Democratic Party Ethics

Why We Lose

Democrats may have mastered national campaigns, but we still struggle at the local level. Here’s one reason why.

Much of what you read about Ashley Judd’s potential candidacy over the past two months was a complete fabrication according to one of her advisers who claims the rumors were planted by fellow Democrats.

In a story published Monday in The Daily Beast, Jonathan Miller wrote that the “most egregious disinformation” about Judd and her would-be candidacy “came from entirely anonymous sources” and helped create an unfavorable narrative. Before she announced last week that she will not run in 2014, reports suggested that Judd told a group of supporters at a private dinner, “I have been raped twice, so I think I can handle Mitch McConnell.” Miller, who attended that dinner, said he “never heard her say anything remotely like that.”

He also highlighted the recent suggestions that former President Bill Clinton had lobbied against a Judd candidacy in the hopes of getting Kentucky’s Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to run instead. Follow up reports later confirmed that Clinton had no problem with a Judd bid, but Miller said the damage had already been done[.]

The tough talk was a lie, and Bill Clinton never tried to force her out of the race.

No one can say with any amount of authority what Judd’s chances of defeating McConnell would have been, but the scuttling of her campaign by rival Democrats doesn’t do the party any favors by depriving us of star talent.

Charles Pierce of Esquire had a somewhat different and disheartening take on this revelation.

Unfortunately, intraparty power politics and the love of a credulous political media for bullshit and shiny objects — particularly, the latter — are as much a part of modern politics as slanderous web ads and legalized corporate bribery are. You were surprised that other Democrats schemed to strangle your candidacy in its cradle? Welcome to the Democratic party. You were surprise at how smoothly the media puke funnel works at getting arrant nonsense its place in the national spotlight. Have I introduced you to Al Gore, former president of the United States?

Pierce is correct, but I’m not sure if that makes me feel more or less ashamed. Just because this is the way things have always been done in the past doesn’t mean they must always been done this way going forward, and this strikes me as more indicative of the old way of doing things before the emergence of the Obama coalition of women, Latino, African-American, and young voters. The party is strengthened by being inclusive, not exclusive.

Granted this is Kentucky we’re talking about, and as a former resident of many years I can attest that the good ole boy network is alive and well even among Democrats, but progress can’t be held back forever. I believe the Democratic majority coalition is still in its infancy and will eventually reach every state.

The victor as of today is Mitch McConnell, not Kentucky voters.

  • 1badbaba3

    If the sources are anonymous how do we know they were Dems? Perhaps we lose because we are all too willing to believe bs about our own side. Follow the money y’all, and the turtle droppings. That’s what this is all about.

  • gescove

    I’m not well versed in Kentucky politics. But Miller’s article reads like sour grapes to me. Certainly Judd brought celebrity, good looks, and an impressive record of progressive activism. But this is a state that went 61 to 38 for Romney over Obama. McConnell has been in the Senate since 1985. Judd would be easily painted as far too liberal, a Hollywood (and Nashville, TN) outsider, an opponent of the coal industry, and much too supportive of President Obama. This strikes me less as a case of Democrats eating their own and more a case of a Democratic adviser complaining that Kentucky is too conservative for his candidate.

    • ranger11

      I don’t think she had a shot. Maybe in California or New York. Kentucky? Not really.

  • Perhaps the Democratic Party only wanted to flush out McConnell’s oppo research on Judd.

  • missliberties

    Reportedly, John Kerry, did thise same thing to Howard Dean.

    Judd would have been the story, and not Mitch McConnel, but Judd could have made McConnell the story, so I don’t know.

    I don’t like this play for old favors, which I hope is not true.