Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

... and we choose the one that led us out of the wilderness.

I generally despise Robert Frost, but quoting him here seems relevant, given several stories today surrounding Howard Dean, Harold Ford, Iraq and fundraising. First, remember how, in the wake of historic Democratic victories last November, James Carville became the front-man for an anonymous group of rich donors, narrow-targeting television consultants, and ultra-conservative Democrats who wanted Harold Ford Jr. to replace Howard Dean as DNC Chair:
Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities.

The candidate being floated to replace Dean? Harold Ford.

Says James Carville, one of the anti-Deaniacs, "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."
That is how the Democratic Party was run in the recent past: to appeal to large donors as much as possible. Further, before the grassroots and the progressive movement starting taking an ownership role, it led to statements like this becoming the face of the Democratic Party:
Former Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., the new chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), yesterday said he does not agree with efforts by Congress to set a deadline for U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

"I think most Americans want to win, they don't want to see us leave early, and if we leave prematurely, we may create a broader set of conflicts and invite a bigger problem in that region than before leaving," Mr. Ford said.
With Ford as DNC chair, we would have been regularly treated to statements that contradicted the hopes and beliefs of somewhere between 95%-99% of the Democratic Party's rank and file, not to mention the work of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Instead, without Ford, we are treated to statements like this:
The Democratic-controlled Senate ignored a veto threat and voted Thursday for a bill requiring President Bush to start withdrawing combat troops from Iraq within four months, dealing a sharp rebuke to a wartime commander in chief.

In a mostly party line 51-47 vote, the Senate signed off on a bill providing $122 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also orders Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of passage while setting a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008.
I'll take the latter, thank you very much. A Democratic controlled congress voting to end the war rather than Democrats out of power trying to forge their way back in by appearing identical to Republicans--that is not even a choice. Lots more in the extended entry.
It isn't just Ford who wanted to take us down a different path--it is the entire neoliberal, neocon, triangulate from a point of weakness, liberal-hating, Michael Bloomberg and Joe Lieberman loving, DLC-nexus of Democratic Party aristocracy that wanted Dean out. For example, I think it is pretty clear, at this point, that one of the "top Democrats" who was opposed to Howard Dean continuing on as DNC chair was Rahm Emanuel himself. Many of the post-elections stories about Emanuel reported that he was in close consultation with James Carville in the final weeks of the 2006 election, and it is hard for me to imagine that Carville would be leading such a campaign without Rahm's knowledge and support. Further, during the supplemental fight, Emanuel consistently proved himself to be the ultimate, backstabbing, anonymous leaker to the press, and anti-Dean stories are always filled with high ranking, but anonymous Democrats. Emanuel must have been behind the old anti-Dean stories somehow. An anecdote to back this up: during the supplemental fight, some Democrats close to the leadership were convinced that Emanuel was behind many of the anonymous leaks that led to the downfall of Murtha's plan in the press. In order to verify this, they intentionally leaked Rahm--and only Rahm--some false numbers about the new plan, in order to see if those numbers showed up in the press. When, the very next day, those false numbers did indeed show up in the press, Emanuel was immediately smacked down and demoted in his role on the supplemental. I would be very surprised if Rahm and his allies weren't most of those "top Democrats" giving negative, anonymous quotes about Dean to the media establishment.

I'm sure it is just a coincidence that now Emanuel isn't at the DCCC, we aren't seeing those anti-Dean stories anymore, and that once his role in the supplemental fight was reduced, we actually managed to pass a bill with a deadline. Consider the following passage from subscription-only Roll Call:
Since Dean assumed the helm of the Democratic National Committee in early 2005, cooperation between the party chief and leaders on Capitol Hill was hampered by sparring over spending priorities and funding of competitive House and Senate contests. Dean's proclivity for off-the-cuff remarks and tendency to spark controversy further fueled his tense relations with some Members of Congress.

But with new Democratic majorities now controlling the House and Senate agenda, party insiders say Dean has settled into his role as chairman and that relations with his Hill counterparts appear to be running more smoothly.

"We are cooperating going forward," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said in a recent interview, adding that despite some internal party dust-ups with Dean in the past, "everyone is on the same page" heading into 2008.

