As NDN has been discussing for the past several years, the modern Republican political machine has redefined politics as we know it. Years of investing billions of dollars in their infrastructure have created a vast and complex web of multimillion dollar operations which include think tanks, for-profit media outlets like Fox News, traditional political advocacy groups and, in recent years, a very healthy and strategic set of national, state and local party organizations.
The Republicans understand the division of labor required to run such a political empire, and have a diversified set of leaders to build and manage their affairs - spokesmen like Bush, Colin Powell, Bill Frist, Rudy Giuliani, and Arnold Schwarzenegger; strategists like Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist; managers like Roger Ailes, Ed Gillespie and Ken Mehlman; intellectuals like those at Heritage, Cato and the dozens of other local and state think tanks; propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge; and investors like the Coors and Scaife families.
They run their politics like a business. They have strategic plans, targeted outcomes, measures to gauge progress and accountability. As Democrats, we must come to terms with what they have built and how they run their affairs, for today they have a much better system that yields much better results than ours.
Finding someone who can take on Bush on TV is not the biggest or most important part of the job of chairing the DNC. Terry McAulifffe has repeatedly said as much, and the Republicans have clearly recognized this in their recent choices for chair of the RNC. We already have dozens of national leaders well-equipped to take on the GOP each day. They are named Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Richardson, Gore, Dean, Reid, Pelosi, Obama, Hoyer, Bayh, Lieberman, Vilsack, Landrieu, Menendez, Graham, Salazar, Ford Jr., Nelson, Lincoln, Durbin, Stabenow, Granholm, Rendell, Warner, Biden, Holbrooke, Harman, Spitzer and Emanuel. We could all add more.
What we need at the head of the DNC is someone who can take on Rove, Reed, Norquist and Mehlman. Someone who understands how to defeat the modern Republican machine at its own high-level strategic game; someone who understands the demographic, attitudinal and socio-economic complexities of the coming America; someone who is deeply rooted in the emerging new media world of databases, digital media, satellite and cable television; someone who understands the internet and modern community-building techniques; someone who can speak for the mainstream of the party and connect with its increasingly youthful activist base; someone who has successfully raised money and worked in all regions of this diverse country; and someone who has a proven track record at running a business or political organization.
As for that Economist article that the email references, here's the key grafs:
Karl Rove may have been the architect of Mr Bush's victory--the man with the grand strategic visions and the sweeping sense of history. But Mr Mehlman was the mechanic who translated those strategic visions into reality. His main assets are an extraordinary command of detail (his colleagues dubbed him "Rain Man" because he can reel off election statistics much as Dustin Hoffman, in the film, could calculate at a glance the number of toothpicks spilt from a box) and the iron discipline necessary to keep Mr Bush's unruly army together.
And we wonder why Democrats can't win elections.
Update: After further consideration, the thing that is most missing from that job description is something about "finding a spine". Throw that in there, and it's near perfect.
And yes, the description does happen to fit the two people I most support for the job -- Howard Dean and Rosenberg. More than any of the other candidates, these two have articulated the party's biggest challenges -- and possible solutions -- in a way the other candidates have failed to do.