How did the Democratic Party get into such disarray that it lost two special elections this week--one for a normally safe Congressional seat in New York and one for a toss-up seat in Nevada?
We can't offer a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. But part of the explanation might come from here in Alabama, where a party elder admitted he hasn't "voted for a Democratic governor for a pretty good while."
With friends like that . . . well, you know how the rest of that goes.
Any list of the most prominent Democrats in Alabama surely would include Jere Beasley. A former lieutenant governor who served briefly as governor after an assassination attempt on George Wallace, Beasley is perhaps the best known trial lawyer in Alabama. His firm, Beasley Allen of Montgomery, is seen by many as the premier plaintiffs' outfit in the state. Sources tell Legal Schnauzer that Beasley still has the clout to be a kingmaker in Alabama Democratic circles.
So we had a jaw-dropping moment this week when reading a wide-ranging interview with Beasley, conducted by Neal Vickers at examiner.com. The article, titled "Tea Party: A Movement of Lemmings," offers up Beasley's view that the Tea Party movement is hurting the cause of good government in America.
We certainly agree with him there. In fact, the interview gets off to a rousing start, with Beasley stating that a third-party candidacy could make the 2012 election one of the most tumultuous races in American history. He says the Tea Party appeals to the same voters who went for Wallace in the 1960s. From the Vickers interview:
[Beasley] says he thinks the Tea Party undermines the efforts to provide good government.
"Even though Congress, under threats by the Tea Party zealots, concocted a debt agreement that sold out middle income Americans, the Tea Party groups still weren’t satisfied. They continue to do everything they can to destroy what’s left of the American Dream."
Monday, during a telephone interview, he was asked to expand on those ideas.
Beasley: "The Tea Party was put together by two brothers who are billionaires [Charles and David Koch] and their interests are not really in line with the thinking and the needs of most common, everyday folks. People take the tea party line not realizing exactly who's behind it and who's financing it."
Sounds like Beasley has the Tea Party figured out, doesn't it? But then comes this exchange:
Beasley: "The think tanks who have been financed by these billionaires have sort of changed public opinion. . . . . You have people, for example, today in America voting against their own economic interests, voting for the interest of the super-rich to their detriment. And they don't really realize exactly what's going on in my opinion.
Q: "You're a Democrat . . ."
Beasley: "Well, I haven't voted for a Democratic governor in a pretty good while in Alabama. I'm a Democrat, but probably vote as an independent. I'm like most folks, I vote for the person."
Whoa, let's see if I have this straight: Beasley bemoans the fact that certain Americans are so feeble-minded that they vote against their own economic interests. But then he seems to admit that he has been voting Republican in Alabama gubernatorial races. That's a trial lawyer voting for candidates who tend to be backed by Karl Rove and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
And "I vote for the person"? As Homer Simpson might say, "That's the mating call of the loooooser!"
Is Jere Beasley any smarter than the folks he more or less calls clueless? Heck, Beasley might be the biggest ding dong of all. First, he admits he has betrayed the party that has supported trial lawyers for years. Then, he implies that he voted for former Republican Governor Bob Riley, a man with documented ties to GOP felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon.
Beasley is concerned about "good government," but he voted for perhaps the most corrupt governor in Alabama history, a man who rose to power on the strength of $13 million in Mississippi gaming money, funneled through Abramoff and Scanlon?
Perhaps Beasley has created a new political animal. You might call it a sub-species of the DINO (Democrat In Name Only.) Beasley is a DWDVD (Democrat Who Doesn't Vote for Democrats).
No wonder the Democratic Party is like a driver whose car is stuck in a ditch beside a lonely Alabama highway--in the middle of the night, in heavy rain, with criminals on the loose, and no cell phone in sight.
Here, we think, is the sad truth: Jere Beasley, and quite a few other Alabama Democrats, might talk a good game about the needs of "everyday folks." But they really are interested in protecting the interests of moneyed elites. They also are interested in cold, hard cash.
Why might Jere Beasley have voted for Bob Riley? Let's return to our post from earlier this year about a bogus lawsuit Beasley Allen filed against Taco Bell. That suit, claiming Taco Bell did not use real beef products, made national news before being withdrawn. From our post:
Homewood attorney Rob Riley, the son of former GOP governor Bob Riley, has worked with Beasley Allen on a number of cases. These include lawsuits against nursing homes and a rollover-death case involving a GEO Tracker. Founding partner Jere Beasley has referred to Riley as "a good lawyer" in press reports.
Translation: When Jere Beasley sees dollar signs in the distance, he's more than happy to jump in bed with Bob Riley's son. He's also happy to ignore Rob Riley's sleazy background:
Beasley might want to check out a federal lawsuit, filed in 2008 under the False Claims Act (FCA), claiming that a firm Riley owns engages in Medicare fraud and other illegal activity. Performance Group LLC provides physical-therapy services and counts Riley among its owners. At least two members of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) medical staff have been affiliated with Performance Group.
Jere Beasley apparently is so busy pressing his lips to Bob Riley's behind that he can't see what ails his own party. Key Democrats around the country seem to share a similar affliction--they are so busy caving in to GOP demands that they don't notice their supporters putting out "I'm Staying Home On Election Day" signs.
Perhaps FireDogLake summed it up best the other day, in a piece titled "If You Want Democrats to Vote, You Need to Give Them a Reason to Vote." From the FDL piece:
The jobs bill is a good start, to be sure. But if the pattern holds, it will get whittled down to a bunch of miscellaneous tax cuts, and we will be told — again — to be happy with what we got.
And this is telling: there is still no “Issues” tab on the Obama 2012 campaign site. What does the President want to do with a second term? What is he willing to fight for? What are the Democratic priorities?
I don’t think Democratic voters know the answer to these questions, and that’s kind of a problem.
It sure is a problem. Having Democratic "leaders" who don't vote for Democrats might also be a problem. We learned that lesson from Jere Beasley.