Doug Wilder: Fire Tim Kaine, Shake Up White House Staff

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Last we heard from him, Doug Wilder (D? R? I?) was busy agonizing over whether to endorse Bob McDonnell, Creigh Deeds, or nobody for governor of Virginia. In the end, after forcing us to watch his Hamlet routine for days and weeks on end, he decided neither to "be or not to be," endorsing nobody. Was that a whole lotta fun or what?!? Well, now the disloyal egomaniac Wilder is at it again, issuing instructions to Barack Obama about how he should be running things.
I still believe Obama can stand for positive change. But first he must make some hard changes of his own.

The need is becoming more obvious by the day: He must overhaul his own team, replacing the admittedly brilliant advisers who helped elect him with others more capable of helping him govern.


I am an admirer of Tim Kaine, who I backed in his current position as one of my successors as Virginia governor and even recommended for the vice presidency. But a spate of recent losses in races that Democrats should have won underscores what has been obvious to me for a long time: The chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee is the wrong job for him.

The changes must go much deeper. Obama’s West Wing is filled with people who are in their jobs because of their Chicago connections or because they signed on with Obama early during the presidential campaign.

One problem is that they do not have sufficient experience at governing at the executive branch level.

The deeper problem is that they are not listening to the people.
Wilder then goes on to explain why the DNC Chairmanship is "not a good fit for Tim [Kaine], the party, or President Obama." Why not? Because, according to Wilder, the Republicans will too easily be able to paint Kaine as "Tax and Spend" and "Soft on Crime." After buying into Republican framing, Wilder then rambles on about...not really sure, exactly, as is usually the case with this windbag/blowhard.

Look, I'm not saying Obama shouldn't make any changes, but he should do so for the right reasons, not because people have "Chicago connections" (who cares?) or because they could be portrayed by Republicans as "Tax and Spend" or "Soft on Crime." Bleh. Also, I'm certainly not defending Tim Kaine, who I've concluded has a terminal case of the eponymous "Tim Kaine Disease" (terminal, rose-colored optimism; arrogance; groupthink; no fixed principles you're willing to fight for; and of course the dreaded Cult of Bipartisanship, even when Republicans outright say that they want you to fail). But Doug Wilder doesn't talk about any of that. Nor does Wilder point to specific examples of mismanagement (are there any?) by Kaine. Instead, it's a rambling stream of blather by a guy whose only core principle is...Doug Wilder. Now, he stabs his "friend" Tim Kaine in the back. I'll tell ya, with "friends" like that...

UPDATE: For an example of an intelligent critique of the White House that doesn't rely on Republican talking points or advise more "bipartisanship" with people who want you to fail, see here.

UPDATE #2: Also, a very smart Democratic friend of mine emailed the following. Unlike Wilder's b.s., this actually makes some sense.
...The 2009 White House team were concentrating on the legislative minutiae. I think someone like Plouffe would have been much more confrontational with the Republicans, and would have forced their hand and exposed their tactics much more effectively--whether through reconciliation or otherwise.

Obama has lost a lot of support in the country because 98+% of the American people don't give a rat's ass about the Senate's parliamentary procedures, the filibuster rule, or anything else, and the communications they kept getting were all about these things. No "average person", me included, understands why Obama can't get things done in the Senate with the Democratic majorities he has now.

...what Obama needs is a tough chief or staff who can get input from Rahm Emanuel (or someone like him) on the legislative side and David Ploufe on the political side, and then can go to Obama and say: OK, I have listened to both these guys, and here's what we need to do. With Emanuel as Chief of Staff, Obama is getting advice that is too heavily weighted by the legislative minutiae side and not weighted enough on the practical politics side.