The most recent example of that cooperation came on the Iraq supplemental spending bill, when House Democrats took Dean up on his offer to make calls to whip support from liberal Democrats for the measure and its timeline for troop withdrawal from Iraq. The bill passed the House by a thin margin last week.

Dean regularly squabbled with Van Hollen's DCCC predecessor, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who believed the DNC's 2006 fundraising strategy relied too heavily on a national blueprint at the expense of key House and Senate races.

After Van Hollen became chairman he said he welcomed Dean for a tour of the DCCC offices and introductions to staff. Looking ahead, Van Hollen said Democrats are coordinating with Dean on the party's political plans, and the DNC chairman also gave the DCCC an early "good faith" donation -- a measure that knowledgeable Democrats said has been done before.
It is nice that the friction is gone, and Van Hollen--who I think holds a lot of promise--is getting along swimmingly with Dean. You certainly did not see articles this this about Dean when Rahm was in charge of the DCCC. To continue quoting from the Roll Call story, it is also cool that the large donors seems to be falling in line
Dean faced public criticism from some on the Hill in the previous cycle not only because the DNC's fundraising lagged behind its GOP counterpart but also because the DNC had a much higher burn rate, leaving the committee far behind the Republicans in available cash on hand.

So far this cycle the DNC is keeping closer pace with the Republican National Committee. At the end of February the DNC showed $7 million in the bank while the RNC had more than $10.7 million on hand. The DNC is still shouldering $4 million in debt from the previous cycle, money that the committee diverted to Congressional races.

The DNC expects to report raising $14 million in the first three months of 2007. By comparison, the committee took in $8.3 million in the first three months of 2003, the beginning of the previous presidential cycle.
As I said, this is cool, but with an overall fundraising increase of between $5.5-$6M, if large donors only represent $1.5M of that increase, the vast majority of the increase came from small donors. Still, if bigger donors are going to take a "if you can't beat them, join them" attitude, I am all for it. However, the truth is, that whether or not the same large donors who recently were backing Dean's ouster in favor of Ford have now come around does not really matter in terms of the safety of Dean's position. The source of Dean's strength comes from two groups who form what I have previously termed an alliance of the ignored: state party chairs and progressive movement activists. Under the guidance of DLC-nexus, the wishes of state Democratic parties in places like Nebraska were as easily tossed aside as the wishes of progressive movement activists: only the large donors mattered. By way of contrast, Dean is willing to pay attention to, and help solve, the needs and desires of both groups, who jointly hold enough power to form an activist majority within Democratic politics. This is actually one of the reasons why many large donors don't like Dean--he pays attention to people other than large donors, who typically don't like seeing any of their power and influence decline. At the same time, one problem with making your support base a bunch of rich donors and consultants is that there just are not that many rich donors and consultants (at least in the Democratic Party), and so you will always be outnumbered.

For all of the progress we have made in the Democratic Party and the progressive movement these past few years, I shudder to think just how close we came to suffering a wealthy donor coup that would have squashed the grassroots, dismantled the fifty-state strategy, undercut us in our attempts to end the war despite its unpopularity, and installed a right-winger who somehow managed to lose an open Senate seat in the best Democratic year since 1974 as our new spokesperson. It would have been a total, and utter, backslide. Ironically, that is the true path of contemporary, electoral McGovernism, even though we in the progressive movement are the ones most often accused of walking the party down such a road. As I said at the start of this post, two roads diverged in the woods for the DNC, and we choose the one that led us out of the wilderness.

Tags: Democrats, DLC-nexus, DNC, Fundraising, Harold Ford Jr., Howard Dean, James Carville, progressive movement (all tags)

Comments

35 Comments

Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

I have always thought you would be more likely to join the DLC than quote Robert Frost -- goes to show what I know.

by Bob Brigham 2007-03-29 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

I don't get it.  What does Bowers have against Frost?

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-03-29 04:31PM | 0 recs
Harold Ford is a loser, Dean is a winner

Harold Ford lost at the state level for Senator.

Howard Dean won at the state level for Governor.

Dean is clearly a better politician, and more in touch.

Keep Dean

by dataguy 2007-03-29 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

One of the best examples of how Dean is helping the state parties is the purchase of Voter Access Network (VAN) for all state parties that want to use it. Here in Georgia, we will be up and running with the new system within the next 60 days.

by sndeak 2007-03-29 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

Don't hate on Frost. He's one of my favorite poets...

by freaktown 2007-03-29 11:39AM | 0 recs
Thanks for that

Do you really hate Frost? Or have you just been over-exposed to that poem? Didn't they use it in a car commerical once?

