Why Democrats Are Reportedly Turning Their Backs on Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
Florida's own Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has been the chair of the Democratic National Committee since 2011, has been a rising star in Washington. She had high ambitions and was a trusted mouthpiece by the Obama administration.
But lately, Wasserman Schultz has been making headlines for the wrong reasons, and more and more insiders from within her party are fed up with her, according to a detailed report/ hit piece by Politico.
Here's a summary of the reasons Democrats are reportedly turning their backs on Wasserman Schultz.
She Kind of Went "Rogue" On a Sensitive Issue at a Crucial Time
In August, Wasserman Schultz appeared on Fusion TV, where she made some comments that didn't go over well with Democrats as they attempt to navigate around the sensitive and complex issue of immigration months before the upcoming midterm elections.
The issue arose when Wasserman Schultz was asked if she agrees with Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who said that deporting children without an adult back to their countries would lead to certain death -- comments that put the Democratic governor in hot water with the White House.
Wasserman Schultz said she not only agreed but went on to tell a story about a child she had met at a detention center who showed her a bullet wound and pleaded with her not to be sent back to his country.
Immigration is a touchy issue -- particularly when the Obama administration comes out and hints it's deporting children back to their countries -- and Wasserman Schultz stepped on a proverbial land mine at a very crucial time, politically.
She Made Reference to Scott Walker Being a Woman Beater
Republicans and Tea Party candidates have an atrocious record on women's issues. That much is clear. But critics accused Wasserman Schultz of taking it too far in her recent remarks about GOP Gov. Scott Walker. At a women's roundtable discussion in Milwaukee earlier this month, she used rhetoric that equated him to a woman beater.
In calling out Walker's poor record on women's issues, Wasserman said, "Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand."
She then made things worse by admitting she understood her comment was harsh and dug in her heels, adding more extreme metaphors to her point: "I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality. What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back. It is not going to happen on our watch."
It's never a good time to equate a rival to a woman beater, let alone in this climate where actual women beaters are making headlines.
For her part, Wasserman Schultz issued an apology for her comments.
She's Tried to Leverage Her Position as DNC Chair to Move Up
She's often used meetings with Democratic donors to get contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee.
She's been accused of using her position to move up the ladder and even make a run at Nancy Pelosi's spot as Democratic leader.
She's Tried to Leverage Her Position as DNC Chair to Get Nice Clothes
According to Politico, Wasserman Shultz has, on a number of occasions, tried to get the DNC to pick up the bill on her wardrobe:
In 2012, Wasserman Schultz attempted to get the DNC to pay for her clothing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, multiple sources say, but was blocked by staff in the committee's Capitol Hill headquarters and at President Barack Obama's reelection campaign headquarters in Chicago.
She asked again around Obama's inauguration in 2013, pushing so hard that Obama senior adviser -- and onetime Wasserman Schultz booster -- Valerie Jarrett had to call her directly to get her to stop.
Wasserman Schultz denies she asked to use the DNC budget for clothes.
She Publicly Criticized Florida's Medical Marijuana Initiative
Medical marijuana has become the key issue in Florida for November's elections. And at a time when polls began trickling out saying the majority of Floridians back the amendment, Wasserman Shultz came out and publicly scrutinized it.
In a statement released by her office at the time, Wasserman Shultz not only expressed concern but echoed the GOP-backed opposition's talking points that legalized medical marijuana would lead to bad things:
"I have concerns that it is written too broadly and stops short of ensuring strong regulatory oversight from state officials," her statement read. "Other states have shown that lax oversight and ease of access to prescriptions can lead to abuse, fraud, and accidents. Also, given Florida's recent history in combating the epidemic of 'pill mills' and dubious distinction as having among the highest incidents of fraud, I do not believe we should make it easier for those seeking to abuse the drug to have easy access to it."
Florida Democrats quickly distanced themselves from her comments the very same day.
Her Relationship With Obama Isn't Hunky Dory
When Obama first named Wasserman Schultz head of the DNC, things seemed to be looking up. But this was back in 2011, which, in political years, is like dog years.
Politico reports that the president and Wasserman Schultz rarely speak anymore, and she's not even invited to strategize with him -- again, a troubling sign with midterms approaching.
One of the issues seems to have arisen when she pissed Obama off when she apparently tried to aggressively get a job for the daughter of a political donor who had worked for her.
A staffer who, incidentally, was embroiled in controversy of her own.
According to Politico, Obama summed up his reaction to his staff after meeting with her about with one word: "Really?"
Wasserman Schultz has maintained that she speaks with the president as needed.
She Has an Icy relationship with the Clintons After She Basically Turned on Hillary
Wasserman Schultz reportedly doesn't have a hot relationship with the current president, and things aren't looking so hot with her relationship with the current frontrunner to be the next president.
Back when Hillary was running against Obama, Wasserman Schultz worked for the former first lady's campaign. But when it was looking like Obama was going to beat her in the primaries, Wasserman Schultz apparently reached out to the Obama campaign and told them they'd have her support as soon as this thing reached its inevitable end.
Obama staffers ratted Wasserman Schultz out to Hillary's people, and things have been not so great since then.
Now, at least for the moment, it appears that Hillary will be the frontrunner for 2016. And Wasserman Schultz is already behind the eight ball.
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