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The truism in politics is "when you're explaining, you're losing," which proves almost invariably accurate. Similarly, in her new book "Hacks," former DNC interim chairperson Donna Brazile writes that the Clinton presidential campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure."
Hindsight is 20/20 and it's easy to label- without risk of contradiction- a losing campaign as one with the odor of failure.
But we now know that Brazile, grasping the low-hanging fruit- was full of organic feces.
We know this because of Virginia, the state for lovers and for Democrats. Open an old dictionary (there is no other kind) and the entry for "odor of failure" had a picture of Ralph Northam. On November 3, The Huffington Post's Daniel Marans noted
A major national progressive group on Thursday denounced Ralph Northam, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, as “gutless” and “racist” for his remarks on immigration ― plunging Democrats into a bitter internecine squabble ahead of statewide elections on Tuesday.
In a Wednesday interview with Norfolk, Virginia, TV news channel WAVY, Northam said he would sign a bill banning so-called “sanctuary cities,” or municipalities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities, should any Virginia locality pursue that status in the future....
When you're explaining, you're losing and carry with you the stench of failure. Marans (emphasis his) continued
Speaking to reporters Wednesday night after an event with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, Northam claimed that he simply opposed preemptively banning sanctuary cities, and that his comments to WAVY were “what I’ve been saying all along.”
The explanation was not enough, however, to assuage Democracy For America, a left-leaning online activism organization based in Burlington, Vermont. In response to what DFA called Northam’s “backtrack on his commitment to standing up for immigrant families,” the group declared that it would end “any work to directly aid” his campaign.
Though showing a neck-and-neck race, polls consistently demonstrated that the wind was at Republican Gillespie's back. As Democrat Northam's explanation appeared less a reflection of centrism than of calculated equivocation, Democrats were in considerable risk of losing an election which always was theirs to lose, one in which they were heavy favorites.
And then something happened to contradict Donna Brazile's odor of failure, stench of defeat theory. Northam won. He won, and helped carry to victory the candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax. If Donna Brazile wants to do a case study on the "odor of failure," after considering the gubernatorial race, she can assess the election for Lieutenant Governor, in which Fairfax was opposed by the very formidable Jill Vogel, Trumpist with a sunny disposition. In October, The Washington Post had reported
“She is fearless,” said John Fredericks, a conservative radio host who helped run Trump’s Virginia campaign and criticized Gillespie’s response to the president’s endorsement. “She takes positions immediately. She’s not going through a focus group. . . . She’s a shot of oxygen in a room occupied with stale air"...
“Jill has managed to balance normal policies that appeal to moderate Virginians while embracing the concerns of Trump voters,” said Ben Marchi, a longtime Virginia GOP operative. “Jill understands how to talk to normal people.”
By all appearances reeking of failure, these two Democrats- as well as the incumbent Attorney General- rode to victory because
“The voters looked at the results of 2016 and said we need to set the ship right,” Herring said Tuesday night, after Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam won the governor’s race and the party appeared to be doing well in multiple state legislative contests. “Today, Virginians said, ‘This is the way back.’ ”
The critical lesson recognized everywhere except at Fox News is that President Donald Trump is a major liability for Republicans. In the swing county of Burlington County, NJ, two out-manned and out-gunned, outspent and underdog Democrats defeated two GOP Freeholder candidates.
Although resgistered Democrats outnumber registered Democrats there and most voters usually opt for the winning gubernatorial and presidential candidate, Republicans routinely win these county races and were heavy favorites to do so Tuesday. As in Virginia, voters wanted to send a message, loud and clear, to the guy in the Oval Office.
Though less obvious, the other lesson from Tuesday, especially from Virginia, is that the odor of defeat is easy to detect- in hindsight, as Donna Brazile did. The Democratic Party's success Tuesday is not attributable to her departure from the national committee, but the Party is none the worse because she no longer is in a position of power or influence.