On Wednesday afternoon, the DSCC and the DCCC held a conference call with some bloggers. That was my first time participating in one of those. I found it. . . enlightening. Ahem.
I’ve already written about the basic message both Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer conveyed to us about their strategy for the Fall, without attributing it to them directly, so I won’t repeat all that here. But now that I know the conversation was on the record, I have some other things to tell you. Schumer had some words for us about what he thought we bloggers should do, what he assumes you think (he was kind enough to tell us), and what he thinks of Feingold’s censure resolution.
Senator Schumer said (bold is my editorial emphasis, italics denote his vocal emphasis):
“Look at Ports Dubai. That was a great issue for us, and I kept hammering away at that because, again, it put them on the defensive. Those are the issues!
You don’t want to get off that issue. In fact, the censure resolution, still when Ports Dubai was cooking, moved it from an issue where we were hammering them, and Bush’s incompetence was shown, into an issue that divided Democrats, and united Republicans and even independents.
[snip. . .]
I couldn’t agree more with Rahm: we need to pass a threshold where we stand for something, we’re going to do something, we believe in things. But the main outcome of this election, as in every second term, midterm election, is a referendum on the incumbent. That is to the good for us, when George Bush is below 40%. His popularity rating now is only six points better than Richard Nixon’s was when he waved goodbye on the air on the helicopter. . .
[snip. . .]
One thing you all can do is encourage your readers to turn out, and I would argue to you the best reason to. . . the best way to get your readers to turn out is to say, “Don’t let George Bush get away with anything more!” That, I think, would motivate just about every Democrat, from the most conservative to the most liberal, more than any other message. Maybe I’m wrong, and we’ll continue the discussion, but that’s what I feel out there.
That’s how he ended the call.
As a participant in the call, I can tell you these quotes don’t do justice to the Senator’s overall tone. He came across as dismissive, impatient and frequently overbearing. He does not believe the grassroots is at all bothered by the establishment’s decision to abandon Murtha on redeployment or Feingold on censure. Censure, to Schumer, is clearly a nuisance and a distraction.
Let me point out once again, for the umpteenth time, that Murtha’s redeployment plan enjoys wide support among a majority, including Democrats and independents, even as it splits Republicans. Let me further add that the Senator’s interpretation of the polls on censure is wrong. His statement is more like a Ken Mehlman fax than an honest review of the polling on censure.
Okay, so the campaign committees won’t play offense. A little bird I trust on the Senate side tells me not to make much of the lack of attendance among Democrats for today’s censure hearing, though I was inclined to see Schumer’s fingerprints on all those empty seats. Again, all I can tell you is, I trust my source, who unfortunately does not yet have a statement I can publish.
The bottom line is this: the DSCC does not see your voice as important. Schumer says the DSCC’s small dollar donations are at record highs, so all the grassroots Democrats must be happy. Conveniently, he omits that past DSCC efforts have not focused much on small donors. He also ignores the possibility that small dollar donations could be exponentially higher if Senate Democrats actually stood up for popular issues of conscience. He is determined not to play offense, because he believes it would take the focus off Bush.
I disagree. Attacking blatant presidential power grabs only highlights Bush’s failures further. Politicians can lead and shape public opinion, and censure already enjoys wide support, even without any effort to educate the public. If Senate Democrats united in support for censure, those last six points separating Bush from Nixon could fall our way, even as we protect constitutional balance and maybe save the republic.
The establishment Schumer represents is not limited to his right wing corporate donors like Home Depot founder Ken Langone, with whom Schumer joined to run a challenger against Elliot Spitzer in the New York governor’s race. His establishment also of course includes George Bush’s favorite "Democrat," Joe Lieberman, whose reelection the DSCC supports.
Would you like to show Chuck Schumer, the DSCC and the Washington, DC party establishment that you know what you think better than he does?
Give some money love to Ned Lamont (warning: Act Blue is experiencing some volume delays, so be patient, please!). If you can do it tonight, before the end of the first quarter, your dollars will effectively count extra, because once first quarter results are in, other donors will be tempted to back Lamont if his fundraising looks strong. Early money in a campaign is far more potent than late money, and that’s where we let Ciro Rodriguez down. Don’t wait until the final stretch. Give now. Give early.
If Lamont can win, I guarantee you the DC establishment will think of you very differently by the end of this year. They work for us. We’re building a movement to promote a sustainable, progressive governing majority, not just running a timid incumbent protection racket that placates the lowest common denominator.