Thursday, April 24, 2008

There's Bad, then There's Baaaad

Running for President of the United States (or POTUS, for those "in the know") opens all kinds of doors, especially for the losers. Whether Senators Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama win the nomination, the loser will have a rich future. Leadership opportunities within the Congress and party, private sector positions from board seats on up, and probably even a free gig writing for, oh say, Newsweek, every 2-3 weeks (just to let us know (s)he's alive), among many other prominent opportunities. Mrs. Clinton will probably lose the nomination, which means Senator Harry Reid of Nevada should seriously fear his Majority Leader status. And, if by some profoundly racist maneuver, the Democratic party dismisses Mr. Obama, well, in the words of Nas "the world is yours."

Losing a primary contest, especially after making huge headway, is a feat only a fortunate few experience. Unfortunately, sometimes imbeciles do pretty well in elections, and they, too, are privy to the luxuries of losing. Some losers, no matter how unfit, can even become party chair. People, I'm speaking of DNC head, former governor of Vermont (where Killington rules!!!), and a man who, at one point, was the leader in the '03-04 primary. Howard Dean, America. Howard effing Dean.

In the wake of the Democratic party's '04 Bull Run, with the defeat of Senator John Kerry, and dozens of Rep's in the House and Senate (particularly then Minority Leader Senator Tom Daschle), Dean was elected its chairman. Forget that his brand of liberalism was as unpopular then as in any other time in modern history. Forget that he showed an inability to run a national enterprise under positive circumstances (i.e. his campaign in early December 2003), let alone the dismal times the DNC was in. Forget that his opponents were Donna Brazile, a party strategist who knows her stuff, and Tim Roemer, former Indiana Congressman and 9/11 Commission member. Despite a prairie full of obstacles, Dean was elected party chair.

The consequence was seen in the '06 midterm elections. With several upsets brewing in traditional Republican districts, and Democrats poised to take back key moderate ones, Dean was slow to release DNC money to help push the results over the edge. In many cases, he simply never got money to some campaigns. Former Clinton strategists James Carville and Paul Begala blamed Dean for the party's failure to take dozens of additional seats. They openly questioned his ability to run the party effectively, and considered him a dreadful mistake.

Now, we're at a moment where neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Obama seem poised to drop out. Mrs. Clinton's nomination might seem impossible to attain, yet calls for her to drop out are wrong. She's won Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts, and then some. Would you drop out, with the kind of following she has, with those victories under your belt? I wouldn't. Mr. Obama, meanwhile, is in the lead. Say what you want about his obstacles, he's in the lead.

Reverand Wright and "Bitter"?

He's in the lead.

Black and middle name Hussein?


In these moments, tough standards need to be applied. Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to create one standard by suggesting Super-delegates support the candidate with the most delegates. Of course, the Clinton machine quickly put her in her place, essentially undermining the first female Speaker's position in her party... how ironic.

As party leader, Howard Dean should have seen this problem from the jump. When it was clear Mr. Obama was going nowhere by mid-February, he should have set the standards as to what constitutes victory. Whether it would have been like Pelosi's or not, it's important to have an end- game. As party leader, he should have dealt decisively with Florida and Michigan, which are now albatrosses for the party. Mrs. Clinton now claims those delegates although Mr. Obama, obeying party rules, didn't even campaign there. Mrs. Clinton's claims on the states, despite party rules, only further confounds the process. Simply saying that things must be settled by July won't make it so.

Of course, Dean can't be blamed for the closeness of the primary. But his incompetence and ineptitude does nothing to bring it to an end. Rather, his mere presence (or lack there of) seems to embolden the Clintons, and makes Obama hope for his quick resignation from the party, or the planet.

Either will do.