N.Y. Times covers DNC in New York, but nothing really new. - I will say it now, that altho Dean has the momentum, if he prevails, the Party loses.
-- The prize is to be leader of a party that is arguably in the worst shape it has been since before Bill Clinton's election in 1992.
-- [The seven candidates are] clawing for the job as if it were the presidential nomination itself. . . Mr. [Al] Sharpton, holding court outside the forum, said: "This is probably as much as I've seen, and I ran in the primary. People are getting advance teams, people are getting consultants, people are throwing cocktail parties."
-- For two hours, the seven men talked at length about what needs to be done to fix the party - in short, learn how to fight like Republicans - as they bemoaned the state of their party.
-- Dr. Dean, signaling again that he might not be a go-along, get-along party chairman if elected . . . .
-- This is not the first time that the competition to run a party has been intense, particularly on the Republican side. The job can be a stepping-stone to money . . . or political stature . . . .
-- The fractiousness of this race reflects the state of the party in what is the first real competitive contest for party chairman since 1988, as well as a vacuum in personality and power that is allowing some arguably obscure figures in the party get some attention for a few weeks.
-- The forum yesterday - the fourth and final one, intended to give members of the Democratic National Committee a chance to view the candidates - was nearly overshadowed by the extravagance of campaigns that had been on display for weeks, and verged on an over-the-top peak in New York.
The seven candidates have hired campaign managers and press advisers, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, set up Web sites and printed campaign buttons and business cards.
I have always counseled that perception is important, even more important than the facts sometimes.
The perception if Howard Dean is elected chairman of the DNC is not going to be good. Truthfully, I cannot conceive of a worst message to send out at the present and for the foreseeable future. And for all of you loyal supporters of Dean, many of whom are my friends, note that I did not say anything negative about Dr. Dean himself.
But the perception is not going to be good.
As noted in my 01-28-05 post, Dean could not have done anything better for himself than have an almost official welcome to New York City in his rolling out of the significant endorsement by Harold Ickes, a longtime Democratic activist who is a face of the establishment Democratic Party and is close to the Clintons.
For the life of me I cannot understand Mr. Ickes doing this. Not because I think that is not good for the party, but just because I cannot understand it. I want to slap myself on the wrist for even thinking it, but does the guy, not having been interested in chairman himself, want to go to work for the DNC if Dean wins. Probably not, but I just cannot understand why he would get involved for a lot of reasons, including the Clintons.
My reaction: It ain't over till the fat lady sings, and I do not believe she has sung yet, even as it appears as of today that she has.
Al Gore thought she had sung when he endorsed Dean during the primary. Al Gore was wrong.
Regardless of the facts and whether what he said was true, as a Democrat wanting my party to retake the White House in 2008, I cringed when Sen. Ted Kennedy, just three days before the Iraqi people were to go to the polls to elect a new government, delivered his foreign policy speech last week.
Many Democrats were equally appalled; to date none has gone public in saying so. They might if the Iraqi elections are successful as they appear to be (success has a thousand fathers we know). Regardless, the timing for this important Democrat to speak out was flawed. The fat lady had not sung (in this case, the public will be thinking the elections, not the initial invasion, and the perception from Kennedy's remarks are going to make the party look bad).
And now Harold Ickes. Like Al Gore, history may show that this important Democrat spoke out too early, ahead of the fat lady signing.
Howard Dean has some great ideas for what our party needs to do in 2006 and 2008, and we saw his campaign do some of these in the primary.
Howard Dean could have a future in the Democratic party, but given the results of 2000 and 2004 and the way the prior DNC leadership ignored the South and much of the country, surely Dean in his heart knows that his being a Yankee and perceived as a bleeding heart liberal is not what our party needs at the present.
Does that matter to him? Nope, the man has something to prove to himself and the party process where he faltered last year. Damn the party.
Here's to hoping the fat lady has not sung . . .