Sunday, December 05, 2004

Your comments on who should be the DNC head

Before we get too deep into this entry, I want to highlight a blog. Interesting Times at and I don't see anything that could land a write up if you check it out in the work place but, as always, click at your own risk.

I'm highlighting that site because so many of you writing on the DNC issue are expressing anger, frustration and outrage over sites that you feel are attempting to "sell out the left" (Trini) and
"have turned their backs on the people who made them important sites" (Burt). Interesting Times was forwarded to me and I'd say it's on the same page as all of you writing in terms of what direction we need to go. (I'm not commenting on the person who keeps blogging. Read him if you find it helpful or amusing but his ideas and notions don't reflect this site. Hopefully, that's the last I'll have to say on his posts.)

"safer" is a codeword for the same business-as-usual type leaders we have had in the past. We've been lead by "safe" people for years now. We need leadership that is willing to risk losing some battles in order to win the larger war. -- Interesting Times

Since the Democratic Leadership Council, with its mantra of "moderate, moderate, moderate," took hold in D.C., the party has been in decline at just about every level of government. Forget the Kerry loss. Today the number of Democrats in the House is the lowest it's been since 1948. Democrats are on the brink of becoming a permanent minority party. Can the oldest democratic institution on earth wake from its stupor? -- Joe Trippi (

“We don’t need two Republican Parties in this country,” Dean said. “Truman once said, ‘If you run a Republican against a Democrat who acts like a Republican, the real Republican wins every time.’” -- Howard Dean (

The "Red" States series (check archives) was an attempt to debunk a myth that would be used against the left. (Saturday night's The Laura Flanders Show had some good comments on this issue. is the location to hear an archived version of Saturday's show.)

Besides the fact that readers of this site were noting that people were being hurt by this myth, another concern was over how this myth would be used -- to suggest that the Democratic party must turn right to win. That's a serious concern among readers, that the party will turn right.
Whomever gets picked to head the DNC will set a tone for the party and, for that reason, a number of you are very concerned about the names being mentioned.

According to several press reports emerging this weekend, eight people will be meeting in Florida this week seeking the position. (The selection itself will be done in February.) The eight names mentioned are Howard Dean, Wellington Webb (former mayor of Denver), Harold Ickes (Clinton administration), Leo Hindery ("New York businessman"), Donnie Fowler ("political strategist"), Martin Frost (soon to be former U.S. Congress rep from Texas) and Ron Kirk (mayor of Dallas who ran for an open Senate seat in 2002 and lost to Republican John Cornyn).

Leo Hindery has strong support from Sondra who wants to advise everyone to check out the 1999 speech he gave ( to League (which is a Gay Employees Business Resource Group). Sondra also notes that Hindery received the Oates-Shrum Award in 2002 for his work on GLBT issues.

"Everytime I hear [Senator Diane] Feinstein trashing [San Francisco] Mayor [Gavin] Newsom,
I cringe," says Sondra. "After [Harvey] Milk was murdered, I found Feinstein's 'leadership' less than enlightening. I get the feeling that it would be so simple for the party to sweep gay & lesbian issues under the rug and ignore them but if they betray that group the only question is 'which group comes next?' I know Hindery is someone most people probably haven't heard of but he worked very hard raising money for the Kerry campaign and I think he genuninely cares that we stay committed to our party base."

Sondra also provided a comment of support for Hindery from Kate Michelman.

Sondra may be right about him being someone that we haven't heard a great deal about because she's the only one who wrote in regarding Hindery. So look into his history and see whether or not you agree with her call.

Burt is wary of Wellington Webb because of "DLC connections" ( and

Webb's largely off our radar as well since only Burt wrote in on him.

Seven of you sent in this saying it proved Donnie Fowler was the person for the job.

