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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith