Monday, Susan Page, sitting in for Diane Rehm on her radio show, interviewed several people about what the next steps are for the defeated Democratic Party. She included– the perfect contrast: Thomas Frank, one of the most perceptive voices anywhere on what ails the party, and Steve Israel, literally the embodiment of what ails the party. Page remarked that Frank's book, Listen Liberal: Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People?, predicted what we saw happen in this election– “Trump getting support from the kind of white working class voters that Democrats used to count on.” Frank:
Well, this is a culmination of a long term process and I trace this sort of process in Listen Liberal and it begins quite a while ago. But the– basically, what we're talking about here is the Democratic party walking away from working class people and working class issues over the years and understanding themselves, thinking of themselves as a party of the professional class. And they have all these different ways of talking about the professionals class, but, you know, the creative class, this kind of thing.
But that's really who they are these days. But then, there is also a long term political process that's been going on here and this is what I would call the wages of centrism, that we have, you know, people who are on the left, like me, have, you know, been told as centrist Democrats sell us out again and again and again and you have all of these different, you know, issues where centrist Democrats have harvested sort of disaster, you know, whether you're talking about NAFTA or bank deregulation or the bank bailouts or the Iraq war, but it's always on the grounds– we accept it on the grounds that these guys win elections.
Right? That centrism, it's, you know, they do these terrible things and they sell you out at every turn. And people, by the way, will come to this, I'm sure, are still extremely bitter about NAFTA and, you know, all the trade deals passed during the Clinton administration. But at least these centrists, we're told, will win elections for you. Well, that is now over.
A few minutes later she asked Steve Israel what went wrong. FYI– the former spectacularly failed head of the DCCC, who oversaw the loss of dozens and dozens of Democratic seats as he tried turning the House Democrats into a reflection of what Frank has warned the party about, was the head of the DCCC's failed messaging efforts for 2016. There are few people as responsible for the woes of the House Democrats as Blue Dog and racist Steve Israel. “People,” he babbled, “are facing a unique convergence of economic anxieties, economies changing radically in front of their very eyes, a historic breakdown of faith in all institutions, not just government but the church and sports and Wall Street, unprecedented sense of threat at home and abroad and finally the sense that democracy has sold out, that if you don't have a lobbyist and a Super-PAC, you don't matter. You take those four convergences, put them all together, nobody should be surprised that Donald Trump won this election, at least in the electoral college, and the Democratic Party needs to realign itself and be able to communicate effectively and empathetically with those voters and win elections on different fronts.”
She followed up by asking him if he wants to be head of the DNC, which would probably be the final nail in the party's coffin. Israel:
(laugh) You know, I chaired, as you said, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for four years, two cycles, in one good cycle, one bad cycle. I have to be honest with you, my scalp has no more room for one more gray hair. (laugh) I gave up– I gave all those gray hairs in service to my party several years ago. So, you know, I'm not sure that that's something that I would want to do at this time.
I can tell you that although I am retiring from Congress as a Democrat, I am not retiring from the Democratic Party. And I intend to be very active and push very hard to make sure that our party is tapping into those concerns, those anxieties, and we're not writing off entire segments of the electorate. We just can't afford to do that anymore.
And finally, you know, when I was a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, you know, I argued that we won all of the blue districts we can win, you've got to start pushing into red districts. It's not enough to win in New York and California. You've got to win in Scranton. You've got to win in Youngstown. You've got to win in districts that are red and turning redder. And we need a strategy to do just that.
Let's start with Youngstown. It's part of OH-13, a solid blue district where populist Democrat Tim Ryan was just reelected 203,430 (67.6%) to 109,455 (29.9%). Youngstown is the county seat of Mahoning County, which Clinton won over Trump, 56,188 (49.8%) to 52,808 (46.8%). Scranton is part of PA-17 and progressive Democrat Matt Cartwright was reelected 155,766 (53.8%) to 133,719 (46.2%). Scranton is the 6th largest city in Pennsylvania and the county seat of Lackawanna County, which had voted for Obama in 2012– 61,309 to 34,730 and this year went for Clinton 51,593 to 48,102. Democrats are still holding on but, because of the reasons Frank has laid out– and hacks like Israel can't understand– just barely and with more difficultty.
