Bouyed by polls which say the "generic Democrat" is a walk-away favorite, you'd think there would be peace and harmony within the party organization as they plan and execute a strategy which will surely translate from generic to specific Democrats winning in November. You'd think.
But even a generic Democrat needs a message, right? And the Dems still don't have one. Or at least not one they agree upon. Oh they know they have a problem. They're just not agreed on what it is and how to handle it. But they understand the possible repercussions if they don't get something settled and settled rather quickly:
“What we have to do is define ourselves so that Republicans do not define us. This is a define-or-be-defined business that we’re in, so you can’t leave it out in the open,” [House Minority Leader] Pelosi said.
Bingo. So Pelosi is pushing and pushing hard for something, anything with which they can define themselves before the Republicans do it for them.
So she's suggested three themes for brand differentiation:
She outlined three areas where Democrats would seek to differentiate themselves from Republicans: integrity, civility and accountability. If Democrats were to take control of the House in November, their first actions would focus on promoting those values, she said.
“These are not full-blown initiatives,” she cautioned, “[but] they are a beginning to differentiate from the Republicans’ misguided priorities of taking us deeply into debt, bringing up divisive social issues instead and raising those issues instead of raising the minimum wage.”
The Hill reminds us these three themes are somewhat similar to what Democrats ran on in 2004 when they lost some seats. Of the 6 core values presented, accountability was one and it included "civility in debate" as a subsection of that value.
Apparently, given the uncivility of much of the debate since '04, that's only a value if they are in power.
Pelosi also wants to quit talking about Republicans and start talking about Democrats. She says:
“Now it’s time to talk about us. Enough of the Republicans. It’s time for us to talk about what are the priorities we’d like to see addressed, if we have the opportunity,” Pelosi said in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday.
She's right. But she's also fighting a another movement within her own party:
Pelosi has been seen as favoring an early message, while Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who head up the campaign committees for House and Senate Democrats, have argued for focusing on Republican misdeeds.
So we'll have Pelosi pushing a "here's what Democrats want to accomplish message" pretty much alone while the two heads of the campaign committees for Congress push a "here's how bad the Republicans are" message. That won't confuse anyone.
Right now the apparent "plan" for the Democrats which will soon be unveiled is as follows:
The Democratic program will consist of bread-and-butter priorities: increasing the minimum wage, cutting costs of prescription drugs, reducing interest rates on student loans, rolling back subsidies for oil companies, and pay-as-you-go budgeting, according to party officials.
Small bite, easily understood actions. But will they appeal enough to voters to throw an incumbent Republican out?
Maybe. But then, it all comes down to organization and voter turnout doesn't it? And that is where another problem crops up. Howard Dean and the DNC strategy vs. Rahm Emanuel, chair of the House Campaign Committee and how to spend the party's money.
Dean favors a 50 state strategy. Emanuel favors targeted races where Democrats have at least a chance to win. Apparently never the twain shall meet:
Some Democrats are concerned that when they do finalize their message and it comes time to broadcast it to voters they may not have the requisite money at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to counter the growing war chest of the Republican National Committee (RNC).
Emanuel reportedly stormed out of a meeting with DNC Chairman Howard Dean, disgusted that Dean was spending money on his “50 State” program rather than hoarding it for congressional races.
The DNC had $9.4 million at the end of April, while the RNC had $44.7 million.
Pelosi called Emanuel’s complaints legitimate.
You bet they're legitimate. And they better be addressed pronto if the Democrats hope to make any headway in November.
Last but not least, we need to address what can only be termed a political pipe dream. If we should be so lucky as to actually see a Speaker Pelosi (I'm sorry folks, it would be the gift that keeps on giving in pure blogging terms), she's sure she could enable bi-partisan cooperation if just given the chance:
But perhaps more important, Pelosi is vowing to run the House — a body of Congress marked by intense partisanship for decades — in a bipartisan fashion.
“You can’t name a Democratic bill that’s come to [a vote] in the House of Representatives. That’s just not right. … I would hope that we could find common ground [with President Bush and Hill Republicans] because I do believe bipartisanship is important.”
What Pelosi is promising is if she gets to lead the House is that unlike now, Republican bills will be as welcome as those initiated by Democrats.
Just when you think Pelosi might have been bitten by the political reality bug, she goes and says something like that.
"You can’t name a Democratic bill that’s come to [a vote] in the House of Representatives."
Ummm, well, yeah. That’s what happens when you lose control of all three branches of government. Back when Dems controlled the Presidency, though, Clinton’s initiatives came up with some degree of regularity, eg minimum wage increase of 1996, v-chip legislation, etc. I’m not sure a whole lot of Republican bills got through the 103rd Congress, though . . .
Speaking perfectly objectively, I don’t know who has the better strategy: Dean, or Emanuel. It’s the old question of spend or invest: Emanuel needs that money now, but many Democratic state party networks are in bad shape, and getting worse. It’ll be cheaper in the long run to keep them alive now than it would be to let them die and try to regrow them later.
Pelosi is an ineffective shill....Emanuel will be looking for some credit if the Democrats win in Nov. She’d better watch her back. The 50 State Strategy is a great idea in theory but isn’t working out in practice. So I agree with Emanuel...get the seats that are vulnerable, dump resourses there, and get ready for ’08.