Democratic Disappointment, Part 2: Feet of Clay Leaders Do Not Rally Rank and File

While the Virginia Democrats reel from the planned non-leadership of the Warner-Kaine years, they have to carry a bit of the burden themselves, because these are the leaders they chose to follow.

In fact, almost every leader thought to have wings on his heels since the Democrats have followed since Mark Warner took back the Governors Mansion and initiated a Decade of Hope has proven to have feet of clay.

Mark Warner is at the top of the list. He may be the most popular politician in the Commonwealth, but it seems like Karma for the Warner Deception keeps rolling back to him. As noted previously, Warner told GOP legislators that the state needed a tax increase in 2005 to maintain its AAA rating…and when all the revenue receipts were in it was shown that the state would have run a surplus even without the tax increase.

He is in the US Senate, but he has proven to be ineffectual and unable to create a role for himself either inside the Democratic or GOP tents. I wonder if the stories about his conniving as governor have followed him to Washington and left him somehow tainted and limited as to how far he can be trusted.

Then there is Tim Kaine. Tim Kaine, the luckiest politician in Virginia history. This is the guy who led the effort to not offer up a Democratic plan and just let GOP infighting hand power to the Democrats.

Tim Kaine, who not only did not attempt to lead the Dems to power but who’s sudden an and inexplicable endorsement of Gerry Connolly in the 2008 10th Congressional district Democratic primary led the founders of the blog “Raising Kaine” to change the name to “RK”. Kaine stays in the game through the good graces of his benefactor President Obama, but he has long shown that what he accomplishes in politics is the result of good luck, good timing, and good backers…but seldom based on accomplishment.

While it will be something to watch the progressives who orphaned him due to his Connolly endorsement come running back to the fold to support his likely candidacy against George Allen next year.

Next on the line is Senator Jim Webb. Webb’s situation is both the most predictable but also for the Democrats the most painful. After all, he agreed to run for the US Senate in 2006 against a man he endorsed in 2000 and swore to be running as a “populist/progressive/definitely not conservative” type. As a variety of comments at BlueVa show, his recent stands in the Senate confound those who fought so hard to get him into the Senate…but now accord him plaudits like:

“The fact that he’s not running again is par for the course for him. He’s bounced around from position to position for decades, he’s more of a dabbler than a guy who’s going to focus on one thing and do that one thing well. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s bailing on the Senate after one term, and it’s not surprising at all that he hasn’t been more progressive in his nearly 5 years in the Senate.” (NotJohnsMosby, BlueVa 10.12.2011)

That’s the peak of the mountain of leadership discontent the Democrats wrestle with, but it does not end there. The General Assembly is a graveyard of leadership potential for the Democrats. One has to go back to 1989-1992 and Doug Wilder/Leslie Byrne/Robert Moss to find Democrats from the General Assembly elected to statewide or Congressional office. Meanwhile, the current leadership of Ward Armstrong and Dick Saslaw-the leadership that gave the Democrats the “let power fall into our hands”-certainly gives pause

Without a record to run on, it is any surprise that Democratic activists are reduced to pleading for votes not in support of anything, but against the GOP…not against specific GOP legislation, but against some amorphous threat? With leadership discontent like this, is it any wonder the Democrats are having trouble firing up the rank and file?

Of course, some Democratic office holders are more indicative of what the pursuit of pure power has done to the Democrats…but that’s for another time.


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