Friday, July 14, 2006

Why Ben and Mike Don't Like Kweisi

In the aftermath of the recent poll showing Kweisi Mfume beating Ben Cardin, the mainstream media is finally beginning to pick up on what the progressive grassroots has known for months - Mfume is a much stronger candidate than any of the pundits think. Check here and here to see what they're saying.

So it doesn't surprise me that there were reports recently that had Michael Steele implying that he liked Mfume and wanted him to be the Democratic nominee. Sharon in MD's diary over at Kos implied that Steele wanted Mfume because Mfume is a weaker candidate than Cardin. But come out on a limb with me...

First of all, there may be a very simple answer to this equation - Steele is trying to get votes out of the African-American community and it makes him seem more a part of that community when he calls in to complement one of its leaders. So there's a cynical self-promotion aspect to this.

But here's my theory (conspiracy or otherwise, but related to the argument made at the end of Sharon in MD's diary entry on Kos). Mike Steele has said that he thinks he needs a quarter of the African-American vote to win. But if Mfume is the Democratic nominee, he would completely dominate the black vote, leaving Steele with very little. Why, after all, should black voters leave the party if the party has a black candidate of Mfume's caliber? N0t to mention the fact that Mfume is enormously charismatic, and will make Steele look lackluster in comparison. But here's the crux of the theory - when most Democratic voters hear that a prominent Republican thinks one of their own Democratic leaders is a great guy, they would become less likely to vote for him. So Steele complementing Mfume actually could hurt Mfume.

But even if my little theory is wrong, I'm sick of people saying Cardin is a better candidate. Let's make a bit of a distinction here about what a good candidate is. Cardin has more money, yes. Though money is largely driven by excitement, and if Mfume becomes the Democratic nominee, trust me, people will be excited. Cardin also looks like he's beating Michael Steele in the polls. But it's early. The voters are barely paying attention. Mike Steele has great name recognition. Ben Cardin has good name recognition. Kweisi Mfume has little name recognition outside of Baltimore and the African-American community, though that is changing. But under no circumstances does money and name recognition mean that Cardin is a better candidate. A better candidate is a person who makes voters stand up and take notice. A better candidate is a person who inspires. Ben Cardin does neither. All the money in the world won't change that.

A question to those out there who think we need to choose Cardin over Mfume because Cardin has the better chance of winning - where's your soul? Where's your spirit? Where's your passion for issues and the true mission party? The same flawed electability argument got us John Kerry as a Presidential candidate, and look what that got us - some fading pictures of a lanky, goofy guy in a bright orange hunting vest desperately trying to look common while carrying a shotgun in some godforsaken field in Ohio. And King George the W is back in the White House. That argument is just plain defeatist thinking. Choose the guy who's right for the job. That's Mfume.

Originally posted at MoCoPolitics.


Blogger Bruce Godfrey said...

I think that what Cardin wants is for Steele to do fairly well now. Why? Because Steele looking weak means that Mfume can beat him, or at least that that gets perceived as more likely. A decent amount of Cardin's support comes from the "Kweisi can't win" meme. Steele looking like a fool makes voting for Mfume feel safer to jittery liberal voters, at least in my opinion. So Cardin wants Steele to look dull but not idiotic for now.

7/15/2006 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger Jamison said...

Amen MoCoPolitics! Mfume is definitely the better candidate and given how little money he's had to spend to get himself in the lead of Cardin, the case against him is pretty hard to make. I have little doubt that either Cardin or Mfume could win the seat. But I have a lot of doubts that Cardin would try to be anything resembling useful to the American people if he makes it into the Senate.

7/17/2006 02:15:00 PM  

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