Saturday, September 5, 2015

Debbie Downer

Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair and Hillary Clinton supporter Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is also a U.S. Representative from Florida, is just fine with only six Democratic presidential primary/caucus debates for 2016.
As Martin O'Malley might say, I'll bet she is!
The ridiculously small number of debates Wasserman Schultz has scheduled doesn't give O'Malley or Bernie Sanders any realistic chance of making their case for their own candidacies or against Hillary, and it doesn't allow a vigorous and thoughtful discussion on the issues and where Democrats ought to be going into the 2016 general election.  And not only are there few debates, the first one isn't until October 13, which allows the Republicans to control the media narrative and press their hateful agenda - and allows Donald Trump to be taken far more seriously than he deserves to be.
So far, Wasserman Schultz has resisted calls for more debates, and she's responded to them by saying that six debates are enough.  (The number of Democratic debates in 2008, the last time Hillary ran for the White House? 26.)  Funny that no one asks her why she thinks that's enough.  I know the real answer - she doesn't want to hurt Hillary's chances by allowing her to field too many tough questions from her opponents and the press.  I still want to know what Debbie's fake answer is.
I also want the answer to another question:
Why is this woman still running the Democratic Party?
One of the duties of any chair of a major party's national committee is to ensure as many electoral victories as possible.  But in 2014, Wasserman Schultz led the Democrats into the most disastrous midterm election in twenty year.  Democrats lost the Senate, their House caucus shrank to its lowest number since the Jazz Age, and despite a slew of atrocious Republican governors running for re-election that year, Democrats in 2014 only ousted one Republican governor - one (Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, who was probably more affected by a pedophilia scandal at Penn State than anything else).  Under her watch, the Democrats have ended up controlling only eighteen governorships and thirty out of ninety-nine state legislative chambers, and some of the brightest rising stars in the party were drowned in the 2014 Republican tsunami.  Her GOP counterpart, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, had suggested that the Republicans should try to expand beyond its narrow, right-wing Tea Party base before the midterms; thanks to Debbie, the Republicans scored huge victories without Priebus having to change course at all.  All Debbie guaranteed was more Republican obstruction and greater Republican control of the national agenda.
To be fair, Wasserman Schultz, who took over the DNC in 2011, is not to blame for the Democrats' failure to regain the House in 2012, when Democratic House candidates won a majority of the votes but failed to win a majority caucus due to gerrymandered districts. Nor is she to blame for Chris Christie's re-election as governor of New Jersey in 2013, because when Superstorm Sandy knocked the lights out in New Jersey in the fall of 2012, it also knocked out any realistic chance of unseating Christie a year later.  But she is to blame for the putting the Democrats on a suicidal, lemming-like course by not doing enough (or anything) to stave off disaster in the midterms and not encouraging a free exchange of ideas within the party.  The most recent example of this was when, at the DNC's Minneapolis conference, she quashed efforts to put the party on record as supporting the Iran deal the Obama administration helped negotiate (which now has enough support among Senate Democrats to sustain a veto of the Republican resolution rejecting it, no thanks to her).  This makes the Democrats look wimpier and more noncommittal than they already did.  It also makes Wasserman Schultz, who is Jewish and represents a Florida district with a large Jewish population, look fearful of doing anything that might offend a specific demographic group that is known to have problems with the Iran deal (and remember, not all Jews are opposed to it) and, even worse, it makes her look like she's undermining her own President.  She even undermined him over Cuba, due to southern Florida's large Cuban-American population, saying that she didn't agree with the President who picked her to run the party on restoring diplomatic ties with the island nation  (Gee, Deb, it must be hard to serves as a congresswoman, run the Democratic Party and be Secretary of State all at once!)
So, about the only six presidential debates . . . with six debates, and only six, and given Debbie's refusal to add more, how about O'Malley, Sanders and the others simply having an informal, unsanctioned debate with each other?  Oh, Debbie has already thought of that.  Any Democratic presidential candidate who does participate in a unofficial debate is not  allowed to participate in the official ones.
There is no way to view Wasserman Schultz's leadership of the Democratic Party as anything but a failure.  I've often insisted that the Democratic Party will be finished by 2020 if it continues down its current path, but Wasserman Schultz may lead it to extinction even sooner.  If the party wants to survive - I'm not talking about success, I'm talking about survival - and if it is to have any chance of retaining the White House in 2016, it must dump Debbie from the party chairmanship.  The party does not need a hack who controls and squelches debate for her own narrow interests running the show.

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