To the substance: Had Carville been called to account for that stupid blunder? Seems to me he's made some fairly tough statements on the war recently (on Leno?) that would be hard to reconcile with Ford's Leibercrat spasm.

by BlueinColorado 2007-03-29 11:53AM | 0 recs
Frost's Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire, some say ice.
From what I've tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate,
to know that for destruction ice is also great,
and would suffice.

Oh wait.. its not poetry Friday.

by Winston Smith 2007-03-29 12:29PM | 0 recs
Panetta I almost excuse

He found a way to be productive for his country, by erasing Reaganomic budgets, putting the economy into surplus, basically almost eliminating the 30-year Treasury note.

But then along comes blogospheric democracy in America and all DLC-think is instantly meaningless. Without netroots we would still be led by these "coteries of mousey men" to quote another poet (Vachel Lindsey??).

Now we're free.

Leon, wake the f*** up !

by ShagBark 2007-03-29 11:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

Damn good post.  And it explains to all who need explaining to that a Clinton presidency would be death for the progressive movement and the grass and netroots.

by aiko 2007-03-29 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

Now here's a good question for Hillary to answer:

Do you, or do you not support the fifty state strategy?

Her reply should pretty much kill whatever netroots support she has.

by Zephyrus 2007-03-29 11:57AM | 0 recs
I just hope...

...there are progressives with cameras on her all the time asking questions like yours this election season because we know the media will not. She brings too much money to the media empires to resist. It's symbiotic: the Clenis Couple and their zany antics!

Who cares about that war OVER THERE? Insanity.

by HE 2007-03-29 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

Absolutely. I decided long that, should I ever get the chance to ask Sen. Clinton a question, especially in a town hall campaign forum, that would be it.

She is apparently going to forgo spending limits and matching funds in the primary and the general, but I'm not sure whether she would use the extra funds to spend in Montana, Kansas and South Carolina, or if she believes she needs to pump unprecedented amounts of money into Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida in order to overcome her high negatives.

by MikeyMike 2007-03-29 12:18PM | 0 recs
Damn straight n/t

by HE 2007-03-29 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

I shudder to think just how close we came to suffering a wealthy donor coup that would have squashed the grassroots, dismantled the fifty-state strategy, undercut us in our attempts to end the war despite its unpopularity, and installed a right-winger who somehow managed to lose an open Senate seat in the best Democratic year since 1974 as our new spokesperson.

Hey, no revolution is easy and there are always many many points that are close and crucial.  Of course the entrenched powers are going to make it a close fight.

And the fact that they still lost, with all their institutional power, makes grassroots'/50-state strategy's victory all the more legitimate.  They threw the best they had at defeating Dean and still lost.

by corn dog 2007-03-29 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

Carville, Ford... DO us all a favor and leave the party... Seriously, you really don't belong with us here... You act more like moderate Republicans than Democrats.  We don't want or need you anymore.  GO AWAY!

by yitbos96bb 2007-03-29 12:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

And mad props to Pelosi and Reid for pulling off that incredible pair of votes that has put the Democratic Party on record that it wants to get us out of this war.

If they don't watch it, they're going to make a certain Will Rogers quote obsolete.

by RT 2007-03-29 01:45PM | 0 recs
Van Hollen rocks

 The Congressman spoke at our Frederick County Jefferson-Jackson dinner last Friday. In the afterglow of the House Iraq supplemental vote that had occurred that afternoon, he was absolutely on fire, and hit ALL of the right notes. You could tell he was in a good mood (despite the nightmarish traffic he had to endure to get up to Frederick -- a point he also worked into his speech).

 It's so nice to see Democrats acting and speaking like Democrats again. The one thing that still bothers me is that Harold Ford and his ilk are still quoted in the media with exposure and dissemination way disproportionate to their actual constituency, which is all but nonexistent once you get beyond the small, wealthy coterie of faux Dems they represent.

 Harold Ford speaks for next to no Democrats. He shouldn't be treated in the media as if he did.

by Master Jack 2007-03-29 01:48PM | 0 recs
Relevant discussion on DKos...

