Teacher's Ramblings

A potpourri of education, politics, family matters, and current events.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Inside The "New" DNC

(Hat Tip, Will Collier at Vodkapundit)

The machinations are not pretty. Best reporting I've seen from The New Republic, (they have the access to DNC biggies), in a very long time. The Dean wing does seem to be taking over:


One of the most inept attempts to stop Dean was engineered by Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House leader. According to numerous Democrats, Pelosi not only feared Dean, but she feared the potential anti-Dean of the race, Martin Frost, an ex-representative who was redistricted out of his Texas seat by Tom DeLay's political machine. Frost had challenged Pelosi for leader two years ago, and they have had a poisonous relationship ever since. She tapped former Indiana Representative Tim Roemer as her preferred candidate and persuaded Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to back the decision. It proved to be a pivotal moment, revealing once again how the rules had changed.

When Roemer jumped in, the race had already congealed into Dean versus a field of unknowns. Now Roemer threatened to stamp out Dean's other competitors. But he was unprepared for what would happen next. The entire field of candidates, in concert with the insular liberal blogosphere, rose up and destroyed Roemer.

The hit was silent and deadly. One day I received by messenger a dirty and smudged envelope with no return address. Inside were five pages of anti-Roemer opposition research about his positions on everything from Israel and abortion to labor and Social Security. The same information was fed to numerous blogs, which quickly declared Roemer anathema. "Unless Roemer publicly, loudly, and completely repudiates his recent [pro-privatization] position on Social Security, he is utterly unacceptable as DNC chair," said a post on the pro-Dean site MyDD.com, which served as a key clearinghouse of information about the race. (Roemer did repudiate that position, but it wasn't enough.) By the time Roemer showed up on "This Week" for a Sunday morning announcement of his candidacy, which, in the old days, might have helped solidify him as the establishment choice, he was badly damaged. He spent most of his interview with George Stephanopoulos defensively responding to bloggers he had clearly never heard of, like MyDD and The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum. "The bloggers, the Internet is a very, very useful tool for us to communicate with voters, ideas. I'm very excited about it, but it can also misinterpret a vote," he complained.

Roemer never recovered. In St. Louis days later, at one of five candidate forums held around the country for DNC members to interview the aspiring chairs, Roemer rose and, glaring at Dean and candidate Simon Rosenberg, lashed out at the "secret e-mails" that were circulating about him. He angrily defended his pro-life record and testily challenged the DNC members to show some tolerance on the issue. It was a brave speech, but it was also the end of his candidacy. Applause was scattered and perfunctory. In New York the next week, he told DNC members, "We shouldn't let a special interest group decide our view on choice." This time, the audience hissed.

The Roemer episode not only exposed the power of the blogs and the weakness of the Hill leadership, it also fatally wounded Frost. He had spent the heart of the short campaign tied up making the case against Roemer instead of attacking Dean. For instance, in a letter sent out to the 447, Frost wrote, "Our party cannot be adequately led by someone whose primary qualification to serve as Chair is his opposition to core Democratic beliefs." By the time Frost turned his attention to Dean, it was much too late. "Roemer," says a top Democratic strategist speaking of the whole affair, "was a debacle."


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