Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rahm's Out, and His Successor's a LIEberal

Saying this is a bit of a surprise is an understatement. One would think that such a lionized figure would be followed by a similar "centrist". Not so:

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rahm Emanuel, the corporate-friendly centrist who actively worked against a number of anti-war progressives in 2006 Democratic primaries for US House seats and then refused to support at least some of those candidates in November, is handing his DCCC leadership position off to Chris Van Hollen, a congressman who has a dramatically better track record on foreign and domestic policy issues.

Emanuel, the former Clinton administration "fixer" who organized support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and other Wall Street-favored policies and who then went to Congress as a pro-corporate, pro-war Democrat, has tried to spin his management of the DCCC during the 2006 election cycle as a success. In fact, many of the Democrats who prevailed on November 7 did so despite the Illinois congressman's efforts, not because of them.

In primaries from California to New Hampshire, Democratic voters rejected Emanuel's hand-picked candidates and nominated progressives who went on to win in November. Indeed, while candidates such as Illinois centrist Tammy Duckworth, who had Emanuel's full support, were going down to defeat, the list of breakthrough winners included contenders such as New Hampshire anti-war candidate Carol Shea-Porter, who never got any support from Emanuel or his DCCC team.
Now, everything said here (by The Nation's John Nichols) is true. Emanuel's attempts to parachute in candidates approved by Washington's Wise Old Men (that Atrios has been railing against for being about as wise as a lemming) was a failure, by and large. Other progressive candidates that were selected against his wishes were quite successful. Yes, some of his candidates won and some of the other candidates lost, but he doesn't deserve all, or even most, of the credit.

Here's the thing, though- he was getting it anyway. Head over to MyDD, and go read this piece by Chris Bowers about how Progressives lost the post-election narrative to those repeating the "blue dog victory!" nonsense. Rahm should have been invulnerable, thanks to the triumph of that narrative and, supposedly, of the "centrist" (read: conservative) dems he was backing.

That he is being followed by a far more progressive chairman suggests something different; that while it may be the dominant belief in Washington and in the media that the conservatives won, the story is remarkably different out in the "wilds". Out there, progressives are starting to get what they want, including a more progressive party leadership. They aren't necessarily agreeing with the Washington consensus; the election of Howard Dean to the chairmanship, and the horrified reaction of Democratic party stalwarts like James Carvile to the subversion of a "rigged deal" by party members who, for a change, decided they wanted to choose their own leadership. The progressives have a voice, and you avoid listening to them at your peril.

Good for them. (Shades of what happened just a few weeks ago in Canada, come to think of it.)

The GQ article that line was taken from called him "the new kingmaker". Apparently not. Yes, he's becoming Caucus Chairman after his attempts to become majority whip were torpedoed by the Black Congressional Caucus. He had to get something, and in Washington people often fail upwards. Still, it looks like the DCCC is changing. It looks like the progressives are slowly taking over, one position at a time.

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