<em>TPM Cafe</em> Launch Tomorrow: Tallulah Bankhead and the Pursuit of a “Win”


There is a great stable of folks who have joined up as coffee house chatterers on Josh Marshall’s new venture, TPM Cafe. I’m one of the cuprits.
The new site will be up for public access tomorrow — but we are already debating one another over religion, John Bolton, political tactics, and whatever we get wound up about.
Here is a piece I posted yesterday but wanted to share here as well:

TPMCafe.com, 29 March 2005
Declaring Victory No Matter Whether One is Winning or Losing
by Steve Clemons

I am in Chestertown, Maryland this weekend and while driving down lots of old corn and tobacco plantation roads looking for a dock where friends were tinkering with a tiny sailboat, I discovered St. Paul’s Church and its old cemetery.
Tallulah Bankhead is buried there, and I paid my respects. She was a great star from the past, flamboyant about her sexual escapades, ready to take on any bland convention and provoke some memorable conflagration over it. Her grandfather and dad were Senators, and she had politics on her mind and in her blood.
My hunch is that if Tallulah were around today, we’d be working together to try and undo George Bush’s wannabe monarchy. She’d be bold — declaring victory in the worst of odds. She’d stand in stark contrast to many of the leading progressive pundits and pols today who seem genetically predisposed to conceding defeat before the battle had even started.
This has been the case in the battle over John Bolton’s nomination to the U.N. which I have been leading part of the charge against at my blog, The Washington Note.
Senator Richard Durbin, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, comedian and political strategist James Carville, and several high placed “off the record” commentators in Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s office have all stated at various times in the process that John Bolton would get confirmed. But that was about five iterations back in the process — and since, Durbin has retracted his statement, Richardson recommended that I “stop biting” my friends but still stepped back from what he said, and others have watched in awe as Democrats and Republicans with a conscience have turned the supposedly “slam-dunk” Bolton nomination into the story that won’t stop giving.
Unless the White House concedes to Senator Biden, Dodd, and others who have made “evidence requests” of the administration regarding Bolton, his nomination will remain in limbo. Very few imagined such an outcome would be possible. Most thought Bolton was an obscure bureaucrat pursuing a job few Americans cared about.
John Bolton has now become a household name — and people do seem to think that the U.S. should be sending someone to the U.N. who has imeccable credentials and of whom Americans can feel proud. That is not John Bolton.
Dems need to wake up. The brilliance of the first four years of the Bush White House is that Bush and Rove behaved as if they had won the contested and close election with an 80% mandate. Democrats collapsed.
It’s time to turn the tables. Democrats — and moderate Republicans frankly — need to start working on their atrophied muscles of political activism and “push back” and begin competing not just for control of the political process but also over the ideas and vision that will drive the nation forward.
It’s time to be tenacious and stop yielding to Republicans, who have been all too good at declaring victory even when they are losing — while too many Dems believe their line.

So, tomorrow — check out TPM Cafe.
— Steve Clemons