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Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair

I've now participated in blogger conference calls with both Simon Rosenberg and Howard Dean. They are my two favorite candidates for Chair of the DNC. Both appreciate the importance of grass roots activism and the ability of the Internet to empower people and bring them into the political process. Both emphasize the importance of diversity and the politics of inclusion. Both stress the need to focus on local and state political races and organizations.

Until the call with Dean today, I had expected that he would be more focused on issues or the Democratic message while Rosenberg would be more into the technology and organizational structure. Not so. Both believe that the role of the DNC chair is not to establish policy but to create the machinery that will win elections.

My question to Dean today was along the lines of:

I see the difference between you and some of the other candidates as being your willingness to advocate progressive positions on issues. Other candidates have said the DNC Chair job is mostly about increasing our technological and organizational abilities. Do you think we can win elections if we don't focus on the issues? How important is it for the DNC Chair to speak out on the issues?

I had expected him to say it was important to remind Democrats of our progressive positions on issues. But, I was wrong. He said,to paraphrase,

There are other people besides the DNC chair who can speak for the Democratic party. I won't hesitate to speak out if I think something is wrong. For example, I thought the war in Iraq was wrong and I would not support it, even as DNC Chair. But I won't feel an obligation to say things that I doesn't believe in.

So I'm not quite ready to make a decision because both Rosenberg and Dean would be excellent DNC chairs. There are differences between them. Dean is a politican. Simon is not. Dean has a large following because of his stand on issues, and has greater name recognition. But, I wonder, would Dean be of more value to the party in a policy role? Would we be under-utilizing him if he were DNC Chair?

I guess it depends on your view of the role of the DNC Chair. On this I agree with Markos of Daily Kos who pointed out to me in an e-mail earlier today:

It's not the chair's job to develop message. It's the chair's job to create the machinery that will help us win elections. That's a distinction that most people don't grasp. So, in essence, the Democratic Party will tell Dean (or Simon) what to say, not the other way around.

I'm close to deciding to support one of these two candidates. Your thoughts are welcome.

For other bloggers' questions today to Howard Dean and his answers, Ana of Annatopia has a nice roundup.

And thanks to Jerome of MyDD for setting up the call.

Update: Kevin Drum likes Howard Dean; Matthew Yglesias comes out for Rosenberg.

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  • Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 05:38:41 PM EST
    Dean will be cool as long as he returns the Party to its core constituency and doesn't become a DLC drone. It's not the chair's job to develop message. It's the chair's job to create the machinery that will help us win elections I would argue that the message is a part of the machinery.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 06:13:10 PM EST
    I supported Kerry over Dean in 2004, but with hindsight I wonder if Kerry did not speak loudly and straight-forward enough. The Democrats and the country need strong voices of opposition. I say Dean. Give him the title; we all know he has the voice. These are critical times. JC

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 06:13:53 PM EST
    Please support Dean. Rosenberg is a creature of the right-leaning DLC. Rosenberg supported the DLC's attack on Dean's presidential candidacy and on the progressive Democrats who supported Dean.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 06:17:56 PM EST
    Frankly I don't think either will make a d*mn bit of difference, though most of America will undoubtedly give a huge sigh of relief when McAuliffe disappears from the public stage. The problem isn't getting the message out - if fewer people had heard Kerry's message(s) he might have won. The problem is the message itself. -C

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 07:12:36 PM EST
    "But, I wonder, would Dean be of more value to the party in a policy role? Would we be under-utilizing him if he were DNC Chair?" I hear this a lot about Dean lately. It smacks of those times you go for a job interview and the interviewer looks at you sweetly and says, "We'd love you hire you, but you're just so overqualified. Sorry." Shouldn't I get to make that decision? Shouldn't Dean get to choose what role he wants to play in the party? Pick the man on the merits of what he'll bring to this position, not on what we'd be missing out on if he wins.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:01:34 PM EST
    I managed to get into a little spat with Joe Trippi after he endorsed Rosenberg. My comment, his reply, and my response. I think that one thing the next DNC chair MUST do is find a way to establish a clear set of ideas, not policies, that the Party endorses. The difference is that between "health care reform" and "a right to medical care." Maybe even broader: the idea that a society's health is related to the health of its members. Where does that fall in the policy/machinery dichotomy?

