| Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D?) has been busy kneecapping some of our best challengers this cycle. Amazingly, she is part of the DCCC leadership - she's currently co-chair of the Red to Blue program, which is tasked with helping our most promising challengers. But this isn't the first time we've seen something like this. From Naftali Bendavid's The Thumpin' (p. 78-79):
"I've got hundreds of examples of members screwing us. I've got members telling our challengers, 'I won't help you to challenge that X Republican.'" Emanuel continued, "I did say to one colleague once, 'You have an interesting concept of the word team. But when they come after you, I'll remind you of what you said to me. Because they will come after you.' I can give you chapter and verse of people acting like knuckleheads."
In one example, Congressman Adam Schiff of California, who served on the DCCC's recruitment committee, declined to recruit a challenger to a California Republican congressman. Schiff explained that he was seen as a bipartisan type and wanted to keep it that way. "I thought Rahm was going to strangle him," said the staffer who recounted the story. "I'm sure you've seen that look before." (Emphasis added.)
It's pretty stunning to me that anyone who would take on a leadership role in the DCCC would be so willing to undermine the cause. Yet where we had Adam Schiff dragging his feet last cycle, we now have Debbie Wasserman Schultz doing the same - if not worse - this time out.
This job is not for the faint of heart. Rahm Emanuel knew that. As Larry Sabato said of Rahm, "You need someone whose favorite word is not a or the but fuck." In other words, we needed a hardass - and we got one, and we won. Rahm did not tolerate sandbagging, whether from Adam Schiff or Alcee Hastings or anyone else.
And we need Chris Van Hollen, the current DCCC chair, to have the same zero-tolerance policy. We know that he has a very different approach from Rahm, but being a hardass isn't about cursing, or withering glares, or high-decibel rants. It's about not accepting bullshit from people who want to call themselves your fellow Democrats, whether backbenchers or leaders.
By whatever methods he chooses, Van Hollen needs to make Debbie Wasserman Schultz fall in line. If we want to expand our majorities this fall, we can't have party leaders holding us back. Health insurance, stem cell research, global warming, the war in Iraq - these are all issues which Democrats are champing at the bit to address. Surely Chris Van Hollen can't let Debbie Dubya's personal friendships with the likes of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen stand in the way.