On the Road to Resurgence or Ruin? – the DNC Meeting in Sacramento!

This Saturday, the Democratic National Committee held a conference for the Western States in Sacramento, California. Normally, such meetings are a dull, quiet affair, attended by a small number of people who are actual members of the DNC, and perhaps a few others.
This was not one of those types of meetings.
The day was sure to be one full of something (action not necessarily being one of them) due to the fact that the California Democratic Council, the historic alliance of local Democratic Clubs across California founded by the late Sen. Alan Cranston, held a breakfast event in the morning, in the same hotel the DNC was holding its afternoon session.
The highlight of this morning was, of course, a speech by the the Rev. Al Sharpton. Now, I know that Rev. Sharpton is considered by some to be a “bad guy,” or at the very least, someone who oughta be shown the door, not the stage.
I disagree. While I know of many arguments as to why Rev. Sharpton may not be the best Party spokesman, the fact remains that when it comes to putting into basic, easy to understand terms, why the Democratic Party, in its ideal form, can be a good thing, Rev. Sharpton knows how to say what needs to be said in ways a stumbling doofus like John Kerry could only dream of. (Sorry, Kerry fans, but the Centrist Corporate Senator from Eliteville can’t give a speech. Deal.)
Think about it this way: the Other Side has their Non Stop Quote Machines who can be loud an shrill and get the word out. Why can’t we have a guy who can say what needs to be said, in a way Most Americans can understand too? Every time I see this guy talk, he says what needs to be said in less words than it takes John Kerry to say what his f****ing position is on whether he needs to have coffee in the morning. (Again, deal with it, Kerry true believers. Jon Stewart can call BS on this guy so well. But hey! He wasn’t Howard Dean, right? Yeah. Whatever.)
Jolly Buddah at MyDD.com did a great job transcribing the speech, and I want to give him a link for his efforts. I spoke with Rev. Sharpton after the speech and said to him straight up  that after his famous “Condi is my color but Barbara Boxer is my kind” line, I wanted to get out my lighter and say “Right on, brother!” He smiled and shook my hand.
What a nice guy. I swear, if this guy ever moved to Los Angeles and ran for Mayor, given the enthusiasm he gets from so many people here, he might just be the guy to blow the dwarves and Hahn out of the water and be an elected official some day.
Ok, maybe not. But I digress.
It also turns out that a candidate for Brooklyn District Attorney I’ve been helping, state Senator John Sampson, has been a Sharpton endorsee for many years, and is now running a cutting-edge campaign for DA based on reforming the laws and criminal justice to put more bad guys in prison, and avoid putting people in jail who don’t belong. Right on!
There was no question that the “rock star” of the day was Gov. Howard Dean, former Presidential candidate and party activist. When he came in to a pre-DNC meeting rally with the CDC and other folks, he was swarmed with admirers.
Interestingly enough, Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, whose failed bid for Governor in the recall campaign in 2003 made him the butt of many jokes on Saturday Night Live by comedian Horatio Sanz, tried to ride the “Dean Wave” when he arrived in the ballroom with the Governor, only to get booed once he was announced he was there.
He soon left for greener pastures, wherever Dem cratic LG’s with a primary challenge from popular Democratic State Senators go. No one cared.
Dean, and to a lesser extent, former Congressman Tim Roemer seem to be running for DNC chair with an emphasis on themselves as an agent of change. Now, in Dean’s case I don’t know that is 100% the case, but clearly, in former Rep. Tim Roemer’s case, he’s more about talking about himself, and his personal knowldege, semi-good looks, and himself, more than he is about the party. It would not surprise me if that if Mr. Roemer got the DNC chair’s job, we’d see this clown running for office in his home state of Indiana soon enough.
By the way, every time this anti-abortion, pro-Bush “Democrat” talked, there was that hissing and booing that usually accompanies enemies of the Party Faithful. Despite looks that come out of Central Casting, and a LOT of talk about himself, it wasn’t enough to sway most folks.
Simon Rosenberg (who consistently seemed to receive the second loudest applause throughout the day) and Donnie Fowler however, seemed to be more about letting elected officials take the lead on policy, and on issues, and instead spend their time as DNC chair helping local, state and national parties and grassroots organizations get things done to win actual elections.
From my perspective, as someone who has been working in political campaigns for over ten years, Simon and Donnie are people I like best. I like Dean too, and from what it looks like so far, the college of cardinals might just elect him, and I like the ‘tude that Dean himself can exude. But at the same time,  given how the media like to tar this guy as some sort of wild-eyed Communist provocateur, despite his record, it’s hard to know if he can overcome that, and get the party up and running again.
As for the other candidates, while I am sure they are well meaning, they have about as much of a chance of winning as say, a hippie in Dallas, winning a seat on the city council.
Now, here’s one of those situations where my role as an active political consultant and that of informative blogger collide. While I do not mean to harsh on anyone for the sake of hashing on them, there was one comment by one certain candidate that pissed me off, simply because of the pure hypocrisy of it.
That would be former Congressman Martin Frost, who lost his seat in Congress due in large part to the mid-term gerrymandering of Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas. That said, it was very insulting of ex-Congressman Frost when he decried the “consultant culture” of Washington, D.C. in his remarks.
For those of you who don’t work in politics day-to-day, here’s a primer on the sheer amount of bullshit that “political parties” ram down the throats of hapless campaigns and candidates for office.
For the love of God, bear with Schadelmann.com as we explain the tortured logic of this sad state of affairs, and why, despite being seemingly irrelevant, actually affects you, the voter, in the end.
You see, once upon a time, the wise, and kind Rep. Frost was the head of a group called the the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He headed this committee, based in good ol’ Washington D.C. In other words, the center of all that is wise and good in America. Their job was to get the Democratic candidates elected to Congress in 1996 and 1998, to regain the “majority.”
Yeah, that’s my reaction too. Great job, guys!
Anyway, Mr. Frost’s little Mafia used to play a cute little game with aspiring politicos running for Congress. They’d play the game of “hire our hit men or be denied protection money in the future.”
Confused? Ok, let me spell it out a different way.
Candidate Shmoe wants to run for Congress as a Democrat. Candidate Shm e hires Local Non-DC Political Consultant Schadelmann, because, well Consultant Schadelmann has spent some time West of the Potomac (and in fact is from the West Coast!). Then, when Candidate Shmoe talks to the Party Big Wigs (i.e. Rep. Frost), he hears the following:
“Well if you don’t hire Consultant Jerkface from Washington D.C., and fire Consultant Schadelmann from your little campaign,  the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee won’t pay for your campaign in the future. Figure it out.”
Now, here’s the rub: The threat is an empty threat made by party hacks in DC who know full well that if Candidate Shmoe actually shows some promise, he or she will get the support they need, since it would mean moving the Democrats from back of the short-bus to front of the line. In the end, who gets the poor candidate over the finish line is irrelevant. If enough of these clowns win, the leadership would go from “Ranking Minority Member” (AKA Loser) to “Chair of the Committee” (AKA “NOT a loser!”)
Does Candidate Shmoe know that? No. Instead, they get scared. They see some guy like Martin Frost, with his big office, and his smart, slick boys in charge, and they capitulate. They let go the people who know what the hell they’re doing. They buckle under, and hire the twits the DCCC tells them to hire and the cycle of of inbred political thought continues.
The point of this fable? To point out what a fucking hypocrite a guy like fucking Martin Frost is to decry “Washington, D.C. political consultants” when he in fact was one of the people screwing over anyone west of the Potomac River in favor of his homeboys in D.C.
So, while I very much liked the people backing Frost, who were among the kindest, and most hospitable people I’ve met in politics, and were genuinue kind to me as a person, I have to say when I hear him say this, my first reaction was to stand up, give a one-finger salute to Mr. Frost, and tell the guy off.
Now, political decorum suggested otherwise, but there were way too many people who said “right on” when I suggested said course of action. I still kept quiet, preferring the cozy rant on a somewhat-read blog.
So it kinda sucks. The Texas people were so cool too. But their candidate was a two-faced guy on this issue. One that just happens to affect my bottom line.
Ok, end of rant….
Donnie Fowler, to his credit, didn’t’ engage in such bogus “consultant bashing,” instead recognizing the very “aristocracy” of consultants that makes it hard for younger people, with good ideas, to get work and make a difference in the long run. Which is why, in the end, it’s hard for me to say who I like.
I like Simon Rosenberg because it was clear in the way he runs his own campaign, he “gets it” when it comes to how campaigns work. I like Donnie Fowler, because he also has a “mechanics sense of campaigns,” lives in San Francisco, and attracts a great bunch of folks on his side (and believe me, that says a lot about someone). I like Gov. Dean because he can give a great speech, and I don’t doubt his commitment to folks outside of D.C., since it was those D.C. folks who did their best to stick it to him (like they have the Party).
So what is my verdict? If you’re a Democrat who cares, learn more and support one of the three I’ve mentioned here, and make your choice accordingly. If you’re a Republican Party Operative, piss off, and go trash the country over some more with deficits, lies, and BS.
If you’re a normal human being who just wants this country to be by, of and for the people and not some freaking corporation, then pay attention and get involved. No matter what happens, you’ll be better off for it.
The country can’t afford a one-party state. Just ask the Soviet Union!
UPDATE: Read coverage in the LA Times of the proceedings. The Associated Press has coverage as well. Adriel Hampton of the San Francisco Examiner has some interesting thoughts at his blog as well. Chris Nolan posts an article at PersonalDemocracy.com and at her own site as well.
You have to give Frost’s people credit – he got his anti-consultant quote in there in almost every report of the meeting. regardless of his background. Too bad that no one in the mainstream media (with the exception of the Times) questioned his assertion But perhaps that’s what “blogs” are for?
UPDATE 2:: You can watch the video of the meeting at the California Democratic Party Website and see the proceedings for yourself.
UPDATE 3: And now we see where the Great Martin has landed hanging out with the hippies and leftists at FOX News.
It’s just as well. The DC insider wrecking crew is being shown the door anyway – let’s just hope they don’t get ass prints on the door as it hits them on the way out.

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