This is a rant, but it's relevant to the 29th.  Those interested can continue after the jump.

Others might want to check out Kathleen Edwards' album Failer.  It covers the same themes.

Yesterday, in addition to the Pennsylvania mess (more on that anon), there was a special congressional election in a super-Republican Mississippi-1.  The NRCC spent $292K in this race.  That's 4% of their total cash-on-hand.  The DCCC spent $142K on their race.  That's .3% of their cash-on-hand.  (3/10ths of 1%).   The Democrat in the race lost by 2%

Over at Rochesterturning, Stlo7 carries a little DCCC water with this comment:

I’m not sure “could of” or “should of” plays here. [...]

Bottom line - this presents an opportunity to continue to bleed the NRCC dry continuing in Mississippi through November.

Plus they still might win the run-off.

Strategically, the DCCC wants to bleed the NRCC dry so they are electorally ineffective in November. This is part of that strategy and it seems to be working. [...]

I don't mean to pick on Stlo7 -- he's a hard-working, smart guy.  But this attitude is what's wrong with the Democratic party.  Any failure is reasoned away with poisonous "failure is actually part of our devious plan" logic.  This attitude allows incompetents to continue to run the party and focus attention away from quality party-building activities. 

The reality in MS-1 is that special elections generally have low turnout, that the closeness of this election was due in large part to a "bitter" split in the Republican party over who to run for this supposedly safe seat.  This election will be a wake-up call for Republicans who stayed home, and it's much less likely that the next special will be as close.  Any rational observer must see MS-1 as a missed opportunity for the DCCC.  So what if the NRCC spent more?  They avoided a catastrophic loss. 

That's not "bleeding" -- it's having the guts to take a risk by wagering a good part of your precious warchest, and getting a return on your investment.   The bleeders here are the DCCC, who made a classic bad bet:  it's a rounding error on their enormous bank account, but it also was just little enough to lose. 

failotron.gifThe DCCC is supposedly "under new management" under Chris Van Hollen, but I think the FAIL-o-tron 6000 is still ensconced somewhere deep in the bowels of DCCC HQ.  The FAIL-o-tron, for those unfamiliar with the technology, is a device powered completely by failure, and is used to predict the next Democratic move.  Originally, the FAIL-o-tron was fed the tears of homely girls who weren't asked to prom, but over the years its power was greatly increased as it ingested copies of the Starr report mixed in with stock certificates.  Today, it is running hot on Countrywide Finance foreclosure notifications.

Consultants like Bob Shrum and Mark Penn have a direct connection to the FAIL-o-tron embedded in their tiny lizard brains.  The FAIL-o-tron tells them that process is for the little people, that kissing the asses of big donors is the only way to raise money, and that  Democrats can win by hanging on to "blue" states and forgetting everyone else.

So, when Barack Obama starts a grassroots campaign that focuses on winning the primary by (shock, horror) registering huge numbers of new voters and turning them out, when Obama ignores big donors and powers his campaign on millions of little donations, and when Obama runs hard in every state, even Idaho, then the FAIL-o-tron has a failure script ready to go. 

That script is very like the DCCC's.  It begins with the "devious plan" rhetoric.  Hillary's devious plan was to ignore caucuses to focus on a decisive win in February March (oops, I guess it's May now).  The devious plan was accompanied by a constantly changing message, another FAIL-o-tron special, since it is calibrated to vary its output based on slight, meaningless poll changes.  In addition, the FAIL-o-tron has exquisite self-protection mechanisms, so nobody with a F-o-t implant gets fired.  Despite screwing the pooch like no other, Penn is still an employee of the Clinton campaign.

The FAIL-o-tron is hard at work in Monroe County.  After the MCDC's inability to field a candidate for county exec, nothing happened.  The same bumblers are still bumbling along.  When Town of Mendon Republicans lost a couple of city races, the Monroe County chair canned the entire committee.  I think it's immensely telling that the reaction at Rochesterturning was to search for some reason why this wasn't fair.  They didn't ask why their own party was unable to accomplish the same task.

In the 29th, the DCCC's FAIL-o-tron dictated that there's no way that Eric Massa could win in 2006, so Massa got little support.  Today, that story seems to be changing, but the DCCC F-o-t's residual prom-rejection tears remember the pain, and it's scared of losing.  The FAIL-o-tron will probably dictate a token contribution like the MS-1 race.

I'd like to be mad at the FAIL-o-tron, but it's just a machine.  I'm disappointed when smart Democrats start to take its bullshit seriously.  We need to stop drinking this weak Kool Aid.  The DCCC fucked up in MS-1.  It's not the most tragic fuckup in recent memory, but it's a legitimate fuckup, and I'm calling it what it is.


I think you're completely wrong about the DCCC here. They've changed their tune about targeting races from last time.

I think you're letting the forest obscure the trees. Democrats have had lots of failures but it's a mistake to take real progress at the DCCC and mock it the basis of one slightly(!) miscalculated ad buy.

