I received a couple of comments about my post “The Democratic Convention: Start at the Top?” that took issue with my argument that Democrats were adopting the right strategy by concentrating on downballot races, rather than statewide contests. Since these were e-mails rather than posted comments, and since the correspondents were delegates at the state convention and advocates of the opposite position from mine, I am going to publish their comments here in italics. My responses follow. Burka’s analysis reflects the same shallowness as the rest of the smug, self-assured political/journalistic punditry. Sanchez and Kirk got their asses kicked because they were not credible candidates of the people. The dream-team would-be kingmakers were (and still are) so obsessed with demographic patronage they actually thought a billionaire banker and a patrician corporate lawyer would motivate the overwhelmingly working-class communities of color to turn out in droves. If Burka and the rest of the political/journalistic elite would get away from their desktop data banks and their cocktail parties and spend time with people who have to work for a living for a change, they might learn something. –David Van Os Not to get personal, but — no one is more smug and self-assured than a liberal Democrat. The trouble with liberals is wrapped up in the phrase “patrician corporate lawyer” as applied to Ron Kirk. Liberals like Van Os define the world according to class. Never mind that Kirk came from a working class background. His mother was a teacher. His father was a postal worker who was passed over for promotions while white workers advanced. Van Os went to law school and became a lawyer and nobody will ever question his credentials as a liberal because he is white. But he regards Ron Kirk as a sellout because he is black and became a big-firm lawyer and mayor of Dallas instead of being a man of the people. Tony Sanchez and Ron Kirk didn’t get their asses kicked because they weren’t credible candidates of the people. They got their asses kicked because the Republicans and George W. Bush had won the hearts and minds of Texans by 2002. If Democrats are going to win in this state, they must produce candidates who have been successful in private and public life–people like Ron Kirk. Liberals would rather lose with populists than win with rich guys. The next comment is from John Robert Behrman, a frequent commenter on this blog and the state committeeman from Senate District 13 in Houston. His obsevations, in italics, follow quotes he drew from my post, which are in bold face. Has everybody forgotten 2002? The Obama campaign operation in Chicago probably never heard of our stupid “Dream Team” and have let themselves get hijacked by … Ron Kirk, Kirk Watson, Molly Beth Malcomb, … Roland Garcia, and, yes, the other 2002 remnants. But, that is not at all the fault or the thesis of David Van Os or of, well, myself. (State Committeeman from SD 13). Moreover, there is plenty of time for the Obama campaign to consolidate power in the Democratic Party and to shed worthless hangers-on like the four you allude to and I actually name. The Democratic brand in this state is tarnished. Well, yes, since 1974 as you have pointed out for … decades. Still, here are some national party ID numbers and, actually, the Texas numbers may be similar — the Harris County numbers certainly are. [Chart omitted. It shows Democratic party identification rising and Republican party identification falling.] Could we consider the possibility that it is the Austin-centric pimp-consultants, cringing-liberals with their check-list platform, and white, male-lawyer version of race-quotas and professional patronage, not to mention feckless, unilateral “bi-partisanship,” that has tarnished the brand. Could it be that Tom CRADDICK is bold and our people in the House are not? You really do David and myself a disservice by dealing in ignorant stereotypes rather than actual information. Look, Obama is huge, and there are really big things going on here. Have you read anything by Kelli GOLF? Her daddy is my friend in Ft. Bend County. You are getting besotted with Greater Austin parochialism. Come back to your roots and breath these benzene rings down here on the coast with the rest of us. If they don’t kill you, they will make you strong. The party is not credible on a statewide level. Duh!, both the DSCC/DCCC and its local chapter, the TDP are not credible on the national level either. They have failed as an opposition party and that surely raises questions about our fitness to govern, hence a “populist” tendency, faction, call it what you will, within the Democratic Party. We are loyal Democrats, but not sycophants. And, hey, Barack Obama has won the nomination by running around and outside of the folks who tried to make Hillary inevitable nationally, lock-up Texas early for Edwards, and lock-down the state convention so as to perpetuate the Fred Baron receivership and Boyd Richie’s puppetship. OK, they succeeded with the receivership/puppetship thing. So, generally, the Obama campaign is operating well outside the usually rotten and ineffective party establishments here and elsewhere. To quote Molly Ivins, “good on them”. Too many of its candidates have been anonymous placeholders. That is much more so of the “rotation” of party office-squatters. But, you need to know there are emerging party leaders – Dierdre RASHEED, Jolanda JONES, and, wow, Roslyn SHORTER – who are awesome. Good candidates with potential shy away from running. Or, they don’t, and in the case of Barbara RADNOFSKY, yes, David VAN OS, and, now, Bill DINGUS, are trashed by the essentially collaborative, not even remotely competitive, Austin-centric party establishment. No Democrat has won a statewide race since 1994. Yes, in 1994 Martin FROST (now Matt ANGLE) raised a ton more money than the GOP, assiduously protected the least moral members of the Democratic Party, laughed at Newt GINGRICH, and got whipped big-time. Maybe, Matt ANGLE is a fool and Newt GINGRICH is not. Maybe, the Democratic Party ought to be “transformative” rather than “transactional”. You might want to think in a dramatic, rather than nerd-like framework. At the top of the ticket, the GOP is the default choice. OK, Paul, is that your preference? My response is simply this: Democrats cannot afford to think like a small-tent party. They are small enough as it is. You have to have people who think with their hearts and those who think with their heads. Anyone who believes that Fred Baron and Matt Angle are not good for the Democratic party–and I don’t mean to put words in Mr. Behrman’s mouth–is making a serious mistake. Every party needs pros who know how to analyze races and put together the essentials of a winning campaign. You can’t win political races through will and belief alone. You have to have people with a proven record of winning races, and that means consultants and money people–among them Matt Angle and Fred Baron. Anyone who thinks that the Democratic party would be better off without them and other experienced hands is making a serious misjudgment.
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