Welcome to the “self-made drama” cycle
Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not having a good time this cycle. She’s facing protests at every turn over her decision to limit the number of officially sanctioned Democratic primary debates, and now her own colleagues are once again lining up to throw her under the bus.
Everyone from presidential candidate Martin O’Malley to Nancy Pelosi has accused DWS of terrible leadership and bad decisionmaking. O’Malley even accused her of “rigging” the debate cycle to promote a Hillary Clinton ticket—as did an entire MSNBC panel. Remember?
If reports from some Democratic members are to be believed, DWS is getting serious about squashing dissent in the ranks.
From The Nation [emphasis mine]:
Why not schedule a whole bunch of additional debates? That was the point Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaiian Democrat who serves as a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, made on the eve of Tuesday night’s debate.
Gabbard’s message was not well received by DNC disciplinarians. According to the congresswoman, her staff was notified by an aide to DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz that she was “no longer welcome to come to the debate.”
“The prevailing message of that was that because I continued to call for more debates, that I should not go to the debate in Las Vegas,” the congresswoman said. “The issue here is not about me saying, ‘Boo hoo, I’m going to miss the party.’ The issue here is one of democracy and freedom of speech.”
Yikes. No wonder Bloomberg is calling what happened next an “insurrection.”
This wasn’t the first time Gabbard took a stand against DWS’s debate rules. Back in September, she asked that the rules be revoked—and was largely ignored.
I guess two public statements in as many months was too much for DWS.
Not one to be defeated, DWS hit back, and insisted that she was speaking for her team at the DNC, and not waging a one-woman war on freedom and democracy. R.T. Rybak, the former mayor of Minneapolis and a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was having none of that explanation—and went very public with his reply.
From the New York Times:
In a series of televised interviews on Monday and Tuesday, Ms. Wasserman Schultz suggested that Ms. Gabbard was causing an unwelcome distraction by drawing attention from the presidential candidates, and insisted that she had indeed consulted with the party’s officers before scheduling the debates.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Mr. Rybak weighed in angrily in response, expressing shock that Ms. Wasserman Schultz “would knowingly say something that is flat-out not true.”
“This is not a back-and-forth between a chair and a vice chair,” he said. “This is a chair of the Democratic Party wrongly stating that she consulted with all of the party officers. I was not consulted. I know that Tulsi Gabbard was not consulted. And this is becoming about much more than debates.”
“The Democratic National Committee staff has never been stronger,” Mr. Rybak said in an interview. ”The one thing that could stop us from having a great election coming up is if the chair continues to create these self-made dramas that are below what a chair should be doing.”
He went on to question her decisionmaking and leadership skills, as well as her capacity and willingness to make the nomination process more transparent and inclusive.
Other officers have come out in support of DWS, but that hasn’t stopped her detractors from going public with their frustration. At this point, the most she can do without proverbially self-immolating is continue to “punish” her detractors and insist that she’s acting in the best interests of the party.
I have a feeling that won’t stop her colleagues from fighting back.
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