RUN FOR OUR LIVES!
Diane Feinstein's decision not to run as an "insurance policy" on the recall ballot has produced the sort of hand-wringing and woeful wailing among Democrats that is usually reserved for the funerals of young children and beloved matriarchs. "Why oh why won't she run?" we sob as we clutch our worry beads and Susan B. Anthony rosaries. After all, she is 70. This could be her final act of service to the Dem Party, and she is the most popular figure in the state -- or is she? The Sac Bee's Washington Bureau Reporter Michael Doyle gets some of it right and a huge chunk of it way wrong in this analysis:
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., once set her heart on being governor. Now, intriguingly, her decision Wednesday to forgo another gubernatorial bid only enhances her political stature. By resisting entreaties to put her name on the Oct. 7 recall ballot, Feinstein simultaneously serves several purposes while showcasing her own clout. Indeed, she may be the one certain Democratic winner emerging from what she termed the recall "carnival." [...] Although ad hoc, the draft-Feinstein movement of recent weeks riveted attention to her paramount standing.He's got her stature right...but certain winner? He continues:
Her stature is such that some House Democrats on Wednesday, in a highly charged 90-minute telephone conference call, voiced anger that she wouldn't step in as the party's savior, one Capitol Hill source said. Nonetheless, Feinstein's decision keeps her aligned with the party leadership and its allies in organized labor.The question for me is, why would she, the most prominent Democrat in California, care about being in lock-step with so-called party leadership? Indeed, most of the party leaders -- and the rank and file -- that I know, really want her to step in and are frustrated that she won't clear the field of other Dems. We have a Presidential election next year and the issue transcends state politics and personal opinions of Davis or the recall. From Robert Price's column in today's Bakersfield Californian:
Are you sure, Dianne? Bakersfield Democratic activist Scott Moore says he senses an odd change over the past 48 hours in the way many party faithful have come to view the non-candidacy of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.A few excerpts from my letter:
"Democrats who were once hoping Feinstein [would or] wouldn't run (for governor) are now angry that she isn't," said Moore, who's doing unofficial campaign organizing for presidential hopeful Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor. Moore was concerned enough to fire off an e-mail to Art Torres, chairman of the state Democratic Party. "If we lose the Governor's Mansion," Moore wrote, "Dianne will be blamed every bit as much as Davis or (recall proponents Darrell) Issa or (Ted) Costa -- maybe more. ... (Some Democrats) are furious with her."
Today, (this was Thursday) I've spoken with folks all over the state: Dean Meetup Coordinators, party officers, union leaders, "defeat the recall" organizers, local Dem elected officials and their staffs. I've spoken with folks likely to support Cruz, and folks likely to support Garamendi. All, obviously, oppose the recall. Nonetheless, they all want Diane on that ballot to clear the field and as a safety net, this I'm ceratin this is not news to you.So, Diane as the "certain winner?" Well, I think not. In fact, she, and the Democratic Party with her, could fast become the biggest losers. If George Bush, with Arnold's help, eeks out a victory in California, Diane's place in history will be toast. Diane, if running upsets your life, I'm sorry. But please be a leader and RUN FOR OUR LIVES! Please use this link to contact Senator Feinstein and ask her to oppose the recall but to put her name on the ballot, the deadline is this Saturday -- tomorrow! UPDATE: Some pundits think it's better for Bush to have an unpopular Davis remain in office to kick around. This scenario would require Schwarzenegger to become as unpopular as Davis to be good for Dems, which seems unlikely to me, and so I must respectfully disagree.
But the thing that became clear to me today, that was different from even 24 hours ago, was this: to a person, they are all becoming increasingly angry with Diane. If we lose the Governors Mansion, Diane will be blamed every bit as much as Davis or Issa or Costa -- maybe more. To a person, and this includes some Garamendi/Bustamante partisans, they are furious -- with her.
The consensus I get is that it seems she is being as selfish as Gray, putting the personal above the good of the Party, when she knows she can save the day. Many are frustrated to the point of bursting, and she will face a huge backlash in popularity among a wide section of Dem activists if she does not run and we lose -- and they ALL think we are gonna lose. If the base thinks it, it is true. Davis could still beat the recall with Diane on the ballot, but we'll lose it all if she is not and lots of Dems will just stay home.
Oh sure, she'll retain her seat, but this is one stain she will never get past. She could set us up for 10 years in the Governors Mansion, and help us retain her Senate seat, or she could set us up for Arnold, a statewide sweep-out of Dem constitutional officeholders, and a nightmare for the Dem nominee in California during next year's Presidential Race, forcing expenditures and efforts that could otherwise be spent in key battleground states.
Frankly, I understand their anger and frustration with Diane, I feel it, too. It's time for Diane to act in the best interest of California and the State and National Democrats. The waiting is over, this is how history will remember her in our state, and in our party. She will get the credit -- or the blame.
UPDATE DEUX: Kausfiles' Mickey Kaus weighs in on the Dem dilemma and PW's lament and tons of other thoughts, scuttle and links on the recall:
Democrats are looking into the abyss here. They must have something to throw against Schwarzenegger other than a) the dynamic Cruz Bustamante! and b) increasingly weary goo-goo laments about the messiness of the recall. I think they do. ... Still, Is "No on Recall, Yes on Bustamante" plus a tabloid campaign against Arnold really the best they can come up with? ... Yoo-hoo! Dianne! Some grassroots Democrats are getting angry at you because you won't step in to save the party. ... You have 28 more hours. Take your time. ---- (and this bit as well from further down the page):Abyss, here we come! Too bad it's not a ride at Magic Mountain, but rather, harsh reality.
