Let’s unpack the important parts of this bit about the Democratic Party’s latest rebranding effort. First off:
In the months since their party took another electoral beating and lost the Senate to Republicans, senior Democratic strategists have launched a major effort to rebrand the party, after concluding their message no longer inspires voters who turned out to elect President Obama but sat on their hands during midterm elections.
The rebranding project is being led by Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)…
OK, stop there. Steve Israel was head of the DCCC in the last election cycle: which is to say, he managed to lose about twice as many seats as many people privately estimated. It took real skill to do that, that cycle: the GOP was already enjoying a commanding lead in the House. So, yeah, perfect choice there (sayeth the partisan Republican hack). Moving along:
Wednesday’s meeting comes a few months after a group of polling and communications experts briefed House Democrats at a retreat in April. At that meeting, Pollock, along with strategists Anita Dunn, Doug Thornell, John Lapp and Jim Kessler…
Let’s look at those folks, shall we?
- Anita Dunn. White House Communications Director in 2009. Did not survive the revelation that either Lee Atwater or Mao Tse Tung was her favorite political philosopher EVER. Now a senior partner at SKDKnickerbocker.
- Doug Thornell. Former top communications staffer for Chris Van Hollen during Van Hollen’s oversight of the DCCC during the 2010 election cycle. Translation: he helped the Democrats lose 63 seats in the House. Also now at SKDKnickerbocker. Dunno why the National Journal article mentioned this about Thornell, but not Dunn.
- John Lapp. Was a legitimate big guy in the Oughts. Was a senior adviser to the DCCC in 2010. Didn’t do so hot in 2014, either. His shop (RalstonLapp) is remarkably quiet about 2014 in general, in fact. That being said: he’s probably the best of this ultimately sorry bunch.
- Jim Kessler. Third Way. Translation: “Enough said.”
Come, I will tell you a secret: when you get above a certain level in This Town, failure and incompetence becomes irrelevant. Somebody will always hire you*. And I will tell you another secret: a major reason why that is is because most of what the consultants and advisors and analysts and whatnot actually do is also irrelevant. The real success stories all involve tactics, not strategy: but people have this amazing tendency to try to take a bunch of individual races and try to create a coherent meta-narrative about it. Which is a mistake, because reality is inherently chaotic. “Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense,” remember? It’s as true for politics as it is for literature.
Shorter Moe Lane: Don’t expect these people to create a coherent strategy to assure Democratic success. Even the ones who were there for previous Democratic successes are largely winging it. And don’t smirk, either: we’re just as susceptible to the problem.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Am I envious of this? Of course I am! I’d love to be in a position where I never have to worry about such trivial things as competence, and success.