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:31:02 PM EST
    I second EDM's comment: Building "generic" political machinary, i.e. machinary that is not aimed at delivering a specific political message, makes as much sense as creating a tool that would be useful both for hammering nails and for frying eggs.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 11:13:19 PM EST
    Why we need Dean: I admit, I have no idea what Jeralyn means by “policy role”. Elections are a while away, and by then his star will have faded. He would be the perfect party mouthpiece because he really is moderate, but a whole lot of noisy left wing separatists not only believe he represents the left wing, but are invested in that idea because of volunteer work they (or their close acquaintances) did for his campaign. He would be perfect to lead the party in unity. The reason the DLC opposed him was that they felt his anti-war position would be bad for the party’s image given how it plays into the Vietnam narrative (and his tax policies, which were perfectly reasonable at the time, and called for in the current environment, just like his foreign policy). However, he supported the 1991 war, which is more than I can say for Kerry. He also opposes stricter gun control and, if I recall, gay marriage (but not civil unions). If his only criticism is unpredictability, and I cannot see that as a criticism. It has become easy to predict Democrats losing ground.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#9)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 11:27:04 PM EST
    Dean actually has the guts to start a media feeding frenzy. We sit back and wonder how the Republicans start circus after completely fabricated bullsh*t circus, while looting the treasury and striking down their ethical guidelines (because they're breaking every single one) and getting us into useless, unwinnable wars based on lies. We expect the media to start looking into scandals and tell people the completely unsurprising truth that dare not speak its name: PNAC said they were going to do this, 9 years ago, and they followed their plan to the letter. Everybody in Washington knew there were no WMD. Heck, I knew it, and I'm just a teenaged red-stater. Why doesn't anyone else? Because nobody is saying it! All we need is a Democrat who will say that the President lied about Iraq as a favor to his rich (not to mention insane and protofascist) buddies, and he's lying about Social Security as a favor to his rich buddies (I'm sure there's a new Enron just slavering over the prospect of funneling all that Social Security money into their Swiss bank accounts and the RNC coffers) and the media might actually wake up. Or, we could elect someone other than Dean, and quietly lay down and die.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 05:13:36 AM EST
    If its Rosenberg, why should I care about the Democratic Party? He was pro-Iraq war, so I have to question his "values" as a human being because there was no reason for that war and Democrats went along with it out of sheer cowardice. If the Democratic Party is nothing more than War-Mongering-Lite, why should I care? Just so they get to take over the limousines and the catering contracts and the floral arrangements contracts?

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 06:30:27 AM EST
    ... and Democrats went along with it out of sheer cowardice. Some may have been complicit. But the rest of them went along with it very willingly. Enough for the DLC think tanks to reach some consensus with PNAC over Iraq.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#12)
    by David on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 07:55:27 AM EST
    Dean would be more of a target for repugs, but that's good. Dean can defend himself as good or better than most.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 09:44:38 AM EST
    I agree, Cliff, the message is the probem! "Social Security is heading off a cliff!!!" "Iraq is gonna attack us with their WMDs!" "Internets!" Oh, I'm sorry, looks like that was YOUR guy. ;-)

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 11:38:49 AM EST
    Dean is very high-functioning. As Vermont Governor he left a budget surplus and healthcare for every child. This took political savvy and competence, as Vermonters are fiercely independent politically, and held a majority in the Legislature throughout much of his tenure, so he knows Republicanthink well. His politics are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. His humanism is real and unwavering. The DNC, if it wants to keep the momentum Dean ignited, should rally behind Dean and let him reform the moribund Democratic platform. 2005 Democrats resemble 1950 Republicans more than they do the party of FDR and JFK. No pro-Iraq taint lingers around Howard as it does around Rosenberg. America's youth backs Howard, and they are needed across America for Democrats to win in 2006 and 2008. Don't risk alienating them with a Democrat drone. We have seen enough Repub-clones in the Party.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 12:53:09 PM EST
    Dean. I voted for him in the primary, I'm still with him today.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 01:40:45 PM EST
    ah bonnie, i want to believe... i really really desperately want to believe... i truly hope that you are right. because i have heard dean speak, he gives me goosebumps. and i am hoping he wins and does good things for out country. i'll support him... but believe me when i say that i am not 100% convinced that he is not a 'typical politician (i.e. a lying cheating corporate hack)'.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#19)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 03:13:29 PM EST
    Oops. That is of course 'bullsh*t.' I know it when I see it, but typing it is still hit and miss. --

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#20)
    by Kitt on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 03:36:46 PM EST
    I STILL like Howard Dean. One of the reasons I begin really listening to him was because of his 'message.' I don't think it's about his choosing to say what he thinks people want to hear but more about what we need to hear. I think he has a damn good idea what the democratic party needs to do to return this country to its more progressive roots.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 03:52:12 PM EST
    Paul - John Kerry doesn't necessarily speak for the DLC, not even during the campaign. Kerry hasn't consistently been a part of the DLC camp. He embraced it over the course of the election cycle. Dean briefly flew into the DLC's face and drew their ire. Read the writings of Al From and Will Marshall at PPI. Then draw your own conclusions.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#22)
    by Kitt on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 05:29:42 PM EST
    WHICH PPI?

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#23)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jan 14, 2005 at 02:00:35 AM EST
    "The Progressive Policy Institute" Notice the first article you see by Will Marshall, where he uses the same super reductive "Red America / Blue America" rhetoric. The recent PNAC collaborator forgets that by appealing to Conservative racists, religious bigots, and greedy warmongers, he's guaranteed to lose at least two votes in Florida's I-4 corridor. Yep, it's the Progressive Policy Institute alright. Actually, a very clever name, considering the ideology. Kind of like the "Clear Skies Act" and "Fox News: Fair and Balanced".....and don't forget the, "National Socialist Party" a few years back. I'm think I'll start using the same rhetoric in my personal life: When I go to buy some land, I'm going to put "Tampa Student, Billionaire" on my loan application and see if it fools them the same way the aforementioned titles seem to have fooled America.

    Re: Dean vs. Rosenberg for DNC Chair (none / 0) (#24)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jan 14, 2005 at 03:19:47 PM EST
    There is no point, TS, in post-morteming a STOLEN ELECTION. I don't really understand what you wrote (it's unclear), but if you are still making your collaborator charge, you clearly didn't understand mine either. Appeasement is not collaboration, especially when politics requires it, and results during a coup may be delayed. --