Sunday, October 23, 2005

''Leadership, not spin is needed now''

"If the Democrats blow 2006, not to mention 2008, the entire party needs to throw its collective hands up and dismiss itself. Just like the Whigs and the Federalists passed into the history books, Democrats too may be deemed completely irrelevant if they can’t get regain power in this debacle of leadership currently on display.

John Harwood, Wall Street Journal senior political reporter, and Leon Panetta, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton, were interviewed on national television Thursday about the growing “crisis” in the White House. Neither was reticent to call the current state of affairs what it is, a wide-scale mess.

Consider the litany of problems. The war in Iraq. Failed hurricane disaster efforts. An investigation into the CIA leak that has reached to the core of the administration. A floundering nomination of Harriet Miers. The Bush White House resembles more each day the 1998 Clinton White House. Second-term plans such as tax revisions and social security overhaul are lost in a bonfire of failed programs and inept leadership.

Unfortunately, the Democrats appear to be a ship capsized by a profound lack of leadership and charting a course to nowhere. Where is the counterpoint to the president’s turmoil? Where is the opposition to unending war, limitless debt and failed policies?

Democrats have spent so long being defined as “not Republicans” that they offer little genuine leadership. Read many of national commentators, and the anti-Bush rhetoric is spirited stuff. But pro-anything is flaccid and lifeless. It is easy to blast a president, but apparently it is very hard to create a comprehensive and sustainable plan for the future that a strong majority of Americans can enthusiastically support.

With the exception of one charismatic leader, Democrats have not won a significant election since Lyndon B. Johnson. Jimmy Carter was the anti-Nixon candidate. Clinton won without a majority the first time, largely thanks to Ross Perot’s splinter candidacy. During the same era, the failures of Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry define post-Kennedy Democrats more so than any significant success.

Camelot, where have you gone?

Democrats can’t help themselves from imploding. Rather than celebrate a cast of favorable candidates, they rush like mice behind whoever is deemed “the one.” All of Howard Dean’s early promise was wiped out in one state’s election as the entire power structure rushed to fall in behind Kerry. The entire primary was a washout as money flew to Kerry and Democrats lost a chance to let the best candidate fight it out and win. We are so determined to find a winner, we fail to wait for leadership to emerge. We build straw men for candidates.

So what’s happening now? The “Just Win baby” philosophy is already lining up behind Hillary Clinton, the hopeful reincarnation of Bill.

Read any Susan Estrich column and you’d think she is applying for the job as Hillary’s campaign manager rather than offering Democrats insightful commentary. She dismisses serious leaders like Virginia Gov. Mark Warner or even John Edwards (moderates who have won in Red States, rather than liberals from the northeast blue states) while encouraging all Democrats everywhere to line up behind Hillary.

That’s spin, not leadership. If Democrats hope to win back some of Congress in 2006 and win back the White House in ’08, they bigger figure out how to lead now, at a time when it appears the entire country is desperately lacking anything of the kind."-from the editorial in the Ashland Daily Times (OR). I don't buy the whole argument, but am posting this because there some parts I appreciate.

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