Those wanting some much-needed critical perspective on South Florida media darling DWS, please see Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles in Backroom Power: Making Washington Work Again by John Harwood, chief Washington correspondent for CNBC; reporter, The New York Times, and Jerry Seib, Washington bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal.
See Chapter 6 titled The Fundraising-Phenom Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
You can also do a Look Inside at www.amazon.com/ and find lots of interesting items, too.
It's telling that in the year 2009, a real nobody from a non-competitive CD, someone with little positive impact on important national public policy issues, can be so important in Congress -a Cardinal- and SO popular on cable TV, esp. MSNBC, which is in love with her.
And yet this power comes almost entirely from her ability to generate campaign funds from well-heeled Jewish donors in South Florida, and around the country, where she's flown around as part of 'dog and pony' fundraisers to get Jewish donors in those CDs to give to their local Dem incumbent or nominee.
After I moved down here from the Washington area, friends of mine, many of whom had been Capitol Hill staffers or media folks who also moved across the country, often sent me emails about or with copies of the very sorts of fundraiser invites I just described, which they or their freinds had received or heard about.
Since they are largely moderate, fair-minded DLC-types, which is to say, more interested in actual solutions to problems instead of exploiting an issue largely for campaign purposes -along the lines of the DWS, Rahm Emauel and Robert Wexler School of Political Management- most of them share my p.o.v. towards DWS, though to be fair, I dislike her more than any of them because she's so embarrassingly transparent.
No Democrat comforts the affluent check-writers like DWS.
Trust me, nobody in Congress bases their own decision on how to vote on an issue based on what someone like DWS thinks, the same way they once might've done with Lee Hamilton, my former Congressman in Bloomington, and the former Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee after Miami's own Dante Facell, whose CD I lived in when I'd come home for the summer from IU.
I was present and accounted for during what seemed like hundreds of full committe andEurope Subcommittee hearings they chaired over the years I was there, which is why I knew all the committee staffers and became friends with some them, as well as LAs who worked for Comm. members.
Lee Hamilton earned that broad respect because of his intelligence, collegiality and work-ethic, best exemplified by the fact that he stayed in broiling D.C., working even during the 1992 Democratic National Convention, when lots of smart and savvy people were encouraging Bill Clinton to select Hamilton as VP, not Sen. Al Gore.
(I know that because I talked to him in the Rayburn bldg. hallway that very week, surprised to run into him, given what was happening.)
This book has an entire chapter on DWS and her ethics, overwhelming personal ambition and fundraising prowess, is a book that garnered good to very good reviews, had a national media tour, and was written by two very well-respected veteran reporters from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
It was even on the front page of The New York Times Book Review!
Despite all that, though, the book itself and the stories it tells about DWS have NEVER been mentioned in The Miami Herald or the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Or mentioned in a TV newscast or on a TV public affairs program.
Not in print, not online, not even a blog post entry! (Besides my own.)
What are the odds of that?
To me, given how the local media has always bent over backwards to be pals with her even before her recent cancer revelation, this lack of context is even more troubling, and quite telling about the true low state of journalism in South Florida.
Not a single South Florida reporter, editor, columnist, producer or anchor has EVER mentioned it.
And I've checked!
I've even asked well-placed people I know at the newspapers and the local TV shows. Nope!
I particularly call your attention to page 80, re a proposed pool-safety bill she co-authored.
Well, despite having bipartisan support and President Bush's interest in signing it to make it federal law, in order to politically attack Sen. George Allen, one of the Senate co-sponsors and a Republican running for re-election, she let the bill die, rather than let something become a law that EVERYONE supported.
That's DWS -always willing to put politics above public safety!
And all these months later, South Florida media ignores the book and the troubling picture it paints of DWS.
Harwood and Seib discussed the book and called attention to her (creepy) efforts on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR from May 15, 2008, which generated some calls disgusted with the ethical antics of DWS. http://wamu.org/programs/dr/
It's available in both Real Audio and Windows Media at: http://wamu.org/programs/dr/08/05/15.php
After you listen to it, you'll really wonder how DWS generated so much disgust from well-informed national listeners, while South Florida media completely ignored what she did, or made excuses for her.
Sadly, most South Florida reporters don't really want to be adversarial or thorns to elected officials or govt. employees, they want to be their pals, which explains why they are usually so easily co-opted. (And might be their future employer!)
And it also explains why so much of what's printed and broadcast locally is such an insult to reasonable, well-informed citizens, who merely want all sides of an issue to be fairly-but-fully presented.
Kudos to WFOR-TV's Jim DeFede for having brought up the subject of a previous version of the bill, but it's hard not to notice that Anonymous -a DWS defender?- bringing up a December 2006 video of DeFede's, hardly trumps my central point, proven by her own words, below, in a 2008 book that was the featured book in the New York Times Book Review last year.
As the direct quotes from the book demonstrate, yes, she does put politics about public safety. And makes no apologies. That's who DWS is, so South Florida media, please stop pretending that she's anything but a partisan hack.
I guess that's why DWS is no Profile in Courage in my book, even using the dumbed-down standards of today that saw Caroline Kennedy include former New Jersey governor Jim Florio in an updated version of her father's original book of that title called Profiles in Courage for Our Time.
In case you forgot, he had the courage to raise taxes. For which Christine Whitman was eternally grateful, showing her thanks by defeating him when he ran for re-election on that record.
Quick: Try doing an archival search for the Harwood & Seib book on the Miami Herald or South Florida Sun-Sentinel's website, using whatever parameters you want: title, authors name, etc.
Knock yourself out!
It won't have ANY results because it's NEVER been mentioned, even by their D.C. bureau.
(In fact, the handful of times their names even appear in archives the past ten years, individually, it's always with someone else quoting something they wrote, never them speaking directly.)
from Page 80 of Harwood & Seib:
But her role as a "team player" in Democratic election strategy can also impede her legislative work. Among the principal initiatives of her first term was a pool-safety bill designed to set more stringent
rules for barriers around pools, and the kinds of drains manuafacturers are permitted to install. Battling uphill in a Republican Congress, she obtained support from the swimming-pool industry and a prominent
Republican co-sponsor -Senator George Allen of Virginia.
In the run-up to the 2006 election, Senate democrats wanted to hold up progress on the bill for a singularly partisan reason. Allen was in a dead-heat race against challenger Jim Webb; with partisan control of the chamber potentially hanging in the balance, Democrats didn't want to provide ammunition favorable to Allen, which he could use with Virginia voters against Webb.
Senate Democratic leaders "didn't want to give Allen a victory before the election," Wasserman Schultz says matter-of-factly. And she was in no position to object. "I was co-chair of the 'red-to-blue' campaign. It was hard for me to say, Give one of your most targeted members a big victory." The result: a bill that had majority support in both chambers of Congress didn't become law.
Wasserman Schultz insisted she'd win passage of the bill later in any case.
Yeah, I guess that's about what you'd have to say given your choice of tactics, having already once played up your "desperately searching for Members in the hallways for votes" card.
I lived in Northern Virginia for almost 15 years and voted against George Allen when he ran against Chuck Robb in 1998, but it hardly seems likely that George Allen could claim "credit" in his race against Jim Webb for a bill passing that everyone in the Congress is in favor of and that President Bush wanted to sign.
I guess it's just a good thing that nobody stood in her way when she expended so much effort to get a bill passed for yet another dopey "Month" bill.
Like if I didn't have the link here, http://www.jewishheritage.gov/about.html you'd already know that Jewish American Heritage Month, the great political success of DWS, is in May and not June, right? Yes, that's quite a political legacy!