Ken Mehlman, considered by many to be the real Svengali behind the masterful GOP 2004 ground and air game, has officially taken the reins of the RNC and, by the sound of things, the Republican party.
To those Dems who are currently debating the appropriate scope of the next DNC Chair’s job description, a perusal of Mehlman’s ambitious and rather sweeping agenda should give them pause and much food for thought. From the AP’s Ron Fournier:
Accepting the chairmanship on the eve of Bush’s inauguration, he said the party must take four steps to “cement these victories into a durable Republican majority:”
_ Enact the president’s agenda, including fighting terrorism, revamping Social Security (news – web sites), changing the tax code and appointing “strict constructionists to the courts.”
_ Institutionalize the GOP’s 2004 grass-roots operation, which most experts believe was far better than the Democrats’.
_ Recruit quality candidates for the 2005 and 2006 elections. He also urged RNC members to start focusing on the 2008 presidential campaign and, further down the road, the 2011 redistricting process.
_ Use the GOP agenda to court new voters: Blacks through school voucher initiatives, young voters through Social Security changes and Hispanics through efforts to limit legal liability.
As for conservatives, he said, “When we debate who should sit on the judiciary, we have an opportunity to deepen the GOP by registering to vote men and women who attend church every week but aren’t yet registered voters.”
Activists in both parties are watching to see whether Bush will continue to push a conservative agenda or move to the political center. Mehlman seemed to suggest that Bush didn’t need to make a choice, that he would appeal to a wide spectrum of voters.
Wow. If what the opposition’s up to holds any weight, then this commentator thinks we indeed need more than just glorified fund raiser at the DNC helm. The Dems need a strategist, nay, a visionary now more than ever. And to have any hope of matching the RNC’s game plan, that visionary must also sport cutting edge technical, media and organizing skills. A tall order indeed.
Just as the DNC race has begun to tighten, though not yet gel, we hear from no less than Donna Brazille that one or more additional hats may yet be thrown into the ring. That’s fine. That’s democracy. But given the critical and immediate needs of the Democrats, courtesy of the political headlock so skillfully applied by the Rove/Mehlman tag team combination, I believe there’s already a contender that has the resume, skills and attitude for the job. Simon Rosenberg.
Sorry Donnie Fowler. You’re my sentimental favorite, and I think in any other time or situation in Dem Party history you’d be a fantastic Chair. But this is not just any time or situation. It’s crunch time. And we Dems need a serious plan. Simon just happens to be the man with it at this juncture.
They say leaders aren’t born, they’re made. The circumstances do indeed define the characteristics that serve to make a leader. At this crossroads for our party, I believe we have one right in front of us.
The Ringmaster’s officially off the fence. Simon Rosenberg for DNC Chair.