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Dan Gerstein in the WSJ: The Terry McAuliffe Syndrome

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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:45 AM
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Dan Gerstein in the WSJ: The Terry McAuliffe Syndrome
The Wall Street Journal

January 11, 2005

COMMENTARY

The Terry McAuliffe Syndrome

By DAN GERSTEIN
January 11, 2005; Page A20

When John Kerry ripped defeat from the jaws of victory last November, losing to a wounded president with a failed record, a few of us Democratic outliers took some solace in thinking that his campaign's dismal performance might actually force the party to own up to its mortal electoral weaknesses. Turns out we grossly underestimated the national Democrats' capacity for self-delusion and self-defeat.

(snip)

And now we hear there's a move afoot to choose Terry McAuliffe -- another decent, honorable man who nevertheless presided over two consecutive election cycles in which the number of elected Democrats at almost every level shrank, and who will never be mistaken for a base-expanding communicator -- for another term as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The "Keep Mac" pack's rationale? He'll save us from Howard Dean, who most believe would have led the party to an even bigger catastrophe last fall had he gotten the nomination. Call me a curmudgeon, but that seems like an odd way to project strength at a moment an historic political realignment is taking place -- at least the old guy won't humiliate us!

(snip)

Stop and think about it. The national party had back-to-back election seasons in 2002 and 2004 that were successively despairing and disastrous -- the kind of record that if it were experienced by a pro sports team would have prompted the owner to clean house. And what are we doing? Mostly wringing our hands about changing the floor wax. Now, is Terry McAuliffe or any other single leader wholly responsible for our failures? Certainly not. In fact, Mr. McAuliffe did a lot of important work to modernize the party infrastructure and strengthen our long-term financial stability. But the fact is, politics provides clear, irrefutable ways to measure performance, and by most any standard our recent performance stinks. That begs a few questions. Such as, what does it take to hold someone accountable for losing? And more importantly, when do we stop beating our heads against the wall and try something -- and someone -- different?

(snip)

But I am guessing these are many of the same folks who urged Mr. Kerry not to respond to the deeply damaging calumnies that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were slinging at his war record. God forbid we dignified those tactics by standing up for ourselves and actually fighting back (instead of robotically telling people we'll fight for them)... So if we hope to win, we Democrats have to get over our predilection to preserve people's self-esteem at all costs, stop engaging in the politics of self-destruction, and start making some hardheaded calculations about what it takes to become a majority party again.

Of course, upgrading the salesmen won't dramatically change the results if we don't also upgrade the product we're marketing. Right now the clear majority of voters -- including large swaths of the country -- don't trust us to keep them safe or share their values, and we have a long way to go to rethink our messages and policies and ultimately rehabilitate our credibility. But we have to remember that politics is the art of persuasion, and in this era of diminishing party identification, elections more and more are tough tests of individual leadership. This last presidential campaign proved that in spades. And our test now as Democrats is whether we can select and empower strong, savvy and compelling men and women to not only chart our course but change it... We desperately need "ends people" -- those who are committed more to building winning coalitions than to feeling morally superior and placating pariahs like Michael Moore, and who have the vision to think ahead of the curve and the guts to run straight over people when necessary to get more votes than the other guy.

A good place to start is in the DNC race. Of all the candidates in the mix, the only one I know of who can imagine a different kind of politics that transcends obsolete clichs of left and right, harness the power of new ideas to win over new voters, and be tough as hell when it's called for is New Democratic Network Chairman Simon Rosenberg. He can do all those things in large part because he's already shown he knows how to win, having been an integral part of the take-no-prisoners Clinton war room in 1992. I'm not crazy about the fact that he has often worked closely with Mr. McAuliffe and the rest of the current Democratic leadership. But that may ultimately prove to be an asset in helping to bridge the differences in the party and build the broader coalition we need to win again.

(snip)


URL for this article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB110540658348622354,0...


Mr. Gerstein, an independent consultant in New York, was communications director for Sen. Joe Lieberman and a senior strategist for the senator's presidential campaign.
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moggie12 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:55 AM
Response to Original message
1. Can someone cut-and-paste whole article??
WSJ website requires you be a subscriber to view whole article. I'm not (and never will be...) but this article sounds very good (although it will inflame Dean supporters, Michael Moore fans, etc.)
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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:59 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Copyright rules prevent me from posting the complete article
but I emailed it to you - hope you got it... first time that I used this feature...
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moggie12 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:35 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. Thanks for the e-mail -- it worked
Am expecting a visit from FBI any minute -- yesterday I pasted an article from a publication I subscribe to -- didn't know about the copyright rules -- oh God, there's the sirens now......
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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. It's DU rules. Only four paragraphs..
I have had posts where additional paragraphs were deleted by a moderator. Though I think that it is more strictly enforced on the LBN thread..

Glad that it worked.
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roenyc Donating Member (824 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. its not worth it, its the WSJ just the Post for people who
can read.
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CWebster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #1
11. Yes, although Moore just won the peoples choice awards
any association with him is bound to be an unpopular move....with Democrats?

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Demit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:57 AM
Response to Original message
2. A strategist for Lieberman's presidential campaign, huh?
Wow, Dan Gerstein must have a lot of credibility then. Not.
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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:01 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. Yes and no
I agree with his reasons to get rid of McAuliffe, but have no idea who his guy is.

One does not have to reject - or agree - with the complete essay to appreciate some of the points raised
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Demit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. I agree with getting rid of McAuliffe too. But this guy's jab at Michael
Moore--"placating pariahs like Michael Moore"--tells me a lot about where he's coming from. That and the fact that he's aligned with Lieberman. Sounds DLC and GOP Lite all the way, to me. His point about putting more muscle into the fight with Repubs I can agree with, I guess--except the slam at Kerry snatching defeat from the jaws of victory only make sense in the alternate universe of this having been a totally honest and aboveboard election.

It sounds as if he's one of the we-have-to-move-more-to-the-right crowd. And that I most vociferously do not agree with.
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moggie12 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #2
12. LOL - you've got a point
What I liked was Gerstein publicly stating that our campaign strategists stink (at this point I am so apoplectic about Bob Shrum I can't trust myself to talk about him anymore).

There were two good DU threads in past few days about Dem consultants. If you didn't see them and are interested, this is the best one:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

Somebody named "NYCGirl" posted a Washington Monthly article that made my hair stand on end. There's a link to it in the thread above (in comment #8).

After reading some of that stuff, I started to believe that if we don't fix these problems (Dem insider politics with consultants) we might as well run Disney characters...

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Edgewater_Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:59 AM
Response to Original message
3. Huh. Who Knew WSJ Could Be So On Point?
The guy's absolutely right, and it makes my points over and over again: the current leadership has had the controls of the party and steered it to the point of irrelevance. Not elimination, IRRELEVANCE. That's even worse, and if Dean at least makes the party relevant -- as I think he can do -- then he's worth the leadership.

He'd be a Hell of a lot better than RoeGOPmer, who really is from the same Democratic Losers' Council cloth.
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CWebster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
10. The WSJ suggests Democrats go from the pot to
the frying pan.

What a surprise.
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CWebster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:01 AM
Response to Original message
13. YO folks
are you looking to who he recommends as the solution--head of the New Democrat Network, in other words, the DLC. You know, the corporate wing. Who else would the WSJ prefer?
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