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Wasserman Schultz, Party Girl

Who is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and how did she get to be such a transparent party hack?

by
Jean Kaufman

Bio

August 17, 2012 - 12:00 am

First there was her truly absurd disclaimer that she didn’t know the party affiliation of the people behind the “Romney killed my wife” ad. Then her contradictory statement that of course she did; she had actually meant something else that she clearly didn’t mean and clearly didn’t say.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s back-and-forth statements have been so obviously preposterous that they prompt this question: who is Wasserman Schultz, and how did she get to be such a transparent party hack? What was her training, education, and experience prior to becoming a member of Congress and then the DNC head?

The first possible answer that popped into my head was “lawyer.” After all, lawyers are the experts at hair-splitting and word-parsing. Maybe there was something about “party affiliation” that Wasserman Schultz could claim made it a term of art, not unlike Bill Clinton’s famously legalistic definition of “sexual relations,” so different from what we normally think of when we hear it.

But no, Wasserman Schultz is not a lawyer. It should come as no surprise that she is exactly what she appears to be, a person whose adult life has been dedicated to politics to an extent rare even among today’s politicians:

She received a Bachelor of Arts in 1988 and a Master of Arts with certificate in political campaigning in 1990, both in Political Science, from the University of Florida in Gainesville. At the University of Florida, Wasserman Schultz was active in student government, serving as President of the Student Senate as well as founder and president of the Rawlings Area Council Government.

I had no idea, until I read her Wiki entry, that one could get a certificate in political campaigning.

After completing her education, Wasserman Schultz got some real-world political experience by becoming an aide to state legislator Peter Deutsch, who then ran successfully for the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida’s 20th District. He suggested to Wasserman Schultz that she run for his old state seat, because she lived in his district.

Wasserman Schultz won 53 percent of the vote in a six-way Democratic primary and avoided a runoff. She went on to win the general election and succeeded Deutsch in Florida’s House of Representatives. At the age of 26 she became the youngest female legislator in the state’s history.

So basically Wasserman Schultz started politicking in college and never looked back. An aide to a popular state congressman in a strongly Democratic district, she became his anointed successor. The only thing that stopped her state legislative career was term limits; she had to take some time off, during which she became a teacher of what she knew best, “an adjunct instructor of political science at Broward Community College, as well as a public policy curriculum specialist at Nova Southeastern University.”

Next, the state Senate, and then the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2004 election. How did she distinguish herself there? Same way as Nancy Pelosi: as a fund-raiser extraordinaire.

And how did she become head of the DNC? Anointed again, this time by the smartest man on earth, who knows a loyal party hack when he sees one:

On April 5, 2011, Vice President Joe Biden announced that she was President Barack Obama’s choice to succeed Tim Kaine as the 52nd Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

When you think about it, it’s an unsurprising trajectory. You might call it undistinguished as background for DNC chair, but it’s really not. Wasserman Schultz has been getting ready for this job her whole life. The only problem is that she’s been in a liberal bubble so long that she hasn’t needed to make much sense before, and she’s had very little practice in doing so. It shows.

Here’s operative Wasserman Schultz in action, sticking doggedly to her bizarre talking points in the face of an onslaught by Wolf Blitzer on a different topic. To Wasserman Schultz, 2+2=5 if the party says so, although sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle to clarify to a non-party member just how it is that the math can all work out if you only believe hard enough:

How to explain such bobbing and weaving, and the ability to keep a straight face through it all? Wasserman Schultz is not stupid, although she may appear to be.

For some valuable insight into the mind of someone dedicated to the party, right or wrong, please read the following excerpt from an essay by Hilton Kramer. Here Kramer is writing about Stalinists and their mind games. But his words could serve equally well for Wasserman Schultz and her ilk:

It is in the nature of Stalinism for its adherents to make a certain kind of lying—and not only to others, but first of all to themselves—a fundamental part of their lives. It is always a mistake to assume that Stalinists do not know the truth about the political reality they espouse. If they don’t know the truth (or all of it) one day, they know it the next, and it makes absolutely no difference to them politically For their loyalty is to something other than the truth. And no historical enormity is so great, no personal humiliation or betrayal so extreme, no crime so heinous that it cannot be assimilated into the “ideals” that govern the true Stalinist mind which is impervious alike to documentary evidence and moral discrimination.

Kramer writes that “their loyalty is to something other than the truth.” That is certainly the case, and that “something other” is party above all. To them, the party represents not only a “higher truth,” and is not only their livelihood, it is also their lifelong identity. Furthering the party is the greatest good possible, so why let mere facts get in the way?

 Jean Kaufman is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.
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