They wouldn't have contested this seat at all under Rahm. Now they've contested it but as much as you'd like and you say they suck just as much before.

WOW - I'm "carrying water" for the DCCC. Something I've never be accused of doing before. I suppose there is a first time for everything.

Sorry Rotten - I think you are reading stuff into my post that is simply is not there.

My point was aside from the amount of money the DCCC dropped in MS-1 does anyone actually know about the candidate (other than what various pundits write). I don't know. Do you?

Could they have dropped more? Sure. Should they have? I don't know on the surface I don't know about the Demographics, the candiates, the background strategy - etc to make that call.

I thinks there are other factors at play - 50 state strategy, organization (and other factors which escape me at the moment).

There is a certain absolutism is statements like the DCCC failed or should have done this or that. I simply want to see the rest of the story before I decide.

I'll let you have the last word.

Exile - perhaps I'm wrong about the DCCC in this particular race, but even if I'm wrong on this set of particulars, I hope you accept my view that Democrats tolerate a level of dysfunction in their party that isn't tolerated by Republicans. And also, that the "devious plan" explanation is used more often than it should be.

Stlo7 - I didn't mean to pick on you, but I think your comment contains a pretty flimsy excuse, and it's one I see a lot from Democrats.

I did actually read some of the analysis of the race by "pundits". These are people like CQ staffers or AP stringers who know the area. They're not national media airheads.

Here's one story you might want to read:

Thad Cochran and Trent Lott split on who should fill this seat (which opened because of Lott's retirement and "promotion" of Roger Wicker. So, at the time of the race, the R's hadn't gotten their act together yet. Trust me, they will soon.

Also, I think it's pretty obvious that the D being run was good enough if he got within 2% in a R+10 district.

I've also got to say -- calling stlo a water-carrier for the DCCC or MCDC is way off base.

If someone at RT can fairly be described as a water-carrier, it's probably me. I think that would be unfair as well, but it would be more fair than calling stlo one.

I hope you accept my view that Democrats tolerate a level of dysfunction in their party that isn't tolerated by Republicans.

That's right -- Republicans would never accept a Congressional committee that was in the red less than a year before an election or one in which the treasurer stole from the committee for ten years. They'd never put up with someone like Libby Dole as the head of their Senatorial Campaign Committee either, I'm sure.

All of which goes to explain why they'd never facing the prospect of the other side having a filibuster proof Senate majority in 2011. And why they'd never put up with being in the minority in the House for 46 consecutive years.

Actually, I was thinking of their ability to control Congress for more than a decade (and, really, to exert immense control from 1994 to now with their take-no-prisoners approach in the Senate), and to consistently win the Presidency, all while being the minority party in terms of voter registration.

They're simply a more functional party - the function of the party is to win elections and they've done more of that in the recent past than Democrats have.

It's a mistake to conflate Congressional races with presidential races.

Bob Shrum has an excellent record in Senate races and an awful one in presidential races. Generally speaking, Democrats have done a good job of holding the House and a bad one of holding the presidency over the last 40 years. Right now, they have as large a majority in the House as the Republicans ever had from 1994 to 2006.

Slamming Democrats for screwing up House races is foolish and you know it.

The Democrats have been the majority party, by registration nationwide, for decades.

Since 1994, the Republicans have won more races than Democrats in the House and Senate. This might be understandable in the Senate, but not the House.

As for the Presidency, no Democrat has polled over 50% since Carter.

These are just facts. I don't think I'm conflating anything. We aren't converting our numerical advantage into election gains. Hence, my conclusion that something isn't functioning right. Of course, there may be other ways to view these facts.

Also, I meant no offense by saying that Stlo7 was "carrying a little water" for the DCCC, and if offense was taken, I apologize.

The Democrats have been the majority party, by registration nationwide, for decades.

Actually, just plurality. They've never been near 50% in recent memory.

Sorry, yes, plurality.

I tend to agree with Rotten - Democrats should certainly have had more control over the past 14 or so years.

I am convinced that the Democrats wouldn't be in as good a position as they are now without the Republicans (W in particular) shooting themselves in the foot.

The other problem that the Democrats have had is that they haven't had a leader since LBJ with a great vision for the country. The Republicans, until recently, were still riding the excitement created by the Reagan presidency.

The Republicans' movement conservative takeover has tanked. GW made their failure more obvious than the Democrats could have hoped.

Independents lean Democratic, so most Americans are pro-Democratic. Democrats are supposed to represent all Americans from radicals to conservatives, but not so much the greedy blood-thirsty ones. So Democratic voters are by nature disorganized and undisciplined, and they are understandably somewhat apathetic, or at least distracted by trying to make a living outside of the old boy network. I'm not sure that I would want that to change, beyond winning the next election.

