Strategize This

David Sirota wrote this great piece about the beltway babies who are are responsible for the Democrats near-permanent minority status :

Just look at yesterday’s piece in Roll Call where you had this same Democratic cabal saying the party shouldn’t mount an aggressive lobbying/ethics crackdown, or look back at the Iraq War where you had the Democratic strategic class saying it was good politics to just blindly follow the Bush administration’s lies (incredibly, they are still preaching this kind of acquiescence on Iraq even today). These “strategists” are the Washington, D.C. parasites who are far more concerned about protecting their own tiny rackets of DCCC contracts and candidate consulting gigs than actually helping the party take back the majority.

Today, these “strategists” are publicly worrying that Democrats challenging the President’s illegal behavior “could threaten the party in this year’s elections.” The first quote in the piece goes to an unnamed Democratic “strategist” who says “If Democrats want to be the party of people who think [the government] is too tough and the Republicans are the party of people who are tough, I don’t see how that helps us.”

This supposed “strategist,” of course, is dishonestly spinning the situation to benefit his opponents – not exactly “strategic.” The debate over the domestic surveillance is not a debate over spying on terrorists vs. not spying on terrorists, as this “strategist” – and then Brownstein – assert. Oh sure, as I documented earlier, the media has done everything it can to try to force the scandal into that frame – reporters behavior in this has been nothing short of disgusting. But that’s not what this is about. This is about whether this president – or any president – can ignore the Constitution and federal laws to order any kind of spying he wants without a court order. And the fact that these “strategists” aren’t even mentioning the fact that the President broke the law – even with Republican Senators admitting he did break the law – should indicate exactly why the Democratic Party today seems so rudderless and poorly run: because the “strategists” running it are morons.

I agree with everything Sirota wrote, but I’ve got to take issue with that last bit. Democratic strategists aren’t morons, they’re geniuses.

After all, these guys have found a way to make a killing on the Democratic “woe is me” mentality without ever having to accomplish the task they claim to be good at : winning elections. It’s a pretty damn good racket they’ve got going. Mix equal parts harsh reality (“Republicans are unbeatable”) and flattery (“Americans agree with Democrats”) which naturally lead your mark to the solutions that you’re about to sell (“I can help you craft the perfect message”). Like any good con, the last thing you want is for your victim to get the self-confidence they need to see they’re getting played, so every time there’s some good news, you’ve gotta make sure to use it to beat down your “client’s” self-esteem even more. (“We shouldn’t politicize this issue”) And as long as you can safely straddle that line between “We’re doomed” and “We’re doing great”, you can lose all the elections you want and still get hired again.

The point here, of course, isn’t that Democrats shouldn’t get advice from strategists but that they shouldn’t keep hiring the same losers over and over again. For those of us on the outside looking in, it’s heartbreaking to see that the incestuous circles of politicos in D.C. exist more to keep friends and relatives employed than advancing some meaningful public policy. I know you guys vacation in Martha’s Vineyard together and your kids attend the same private school, but being cool isn’t enough to undo the fact that a lot of these guys really suck at their jobs. What’s worse though is that even the wannabe Dems who aren’t invited to all the cool parties are often so starstruck that they’ll hire anybody with some big names on their resume. (“Wow, you worked for Tom Daschle and Wes Clark? You’re hired!”) It’s bad enough to see this shit go on in the business world, where a CEO can hop from bankrupt company to bankrupt company without ever taking pay cut, but the lack of accountability in Washington is enough to make you wonder if we’ll ever get something like universal healthcare or a minimum wage that doesn’t keep people in poverty.