CASABLANCA

Rick Schulz: ‘The correct quote is: ‘My health. I came here for the waters.’ ‘Waters? What waters? We’re in a desert.’ ‘I was misinformed.”

WHAT’S GNU?

Paul Rightley: ‘Will Galway mentioned gnucash in your May 4th missive. Recently, Intuit told me to upgrade to the latest version of Quicken or I would lose the ability to perform online updates. This upgrade added no important features, but deleted the ability to import QIF files. This really chapped my hide so I switched entirely to gnucash at the beginning of 2005. I have a relatively complex financial situation that gnucash handles well. Of course, all of my computers at home run Linux, so I may be considered a freak.’

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

A friend of longstanding gave me permission to link you to his family photo page, in case you’re interested. (Click here.) Sharp-eyed readers will notice something unusual about this family. But is there any question, looking at the faces in these photos, that it is a family filled with love and happiness? That the girls, still in school, are soon to embark on vibrant, productive lives? Maybe I’m reading more into the photos than is really there, having known the two dads and their two daughters from the start.* But to me, this is a family anybody would want to cheer on.

*My favorite story concerns their language skills. Joe is American, Laurent French, so the girls grew up effortlessly bilingual . . . except that the housekeeper was Spanish and the girls were not allowed to watch TV when they were younger – only Spanish-language Disney videotapes. So they grew up effortlessly tri-lingual. And one day long ago – here is the part I love – they came home from a play-date all excited, shouting, ‘Daddy! Papa! Penelope’s TV speaks English!’

WHAT’S RIGHT AT THE DNC

Some of you are Republicans, I am pleased to say. (Few things are more impressive or constructive than the willingness of a reader to consider the views of someone with whom he generally disagrees.) But for those who’ve invested in the Democratic Party, here is a progress report I wanted to share.

Dean Brings New Style to DNC
By SCOTT SHEPARD, Cox News Service
Friday, May 06, 2005

WASHINGTON * Subway-riding, penny-pinching Howard Dean has brought a new style to the Democratic National Committee since taking over from the high-rolling Terry McAuliffe.

The changes at the top of the Democratic Party are more than cosmetic, however. Dean is reaching out to new voters, in new ways, just as he did as a pioneering * though unsuccessful * candidate for president in 2004.

Dean, the political outsider in last year’s field of Democratic White House hopefuls, is loosening the Beltway’s noose on the Democratic Party to a degree that is surprising activists and party officials out in the states.

“They’re saying this is the first time someone in his position seems more interested in really winning elections, instead of courting rich donors and protecting the party’s Washington players,” said Craig Crawford, a political analyst for MSNBC and CBS and a columnist for Congressional Quarterly magazine.

“Dean may be the first grassroots Democratic leader since Andrew Jackson let the mob trash the White House for his Inaugural,” added Crawford.

McAuliffe was a smooth operator, even by Washington standards. Often with an entourage and a limousine, he moved naturally through the capital, from the salons of Georgetown to the lunch crowd at the Palm.

McAuliffe was very much at ease with the well-heeled of the city. And with his unusual fund-raiser skills, he restored the party to fiscal soundness and brought it into the computer age with expanded voter and donor lists, even as he built a new party headquarters.

Dean, on the other hand, is more likely to be found eating lunch at his desk at the DNC on those rare days that he is in Washington. Twenty days out of the month, he is on the road, his “Red, White and Blue” tour aimed at resurrecting party organizations in Republican strongholds.

If he’s not bumming a ride with someone else, he’s walking to events in Washington, or riding the city’s subway, buying his own $1.35 per trip ticket. The “Red, White and Blue” air tour is strictly coach fare, the party chairman always carrying his own luggage.

And rather than the glitzy, big donor events McAuliffe preferred in raising money for the party, Dean continues to raise funds for the party through the Internet, the way he did during his presidential campaign, tapping small donors in unprecedented numbers.

“It’s a different approach than what’s been done in the past,” said Laura Gross, Dean’s longtime spokesperson. In terms of style, “I don’t think it’s any secret that Governor Dean is pretty low-keyed on stuff that like,” she added. Gross hastened to add, however, that since Dean took over as chairman of the DNC on Feb. 12, “we’ve been building on the success of Terry McAuliffe.”

Dean, though, faces a very different challenge than McAuliffe did in 2000.

Having reached financial parity with the GOP, the Democratic Party now faces the hurdle of restoring state parties in the South and the West, regions that are increasingly Republican.

And so far, Democrats are happy with what they see in Dean. Fears of a “loose cannon” at the helm of the party have all but disappeared, even among party leaders in Southern states.

“Howard Dean is doing a great job,” said Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Kahn. “He’s been focusing on the nuts and bolts of building the party. This is no surprise. I saw him do the same thing when he was chairman of the Democratic Governor’s Association.”

Just as he promised in his campaign for the DNC chairmanship, Dean has focused most of his attention on raising money for cash-strapped state parties and in recruiting candidates to challenge Republicans, even in GOP strongholds. “You have to show up,” he repeatedly tells Democratic audiences.

“It was the right hand-off at the right time,” Jennifer Palmieri, a former DNC press secretary, said of the transition from McAuliffe to Dean. McAuliffe rebuilt the national party infrastructure, and Dean is using that infrastructure to rebuild the state parties.

Moreover, Palmieri said, in Dean, the party has “someone who is ready to kick the table over and doesn’t accept the premise that we have to play on the Republicans’ turf.”

Pollster John Zogby cautioned, however, that the occasionally flaring of Dean’s partisanship * in recent weeks, he has described Republicans as “evil,” “corrupt” and “brain dead” – could undermine his efforts at restoring the Democratic Party’s fortunes.

“Democrats can get only so far by being not the Republicans,” Zogby said. “A populist, highly partisan message guarantees 48 percent of the vote. To win, one of the parties is going to have to find and recreate the middle in American politics. For the Democrats, that means new ideas.”

Scott Shepard’s e-mail address is sshepard@coxnews.com.


Wanted: A volunteer who can computer-paint me a good donkey decal. Please me-Mail me if you don’t mind taking a stab at this and I’ll tell you more.

 

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