Man Without Qualities

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Inspired By John Kerry's Acceptance Speech

I admit it. I was wrong. I thought John Kerry's Democratic Convention speech was "ineffective."

But already it has effected Peggy Noonan's leave of absence from the Wall Street Journal to work for the re-election of Mr. Bush.

And the timing of this development is awfully coincidental, although it seems the leading actor in the story below must have watched the Boston doings only on television:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander switched his party affiliation to Republican on Friday ? making the surprise flip in the last minute of registration for the Nov. 2 ballot virtually assuring the seat for the GOP. .... In Washington, Democrats reacted angrily. "Rodney Alexander has betrayed voters in Louisiana and leaders like John Breaux and Mary Landrieu, who have helped him. We have no use for turncoats like Rodney Alexander in the new Democratic majority," said Kori Bernards, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. ... With the switch, Democrats must now gain 12 seats this fall to win the majority. Sen. John Breaux, the retiring Democratic leader of the delegation, called the switch an underhanded maneuver that "effectively prevented the people of his district from a having a choice." .... [State Democratic Party chairman Mike] Skinner's criticism was even sharper: "Who knows what the Republicans promised him to switch? Judas got 30 pieces of silver." .... [Rep. Alexander] skipped the party's National Convention last month in Boston.

Senator Breaux is not a bad man or a bad senator. But he had a rather different take on such party defection when his buddy Jim Jeffords bolted the Republicans to become an "independent caucusing with the Democrats." In fact, Senator Breaux seems to have been proud of his own role in that defection:

"We just kept talking to him about it, that he'd feel more comfortable working with moderates in our caucus," Sen. John Breaux, D-La., recalled. "It was a gradual process over a couple of months."

And what about showing some "respect:"

I respect what Jeffords did, but there are a lot of Republicans who lost their chairmanships because of him.

Senator Breaux's comment about Rep. Alexander seems particularly odd since Rep. Alexander is switching parties right before the election - not right afterwards, as did Senator Jeffords - so that the people of his district know exactly what they're voting for. And, the voters in that district will still have the choice of voting for a Democrat:

There is another strong Republican in the three-candidate field. He is Jock Scott, a former state representative from Alexandria. The Democrat is Zelma "Tisa" Blakes, of Monroe, a political newcomer who called herself a "domestic engineer" when she qualified on Wednesday. Asked if the party will get behind a political unknown, state Democratic Party chairman Mike Skinner ... wouldn't say if they will get behind her.

It seems that Mr. Skinner and the Louisiana Democratic Party don't completely share Senator Breaux's sense of urgency that voters in the 5th District have as much of that "choice" that the Senator talks about.

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