Is it now in Davis' interest that Sen. Dianne Feinstein enter the race? Rationale: With a moderate, palatable big-name alternative bringing out the anti-Davis vote, Davis now desperately needs loyal Democrats at the polls. If Feinstein runs she will denounce the recall and bring out millions of Democrats who will in passing vote for Davis on the recall question before voting for Feinstein on the "replacement" question. If Davis beats the recall because of these Feinstein voters, he stays as governor. It won't matter to him if Feinstein beats Schwarzenegger in a meaningless replacement contest or not.
Two conservative sources are now bucking Rove's reverse psychology of "we want Dean" with sobering reality -- or is it dawning horror? Dean's rise looks more and more like Reagan's, just as the Republican's and DLC's dismissals of Dean as "McGovern" echo the Democrat's and centrist Republican's dismissals of "Reagan" as "Goldwater."
So these writers on Dean, from PW's careful-what-you-wish-for file, first, George Will:
Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh asked a simple question, but the answer is not simple. At a meeting of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, Bayh asked fellow Democrats, "Do we want to vent or do we want to govern?" [...] Dean Democrats are not like [Goldwater Republicans]. However much they fault his rivals, their target is Bush. So the answer to Bayh's question is: They want to govern.And though you should read the whole article this summation from The Weekly Standard:
Dean's conceit that he represents "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" is a reprise of what Harry Truman supposedly said (apocrypha encrust his legend; the Truman presidential library cannot confirm this aphorism) when disparaging Democrats who were insufficiently combative: Give people a choice between a Republican and a Republican and they will pick the Republican every time. Dean's mantra also echoes Barry Goldwater's boast that he offered "a choice, not an echo."
Dean knows that he must strike early in the process, for two reasons. First, early on, the ideologically high-octane activists are apt to be a larger proportion of participants in the nominating process than later on. Second, there might not be a later on. [...]
To those who call him "polarizing," Dean can respond: How do you polarize a polarized electorate? Some in the White House believe that true independents -- those whose votes really are up for grabs, as distinguished from those who call themselves independents but almost always vote one way -- are only about 7 percent of the electorate.
If so, the 2004 election, even more than most elections, will turn on the parties' ability to turn out their committed supporters. And some in the White House are beginning to worry about Dean because he understands that venting may be a practical precursor to governing: Venting energizes the party's base.
That is why some in the White House say they worry that Dean might be an especially dangerous opponent. But, then, Br'er Rabbit said, "Please, Br'er Fox, don't fling me in that briar patch."
As for the general election, Republicans seem unaware of how riled up Democratic activists remain, even three years after the 2000 elections. A substantial segment of the party's base has been radicalized to the point where it does not recognize the legitimacy of the Bush presidency. This is a very different thing than mere dislike of a president. It means that Democrats are prepared to fight this election as if they were struggling to overthrow a tyrant. One fears that 2004 could wind up--in its rhetoric and its electoral ethics--as the dirtiest general election campaign in living memory. It is not a condemnation of Dean to say that his rise provides another piece of evidence that this fear is well founded.Whatever happens, it's gonna be an interersting year!
Even circus freaks must be hangin' their heads in shame. From today's WaPo:
"Want to be governor? If you are 99 years old, 99 Cents Only Stores will gladly pay your $3,499 filing fee and gather the signatures needed for our chosen candidate." Or the campaign slogan that Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt announced here Monday when he declared his candidacy for governor: "Vote for the smut peddler with a heart."Crap. Arianna and Georgy are starting to look upstanding, and I doubt we've seen the last of the one-named women for Guv. As Charlie Brown would say, "Good grief."
Dean National, super-blogger, and all around good guy Ezra Klein may not be a genius, but he sure is making a difference.
I just finished up an amazing phone call with a guy who is almost certainly the most interesting Dean activist I've spoken with to date -- and with Dean fans, that is really saying something. Jeff Travis is a senior at Bakersfield's Centennial High, and just happens to be the first future voter in California to register a highschool group at Ezra's brain-baby, Students for Dean. He's planning on attending our Dean Meetup Wednesday, and he's full of great ideas and pure enthusiasm. Though Travis will not be able to vote in the primary, he has plans that simply floor me. Now mind you, I've been in the political world for longer than I care to say, and though I started young, I've never personally come across an individual quite this inspiring. Travis is the co-founder of the political society at his local highschool. He's the editor of his school newspaper. He's the President of our fast-growing Students for Dean group in Bakersfield. And, he's hoping to attend Annapolis Naval Academy. (Who says military-minded Americans don't support Dean?) Hrumph -- I'm jealous. I was never this keck-ash at seventeen. Please note, all this, in a very conservative town – it’s Bush country.
Further, Jeff is just one leader among hundreds in Student for Dean groups all over the nation. If they are all planning campus flyers, student voter registration drives, and inter-campus bi-partisan activism, well, how can we lose? Bakersfield is lucky to have him -- and so is Dean. Dean, more than any Democrat in my lifetime (and yes, I include Bill Clinton) is firing-up an entire generation of Democratic leaders. These folks are the future of our party. The future of the United States. And, quite literally, the future of the free peoples of the world.
So get out of your seat. Stand up. Clap. We are gonna win this election, one Ezra Klein and one Jeff Travis at a time. Hey, we can all say that we knew them when...and their stories are the stories of the New American Revolution.
11.7.03 NOTE FROM FUTURE SELF: While persuing the archives I noted that I had written nice things about Ezra Klein -- oops! Slip on the keyboard, he's waffled so many times on which candidate to support (currently Clark, I believe) that Ezra is heavy on the all around and short on the good guy.