When Howard "The Scream" Dean was first chosen as the DNC chairman, my first reaction was utter horror. I thought, "My God, this guy can't even get himself elected to office, let alone anyone else". But fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised at the Democratic victories in both 2006 and 2008. Certainly events played a big factor in both Democratic wins. However, Dr. Dean proved himself to be far better at delegating responsibility to others than I had ever expected. And brilliant Democratic strategists won impressive victories in both elections. However, as good as the record of Dr. Dean has been , it is still hard for him to shake that reputation as the "Dr. Demento" of the Democratic Party.
Well, it seems that the Republicans almost tried to one up the Democrats this week, when they chose Michael Steele, a guy who almost makes Steve Urkel look like a real far gone hipster by comparison. Make no mistake about it, I personally like Michael Steele, but he's a major league dork though. He's as square of a guy as you can possibly find. He just might be the most square African American dude in the entire country as well.
But despite the fact that the Democrats seem to have a "Dr. Demento" as their party chairman, and the Republicans, a near-Steve Urkel clone, the real test is the ability of these two guys to respond to the strategic moves of each other and to attract the most voters to their parties.
On today's FOX NEWS SUNDAY, Michael Steele again seemed to hold lofty goals for his party such as recapturing the Hispanic vote, of which John McCain managed to capture only a mere 31% of, despite being more of a moderate on immigration policy than many other lawmakers within his party. Yet when it came to specifics, Steele seemed to offer more of the same old tired Republican thinking.
And when Chris Wallace mentioned that President Obama has a 70% approval rating with the public, Steele still defended encouraging congressional Republicans to oppose the economic stimulus package. Steele doesn't seem to be any more coherent with reality than John McCain or Sarah Palin were with the issues such as the economy. He still trots out the same old tired old party line and politics as usual. There's nothing new here. And although Steele is a very likable guy, he's certainly no Barack Obama by any means. So the Republicans hardly matched their party with the Democrats there.
Steele did mention that in 1994, Republicans won a comeback from their 1992 losses with their "Contract With America". Newt Gingrich was able to come up with a short list of specific legislation for Republican candidates to rally behind, and it did help them to win their elections that year. However, for now, the economy is the overwhelming issue. And if the Republicans continue to remain out out touch with the lion's share of American voters, then how in the world do they expect to win a decent share of offices.
In the end it may not matter, that one party is being lead by either a stand-in for Dr. Demento or a stand-in for Steve Urkel. It is their ability to manage campaigns and delegate responsibility. And that will determine which wacky personality's party actually scores the biggest electoral wins. Howard Dean has certainly surprised me before. So Michael Steele also has some real potential as well. You can't write either one off.
While I'm certainly glad to see more of Michael Steele, because I always enjoyed his commentary over on CNN any time he was a guest, I was certainly disappointed to see so little substance today. Steele is a very bright guy. But so far he hasn't thought through any really new ideas that will benefit the GOP that I see. But certainly I expect to see a good effort from him that the Democrats will certainly have to match.
Behind the scenes there is already a fierce funding battle taking place over the seat in Congress vacated by Representative Kristen Gillibrand, with both parties collecting funds although there aren't any candidates in the running as of yet. Behind the scenes both parties need to be that far ahead of events. I even helped out with a contribution the other day towards the unnamed Democratic candidate to help keep this seat in Democratic hands and to maintain the Democratic majority in congress for Mr. Obama to work with. Believe it or not, the parties are both laying the foundations for the 2010 races even though the dust has barely settled on this election.
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