Thursday, April 06, 2006

Madrid And The Church of the "Heather = W" Chant

Update: Damn! I just spent a bunch of words/time on Patricia Madrid when I could have been writing about the far more important news that KATIC COURIC IS GOING TO CBS NEWS! Wow! Mindblowing! Worthy of multiple news stories, including one interviewing "media experts" on what it all means! (rr)

Well, criminy. I already spent all the words/time below on Madrid, so what the hey. If the extreme lack of KATIE COURIC coverage continues I'll weigh in on the global position altering importance of KATIE....but for now, less meaningful stuff....
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Okay, I just saw Patricia Madrid in action at the Democracy for New Mexico monthly meeting and I gotta say I have mixed feelings. I wanted to like Madrid as much as most of the crowd, a crowd at the Unitarian Church that admittedly would have cheered a Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat as long as the Australian marsupial constantly chanted "Heather IS George W. Bush...Heather IS George W. Bush" repeatedly between munches of sedge and roots.

And don't get me wrong...Madrid said all the right things, but almost exclusively only "right things" that were national in scope. Namely, she mentioned the following (in a stump speech with rather rambling interludes in which her wispy voice would almost sound like she was crying or at least getting her heart stuck in her throat):
  • Katrina response
  • Other incompetence and corruption in the W Administration
  • The Fourth Amendment and the need to protect it
  • Other Bill of Rights amendments and how the Administration was attacking them
  • Something about Trade and China and the Dubai ports deal and how it all shows that the rest of the world is trying to buy the United States
  • Medicare D "deserves a D" (this got a big laugh)
  • Heather/Domenici voted for the evil Energy Bill
  • An understandably long attack on the Iraq Invasion, including everything from "Mission Accomplished" to "Heather is not asking the tough questions" and "Heather just voted for more money for the war"
  • Bring the troops home, set timeline (Big claps and excitement)
Then followed what I thought was the closest thing to a real New Mexico mention in the speech: a well-delivered explanation of the environmental work Madrid has done and positions taken on various enviro issues like Otero Mesa, Valle Vidal, roadless rules, groundwater restoration, silvery minnow/ESA stuff.

I realize that the environmental issues aren't limited to New Mexico, but, outside of a brief mention of predatory loans, there wasn't any reference to anything in or about New Mexico directly in the whole spiel. Nothing. So it was immediately back to:
  • Heather voting for the evil Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005
  • Why the Democrats must take back the House
  • An interlude of sorts in which she talked about meeting Isabel Allende and Allende bringing up her uncle, the one assassinated in a CIA-sponsored coup by military thugs (great crowd groaning during the "with CIA help by the way" line), and how the same thing might happen here
  • Oh, and by the way, Heather IS George W. Bush...Heather IS George W. Bush...Heather IS George W. Bush
The upshot was that Madrid's speech could almost have been delivered in Pennsylvania or Idaho to similar effect. And what is the effect of the Madrid campaign choosing to run against George W. Bush? I remember reading elsewhere on the blogs (and I forget who mentioned it earlier...was it Tim McGivern?) that this was the Madrid strategy, but having had a chance to see it live and in person I've got to say:

  1. The maxim from the famous/infamous big-nosed Tip O'Neill that "all politics is local" is still my dominant paradigm.
  2. Patsy selling Bush Bashing at the Dean-influenced Democracy for New Mexico is like shooting fish in a barrel with clusterbombs.
  3. I still wonder how effective a purely national focus is gonna play in other constituencies and other parts of town.
  4. I realize that Madrid might have a very different speech for more centrist crowds. For instance, AG Madrid never mentioned once her offices' extensive work on nabbing online predators. I'm sure that's in the speech in other venues, and I plan on attending some of those in coming weeks.
  5. Still...I get a very queasy feeling with such a national focus. Study after study shows that voters might hate their national officeholders and national political institutions, but they still tend to disconnect their local Representative/Senator from the national institutions.
  6. So, in my mind, Patricia/Patsy/Madrid needs to also run against Heather as a local representative, not merely as a national symbol of a national problem.
  7. One part of my queasiness is the "national" focus of this race. As Madrid mentioned in her speech, the House #1 race is one of the most talked about in the nation. A disporportionate amount of press and punditry has been created already. Right now, Madrid seems to be responding to this national reaction by speaking to a national audience instead of a local one. I might be overreacting, but it was certainly the vibe I got, a vibe given some credence I think by the sheer preponderance of the national in her stump speech tonight.
  8. Oh, by the way, despite saying the right thing about the Iraq Invasion, Madrid didn't sound very knowledgeable about what the military situation is now or what should happen to make it better in the near future. Right now if she debated Heather on this issue, it would be almost as ugly for Patsy as is the war itself. Definite work needed here.
Finally, after giving the speech with occasional somewhat rambling interludes, she only answered four questions from the audience. Four. Four stinking questions after having stood up DFNM a few months back at a scheduled meeting. It was mentioned that she was under a time constraint. Sorry, but that left a bad taste in my mouth...I mean I know we are the lefty choir and are very used to, at this point, being mistreated by our Democratic candidates.

Still, there should have been more questions. More questions about things in Albuquerque, New Mexico. More questions about gay marriage, Green Party status and some of the other "wacky" issues that might prevent a few on the supposedly far-left from voting for Madrid. Because we all know that it will only take a few to possibly swing this race, and because Democracy for New Mexico meetings is the perfect place to clean up issues like Madrid's gay marriage stand.

You know, the stand she took about the marriage licenses in Sandoval County. You know, in New Mexico. Real close to Albuquerque, New Mexico even. Like dangerously close to NM House District #1.

Update #2: A real good add-on follows in comments from Scott Hale, another spectator last night. I'd like to hear from others who were there as well, especially as the predominant vibe seemed much more positive than I felt. Maybe as a group we were just being nice...or maybe we lefties are so deprived of political love than when a politician just shows us the merest smidge of affection we get all blubbery.

And I'm even more ticked off about only being given four questions this morning than I was when I wrote the above last night. Geez...four.

8 comments:

scott hale said...

Scot-

Great job of analyzing this meeting. You're giving her credit though, and I don't think she deserves it, at least for what she put forth tonight. Two minutes into her stump and my stomach was doing doing flip flops--we are so screwed in this race. She confirmed my worst fears. There is no way she is going to be competitive in this race, or effective in Washington if she somehow gets elected.

Who cares if she is known and "feels" like she has a record that speaks for itself? Her performance now is what matters and she has shown no evidence of engaging in this race and taking it seriously. Saying you are "up for the battle" is one thing, proving it is another. It was also extremely bad form to cancel in January and then schedule another engagement tonight when she had such an eager and particpative audience. Worse yet, did she just want to avoid the heat of a good Q&A session? After tonight, I just can't see her being able to deal with the vipers of the beltway and effectively represent our district and interests.

I was impressed with Jim Spiri. Who is he??? I don't know if you stuck around to hear him speak, but he was much more impressive than Patricia tonight and Heather two weeks ago. I don't know what he is made of, but I am interested in finding out. We may have observed a pivotal moment tonight in this race. Madrid and her handlers may have made a fatal error in leaving and allowing him to take the floor.

Last, I got a kick out of Madrid's reference to her participation on the DFNM blog. I've never seen her comment, have you? Or did I hear that right? Maybe she was talking about her campaign "blog". Uuuggh!

Leftie said...

I'm not sure I get you on this local issue thing. Congressional members deal with national issues, not local ones per se. If Madrid was running for a statewide race, it would be proper to address local issues, but she's running for a national office, you know? If elected, she'll be voting on things like the Iraq war, Medicare, the budget, environmental laws, etc.

That said, I think her speaking style leaves much to be desired. You'd think with all the national attention on this race, she'd be "encouraged" to get some public speaking training by the DC Dem "strategists."

I, too, was very dismayed that she ran out so quickly. I think she should have gave a very short version of the stump speech and concentrated instead on answering questions, speaking off the cuff, and mingling. The meeting attendees are obviously already familiar with the sins of Bush and Heather. What we needed was an inspiring and honest connection with the candidate, and down and dirty talk about campaign strategies.

I think she missed a real chance to connect with some of Albuquerque's most active Dems.

frannyzoo said...

Leftie:

I understand your point about the seat being National, but what seals the deal for incumbents is the little local things. Take Heather and the South Valley of ABQ. She's pretty popular down there in a hugely D area thanks to some road/community center type pork projects she's funded. Things like that don't show up on a newspaper's "What your Congressperson Did" vote roundup for the week...but they can sow deep allegiances...

Just one example. Maybe others can chime in with more.

Anonymous said...

franny: I get you but I'm not sure what kind of local projects can be cited when someone's been an AG. There's really no pork there. She's got payday loans and some environmental stuff, like the suit about Otero Mesa.

I do agree that Heather has the pork and nicey nice visit to constituents things down. Especially with seniors. And as you imply, incumbents have many tools they can use that challengers lack. I guess that's why incumbents win like 90 percent of the time or something.

I think the Madrid camp is banking on some moderate voters deciding Heather's kiss up to Bush isn't worth the other stuff. Many polls do show that the national standing of Bush will have a large, negative effect on Republicans in the midterms. When a president's approval ratings are down, midterm elections often operate like a referendum on their errors and failures.

frannyzoo said...

Anonymous:

I hear you about the limitations of being an AG instead of a sitting Congressperson, but that only means Madrid needs to outline things locally she pledges to fund.

For example:

(Madrid speaking to Democracy for New Mexico audience):

"As you know, the New Mexico legislature did a pitiful job of funding meth rehab clinics in its last session.

If I'm elected Congressperson, I'll stop greasing the Domenici/Wilson rails for community dividing local projects like moving sacred rocks for the Paseo extension and instead see that needed help goes to rehabilitating meth addicts.

I want to address the meth problem now, instead of merely building more prisons to house them after they commit crimes against you and your neighbors."

Again, a for instance....

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just me, but don't you think all of these scandals that Madrid has been taking hits for will hurt her?

Her speech was nice, but I can't help but see commercials about her doing nothing about the Treasurer scandal, Guy Riordan, mismanagement of capital money at the Albuquerque courthouse, etc. These are all local issues that she has not addressed. This is what will make or break her, not the poor speeches.

frannyzoo said...

Good point, Anonymous, and another layer of a race that is gonna be far more than a simple referendum on Bush.

Many, especially those outside New Mexico, want it to be that...but there's got to be a "call to action" beyond simply Bush = Heather.

Your points on Madrid's shakier aspects will make that "call to action" just a little bit harder, imho. Not impossible, but if she just relies on the Bush = Heather chanting those local issues where she's weak will just bite her on the rear end that much harder.

Mandala said...

Madrid's fatal mistake in her presentation for DFNM was this--everyone in the room already knew all her talking points. Her handlers should have explained to her that DFNM draws many dedicated activists who are very well informed and who can help her get elected.
She should have spent her time selling herself by explaining what she is truly passionate about. When Spiri asked her the question about whether she had family in Iraq she answered with passion. The rest of the time she just spouted what I guess her handlers thought was best.
I agree she should have spent more time wih us that evening, and she should have taken more questions. This would have shown she values potential constituents.
I did like the Democratic Response she gave about the state of the new Persciption Drug Bill.
Granted she is not what we hoped for--but I am going to work hard to make sure Wilson is not re-elected.
Jim Spiri has charm, but I feel strongly that he will be a spoiler, not an asset to the Dems.