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Monday, June 11, 2007
(7:00 PM) | Stephen:

Damn it, I hate it when I write an insightful post, chock-full of great analysis not being done anywhere else, and then something immediately happens that has the potential to completely undermine all the points I made.

Right after I praised John Edwards to high heaven for being the only Democratic candidate to "get it" regarding the positive role that the lefty blogosphere plays and how to effectively counter the usual GOP campaign smear timetables, David "Mudcat" Saunders writes a blog post for Time's Swampland blog that, among other things, tells pretty much everyone in the lefty blogosphere to "go to Hell."

Saunders is a great example of what is wrong with Democratic consultants. He very clearly sees himself not as an advocate and resource for the Democratic party. Rather, he views his role as fundamentally a lobbyist for the American south, an apologist for the continued relevance of the south for the Democratic party - long after the fortuitous Dixiecrat defection to the GOP - and an evangelist for the types of values that led Strom Thurmond and the rest of the Civil War Democrat holdovers to repudiate the party of Truman, Kennedy and Johnson.

It comes as no surprise that someone who makes a living advancing the cause of southern white males while claiming to care about a diverse coalition would be a blatant hypocrite, and that is exactly what Saunders is. He complains about intolerance, about people setting themselves up as arbiters of the truth, and then immediately declares that the Democratic party has long been in the grips of the "Metropolitan Opera Wing," a group of Northeastern intellectual elites who despise the good, hardworking, churchgoing rural folks over whom Saunders worries so. "I don't care what the "Metropolitan Wing" of my party thinks. I don't like them," Saunders says, because they're intolerant of him and "his people." And, of course, Saunders is entirely proud of the time that he told Tom Schaller to "kiss [his] rebel ass," which happy moment he recounted to a livid Don Fowler while Mr. Fowler was screaming at Tom Schaller, calling him an "asshole." These are the people who whine and complain about the mean bloggers, the ones who work directly for the Democratic Party's presidential candidates, who have direct lines to the party leadership.

What especially bothers me about his rhetoric is how closely it mirrors the smears, stereotypes and lies spewed forth by Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. Certainly Saunders has to know that the anti-Democratic smear that paints Democrats as snobby Northeastern elites was cooked up in the GOP's smoke-filled back rooms. Yet no one relies more upon these Republican attacks than Democratic consultants like Saunders, James Carville and Paul Begala. These are men who have built careers and identities upon the idea that every single thing the Republicans accuse the Democrats of being and doing is true, and they are the only ones who can help.

Perhaps it's because they really believe the gun-humping morons who drape themselves in the Confederate Battle Flag and whine about how white men make up the only group that can legally be discriminated against in this country. Maybe these Democratic consultants, who of course hail from the American south, have never been able to shake the massive sense of entitlement and delusional victimization so prevalent among southern whites. Maybe the nonsense they were taught in school about the craven Northerners who instigated a war of aggression upon the peaceful, noble southerners. Maybe they're the endgame of a brilliantly executed plot to infect the Democratic party with loyal Republicans who would drain the party's coffers while giving bad advice. I don't know.

What I do know is that these same people who complain that Democrats don't care enough about the south absolutely hate Howard Dean's 50-state strategy, even though that means resources are being allocated for building party structures in the south that have been neglected for decades. They despise Democrats from other parts of the country and spend way more time publicly insulting the Democratic party and its members than they do trying to bolster the party and go on the offensive against the Republicans. Saunders, Wittman, Begala and Carville can always be counted on to show up on Fox News or some other pseud0-news right wing media outlet, agreeing with whatever crack-fueled conspiracy theory the host can make up about the Democrats: that the party is run by a few coastal elites, that liberals are all crazy, that the blogs are out of control, that the Democrats want our soldiers to die or whatever else they want to say.

Because, and I cannot say this enough, these consultants will not be able to function within an effective, successful Democratic party. They do not do proper consulting work, which is to help the organization to not only win one election, but build upon successes so that there is a continued march of improvement. Saunders and his ilk do not sell expertise or an ability to get people on the ground. Rather, they sell a messianic image of themselves, an apocalyptic nightmare scenario that can only be solved by their magical formulas, their divine intervention. And since they use, wholly and uncritically, Republican smears to advance their personal interests, it follows that their advice to the Democratic party also follows Republican "advice."

That's the source of Republican-liteism, the idea that Democrats need to stop trying to offer anything that's actually different from the GOP, but should transform themselves into Republicans, only with the difference of, um, calling themselves a different name. Let's restrict reproductive freedom! Let's keep homosexuals from enjoying our nation's basic civil rights! Let's prostrate ourselves before the faux-Christian American civil religion and stoke the flames of jingoism and xenophobia! Let's pass tax cuts for everyone except those who have to work for a living, and cut benefits to everyone but defense contractors!

Saunders doesn't care about anyone but himself. How can I know his inner thoughts? Easy, I just look at his actions and words. He and his cronies take the money donated by hardworking Americans and waste it, use it for ends they do not wish, and do everything they can to convince Democratic politicians to turn their backs upon the very people whose money supports them. These consultants are perfectly happy to write off millions upon millions of Democrats who are not pipe-smoking, Volvo-driving Northeastern Ivy League professors. Millions of Democrats who are strong civil libertarians, who work hard in order to provide for their families, and who want to see a just, fair society whose government fulfills its duty of protection and advancing the common good. Saunders doesn't care about the common good. Saunders cares about his own self, his own special part of the country - one that he doesn't actually represent that well, since he ignores the real needs of the American south in order to advance the cause of the mythical south, the one that will surely "rise again."

I hope John Edwards either doesn't rely too much upon Saunders or that he soon learns not to. I dearly hope and pray that next year the Democrats will be able to put forth a strong showing outside the south so that our leaders will continue to see and be convinced that a national coalition is possible, and that a party which ties itself to the south - or any particular region - will marginalize itself. I hope that those Democrats who do win in the south will be more progressive than the Republicans or other Democrats they replace, and that the Dixiecrat leftovers will lose their races.

Unlike Saunders, I have no desire to completely write off any region. However, the south has held this country hostage to its dysfunction for far too long, and it's time to restore some balance to our electoral maps, and therefore the way the Democrats' money and effort is spent.

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