On Thursday, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Vice Chair R.T Ryback accused DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz of making statements that were “flat-out not true” regarding her feud with Vice Chair Tulsi Gabbard over the Democratic debates. The former Minneapolis Mayor, who is usually regarded as a team player, took the gloves off on Thursday, and publicly expressed his dismay with Wasserman Schultz’s leadership.
The Democratic Party’s inner turmoil over how many presidential debates to include on the schedule has been simmering for weeks, but Ryback apparently reached a boiling point on Thursday, rallying to Gabbard’s defense, as he leveled criticism at Wasserman-Schultz.
Wasserman Schultz began the week on the offensive, arguing that Vice Chair Gabbard was causing an unwelcome distraction by focusing on the dispute over the number of debates, and that her dissension was drawing attention from the presidential candidates. Wasserman Schultz also insisted that she had consulted with all the party officers prior to scheduling the debates.
Ryback went on to say:
This is not a back-and-forth between a chair and a vice chair. This is a chair of the Democratic Party wrongly stating that she consulted with all of the party officers. I was not consulted. I know that Tulsi Gabbard was not consulted. And this is becoming about much more than debates.
The Democratic National Committee staff has never been stronger. The one thing that could stop us from having a great election coming up is if the chair continues to create these self-made dramas that are below what a chair should be doing…
I am seriously questioning whether she has the capacity to do what has to be done. And that’s why I’m doing what I wanted not to do for a long time, which is go public with my serious questions of whether she can lead this party.
While there is no doubt that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is sincere in her commitment and loyalty to the Democratic Party, what is not clear is her ability to lead the party. She has badly bungled the scheduling of presidential debates, and rather than admit to making tactical errors she has engaged in feuds with the party’s Vice Chairs. Furthermore, she has not been inclusive or consistent in her dealing with the candidates, essentially freezing out Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig, even though he is arguably polling better than Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb.
Her seemingly imperious leadership over the DNC might be tolerable if she could demonstrate that her autocratic tendencies had led to unprecedented Democratic electoral success during her tenure. However, just the opposite is true. The 2014 midterm elections were a political disaster with Wasserman Schultz at the helm. With the presidential election just a little over a year away, the DNC needs to come together and direct their energy towards battling the Republicans, rather than continuing to fight with one another. If Wasserman Schultz can’t unify her party, it might be time for a change at the top.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.