After I posted this comment on DKos:

http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2007/3/ 29/151115/476/5#c5

A friend sent me a quote from this diary, which turns out to be very much on point to what I was discussing. So I included the quote in a follow-up comment. Please consider clicking the above link and weighing in. Thanks.

by Jim in Chicago 2007-03-29 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

How does one indicate support for Dr. Dean?  I don't know where to send a comment.  Thanks.

by Gagi 2007-03-29 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

Giving money to the DNC would be one place to start.

by jujube 2007-03-29 05:30PM | 0 recs
How to indicate support for Gov Dean
  1. Investing in a Democracy Bond
  2. Changing your screenname to make such things obvious :)
by Fran for Dean 2007-03-29 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

You should tag Hillary Clinton on the field/search tags too.  Ok, Harold Ford is in a leadership role at the DLC, well so is HILLARY CLINTON...  So, with regards to say DLC organizational fundraising, for example, whereas Harold Ford is obviously overtly broadcasting the DLC's stance and policy direction to attract future inmates and donors, I don't think it would be too unreasonable to assume that Hillary is covertly parroting the DLC stance and policy direction  to attack her "large donors"?

From what I can see this activity is not how the "Democratic Party was run in the recent past" that is how it's being run now... and is maybe why we have DLC Hillary as the front runner?

Talk about NOT talking about the 'Elephant' in the room...

Also, remember the separate offshoot of the September Club?  What I took to be yet another dig at Dean, and what he was trying to do at the DNC.  Hillary Clinton's name was never mentioned, but again one of her 'close advisors' was v. much in the driving seat.  Remember he had a previous headoff with Dean previously when he wanted to setup a separate database project for Ms. Clinton.

Plus, you really think that because Rahm is not head of the DCCC he won't be part of the action?  I don't think 'controlling' the Democratic message is the only area he will be controlling next election cycle.

Expose all of them, not some of them.

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-03-29 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

Found it...

RAHM EMANUEL:

"...Emanuel's plans

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Democrat who led his party's successful campaign to take over the House, announced late Thursday that he would forgo a bid he had been considering for the influential third-ranking leadership post, majority whip. Instead, he will run for a post one rung down the leadership ladder, Democratic Caucus chairman.

A Democratic source said Pelosi had urged Emanuel not to make a bid for the whip post in order to avoid a divisive internal fight with the Congressional Black Caucus, which is strongly backing the only declared candidate for the post, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.). Clyburn is Democratic Caucus chairman and the only African-American in the party leadership.

The caucus chairman typically is a mostly ceremonial position but Democratic aides said Emanuel would be given additional duties, including responsibility for rapid response to Republican attacks, input into party policy positions and a role in strategy for re-electing vulnerable incumbents...."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/polit ics/chi-0611100175nov10,0,4895472.story

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-03-29 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

Its "Two roads diverged in A wood"  But thats ok.  That doesn't make all the difference.  

by mikegehrke 2007-03-29 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

It is so disappointing to see those in the DNC suggest that all of us MUST THINK ALIKE or else be subjected to the juvenille rantings of some on this comment thread.

I happen to be a lower middle class Democratic, I never supported the war, but I beleive that if we pick up our toys and walk away tomorrow is not the absolute answer.  Granted our children will no longer shed blood - today - but when Iraq becomes the breeding ground for terrorists because we destroyed their infrastructure and allowed the boys with the bigger toys to ultimately take over, then will not our children and grandchildren pay the price?  Is that not supposedly one of the factors that led to 911?

When Carville raised the idea of Ford succeeding Dean, Ford immediately issued a statement declining the offer.  so why are rehashing this again?

I heard Ford speak Monday night at UT Texas and he acknowledges that if the question is continue as we are or leave now, he chooses leave.  

MasterJack, Ford obviously spoke for nearly 1M folks in TN last November.  And he speaks to quite a few of us outside of TN - at times.  I don't agree with anyone all the time, I have this pesky tendency to think for myself.

Mr. DINO according to some in the blog community seem to propose some rather liberal, down right non-business friendly, proposals yesterday at his DLC speech.  But unfortuantely the blog community can be so fanatical on single issues, they only thing anyone is commenting on is his stance on Iraq.

by RuthDFW 2007-03-29 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

"...pick up our toys and walk away..."