As for Israel's claim that while he was DCCC chair “we won all of the blue districts we can win,” that's just the lie that he and Pelosi repeat endlessly to their sheepish caucus and to a lazy and brain-dead media. These are the blue districts Israel lost while he was calling the shots at the DCCC:
• CA-10- Jeff Denham
• CA-21- David Valadao
• CA-25- Steve Knight
• CO-06- Mike Coffman
• FL-13- David Jolly
• FL-26- Carlos Curbelo
• FL-27- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
• IA-01- Rod Blum
• IA-03- David Young
• ME-02- Bruce Poliquin
• MN-02- John Kline
• NV-04- Cresent Hardy
• NH-01- Frank Guinta
• NJ-02- Frank LoBiondo
• NJ-03- Tom MacArthur
• NY-02- Peter King
• NY-19- Chris Gibson
• NY-21- Elise Stefanik
• NY-24- John Katko
• PA-06- Jim Gerlach/Ryan Costello
• PA-07- Patrick Meehan
• PA-08- Michael Fitzpatrick
• TX-23- Will Hurd
• WA-08- Dave Reichert
So that's two dozen blue seats off the top of my head– there are plenty more– that Israel was responsible for losing at least once. You think he forgot? Or was he just– as he and Pelosi always do– lying to the media and lying to himself? If you refuse to admit there's a problem, you can never even begin trying to figure out how to fix the problem– which is why the Democrats should gently retire Pelosi and Hoyer from leadership tomorrow. But they won't– ever.
|In a parliamentary democracy they would resign or be fired immediately|
The Nile May Be A River In Egypt, But It's A State Of Mind Among Beltway Democrats
Today, Ben Ray Luján, Israel's DCCC sock puppet congratulated himself– in true Israel style– on a job well done in his post-election assessment to the Democratic members of Congress. He bragged they only lost one member, which winning 9 Republican-held seats and threw out some meaningless stats he must have thought made him look heroic despite his dismal failure. He blamed Hillary's under-performance, Comey, expensive media markets and gerrymandering. In a bon mot to his mentor Israel he claimed that “successful DCCC messaging driven by district-specific strategies… helped win districts like FL-07 (Mica), NV-04 (Hardy) and IL-10 (Dold), [as well as ] AZ-01 (Open-Kirkpatrick), CA-07 (Bera), NJ-05 (Garrett),” making districts they lost competitive by attacking Trump. He claimed there is “no question that FBI Director Comey's letters stalled Democrats' momentum and contributed to races moving away from us, particularly in CA-25 (Knight), CO-06 (Coffman), ME-02 (Poliquin), MI-01 (Open-Benishek), NE-02 (Ashford), NY-01 (Zeldin), TX-23 (Hurd), and VA-10 (Comstock)” and even offered a case study (which fails to prove his point:
Virginia's 10th District: In a district that Barack Obama won handily and Hillary Clinton likely won narrowly, the DCCC successfully moved persuadable voters to LuAnn Bennett who were turned off by Barbara Comstock's shared positions with Donald Trump, particularly on women's health. The data was clear: a localized message on Metro Silver Line funding or government shutdown would not resonate with voters who were making their election decisions through the prism of Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton. LuAnn Bennett ultimately lost by 5 points, which is a dramatic improvement to Comstock's 2014 challenger, who lost by 16.2 points.
He must've forgotten to mention that in 2014, the DCCC and the House Majority PAC spent $1.4 million against Comstock to help John Foust. This year they spent over $6 million to help the way more conservative insider, Luann Bennett. Luján attempted to drive his audience into a frenzy of excitement with his closing:
We certainly must take the time to listen, learn and reflect on these 2016 outcomes, but it's imperative to do so with an eye toward our 2018 strategy. While history was ultimately against us in 2016, the opposite will be true in 2018, with the President's party often losing seats in the first midterm. While many Republicans spent 2016 trying to run away from Donald Trump, whose favorability is underwater in nearly all House battlefield districts, these same Republicans will now officially share a policy agenda and voting record with him. We must do our job to hold Donald Trump and House Republicans accountable and further our efforts to tie them together. We must continue our fight on behalf of the American people, to protect our values, freedoms and progress over the next two years.
Not a word about policy or having anything to offer Democratic voters, not something Israel will have told Luján matters.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis