pretty small minority of voters. Now, DLC voters may also be disproportionately concentrated among the party's corporate supporters, such as there may be, and if so, that would be an unfortunate but realistic reason to prioritize DLC appeasement.

If we don't actually gain money or likely votes by increasing Al From's effective power, though, then good fucking riddance to him.

Posted by: The Navigator | Jan 28, 2005 2:41:36 PM

I personally hate the Democratic party, but I still vote party line every election. I don't think I even agree with any of the issues that the Democrats support, but I vote for them because they are at least sometimes more logical than Republicans (and the Rove led Republican mantra is just plain evil). The problem with the Democrats right now is that the few issues they do stand for are issues which either attack the money and media that gets them elected or issues which support people who don't vote or who are hated by most of the country

90% of America doesn't want their kids to grow up to be gay, to be black, to eat bagels, to ready chomsky, to have safe sex while still a teenager, to watch Bertolucci movies, or to do anything that is generally associated with the "liberal" party because they don't like any of that stuff. They may tolerate it, but given the choice they don't want to be part of it. In fact, they'll vote against their own economic self-interest to avoid associating from these things.

They happen to like the mantra of the Republicans even though the Republicans do nothing for their finances or infrastructure. Individualism, low taxes, xenophobia, and three strike/man-in-the-house rules are all just "common sense" to most of America (even most Democrats). The only way we're ever going to present ourselves as "in-touch" with America is if we take Jesus from the Republicans and start saying "Jesus, wouldn't do that (insert whatever the Republicans stand for here)."

Great example: Issue for issue, my mom (51 yrs. old) is the most liberal person I've ever met (a latte drinking, human cloning supporting globalist), but she just thinks GW is the most down to earth, likeable, and easiest to understand president ever. He was the first Republican president she ever voted for and probably the last one she ever will, but she didn't vote for him based on issues because issues don't really matter to her she has her retirement planned out already without social security, she lives in the middle of nowhere now so terrorism isn't an issue, etc. She just likes *him*, and why would she care about issues since none of them affect her directly now? Most of the voting population (emphasis on voting) doesn't care about issues, because if they did they would at least know that there were no WMD, so we have to realize that issues are irrelevant. No one but John Kerry and the people commenting on this blog actually care about whether or not the Cato calculator is right.

Posted by: Cole | Jan 28, 2005 2:48:19 PM

Yelon: I think part of the debate -- if a bit unspoken at times -- is whether to convert the DNC into a similar broadcast network the way the RNC is.

A 24/7 -365 operation, rather than a slumbering beast that wakes up every few years for a big election and then goes back to raising money.

If you want to turn the DNC into a fundraiser/mouthpiece then Dean's a good bet, simply because he already has the profile to get heard, whereas Rosenburg is a bit of an unknown outside the wonk circles.

Posted by: Morat | Jan 28, 2005 3:09:54 PM

The blogger elite support Rosenberg/DLC because they don't want to pay more in taxes to help out the "white trash" they so detest. Lower taxes, abortion rights, and tolerance are their lodestones.

Posted by: theghostofRFK | Jan 28, 2005 3:11:54 PM

Cole writes:

"No one but John Kerry and the people commenting on this blog actually care about whether or not the Cato calculator is right."

But Cato calculators aside, Social Security is one of those few issues that has the power to politicize the masses because they feel the direct connection to a government program.

That's why it's the right's wet dream to eliminate the program, and that's why their efforts give the Democrats a huge opening.

"They happen to like the mantra of the Republicans even though the Republicans do nothing for their finances or infrastructure. Individualism, low taxes, xenophobia, and three strike/man-in-the-house rules are all just "common sense" to most of America."

I'd rephrase that slightly. They happen to be conservative, but they would prefer to vote for the Democrats because they know the Republicans do nothing for their finances or infrastructure. The just need to be able to trust the Democrats on those other issues, which is why Bill Clinton could've won 11 terms if there weren't term limits.

---

The Navigator writes:

"I very strongly suspect that the "DLC" pole has far and away the fewest number of actual voters supporting it. I think it's heavily overrepresented among netizen/blogosphere..."