Clint objected to Fowler because he "worked on the Gropinator's transition team."
(Fowler also briefly worked for the Wesley Clark presidential campaign.) Fowler's history in the Silicon Valley suggest to Jimmy that Fowler "is the next Joe Trippi" while, to Andi, the history begs the question of "if he's so smart, why didn't he realize what Trippi did?" Theresa adds to the discussion by noting that Fowler drove the grass roots action campaign that resulted in Clark announcing a presidential run. And M'lissa writes in that Fowler "is an amazing speaker, I've heard him speak twice and he's totally believable and inspirational. He rouses the crowd."

Harold Ickes was another one that doesn't appear to have registered with many.
I'll post Ickes' biography ( :

Biography: Author: "An Alternative Proposal for the State Debt Provisions of the New York State Constitution," Essays of the New York Constitution, Weinstein, J.B., (ed) 1966. Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs and Policy to President Clinton, 1994-1997. White House Coordinator of the Presidential Inaugural, 1997. Director of Summit Affairs for the 1997 Denver Summit of the Eight, 1997. Deputy Director of the Clinton - Gore Presidential Transition Team, 1992-1993. Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee, 1992. Director for the Clinton Presidential Campaign of the 1992 Democratic National Convention, 1992. Partner: The Iches an Enright Group, 1997—. (Also at Mineola, New York Office)

There were people you were interested in who didn't make it into this weekend's press accounts. Some really good suggestions and some of people once mentioned who may now be out of the running. (Or may not be.) To narrow down the e-mails for tonight, we're focusing on the eight who apparently are going to Florida. (Hopefully next weekend, we can address the other people you mentioned.)

Who were the majority interested in commenting on? Ron Kirk, Martin Frost and Howard Dean.

99 e-mails for Kirk, all opposing him.

Gina highlighted this section from an article she sent in:

In 1998, before the $246 million Trinity project bond election, Albers was invited to a small black church where Kirk was making a speech urging passage of the bonds. When she attempted to question Kirk outside the church, he told her that he didn't have to answer her questions because her side was going to lose the election.
Kirk was upset that Albers had come to the church in the company of black community activists. He said to her--and this is her version of the quote, which I have asked her to repeat to me at least three times over the period of years since it happened--"And now, Anna, you're pimping black men."
She doesn't have witnesses. I faxed a written request for comment to Kirk's campaign headquarters at the end of last week, but I didn't hear back. I do know that a number of female leaders in the community spoke to Kirk about the incident right after it happened to express their displeasure.
I believe Albers. Several years after the fact when I discussed it with her over a sandwich in the cafeteria on the seventh floor of City Hall, her eyes teared up and she begged me not to write about it. She said she doesn't know exactly what Kirk's remark meant.
"I don't know what it means," she said, "but it's degrading. It's racist, and it's sexist, and it's degrading."
It's Ron. And it's all based on the assumption that the best way to manipulate white people is to exploit their racial fear of black people. He goes for the card every time, one way or another.

Gary e-mailed that, "Kirk claims all the credit for the American Airlines arena and it's his to claim. The agreement led to the destruction of nearby Reunion Tower and concert business in Dallas has moved on to the Next Stage in Grand Prairie. Like most of Kirk's plans as mayor this was either ill thought or defines a loose grasp on reality."

But the bulk of e-mails revolved around one word "weak." (A smaller number also spoke of Kirk's opposition to collective barganing.)

Charlie points out that Kirk only knows how to win a local race and that he lost the non-local race he ran for (U.S. Senator). On that, I'll add that sometimes you can learn more from a loss than a win. (Which isn't an endorsement of Kirk.)

Martin Frost as the DNC head was the topic of 159 e-mails. The themes of those e-mails were strong language and "no way."

In addition to his 2004 campaign's refusal to advertise that he was a Democrat, other comments focused on the Democratic convention in Boston this year.

"Where was he?" wondered Millicent. "Safely tucked away in the non-partisan closet? Scared rabbit afraid to show at the convention?"

Bernie brings up Frost's attempt to win the House Minority Leader post in 2002 and comments he made regarding Nancy Pelosi: ""Her politics are to the left. And I think that the party, to be successful, must speak to the broad center of the country."

