An open letter to Chairman Art Torres, Regarding Party consultant Bob Mulholland's published insults
Dear Chairman Torres,
I am writing out of deep concern over public comments made by a consultant to the California Democratic Party.
You are likely aware that I co-authored and submitted the resolution to censure Senator Dianne Feinstein. Just after the close of this weekend's Executive Board General Assembly, I was made aware of an article regarding this resolution, which appeared in the November 16 issue of the newspaper The Guardian. It contained the following reference to Bob Mulholland, identifying him as "a campaign adviser to California Democrats.":
Mulholland blasted the bloggers and activists supporting the censure resolution as "fringe" and "pre-nursing home". "The Democratic party's purpose is to remind armchair activists that the duty is to elect a Democrat to the White House so we can end the Iraq mess", he said. "Nothing should get in the way of that." (Emphasis mine)
I hope you observed enough of my actions this weekend, speaking seriously and politely on issues of life and death (including my successful effort on a resolution to return the California National Guard from Iraq), to know that reports that I am ready for the "nursing home" are greatly exaggerated. More importantly, while you and I might have different opinions on the value of the censure resolution, you must agree that I was given a great responsibility in being asked to advance and represent this weighty topic. In fact, I felt honored to be selected as point person for this by the Co-Chairs of the Progressive Caucus (The Party's second largest caucus, its more than 1,000 members alone represent a major fraction of the Party's 3,000 delegates- decidedly not "fringe".) The resolution of censure was endorsed by that caucus, as well as by the Women's Caucus, the Irish-American Caucus, and by the members or executive boards of dozens of chartered Democratic clubs, County Central Committees and activist groups- not to mention over 30,000 citizens who took the trouble to individually sign on for censure.
It's one thing for Mr. Mulholland to wishfully dismiss such numbers as fringe; it's quite another for him to so grievously insult the loyal Party Executive Board representatives and delegates who were exercising their rights within our bylaws.
I've worked closely with many of these Party members- at phone banks, on bus trips to get out the vote in Arizona, etc. We've organized major efforts to protect the vote and the environment. I doubt that the featured speakers of the Election Protection forum that I initiated, including Rep. Maxine Waters, now-Secretary of State Debra Bowen, and Stephen Rohde (past President of the ACLU of Southern California), would call me an "armchair activist". Nor would the other volunteers at Ohio Democratic HQ in 2004. You also saw Dr. Jo Olson address the Assembly on her successful resolution for single payer health care; Susie Shannon, who spoke of her tireless efforts as an advocate against poverty; and Marcy Winograd, who authored the language of the Party's new resolution on voting systems. These three were all early endorsers of the resolution to make Senator Feinstein adhere to core Party principles; they are not armchair activists.
I shouldn't have to prove the bona fides of these Party members. But even if Mr. Mulholland's comments referred only to unaffiliated activists and bloggers, our Party consultant has ridiculed and insulted the national leaders and all the members of MoveOn, Progressive Democrats of America, the Courage Campaign, and the many other groups who endorsed this censure of Senator Feinstein. As if that wasn't enough, Mr. Mulholland also managed to insult the elderly.
The situation begs the question, why did Bob Mulholland say this? Was he ordered to say such things? Or was this just his usual M.O., as profiled in another Guardian article, which began: "Bob Mulholland is the US Democrats' leading dirty trickster." Regardless, I wish to state, on behalf of all the good people I may claim to represent, that his language is unacceptable. Given the Party's recent resolution on decorum, these inappropriate, insulting comments from a Party mouthpiece are especially ironic, and should have the Party leading the charge to rectify this situation.
Allow me to note that, besides believing that our elected (and endorsed) Democrats should be held accountable to Party principles, I believe their frequent failure to represent public and constituent sentiment is our Party's greatest problem. I've been asked, Wouldn't censure give the Republicans ammunition to use against us? I reply that no one could do more to lower our Congressional ratings than the Party has already done itself, by its failure to stand up to Bush- especially on civil liberties and Iraq. Chairman, if you want to get out the vote, start with the fact that we give people very little reason to register or vote Democratic; that factor trumps a million phone banks. Perhaps you've never seen emails from those saying that votes such as Senator Feinstein's vote for Mukasey have forever sundered them from the Democrats.
The Party's strategy of supporting Democrats - no matter what - is killing us. Likewise, the demonization of those who disagree with the Party line, as exhibited by Bob Mulholland, is counterproductive. I believe the CDP should seriously reconsider the face it presents to the public, and its policy of paying Bob Mulholland to be our
advisor and frequent spokesperson. His vision, and the Party's reflex action to circle the wagons, may win individual election battles, but it's losing the wider war. At the least, he - and the Party - owe a lot of good people a very serious public apology.
Delegate, 42nd AD
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Open letter to Chairman Art Torres