Goodbye Blue Sky (or: The Democrats Eat Their Young)

by lestro

Just before Pink fully bricks himself in behind his wall at the end of the first act of Pink Floyd’s epic of isolation “The Wall,” the band kicks into the hauntingly beautiful “Goodbye Blue Sky,” which contains the following passage:

Did you see the frightened ones
Did you hear the falling bombs
The flames are all long gone
But the pain lingers on

It’s a song about the mental scarring left over from Pink’s father’s death in the war and it is another mental brick that Pink uses to complete his Wall after he starts to go mad.

Unfortunately, it could also be used to describe the current situation in the Democratic Party as the psychological and financial wounds of the relatively bitter primary campaign continue to haunt the party in a year that should be a grand triumph and victory over the opposition, which has systematically run just about every aspect of our government into the ground, while shitting on our ideals and principles as a nation.

But instead of being able to capitalize fully on the obvious national desire for change, the Democrats are doing everything they can to shoot themselves in the foot again. The flames from the campaign battle may be long gone, but the pain certainly lingers on.

This past week, the New York Times ran an interesting story about the insurgency within Democratic congressional districts that voted for Obama but saw their representative back Clinton. It is especially problematic in New York, where members of Congress supported their fellow New Yorker:

Brooklyn’s 10th Congressional District, home to more African-Americans than any other in New York, gave Senator Barack Obama his highest margin of victory in the state. But the district’s longtime congressman, Edolphus Towns, did not share his constituency’s preference for Mr. Obama. Now some of those voters are pushing to oust him.

“His decision not to back Obama shows he is out of touch with his constituents,” said N. Chandler, a former city corrections officer who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant and who had supported Mr. Towns in the past. “And I think the people of this district are ready for a change.”

They are not wrong, but this is not the type of shit the party needs. Obama is trying to woo Clinton supporters to their cause – to have his supporters trying to take out and punish elected Democrats who supported her is no way to gain their favor or trust.

Mr. Towns cannot afford to take the challenge lightly. Two years ago, he won with less than 50 percent of the vote in a three-way race. The man who is running against him now, Kevin Powell, is a community organizer who has the backing of celebrities like the comedian Dave Chappelle, who is scheduled to headline a fund-raiser for Mr. Powell. …

In an interview, Mr. Towns said he was worried that the compressed primary calendar did not give him much time to make peace with Obama loyalists. “September is not that far away,” he said, referring to the Sept. 9 primary. “That’s problematic for me.”

It’s not just New York, it’s also happening in a district in Georgia that is considered vulnerable.

This needs to be handled cautiously or else the Dems will blow this chance like they have in the past. This is why the Dems lose – they argue too much among themselves and then Independent voters and others see them as unable to keep their own house in order. That does not instill confidence in their leadership for the country.

Say what you will about the inherent Orwellian evil of their policies, but the Republicans know how to stay on message and they know how to wedge the Independents to their side, a tactic the Clinton campaign tried, something that undeniably helped to create this rift.

But in order to achieve real unity, the Obama camp needs to be very tactful about which candidates they support come primary time.

It’s not just hurt feelings. The Clinton campaign not only ran a polarizing, wedge-style kneecapping campaign, but also ran itself into the ground financially, finally closing down with about $22 million in debt. Recently, Obama tried to buy off the initially lackadaisical support of the Clintons by telling his fundraising people to support Hillary Clinton’s get-out-of-debt effort, even going so far as to write the candidate a personal check for the maximum amount.

The problem, however, is now that the donors have to bail out a campaign that was dead in the water a good $40 million ago, the party convention is floundering, meaning the great showpiece of the Democratic Party – another example of their leadership, vision and ability to make things happen – is suffering greatly:

With the Denver convention less than two months away, problems range from the serious — upwardly spiraling costs on key contracts still being negotiated — to the more mundane, like the reluctance of local caterers to participate because of stringent rules on what delegates will be eating, down to the color of the food. At last count, plans to renovate the inside of the Pepsi Center for the Democrats are $6 million over budget, which may force convention planners to scale back on their original design or increase their fund-raising goals.

Normally the contender takes over the party machinery and molds it in their image, but in this case, the drawn out primary fight meant the Obama people could not get in until about a month ago and it is very, very late.

But in this case, the Obama campaign can’t even ask its donors to contribute to the convention, because it is too busy asking them to pay off the Clinton debt, leaving the convention a good $11 million behind in fundraising efforts. It’s unspoken in the Times article, but the Clinton debt is the real albatross here.