Have you read any amendments of those Democrats - even the most progressive one that wants the withdrawal to start now... I guess not?

Barbara Lee and Colleagues Unveil Plan to Fully Fund Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Iraq
Thursday March 08, 2007

http://cpc.lee.house.gov/index.cfm?Conte ntID=167&ParentID=8&SectionID=21 &SectionTree=8,21&lnk=b&Item ID=165

"...Ford immediately issued a statement declining the offer..."Where and when was that...?  I don't remember it being immediate?

With Ford's UT Texas speech it's not much good it there's no transcript or it's not on youtube?  Else how can we see which view of his is correct?  Or is he just straddling?

Harold Ford goes beyond being just being republican corporate friendly -- his voting record goes well beyond just one or two republican issues I have a problem with.  If you truly are a lower middle class Democratic, Harold Ford won't be making your financial life any easier any time soon...

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-03-29 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

Your first point:


It is so disappointing to see those in the DNC suggest that all of us MUST THINK ALIKE or else be subjected to the juvenille rantings of some on this comment thread.

We believe that anyone who is in power must think like us, as in, rationally and Reality Based.  Ford is continuing to use the "run to the middle" strategy that lost him his Senate run.  - Fails to meet rational test.  Then, as documented here by Matt, says,

"I think most Americans want to win, they don't want to see us leave early, and if we leave prematurely, we may create a broader set of conflicts and invite a bigger problem in that region than before leaving," Mr. Ford said.

This despite that fact that YES, according to all opinion polls Americans do want us to leave. -This fails the Reality Based test.


I happen to be a lower middle class Democratic, I never supported the war, but I beleive that if we pick up our toys and walk away tomorrow is not the absolute answer.  Granted our children will no longer shed blood - today - but when Iraq becomes the breeding ground for terrorists because we destroyed their infrastructure and allowed the boys with the bigger toys to ultimately take over, then will not our children and grandchildren pay the price?  Is that not supposedly one of the factors that led to 911?

This is such a stupid blockheaded, right wing, argument I don't even no where to begin.

The longer we stay in Iraq, the more unsafe we are!

Our occupation is pissing off moderate Arabs and Muslims turning them into more terrorists which is effectively turning the entire middle east into a breeding ground.

Iraq is already a breeding ground for terrorists.  Most Iraqis believe killing American GI's is justified.

Al Qaeda is honing it's tactics in Iraq, such as bomb-making, and exporting it to Afghanistan and other places.

Al Qaeda is using the Occupation for recruitment.

Iraqis blame the U.S. for violence.  Let us leave.  If the violence continues and Iraq, and surrounding countries want our help, then we can come back with a mandate.

We cannot prevent a civil war when both sides want us dead.

You want to stop a terrorist breeding ground?  send half the Iraq troops home, and the other half to Afghanistan.

I'd call you a concern troll, but that might be "juvenile" of me.  If you think these tame comments are "juvenile", go over and check out the hatefull comments at the Free Republic.

by maddogg 2007-03-30 07:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

I personally need a 50-state strategy. I live in Louisiana.

Before you let someone like Ford through us out the window with the baby, remember we used to be democratic with a capital "D".

by mdharold 2007-03-29 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

Throw. No, don't throw. Nothing to see here, folks. Just a typo.

by mdharold 2007-03-29 03:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

hold on Chris. You can't argue that Dean brought in as much money as McAuliffe; in 2006 many industrys, that where reliable republican donors, jumped to the democrats. As opposed to 2003 a relatively depressed year.

by bentheben 2007-03-29 04:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...

You also can't argue that under McAuliffe 2006 would have been so successful, or that seats like KS-02 would ever have fallen.

by Englishlefty 2007-03-30 03:42PM | 0 recs
What two roads?

The Harold Ford was never going to happen.
Basically, it was Carville bitching and moaning one day.

Is it such a slow news day that this is a front-page post?

by v2aggie2 2007-03-29 07:45PM | 0 recs
by gizzy 2007-06-22 01:37AM | 0 recs
don't cry for the snowman

i generally despise robert frost

something there is that doesn't love a blog...

by skippy 2007-03-29 09:30PM | 1 recs
Re: Two Roads Diverged In the Woods for the DNC...
Leave it to frost to explain it. ;) Groomsmen gifts
by peterson 2007-11-02 12:04PM | 0 recs

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