Everybody who was at last weekend's state Democratic Party summit at Monteagle seems to have regarded 4th District congressman Lincoln Davis’ Saturday night speech to attendees as a legitimate Kumbaya moment.
And, moreover, many of the self-professed progressives who have distrusted Davis the most for his conservatism are now singing the praises of a politician who, as they see it, has miraculously morphed from Blue Dog to just plain blue.
Even the lingo adopted by Davis for the occasion for his Saturday night keynote address had to be gratifying for the summit attendees, many of whom represented what might be called the “progressive” or Obama wing of the party. Davis made a point of complaining about right-wing Republicans who, as he saw it, dominate the airwaves, for example. “They talk about liberal media. If you find it, tell me where it is. I want to watch it some day. It doesn’t exist!”
He did acknowledge the presence of such countervailing pundits as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “I don’t go to bed at night until I’ve heard her,” he said. “She can sure twist [the right-wingers’] heads.”
Davis talked up credit card reform, national health care, President Obama’s stimulus bill in general, and extended unemployment benefits in particular. He defended the president’s meeting with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and called for “a new Latin American policy.”
Most important, from the point of view of party chairman Chip Forrester’s supporters, Davis made a point of embracing Forrester onstage, praising the chairman for his grass-roots organizational efforts, and likening him in that respect to Obama.
The impact of Davis’s remarks — and of his very appearance, for that matter — was captured by two highly impressed Memphis bloggers.
Steve Steffens, better known to many Tennesseans as the Left Wing Cracker blogger, was quick to pronounce the Davis address as “a great Democratic speech.”
And there’s this from a blog entry by Vibinc (Steve Ross, who doubled as sound engineer for the weekend): “…[I]f there was ever any doubt that Lincoln Davis is a Democrat, it was dispelled on Saturday night. Davis, who didn’t attend the events earlier in the day (to the best of my knowledge) delivered a barn burner of a speech that further highlighted the “85% of issues”, as Rep. Mike Turner later stated (I would put it closer to 90%) that unite us a Democrats…..”
The Davis-Forrester hug moment, Davis’ speech itself, and the very fact of his being there signaled to many in the crowd the pending resolution of a schism between Forrester and the party’s liberal wing, on the one hand, and, on the other, the party’s conservative establishment, represented by Davis, the state’s other congressmen (except for Memphis’ Steve Cohen, who stayed out of the factional dispute), and Governor Bredesen. (None of those present even seemed to notice — or mind — that Davis still employs the word "Democrat" as an adjective, as in "Let's elect more Democrat congressmen;" the truncated form of "Democratic" is one that Republican rhetoricians favor .)
That much healing remains was indicated by the fact that the only congressman attending was Davis,who happens also to represent Monteagle in Congress. Conspicuously absent were representatives of the governor’s office.
As a result of a recent working compact between the party’s two wings, Forrester and his team will focus on party organization and grass-roots efforts, while candidate recruitment and fund-raising will be the province of the establishment, with Bredesen and the congressional representatives having direct oversight.