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Ira Glass asks a good question

In today’s NYTimes By the Book post, Ira Glass says  he likes to read non-fiction, and that Michael Lewis’ book on the financial collapse of 2008, The Big Short, is one of his favorite books.  (Here’s my review.)  I like his selections but I’m a little surprised that he didn’t have his nose stuck in a book when he was a kid like I did. I just assumed Glass was more well read than I am but maybe he’s just a whole lot smarter.  Go figure.

Then the interviewer asks him “What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?”. And Ira says what’s been on all of our minds lately:

Could someone please write a book explaining why the Democratic Party and its allies are so much less effective at crafting a message and having a vision than their Republican counterparts? What a bunch of incompetents the Dems seem like. Most people don’t even understand the health care policy they passed, much less like it. Ditto the financial reform. Or the stimulus. Some of the basic tasks of politics — like choosing and crafting a message — they just seem uninterested in.

I remember reading in The Times that as soon as Obama won, the Republicans were scheming about how they’d turn it around for the next election, and came up with the plan that won them the House, and wondered, did the House Dems even hold a similar meeting? Kurt Eichenwald! Mark Bowden! John Heilemann and Mark Halperin! I’ll pre-order today.

We’ve been wrestling with that question for four years and still don’t have an answer.  The closest I can come to it is that Democrats represent a lot of competing interests and currently will not nominate a leader that will unite them around some common themes with the kind of energy they need.  And because they opted to go the easy route, ie “take the money and run”, they’ve been co-opted by the very same people they need to craft a message against.

But even if you can get a unifying message together, you still need to hire someone good to deliver it and Democrats have a nasty habit of picking candidates who are cool “intellectual” types who don’t look like they want to get their hands dirty practicing politics.  The fact that so many Democrats hate the last Democratic president who was actually a master politician tells you everything you need to know about why the Democrats have voluntarily hobbled themselves.  I’ve suggested a big, unibrowed, Genghis Khan, FDR style Democrat.  Maybe someone like Ed Rendell.  But Hillary would do just as well.  As James Carville once said of Hillary, if she gave one of her balls to Obama, they’d both have two.  But the secret is to get a politician who likes politics and doesn’t think that being political is beneath them.

So, competing interests, co-option, lack of unifying principles and strong leadership.  That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.

Forget Heileman and Halperin, please. {{rolling eyes}} I’ll write the damn book.  Just offer me an advance.

Does anyone else want to take a crack at this?


Republican strategy meeting post election 2008: