Welcome to this first, and long-awaited, entry to my new blog space, WWLBJD! Here we will ask, and sometimes attempt to answer, the questions many of us have about how in the world our cart went off in the ditch and how in the hell we're gonna dig it out.
I first want to thank my adorable and multi-talented wife for pushing me to get my ideas down (three years ago, or was it four?!), and for all of you who have encouraged me when I've discussed this with you (Muse, Tatcho, you know who you are.) I'm really excited to have a venue where I can share my ideas and y'all can respond by praising my intelligence, creativity, profundity, or originality (hell, I'll even take compliments on my spelling.)
Ya know, I have wondered for the past several years, while I worked in campaigns, city halls, and state capitols in the great state of Texas and around the country (which I still do) how our "leaders" have gotten it so wrong for so long, and how it is that some in the media either don't get it or refuse to see it because the story doesn't fit neatly into some pre-determined narrative.
I can't tell you how discouraging it was for me, as a Gore operative on the Texas Truth Squad in 2000, to go from swing state to swing state pleading with voters not to let Bush do to the country what he'd done to Texas (something he promised to do, among other things--more on that later), armed with ample evidence of incompetence and carelessness, only to read the next day in the local newspaper that "Democrats say...(Bush is a joke, or whatever)." Of course, using the disclaimer "Democrats say..." instantly tainted as partisan our legitimate criticism, rather than using the more accurate, "Evidence suggests Gov. Bush is a joke." That's when I decided that journalistic balance wasn't "balance" at all in the physical sense of the word, just a device to give a story a point and a counterpoint, no matter how absurd (or plainly false) one of the points may be. Here's an extreme example: Democrats say the world is round, while Republicans claim that the world is actually flat. It reminds me of a scene in the classic 1993 political domentary The War Room, in which James Carville complains about a charge that the numbers in the Clinton economic plan "don't add up." I don't remember the exact quote, but paraphrasing here, Carville responds that if the Clinton camp says that 2+2=5, and the Bush campaign says 2+2=5 million, the media will say that they're both wrong.
I have to say that we had some successes that year; the one I'm most proud of was Gore's 5,000 vote margin in Wisconsin, where several of us had spent about a month before the election in persuasion and GOTV mode. I remember coming home to Houston the day after the election, with only a couple of hours of sleep, not knowing who the president was going to be. How horrifying it is to sit here typing this seven years later while that same incompetent mismanages his way into the history books while the one who got more votes collects an Oscar and the Nobel Prize.
So, I look forward to reading your takes on my takes, as well as takes all your own. And feel free to disagree, just don't be disagreeable.
Oh, yeah, a word about our name, What Would LBJ Do? As a Texas Democrat, I have always admired Lyndon Johnson and the way he got 'er done in DC as Senate Majority Leader, while Mr. Sam presided over the other chamber, and as President, the war notwithstanding (by the way, what is it with presidents from Texas and pointless war, anyway? Oh, right, Bush isn't really a Texan, I forgot.) The name "Landslide" is also a shout-out to our Hill Country President, what with that 87-vote margin in the 1948 Senate race and all (wasn't it really a landslide in Box 13, though?)