One of the many charming things about the infantile left is their perpetual inability to count.

As we vividly saw during the past primaries, it's the Dean folks who rule the blogosphere and form a small minority of Party voters.

---

Josh Yellon writes:

"But there's another important role that I think you left out: "spine transplantor."

A guy who dodged the draft by falsely claiming a bad spine and then went skiing is going to be that spine transplantor?

A guy who during the last great entitlement battle, the Medicare fight of 1995, tried to lead the charge in rolling over to Newt Gingrich is going to be that spine transplantor?

Sometimes given the language of false bravado they favor, I think Dean's supporters are exclusively teenage boys who feel insecure about their masculinity.

---

Petey writes:

Josh Marshall is consistently the smartest guy in the blogosphere.

Before he dropped out, I thought Harold Ickes would've been the perfect choice. But now that he's gone, I appreciate JMM's reasoning for Rosenberg.

Unfortunately, we're likely to see a similar dynamic in the DNC race as we did during the recent primaries:

- Dean sucks all the oxygen out of the room.

- To keep the minority Dean forces from stealing the prize sheerly through the loudness of their shouting, the majority anti-Dean forces coalesce around a consensus candidate, (Kerry during the primaries, Frost for the DLC battle.)

- In the wake of all the Dean/anti-Dean noise, the merits of the best candidate available get lost, (Edwards during the primaries, Rosenberg for the DLC battle.)

Frost will obviously be a better choice than The Howard, but Rosensberg would be better than Frost.

Posted by: Petey | Jan 28, 2005 3:43:22 PM

I am very much looking forward to Gov. Dean proving Matt wrong. I am also looking forward to Matt's admission of such, since Matt is a good guy and would do so. Dean's the guy. Don't think just about his Presidential run; think about his record as Governor of Vermont. Dean gets things done that other Dems barely dream of.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Jan 28, 2005 4:00:47 PM

Wow, Petey, that's flexible. Most men can't fellate themselves.

Posted by: Morat | Jan 28, 2005 4:28:06 PM

"Wow, Petey, that's flexible. Most men can't fellate themselves."

Like I said, teenage boys who feel insecure about their masculinity...

Posted by: Petey | Jan 28, 2005 4:35:47 PM

"Don't think just about his Presidential run; think about his record as Governor of Vermont."

And under what logic is someone who was barely able to eke out an election victory for Governor as a Democrat in Vermont (!!!) the best choice for leading the party out of the wilderness?

Posted by: Petey | Jan 28, 2005 4:44:59 PM

Petey claims that primaries have proved that Dean's supporters are a small minority, as opposed to DLC supporters.

It is rather subjective how to define a "small" minority. However, people who do not have amnesia may measure popularity of DLC: their favorite boy was Lieberman. Before Dean was ascendant, they were badmouthing Kerry and Gephard and endorsing Lieberman.

Lieberman was NOT more popular than Dean, to put it mildly. For the sake of keeping it mild, I will end here.

Posted by: piotr | Jan 28, 2005 5:21:20 PM

What did Will Rogers say, something along the lines of, "I don't belong to any organized political party; I'm a Democrat." I'm oddly reassured by seeing how things never change.

Posted by: Josh | Jan 28, 2005 6:07:45 PM

Who is in the lefty bloggospheric elite besides Marshall and Yglesias? Do they have a secret handshake?

Posted by: maxie | Jan 28, 2005 7:27:20 PM

"Who is in the lefty bloggospheric elite besides Marshall and Yglesias?"

As far as hits go, last time I checked the leaders were Markos, Atrios, and Drum.

As far as the actual elite goes, the winners are JMM, MY, Max, Kilgore, Tapped, TNR, EDM, and Mark Schmitt.

"Do they have a secret handshake?"

Yes. And a secret clubhouse.

Posted by: Petey | Jan 28, 2005 7:45:08 PM

And under what logic is someone who was barely able to eke out an election victory for Governor as a Democrat in Vermont (!!!) the best choice for leading the party out of the wilderness?

Er, he won six. One of them after passing a Civil Unions Bill while facing a credible Green candidate.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Jan 28, 2005 8:12:36 PM

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