Given that the smart money is moving Democratic, that shouldn't be too hard to accomplish. If the reemergence of unions (the only grass roots political organization that is relevant to workers) and the buildup of a middle class (through tax-reform, affordable health care, and smart spending) results, then we are on our way.

I agree that Democrats should have the electoral advantage, and the programs they're advocating, if implemented intelligently, will be popular.

On unions, I think they're part of the new Democratic coalition but they became a crutch for previous party leaders who relied on them to turn out voters and neglected their local organizations. Which leads me to my general point.

Though the FAIL-o-tron stuff is mostly rant, Democrats have some bad electoral habits: reliance on big money donors, inability to build grassroots local committees and hence inability to turn out the vote, reliance instead on unions or other organizations that have their own agendas to turn out the vote, sclerotic urban parties that don't energize suburbs that are becoming more liberal, and a fear of investing in red states where risks are high and returns are long-term.

The Obama campaign is and example of how some of those habits can be reversed. Howard Dean's leadership of the central party is another. We'll see if these guys can overcome the status quo.

vdomeras - please explain this comment:
"but not so much the greedy blood-thirsty ones."
62,000,000 Americans voted for George Bush the last time out. Are they all blood thirsty and greedy?
Or this one:
"at least distracted by trying to make a living outside of the old boy network"
I personally don't know a Republican voter who isn't a hard worker, but I do know a lot of others that aren't.

Rotten - I think the unions will come home to roost when the cost of public education gets so high that there will be a taxpayer revolt.


"62,000,000 Americans voted for George Bush the last time out. Are they all blood thirsty and greedy?"

Why would you think that they are? Most of my neighbors in the Southern Tier are Republicans. None that I know of are blood thirsty. Some are greedy, but not many. But they voted Republican out of party loyalty, a belief that Republican politicians share their values, and often, a fear that the Democrats would raise taxes, take away our freedom (whatever that means) ruin the economy and lessen our security.

The ones that I refer to as greedy and bloodthirsty are the ones who have gotten us into the Iraq war, invented ways to profit from the lack of governmental supervision both in Iraq and at home, have crippled our economy and are still working on more ways to benefit from each crisis at the taxpayers' expense. Who believes that a Democratic congress and administration would have accomplished all that?

I'm not sure if it's teachers or unions that you are so against, but my attitude toward unions is that they have a generally good effect by raising income (union and non-union) and involving the working class in politics. I know that they also secure jobs for people that might not have them if merit were the only criterion. I know that union leadership has been corrupt in the past and that they have been blamed for America's lack of competitiveness in terms of price and quality.

On the other hand, without unions, as we have essentially been for the last twenty-five years, profits have risen, the people at the top of corporations, brokerages and funds have been rewarded way out of proportion to their productivity, the movement conservatives have taken over the Republican party, the middle class has dwindled, and working people have seen their incomes stagnate.


Obama is a unique and charismatic man. I don't believe that he will create a sustained movement at the grass roots. When he and his campaigns are gone, what will make the young, the hourly worker, the unemployed excited about politics? Howard Dean? Rock the Vote? The draft? Another abysmal eight years under neocons?

vdomeras - If Obama wins, his campaign will be a model for every campaign that follows, and his methods will be used by every federal office campaign. I don't think his methods are one-of-a-kind.

My hat will go off to the Democrats if they fare better than the Republicans. I have stated here often that power corrupts. It seems highly likely that the Democrats will have sizable majorities in both houses of congress and the presidency (unless Hillary and Obama shoot each other). With that much power they will have many temptations, and many debts to repay to various groups. They will swing the country too far to the left and then another correction will be made.

Most people I know are not upset about the war in general, just about the way it has been run. I think we will have another war in the mid east in the near future if we pull out of Iraq now. Everybody is upset at George for the economic problems, the spending like a drunken sailor, and the fact that he blew the Republican advantage.

What does confuse me is how the Democrats still loved Clinton after he turned a Democrat congress into a Republican one after 40 or so years of Democrat control. I can tell you there are a ton of Republicans mad at George for doing the same thing as Bill did.

You have outlined many of my problems with teachers and teacher unions. The increased pay and benefits have far outpaced any gains in educating our children. Everything I read indicates that the education of US children is in steady decline when compared to other industrialized nations.

Unions in general I have no problem with. My parents belonged to the American Flint Glass Workers Union for decades. They worked closely with the company to provide their members with a very livable wage, yet their productivity increased each year. As their pay increased, so didn't their contribution to the company's success.

Indeed, Elmer, the proof will be in the pudding for Democrats in 2008 and the years afterwards. This Democrat will be holding his representatives' feet to the fire to govern properly.

Exile - Great comment spoken like a true American. (this was a sincere comment, not a sarcastic one). We should all hold our representatives' feet to the fire, and I am guilty of not doing that from time to time.

I must admit that it might be fun to be the one taking the shots at the other party instead of the one defending. It is difficult to defend W