Sunday Political Brunch - The Perils of Party Infighting—November 12, 2017
Sunday, November 12, 2017
Mark Curtis, GoLocalPDX Contributor
Two new political books are shedding light on something a lot of people don’t like to admit – party infighting is one of the worst maladies in politics. It reminds me of that adage that the worst wounds in politics are often self-inflicted. That is true at the personal and the party level. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:
“Donna Brazile” – The longtime Democratic political operative and network commentator sent shock waves through the political community with some of her claims in a new book. Brazile - who was Acting Chair of the Democratic National Committee last year - said she considered a procedure to remove Hillary Clinton as the party nominee, after Secretary Clinton had a health scare at a September 11th memorial event that was caught on camera. Brazile thought of trying to replace the Clinton-Kaine ticket with Vice President Joe Biden paired with Sen. Cory Booker, (D-NJ). Brazile – who found the Clinton campaign complacent and lackluster – never made the move. But the fact that someone of her stature had such thoughts, reflects an alarming level of doubt within the party that many like me heard via whispers from party faithful in the shadows.
“Bush Bash” – It’s no secret the Bush Family has no love for President Trump. He treated fellow candidate Jeb Bush with great disdain and disrespect, during the campaign, and key members of the Bush family openly voted for Hillary Clinton. Former President George H.W. Bush, had this to say about Trump in “The New York Times”: “I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a blowhard. And I’m not too excited about him being a leader.” The senior Bush added bluntly, “I don’t like him [Trump].” Bush even leaked his intention to vote for Secretary Clinton, by telling former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D-MD), daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy (D-NY). Bush went dynasty-to-dynasty to whack Trump publicly via the Kennedys.
“Son of Bush Bash II’ – Just as he followed his father’s footsteps, and eventually won the White House, former President George W. Bush has also hit President Trump with faint praise. "This guy doesn't know what it means to be president," said Bush “43” to “The New York Times.” He added that he did not cast a vote for President in 2016. He left that portion of the ballot blank.
“The Clinton-Gore Fallout” – “The New York Times” reported extensively about the growing distance between President Clinton and Vice President Gore during the 2000 campaign of Al Gore, to succeed his boss. The two men, who had forged such a successful political bond when they won in 1992, had grown apart. Gore wanted to distance himself from Clinton, and it may have been a mistake. “The Times” reported that Gore did not want Clinton to campaign for him. “This is something Gore is going to do on his own,” said his campaign press secretary Chris Lahane. Many believed Clinton could have helped Gore in African-American communities in Arkansas and Tennessee. Instead he sat on the bench, and George W. Bush won both states. Had Gore taken just one of his and Clinton’s home states, he would have been President.
“Virginia-New Jersey Fallout?” – Democrats won both races for Governor Tuesday night. New Jersey was no surprise as Governor-elect Phil Murphy swamped current Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R-NJ) by 14 percentage points. Virginia chose Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam over longtime Republican political operative Ed Gillespie by nine points. Late polls had the race closer, but Gillespie was still in an uphill battle. Now, if I hear one more network reporter say this was a clear referendum on the Trump administration, I will scream. It is not. Two states simply do not make enough of a scientific sample to make a predictive trend for 2018. That’s not an opinion, folks, it’s a fact based on social scientific principles. Both elections were a reflection of the political mood in two states – one a solidly blue state (New Jersey); and one a “purple” swing state that can go either way (Virginia). How does that predict what might happen in Ohio or Idaho in 2018? It doesn’t.
“The ‘Check Engine’ Light is On!” – On the other hand, Republicans ought to take notice of what happened in the Virginia House of Delegates where Republicans had a 66 to 34 majority when Election Day began. By the end of the night, the GOP had lost 15 seats, and with three going to recounts, it is possible Democrats could swing control of one chamber of the State House. Now that is a trend worth noting. Was this because of strictly local or state issues, or were people venting against the President Trump? As I always say, political movements are built from the ground up (grass roots) and not from the top down. That’s how Republicans came to power in both chambers of Congress, and a majority of state legislatures and Governor’s mansions. This was the big (and largely unnoticed news) from Tuesday’s election results.
“The Big Concern” – Intraparty fights are amusing to the press and public, but a lot of times we don’t know about them until after the fact. That’s because it’s often hard to get people to tell us about the inside battles in real time. But they can have political costs. Every time in my life when an incumbent President has been challenged for re-nomination from within his own party, he has lost the election. This was true for Presidents Johnson, Ford, Carter and H.W. Bush. I mention this because I believe President Trump is going to face credible, perhaps multiple challengers from within the Republican party in 2020. Right now his big concern is not Democrats, but rather fellow Republicans.
Who might you support for President in 2020? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.
Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally-known political reporter, analyst and author based in West Virginia. His coverage can be seen in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, D.C., from the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia.