Electing a "boob" and other grim realities

Published February 12, 2005 2:59PM (EST)

There will be lots of talk about the Democrats' future at the DNC Winter Meeting today, but a few minutes inside the Midwest Caucus meeting this morning offered a grim picture of the Democrats' present.

One after another, party chairs rose to report on events in their states. The news was almost always bad. The party chair from South Dakota, where Republicans successfully targeted Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle, said that there is "depression and a lot of group therapy" and that she has a hard time imagining a day when the state votes for a Democratic presidential candidate. The party chair from North Dakota says that Democratic candidates below the congressional level "were pretty much decimated" in 2004, that the Republican Party has the state in its "cross-hairs" for 2006, and that he's hoping against hope that Democrats "will survive the onslaught we're sure to face." Ohio's chair calls her state "Repubiland," a place where Republicans hold every statewide elected office.

And in Oklahoma, where George Bush took 65 percent of the vote, state party chair Jay Parmley has a message for other Democrats: "When people talk about coat-tails, they're absolutely real." Referring, in disbelief, to Tom Coburn's election to the U.S. Senate, Parmley said: "We lost by 12 points to a crazy." Coburn said recently that women who have breast implants are healthier than women who don't, prompting Parmley to call him "the biggest boob in the United States Senate." "So that's who we elected to the United States Senate? Aren't we proud?"

But like most Democrats here, Parmley hopes there's hope in even the darkest hour. "We had a former state party chairman who said, 'You can't fall out of a ditch,'" Parmley said. "You can't have much worse of a year than we did. You can only go up."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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