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Obama's Cannibalizing of the Democratic Party

Thursday, February 19, 2009
One of my biggest objections to the Clinton years was Bill's willingness to let the institutional apparatus of the Democratic Party deteriorate, and in some cases facilitate that erosion. The DNC became a presidential re-election vehicle. State and local parties continued to wither. And we all know what happened to the 40-year Democratic majority in Congress. No, Clinton might not have caused that decline, but he didn't do much to reverse it, and in some ways he made it worse.

By contrast, the Bush administration, for all its faults, was determined to strengthen the Republican Party. If Bush hadn't been such a disastrous president, he might have greatly strengthened his party.

Unfortunately, Obama seems to be going down the same road as Clinton, focusing on his own short-term political prospects rather than strengthening the party as a whole. During the campaign, he undermined independent 527's. For all the talk of "coordinated campaigns", he did precious little to help candidates down-ballot get elected. And since winning the election, he has systematically weakened the Democrats' position in Congress with his Cabinet appointments. By picking Salazar, he made the Colorado seat vulnerable. By choosing Napolitano, he removed the threat to John McCain (and hey, look how McCain has rewarded Obama, what with his bashing him on TV every night). He's killed the 50-state strategy at the DNC. And now it looks like he might remove another prime Senate contender, Kathleen Sebellius, by selecting her for HHS.

Yes, of course the Cabinet is important. But as we saw from the stimulus package, having an extra Senate seat has a much greater influence on one's ability to make good policy than having a slightly better than average Cabinet Secretary. I'm with Nicholas Beaudrot - this is a terrible idea.

So Barack, I don't expect you to undermine your re-election prospects for the sake of the party, but has it ever occurred to you that maybe a stronger party might be more useful to you than a weaker one?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:34 AM
  • Hear hear!

    I'm a long-time Deaniac who thought that having him run the DNC was even better than having him as the nominee.

    Seriously, what are all these appointments doing to our "farm team"? Our "deep bench"? Weren't all those people being groomed and encouraged for _other_ positions than cabinet ones? Who's going to fill them? Or, I should say, who has already logged the experience and has access to the money and name recognition and a certain charisma to pull weight against a tough opponent and win?

    By Blogger Sisyphus, at 12:05 AM  
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