Time out

July 18, 2006 by barbara

by barbara

I've been going to my granddaughter Brittany's soccer games for several years. This year, she's 11 and she plays on an area traveling team. It's been a great season for them. Her team just won their division tournament and now they're headed to state. (Full disclosure: Brittany is a nom de soccer, for I wish to protect her anonymity.)

When Brittany started playing at, oh, about age 6, the field was smaller, there were fewer players out there and skills were, let us say, in the nascent stage. That soccer ball was like a magnet, and wherever it went, they went. Together. In a tight little cluster. (Think RiverDance.)

With the passing of time, Brittany and the other girls grew their skills. They learned how to pass, how to head the ball, how to play positions, how to leave someone behind to help defend the goal if that became necessary.

When something bad happens (e.g., player down, lost contact lens, etc.), the ref blows the whistle. The girls have been trained to respond immediately. Wherever they are on the field, they drop into a sitting position on the grass. They're young and limber, so many of them cross their legs yoga style. They wait quietly for the crisis to be resolved before resuming play.

I mention this because it occurs to me this might be a good model for Democrats. In my state, we have multiple examples of bad things happening on the political front.

We have a snarly Attorney General (Mike Hatch) running for governor against a slithery Republican incumbent (Tim Pawlenty). We have a Democrat Attorney General candidate (Matt Entenza) who is being pilloried in the press for doing deep opposition research'"not on his opponent, but on the snarly Attorney General who is running for governor. (Are you still with me?) Also, his wife is an executive at a major HMO, which some people view as a potential conflict of interest for an AG who deals extensively with health care issues. At the eleventh hour, another Dem has filed for AG, hoping to rescue us from our endorsed choice.

Then we have decades-long Democrat congressional incumbent (Martin Sabo) who unexpectedly announced his retirement, giving rise to a level of chaos hitherto unimagined in our orderly, Scandinavian-rooted state. Candidates came surging from all directions, running in a pack like the 6-year-old soccer girls. They bumped into each other everywhere they went, as they jockeyed for position (center of the pack). Ultimately, the Democrats endorsed a candidate (Keith Ellison) whose random plaid past transcends checkered. Other Democrats have stayed in the race, planning to take him on/out in the primary. And some pundits say there may be an eleventh hour filing by a man who was a Congressman elsewhere until the magic of redistricting helped bring him down.

There's more. Lots of it. But watching from some distance, it looks to me like Minnesota Dems are right in sync with national Dems. Our chaotic environment of bitter in-fighting and advancing personal agendas is screwing up the game. Once again, Democrats are messing with the chance to win.

Clearly someone needs to blow the whistle. Right now. Today. Loudly. Every Democrat needs to drop in their tracks, assume the position and shut their mouth. Every Democrat. Candidates. Campaign managers and teams. Democrat hierarchy. Citizens. Pundits.

Here's where it gets tricky. It appears that Dems have no one with the authority and smarts to reel us all in, review the game plan, remind us that this is a team thing, kick individual and collective asses (ooops, bad word) and resume play.

We brag that dissension and differences distinguish Democrats from Republicans. True enough. But at what point does that independent thinking cross the line into destructive mass chaos? Feels to me like we're there. Certainly in my state.

So, having given this a great deal of thought and seeing very little evidence of the existence of Democratic leadership, I hereby nominate Brittany's soccer coach as designated butt-kicker for the Dems. All in favor?

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