Profiles in Cowardice

“He who runs away, lives to fight another day. So get going.”

–Wilbur Craven, quoted in “The Coward’s Almanac”

For the last several weeks our house has been inundated with urgent financial appeals from Democratic Party luminaries. “I am begging you” emails have come from the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and even Bill Clinton Himself asking us to make small grassroots donations to this appeal or that, with double or, lately, triple-matched. The theme of the messages is “Dear Marvin and/or Carol, send us money—or else. “ Like ransom threats, dire circumstances are spelled out about what might happen unless we paid up now.

Why, just yesterday a “Dear Marvin” came to me from Barbra Streisand. I hadn’t heard from Babs for some time.

I tell you not since the last public TV and NPR pledge drive begathons—or letters from long-lost relatives in Nigeria who have been holding $1.5 million in Confederate War Bonds for me in escrow if I would simply give the writer my SS and valid credit card numbers – has my heart been so touched.

The candor expressed in the messages reminded me of the latest batch of phone calls bombarding our household from public-spirited telemarketeers. “Seniors,” they say, “don’t hang up. This is not a sales call.” And then the caller starts his sales pitch.

My wife, the Democrat, finally gave in to her party’s call. She figured if she gave them something they would shut the fuck up. Not so lucky. As I warned her, this would only encourage them. The computers must have decided she had deep pockets.

However much she gave them –and I trust it was in the high one figures amount, I recommended— I hoped the money didn’t go to support the campaign of that Kentucky woman who was fighting the evil ogre, Mitch McConnell.

Alison Lundergran Grimes is best known up here in New Jersey as the senatorial candidate who refused to say how she voted in the last presidential election. By her circulatory remarks, deflecting the media question, I gathered she might have voted for Hillary in 2012, even though she wasn’t on the ballot.

The winner of my Profiles in Cowardice award for the 2014 election season, Grimes will be a tower of jelly, if elected with our money, in the battle for control of the Senate.

She is not the only Democratic candidate who seems to have the spine of a jellyfish. In Georgia, I give a white feather to Michelle Nunn for refusing to say if she would have voted for the Affordable Care Act, only her President’s signature domestic achievement.

In Louisiana, there is her sister in cravenness, Mary L. Landrieu, who does not like to be mentioned in the same sentence with the President because the administration policies are “simply wrong when it comes to oil and gas production.”

And then there are all the other Democratic hopefuls across the nation –too numerous to mention here — for whom Obama has become as popular as Ebola.

Without meaning disrespect, if you ask me the whole party is a bunch of cowards.

What the faint-hearted have in common in making the President a non-person is the latest polls, which show his low approval numbers.

Frankly, I haven’t trusted polls as much as I should ever since reading about the Literary Digest poll of 1936. That was the one predicting a landslide for Alf Landon of Kansas against FDR in his second campaign. It was slightly off, with Landon winning only two states, even losing Kansas. (526-8 electoral votes)

It turned out there was a methodology problem in that mother of all polls. The magazine pollsters canvassed only telephone owners, the 1% of that era, most of whom liked Alf.

Polls today have been known to make other mistakes. My favorite most recently respected telephone poll was Neil Newhouse’s predicting that Mitt Romney would win in 2012. Carried off the electoral battlefield on his shield, Newhouse and his Public Opinion Strategies are back practicing their black statistical arts, predicting a Republican sweep. Along with all the other ten-foot telephone polls I don’t trust, they are saying, “Armageddon is near, are you ready?”

Now I realize this president has had his problems. It’s his fault Putin invaded Crimea and the Ukrainians shot down a passenger jet. It’s his fault that Bush didn’t really win the war in Iraq, and hostages are beheaded. It’s his fault there was a shooting in Ferguson. It’s his fault the Cardinals lost to the Giants in the NL playoffs.

But as a financial angel who has come to rescue of the Democratic Party in its hour of need, I think the geniuses that have decided that the people will forget Obama and his record— if only he goes nameless—are wrong. I think treating the President like some idiot uncle that has to be shut up in the attic when visitors call is a tactical error.

Do the stats wizards of the party really think his economic messages, asking Congress for jobsjobsjobs, minimum wage improvements and important women’s issues wouldn’t get his people off their base, and make them abandon the usual “wake me up when its over’’ off-year election mode?

What are all the millions who are now getting health insurance for the first time, thanks to Obamacare – chopped liver?

What we have here is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The brainiacs calling the shots in the party’s thimk tanks have elected to follow Al Gore’s playbook in 2000, muzzling Bill Clinton, who would have made the difference.

Whatever happens on Election Day 2014, you can bet it will be Obama’s fault. But speaking as part of the party’s well-heeled money crowd, I still think it would have been better to deploy the secret weapon, the Barack–in-the-Box. Instead of the Obama, Who? tactics being used by all those lily –livered, yellow- bellied candidates who are treating his achievements as a toxic waste zone, I would have had the President out there in all the contested states, giving them hell like Harry Truman in 1948, when all the pollsters said he didn’t have a chance.

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Marvin Kitman
Executive Producer
The Marvin Kitman Show
Oct. 22, 2014

Marvin Kitman is the author of “The Coward’s Almanac, or the Yellow Pages” [Doubleday & Co., 1975].