I've been at two events, mostly attended by Democrats, in the last two days. Last night's was the Northern Virginia Central Labor Council's annual COPE dinner. James Webb wasn't there because he had a previous commitment to attend a fundraiser in his behalf in California. Granted he needs the money - but Virginia labor versus Hollywood money. Ok, maybe I'd take the money too if I were a cash strapped candidate facing a millionaire who's willing to finance his own campaign.
I do give Miller credit for walking into the lion's den. He's not stupid. He knows where labor's sympathy lies. Yet he bravely walked up to people like me, with our Webb stickers plainly visible, and he gamely shook our hands.
After the dinner, I was in the bar of the Crystal City Hilton with some other Democratic activists, long time friends with whom I've worked on campaigns before. These are the people whose side I am usually on. Except this time. I walked in on an angry discussion about the hypocrites who didn't want to support Creigh Deeds last year because of his gun stand but who are now so wild about Webb.
"I supported Creigh Deeds. I have no problem with guns," I announced crisply as I sat down. Then I added, "for me, it comes down to three things: outsourcing, outsourcing and outsourcing."
One of the Miller people said, "Well for me it comes down to not wanting to be at the Democratic Convention next time and having the head of the Virginia delegation refusing to support the party. I don't want to see a Virginia Zell Miller."
Because of the obvious anger of the assembled group, I didn't want to pour oil onto a fire. AIAW is, in fact, very polite and even a bit cowardly in person. She's not always outspoken. That's what she has a blog for. So, I'll answer the charge now from the safety of my bedroom.
Firstly, I don't want to see another Zell Miller either. But I'd sure love to see a Democratic version of Phil Gramm, Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Billy Tauzin. For that matter, I'd love to see more Dave Marsdens.
Does anybody remember when Southern Democrats, like Gramm, publicly got up and left our party to join the Reagan revolution in the 80s. Oh God, I wish some ultra purist Republican had rejected them because they had been Democrats. Instead, deserters were embraced. When they switched sides, they were rewarded with plum committee chairmanships. Everything was done to publicly highlight the Republicans' gain. And every one of those Democrats who left us, also embarrassed and hurt us. Because every one of them took followers for whom it was confirmed that the Democratic Party was no longer their home.
So, if we can flip a few Republicans and return the favor when they are down and suffering low poll ratings, why the hell not seize the opportunity? In fact, nothing makes me more frustrated than the Democratic Party's constant aversion to Republicans who want to switch parties. In fact, I would love to declare next week "National Flip A Republican Week" and assign every Democrat I know to go out and get one high profile Republican to switch parties.
So, if any of my disgruntled friends would like to know, that's why I am delighted that Webb is running. Because it hurts and embarrasses Republicans who hurt and embarrassed us the same way throughout the 80s.
Then, today at the Braddock District Derby Day, I went up to another friend to ask if she wanted to wear a Webb sticker. "No," she told me, with some anger. "But I will wear a Miller sticker."
I gave her the same line about for me it being outsourcing, outsourcing, etc. She responded that her support, in turn, was about "friendship, friendship, friendship."
I don't have a quarrel with that. I am not going to demonize people I respect for sticking by somebody who has been their friend for twenty years. But it seems that most of Miller's support in Northern Virginia isn't based on a positive agenda. It's based on longtime loyalty to a comrade. And unfortunately, his campaign is based on attacks and untruths about Jim Webb. But when you have a history as a lobbyist whose main issue was outsourcing and guest worker programs, that's all you've got. But to beat Allen, it ain't much.