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Nancy Smith

DWS Driving Democratic Debates -- Maybe Democrats Themselves -- into the Shadows

November 11, 2015 - 6:15pm

Mea culpa. I'm now fairly sure I was wrong about Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I said in past columns she was losing her power. Nope.

Her mysteriously lengthy tenure as Democratic National Committee chair goes on. 

DWS still has enough power to rig the Democratic primary for Hillary Clinton. The president, her boss, has to see it, and he's not trying to stop her.

No wonder Independent Bernie Sanders isn't winning endorsements. He may caucus with the Democrats, but he remains defiantly free of the hierarchy and drama within the party. That, plus the influence of Democratic National Committee Chair Wasserman Schultz's dictator-like leadership, make for few endorsements going his way. Or former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's way, either.

DWS is a Clinton devotee. Remember, she was the chairwoman of Hillary Clinton's campaign during her 2008 presidential bid. Back then Clinton led in endorsements in the early going against Barack Obama. Several of those endorsers bailed eventually when primary polls began favoring the current president.

The DNC chair is showing she learned something from that bitter 2008 experience.

Obama was a virtual unknown going into the 2008 Democratic primaries. But after he participated in 26 debates, he had gained unstoppable traction through the kind of exposure money can't buy.

So, what does DWS do this time?

She limits the number of debates to six and threatens to penalize any candidate who tries to debate outside of the sanctioned events.

Never mind what you see and hear. Never mind what I said in the past. In her own way, for her own reasons -- could be survival, could be hope for a Clinton favor later -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz is leading Hillary Clinton's team again.

This is how she wanted the Democratic gubernatorial primary run last year in Florida -- no debate for Charlie Crist opponent Nan Rich. It limited Rich's endorsements and snuffed out exposure to her platform. And this is how she wants to make sure Clinton is the party's presidential nominee now.

DWS and other Democrats with corporate ties or moderate views want Clinton nominated, because they think Sanders, an avowed democratic socialist, is too liberal to win.

But Debbie Wasserman Schultz could be shooting herself in the foot in another way.

Sanders is a kind of liberal equivalent of Donald Trump. He is a maverick staging a political revolution to make elections more about voter participation than raising campaign funds through Super PACs. He says he's running to help the American people who are frustrated, disengaged and disenchanted with the status quo of American politics. Sound familiar?

And here's the rub, claims the Observer newspaper: Sanders has raised more donations faster than Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns at the same point in the election cycle, and reached one million individual donations faster than any other presidential candidate in history.

DWS has good reason to be nervous.

While the Democrats stage "pretend" debates and schedule their remaining handful of debates when the fewest viewers are likely to watch, the Republicans are introducing a field of candidates to the American people -- showing them, in fact, as people with ideas that might work, ideas they might be able to live with, that might serve the country better than those of their own nominee in hiding/waiting.

I've even had lifelong Democrats tell me, "These tea party guys aren't so scary after all."

Did you even know that last Friday night MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow hosted a presidential candidates forum in South Carolina featuring Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton? Few people I know had any idea. But why would they on a Friday night, when people generally have better things to do.

You also may not be aware that the same three candidates will be debating this Saturday night. I'm talking about an actual debate this time, one of the six sanctioned by the DNC. On Saturday night, can you believe it? Just as the college football season is coming down the stretch and people who aren’t watching college football are out enjoying themselves with friends and family.

The third Democratic debate, on the evening of Dec. 19, is also on a Saturday. The fourth is on a Sunday during the NFL playoffs, and it will be the final debate before nominating begins.

According to Nielsen fast national ratings, the Republicans' main debate, moderated by FBN’s Maria Bartiromo, Neil Cavuto and Wall Street Journal’s Gerard Baker Tuesday night, was watched by 13.5 million total viewers. It shattered any previous viewership totals for the 8-year-old Fox Business Network.

Compare that to MSNBC's Democratic debate on Friday night. It got 2.3 million viewers -- a trend that almost certainly will continue for the Democrats and in the process gladden DWS' heart.

Democrats can't be seen to disagree with one another, apparently.

It's hard for me to understand how -- if retaining the Obama coalition is part of your strategy -- you're going to get Obama voters out in big numbers when you choose to keep the candidates hidden away.

I’m not smart enough to predict the future. Certainly I was wrong about DWS' DNC career flagging. But I am smart enough to know that history is decided by events we didn’t see coming. 2016 is going to be one fascinating American election year.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith


She is in bed with Hillary Big Time. D W S cut the debates by 2 thirds so that little known O Malley would not get Exposure. What a COMMUNIST !!

I had the revelation of a lifetime in February 1991; a week after Super Bowl. I had convened a large party at my home. No, it was more of a soire. Good times had by all. The revelation was that viewing sports is stupid, unhealthy, and a waste of valuable time in life. Why? Because sports celebrities generally read, write, and speak poorly and have a propensity to believe that their crimes don't really count against society. I didn't want to aid and support that concept. I quit viewer sports cold turkey. I play em for entertainment and the physical fitness benefits and not watch em sitting on my can on the sofa or in a sports bar. I'm a better person and have done really nifty things during the game time that the football games would have interfered with normally. ---------Look at the NFL now; Monday nite foot ball, Thursday nite football, European football, all-the-time football, etc., etc. My whole awake time could be occupied with football, or whatever sport is on stage at the moment. I am amazed that sports fans say things like "WE need a different quarterback" or "WE should have passed not run". They pay hundereds of dollars for tickets to observe a game. The say this about college teams and they never went to that particular college. Or frequently no college. That's crazy.....the sports fan has no ownership stake in the team. There is no "WE". The sports player is way overpaid for a game they supposedly love. In my book, a sports player should not be paid a salary higher than policemen and fireman and the like. They are much more important to society than a sports player. Now, ya say huh? I owned Atlanta Falcons season tickets, was on the season ticket waiting list for the Redskins at number 8,000plus, and attended most NY Giants home games at the Meadowlands. So when I had the revelation - I truly saw the light! ----------Therefore, in my mind, a political debate is way more critical and important to the future of Americans than a football game.------

Sports culture is huge because of the dramatic relief it gives us. Obviously I am a sports fan. Having to choose between these moments is either ill informed or blatantly wrong. Neither road leads me to understanding the DNC's timetable with anything but disdain. How can your opinion matter in the framework of the commoner when you don't even know her likely schedule? That's Un-American.

What genius decided that the Democratic debate in Iowa would best be served by having it at the same time as the Iowa Hawkeyes home game (#5 in the country)? This is either stupidity or a blatant attempt to aid Hillary's smoke and mirrors campaign. Then you find out the fourth debate is on playoff Sunday in the NFL. I can't shake the nagging suspicion that this wasn't a coincidence. If the leader of the DNC accidentally scheduled at least 2 of 4 debates on days of major football games, then she should resign her position for not being effective at getting the candidates exposed tot the country. After all, name recognition is one of the biggest factors in deciding elections, and they've been polling Hillary for president for years. If there is no exposure of other candidates, she wins by default. Snakes of a feather...

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nancy smith


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