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Unacceptable Failure in Washington

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About a week ago I got one of several calls I will get this year from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). I detest that organization, but I understand the party-political need for recruitment of good candidates, especially those (like Gavin Newsome of San Francisco) who without help from seasoned coaches and a fast course in how to take it on the chin and survive, ... would (like Gavin Newsome) not survive. But, the DSCC and its counterpart (equally corrupt) in the House have become "incumbency rackets" rather than recruitment organizations or miniature bootcamps for aspiring pols. I told the nice lady that I disagree almost all the time with what DSCC does, and lo! she admitted to me that they have made quite a few mistakes recently. The name Joe Lieberman came up. I told her I would never again contribute to the DSCC ... crossing my fingers ... and hoping that someone of the 65 Democrats begins to understand what the real purpose is. It is not prolonging incumbency!

So with that rolling around in mid-term memory in an exchange of emails with my colleague in Massachusetts I am told that the Coakley campaign was not Obama's fault. The Boston Globe says as much with quite a bit of detail, including Ms. Coakley's unfortunately timed Caribbean holiday.

I read the piece and noticed that there was a subtext. The White House is trying to get the burden of failure off Obama's back ... as you might easily suspect. And, there is the drift of the article to the conclusion that Coakley just was not ready for prime time, which the voters quickly understood, and so they acted accordingly. So much for running naked through the streets of Boston and the rest of a locked-down, stalwart Democratic state. Well, so much bullcrap!

The DSCC dropped the ball by not telling Coakley that she must win the election and that she should not take anything ... ANYTHING ... for granted. DSCC should have forwarded a copy of that message to DNC so that they could remind Coakley about the New Jersey and Virginia losses ... and that the public is angry ... very angry! They apparently did not, or if they made the effort they made very little impact. DNC needs help and quickly. Do not even think about Rahm as the leader of DNC!

The White House, being tacked toward the political center by Rahm, should have made it plain to DNC that Obama's agenda very much depends on the Senate being filibuster-proof. When the Massachusetts campaign began Rahm should have made double sure that DNC and DSCC were in cammies and conducting bootcamp for Coakley. Apparently, Mr. Emanuel did not see the underlying and obvious urgency. Mr. Emanuel is not the brightest guy in the White House, by the way. It is a shame that President Obama cannot see that everything that goes through Rahm's office becomes less. Obama knows that Emanuel is more conservative than himself, but with a good Chief of Staff, the message of the leader, not the stiff in the Chief of Staff's office, would be the message we hear. Apparently ... all too apparently ... this is not the case.

This is not to let Axelrod off the hook, either. He is a politically savvy guy and should have a reflexive interest in anything that threatens or threatens to threaten the power structure in Washington vis-Ã -vis his charge as chief political advisor. Apparently he does not see it that way or cannot get his voice heard.

The up-shot of the Massachusetts debacle is not that Coakley was arrogantly and publically advertising that she thought herself to be a "shoe in." The real conclusion is that the top leadership of the Democratic Party----beginning at the very top ... in the White House----is failing, flailing, and inept. President Obama should make changes to his staff, not his ... and our ... agenda!

JB First published at

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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)

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