The other clusterfuck is that Democratic Party infighting is going to lead to a repudiation of not only their management style (the convention is also way overbudget), but potentially their message, as the grand plans and high hopes held for the Denver convention are also slipping away:

Overly ambitious environmental goals — to turn the event into a “green” convention — have backfired as only three states’ full delegations have so far agreed to participate in the program. Negotiations over where to locate demonstrators remain unsettled with members of the national news media concerned over proposals to locate the demonstrators — with their loud gatherings — next to the media tent.

And then there is the food: A 28-page contract requested by Denver organizers that caterers provide food in “at least three of the following five colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple and white.” Garnishes could not be counted toward the colors. No fried foods would be allowed. Organic and locally grown foods were mandated, and each plate had to be 50 percent fruits and vegetables. As a result, caterers are shying away.

For the Democratic Party, the danger is that a poorly run convention, or one that misses the mark financially, will reflect badly on the party, and raise questions about Democratic management skills.

It’s a great idea, but when it falls apart, you know the Republicans are going to say “See, I told you these stupid hippie ideas couldn’t possibly work. Do you really want these idiots in charge?”

If history is any indication, the country doesn’t.

With Democrats not only fighting each other in the primaries but unable to pull off their big party in Denver, the Dems have to be careful or the bright blue future ahead of them may not matter and once again they’ll be left confused, tattered and looking at the oval office from the barricade on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Did you ever wonder
Why we had to run for shelter
When the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?

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3 Responses to Goodbye Blue Sky (or: The Democrats Eat Their Young)

  1. k@th says:

    excellent. absolutely right.

    i can’t help but think of bob marley on that stage in kingston, grasping political opponents manley and seaga’s hands and raising them in unity during a political race that was bitter and not without bloodshed…and envision obama in marley’s place, finding some middle ground between the two parties.

    i might have bought into clinton’s passion for leading this country in her tearful remarks from new hampshire and walked her path, if i didn’t have the rubble to sift through from the damage she’s inflicted on her own party since. it’s not the first time, either, that the dems can be blamed for lousy fiscal management. still, we need change in this country.

    i look forward to a time when we won’t refer to people as “democrats” or “republicans,” but just by their names, and get down to the real issues on the table and effective policy. i’m tired of waiting in vain for change to come, and i’ve seen a lot of animosity between opposing parties and even within a party. divided we fall, people, it’s as simple as that.

    “I just want to shake hands and show the people that we’re gonna make it right, we’re gonna unite, we’re gonna make it right, we’ve got to unite.”~Bob Marley, One Love Peace Concert, 1978.

  2. Bruce says:

    Great post. It’s just shocking to me what’s occurred this year. Whoever thought this would be how things would unfold. If McCain wins in November, then it’s proof that America has gone insane.

    And k@th, that’s a great comment as well.

    http://thebruceblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/06/hillarys-entrenched-supporters-spit-in-her-face/

  3. The Wall Street Journal is reporting this fun development (although the entire article isn’t available without a subscription):

    Sen. Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, faces dissent from dozens of top fund-raisers and other supporters of former rival Sen. Hillary Clinton, who are angry over how she was treated during their bruising primary battle and are hesitating to back Sen. Obama.

    Some leading Clinton supporters are starting new Web sites or political action committees aimed at prodding Sen. Obama on issues or pressuring him to give Sen. Clinton a big role in the general-election campaign. People familiar with the matter say the effort involves dozens of the roughly 300 Clinton “Hillraisers,” individuals who raised at least $100,000 …

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121539354782631403.html?mod=hpp_us_pageone

    So that sounds like about 300 more examples of evidence that America may well be going insane.

    One of Obama’s strengths seems to be grounded in how he raises money from small donors, which helps insulate him from the pressures of large donors.

    This batch of wealthy Clinton supporters seem to not realize that their money doesn’t mean they get to order Obama to do anything. So it seems likely that they are going to become increasingly enraged as they continue to ring the bell and find that the candidate they are trying to treat like hired help isn’t going to drive Ms. Daisy around if he decides that her brand of destructive and divisive politics actually harms his overall campaign. That is the new politics, we don’t have to be subservient to adverse interests just because they have more money.

    This does seem like a good example about what is so wrong about the old politics that the Clinton campaign seemed to embrace. We need to move beyond money as a dictator of policy. The ugliness of the appearance of the attempt at extortion by these Clinton supporters seems to make that pretty clear.

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