The issue of Frost's failed bid for House Minority Leader was also an issue with Ricardo who writes, "I live in San Francisco and don't see that as anything to be ashamed of. When Frost was running around tarring Pelosi as a 'San Francisco Democrat' I thought why is he uses the right's tactics? Why is he insulting my city? Who is this dull, slow speaking bald man speaking with a sense of entitlement?"

Inez in New Mexico just wishes Frost "would go away. You lost. You lost against Pelosi for the leadership post. You lost against the Republican for a House seat. You're supposed to have all the answers about what the party needs to do but you couldn't even win your own re-election.
Loser, go home!"

If there's a bright spot for Kirk, it's that readers seem to dislike him but they loathe Frost.
Who did you like? Over 300 e-mails came in supporting Howard Dean.

Tammy: "He's got style! He's got guts! He's got drive!"

Ken in Laredo: "The only one who can steer the party now is Howard Dean. He electrifies the base. "

Janeane: "3 words: Dean! Dean! Dean!"

Ben: "Nursing wounds from the election, the only thing that gives me hope is the thought of Howard Dean heading the DNC."

Sally: "Dean can't be denied!"

Abhilasha: "Want to keep losing elections? Pick Frost. Want to win? Pick Dean."

Ricky: "It's a mess [the party] and I'm not sure anyone can clean [it] up but I'd hand the job to Howard because he's the only real hope."

Shondra: "Dean could have sulked off after Kerry got the nomination. Instead, he continued hitting the road. This time to campaign for Kerry and to focus on local and state wide races. See, that's the thing. I keep hearing that someone can raise money but who on the list has created their organization that went out and did grass roots action to get people elected?"

Matt: "It's Dean or I may go Green!"

Brenda: Does the country need two Republican parties? Don't think so. Talk about quagmires, look at our party. Dean's the one who can lead us out of this."

Ted: "I refuse to grin and bear it as another DLCer gets installed to leadership and cautions us that we can't be who we are. Or we can be who we are in private but publicly we need to look, act and talk like Repubs. I'm sick of it. The DNC is so out of touch with the average Democratic voter. We only hear from them when they want money. And they're interested only in our financial contributions. Dean speaks clearly and plainly. You know where he stands and he's not afraid to take a stand."

Eli: "I may not have the biggest brains but in seventy-one years I've learned one thing and that's how to spot a phoney. Howard Dean is no phoney."

Whether your choice is Dean or not, please take the time to look into the other names mentioned because you may see something that stands out to you (good or bad). Who knows which one the DNC will go with? It might be someone not yet named. But if they choose someone you're not familiar with right now, you'll be ahead of the game if you take the time now to look into the other names.

This entry was based on the e-mails and that's really something more enjoyable to put together than, for instance, a Times' entry. (Heads up, if the paper is still in tabloid territory tomorrow, I may just post "no comment.") If anyone mentioned as a nominee (or a spokesperson for them) wishes to comment, we'll post that in full. I can imagine Ron Kirk might want to address the issue of collective barganing because his position on it has been a complex one (re: local versus national). By the same token, should a group wish to comment, we'll post their e-mail as well.

A number of you are recommending this post which discusses the Republican party in terms of domestic abuse.

Shondra wanted everyone to have a heads up to Al From & Will Marshall's attacks on Michael Moore and what it could mean for the party:

Well, I noticed. I also noticed that unless something is done about it, this unelected bund of corporate pawns is once again going to end up writing the party platform and arranging things to make sure that no antiwar candidate is allowed to compete for votes in the primaries. It will push one of its own—probably Harold Ickes, or Brazile—in next year's election for the chairman of the Democratic Party. And when that person wins, the tens of millions of Democrats who opposed the war will have to get used to people like Will Marshall referring to them as "we" in front of roomfuls of reporters—Marshall, who this year wrote, in Blueprint, an article entitled "Stay and Win in Iraq" that offered the following view of the progress of the war:
"Coalition forces still face daily attacks but the body count tilts massively in their favor."
Uh-huh. And Michael Moore and Hollywood are the problem with the Democratic Party.

I'll also pass on Matthew Rothschild's "This Just In" which is on the Ohio voting: