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A National Humiliation for the Democrats

and, ya know? well deserved......

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 06, 2002.

Before we get started, Lonnie Donnegan, a Scot who became a musical star in Britain in the 1950's, died a few days ago. He was a fan and the defender of his chosen field of skiffle music, which essentially is what we call washtub over here. It's folk in nature, blues in attitude, easy to play but hard to do well. Donnegan was a quintessential entertainer, and his energy and soul pretty much led John Lennon and Pete Townsend to get their first guitars, which they cheerfully have always admitted. Something else, even in to old age Donnegan could hit high notes with power, something Robert Plant and Roger Daltry haven't been able to do in years. His voice was a work of nature, because I think he could go three octaves before going into head voice, or falsetto. For anyone, but especially a man, that is impressive. He is one of those underrated, overlooked, and important figures in music that you had to hear in person to appreciate. Get the Skiffle Sessions with Van Morrison to get the idea. He was someone who transcended his genre.

So, Bitter Bob Sievers, the CU professor who inexplicably sat on the Board of Regents despite institutional conflict of interest, must be in fine fettle today. Accused of being a closet Republican under a Democratic mantle, Sievers – after losing in his own primary – spent the remainder of the election proving that very point, siding with Republicans at every turn to attain personal revenge upon his conqueror. Despite this, despite a Republican kiester-kicking of the lame-o Democrats nationally, despite being seriously outspent, and despite lacking the endorsement of the Daily Camera which, in truth, is historically the kiss of death in this town in any close race, Cindy Carlisle is now the Regent for the 2nd Congressional District. I am pleased.

I am less thrilled with the institutional collapse of not only the Democrats but the entire left spectrum in this nation. I understand that the reason is that most of the Democratic/progressive/liberal themes of the Twentieth Century have spent their wad, mostly because, one form or another, they are now part of the establishment. Nobody seriously contests equality for women or minority races anymore. Nobody seriously wants to limit the franchise to property owners. Much has been overcome, and if the ghost of Martin King in Atlanta still drums his fingers because character is not yet king, he must like the way things are going.

As much as the Conservative Right in this nation scares and infuriates me, the Left – all of it – disgusts me. Not because of what they say they believe in but because they don’t act on it, risk nothing, want all the accolade of people’s hero and fail of nerve to work for the people. Paul Wellstone – annoying, irritating Wellstone – was the last national figure of substance, if not power. The left now has dissolute Kennedys, Al Sharpton, a mystifyingly inarticulate and unemotional Al Gore, and a bunch of faceless nobodies that can’t motivate a room of hysterics to say amen. That labor unions are a major source of power, rather than the workers themselves, is a major bummer.

But Democrats have previously been a party of ideas. Clinton re-centered them and pointed them towards the future but without him they stare towards coming years with the bleak face of a child told to retrieve heavy clothing from a dark cellar closet. They have no plan, no agenda, no energy, no emotion, and increasingly no support. The Republicans have the war, and hearth, and doing sumpin’ right, and all this talk about character, which their actions clearly show they don’t have. And Democrats, who used to get into fist fights over lunch tabs, have lost all combative spirit. They’re exhausted emotionally, intellectually, physically. Dead in the water. I see nothing good coming out of them at the moment. I see nothing at all: not a single leader, not a single idea of note.

So while I rejoice that the Regents are going to get some uncomfortable moments in the immediate future, and that some light might finally shine into that very odd grab bag institution, the CU Foundation, I know the conservatives will fight it tooth and nail for the same reason they fought the Hutchinson report: they’ll look bad. Carlisle can do a lot of good between town and gown, but she’ll have to fight all the way.

So. A year and a half till the sleaze starts again. Let us be thankful.