By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
If you're anywhere on the Northeast corridor, I'm assuming your paper copy of the newspaper is buried under a very big drift of snow, like mine is. Here at Thomas Jefferson Street, we're doing the hard work of freedom, as my old boss #41 used to say--surfing the Internet while we can, before we lose power. Then we'll dig out the newspapers and read by candlelight, I guess.
Most interesting story today: former Virginia governor (and first African-American governor elected ever) Doug Wilder's column in Politico calling for President Obama to fire the people who helped him get elected and replace them with people who know how to govern. Wilder singles out DNC Chair Tim Kaine, one of his successors as governor of Virginia and a man whom he promoted for VP to Obama, as a "tax-and-spend" liberal who is "soft on crime," as Republicans like to say. He gives two pretty devastating examples from Kaine's record: one of a $1 billion dollar-plus hike in personal income taxes in his final days as governor that was quickly shot down by the legislature in a 0-97 vote; and second, his transfer of a "heinous" murderer to Germany for possible parole that was immediately reversed by Governor Bob McDonnell. "Is that who this president wants to be arm in arm with as we enter a pivotal election year?" he asks.
Wilder goes on to make a bigger point: that while one problem with Obama's team is inexperience with governing at the executive branch level, the deeper problem is that its members are not listening to the people. Among Virginia voters, he writes, even before McDonnell's win, "the canary had been dead on the floor for months":
It would be a grave mistake for the president and those around him to misread the current polls and analyses. They suggest that 1) the American people do not like the direction in which the country is heading; 2) they do not believe that either Democrats or Republicans are showing that they get the message and are doing the business of the people; 3) they hold Congress in very low regard; but 4) they really like the president. Yet, they keep going to the polls to rebuke him resoundingly every chance it is presented.
Unless changes are made at the top, by the top, when the time comes for voters to show how they really feel about Obama, his policies and the messages he sends directly or through the people around him, the president will discover that Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were not just temporary aberrations but, rather, timely expressions of voters who always show that they are ahead of the politicians.
Wow. There are plenty of Republicans who would say what Wilder is saying. There are even a few Democrats who will say it privately. But for Doug Wilder, one of the wise men of the Democratic Party and one of the top African-American elected officials in the United States, to put such scathing criticism in writing has got to be disastrous for the White House. It's one thing coming from Michael Steele. It's another coming from Doug Wilder.