Friday, August 6, 2010

How Does Rosa DeLauro Stay in Office? Simple. By Doing Nothing.

Not Really DeLauro
How do you stay in office in New Haven, CT? Do nothing.

Well, that is an oversimplification but to make the argument, I refer to Connecticut Congressperson Rosa DeLauro who represents the 3rd District covering New Haven as well as the surrounding towns.

For the better part of two decades, I have been asked on numerous occasions: “When will Rosa DeLauro finally get voted out of office?” My standard answer is always: “They will cart her carcass from the steps of the Capitol in a pine box.”

What is her secret to longevity? She does nothing.

In a city like New Haven political staying power requires you to do as little as possible. There are a lot of examples, the Mayor being one of them, but no one has the epic do nothing staying power of DeLauro.

DeLauro does have to do the required perfunctory work at election time, but it’s minimal at best. Made even easier because she uses a time tested pattern that has never failed and won’t anytime too soon.

My first personal experience with DeLauro was at some parade a decade ago where I was on the dais with her and then State Senator Bill Aniskovich as well as some other political mucky-mucks. Before and after the parade I witnessed her approach every octogenarian she could line up in the sites of her beady eyes, grab their right hands with her right hand, put her left hand on their wrist, get down low to their ear and whisper: “Don’t worry. I won’t let those awful Republicans take away your Social Security.” I should have counted how many people she did this with, but suffice it to say it was a lot.

I didn’t know her very well at that time and Senator Aniskovish whispered to me that this is how she got elected and hasn’t changed her mantra in every election since her first in 1991.  Ah, ha.

So what has DeLauro done since getting elected on the anti-Republican pro-Social Security chant since 1991? She sponsored and co-sponsored close to 200 resolutions and 4 were passed. Quite a record. They appear below. Have a look and be amazed at their largesse and the amount of work that must have gone into them.

Some earth shattering stuff there, huh? Looks like there is more for Pakistan than New Haven doesn’t it?

The citizens of the 3rd District are really being represented well from DeLauro’s presence in those chambers. (Please note sarcasm) And, present she is. To her credit DeLauro has only missed 139 roll call votes out of 12,447. That’s roughly 1%. Not bad.

Consider this though, at a pay rate closing in on 200K, benefits to beat the band, and all the curb appeal in her hometown that comes along with a Congressional office; wouldn’t YOU show up to work, too? Especially, if you could just stay in the background and not do anything? Sure, they drag her out on occasion to make a speech here or there; she gave a nomination speech at the Democratic Convention for Bill Clinton before his second election. And, man did she suck. It was painful to watch. She has all the exuberance of a toad that’s been run over by a Peterbilt.

But, DeLauro doesn’t have to be a good speaker. In fact, she doesn’t have to be a good anything.

What DeLauro has is her name and a very brilliant husband who is a nationally revered political strategist. If ever there were an argument for branding in politics, this would be it. DeLauro comes from a long lineage of Italian-Americans in New Haven with connections all over the place. Her husband, Stan Greenberg, has capitalized on this and built a brand that is seriously hard to beat.

The people voting DeLauro in year after year are the same demographic every single time. Old Italian loyalists and hard line Democrats who are lined up well in advance of Election Day by DeLauro and her minions, per her husband’s time tested plan.

No Senior Center or nursing home in the 3rd District is safe from DeLauro and her Republican hating rhetoric. She loves to use fear as the impetus for getting these folks to grease up the spokes on their wheel chairs and risk the trip out in a DeLauro sponsored bus to place that vote. And, of course, if they are too frail and hopefully a little loose in the brains department, DeLauro and her staff will sign them up for an absentee ballot. I couldn’t find numbers on how many absentee votes DeLauro typically gets, but I would feel comfortable speculating it’s a lot.

Her other major constituency, the Democrat hard liners, aren’t going to give up a sure thing. These folks don’t care that she has very little power, ambition, or brains, all they care about is keeping the seat away from Republicans and the ability to name drop and maybe get a few tix to the White House, or a recommendation for little Johnny or Susie to Yale. For DeLauro that is just great, because there is some major league dough rolling through the estates of the 3rd District and again, she has to do very little to bring it in.

Actually DeLauro!
That money is enough to keep her mug out in front of the party loyalists who may not know her, but just need to know who to vote for. You know, the sheep of the Democratic Party. And, let’s face it; it’s a mug you wouldn’t soon forget. She even has a signature affect…her scarves. Another brilliant touch most likely generated by her husband.

She also works hard to stay away from controversy. The only two scandalous events an opponent could use against her are small potatoes.

In 2008, DeLauro first endorsed epic thief and ne’er-do-well Senator Chris Dodd for President very quietly. Then when it started to come out that he had used the banking system as his own piggy bank, she quickly endorsed Lord Falderal at a huge event at her home. Big deal, who cares? So, she associates with scumbags; every politician does. Also in 2008, she and her husband came under minor fire for allowing Rahm Emanuel to hang upside down at their residence in DC for free. Whoa, prepare the stockade!

Hey, you can’t argue with success. But, it’s a damn shame the 3rd District is represented by such a lame duck. There have been some fine candidates from both the Republicans and the Green Party over the years. However, neither party has gotten significantly behind their endorsed candidates. Why? Because they recognize the Greenberg/DeLauro strategy and feel like their time and effort is better spent in other races. In other words, they have basically given up.

One might ask why would they do that? Answer: because she does nothing. She leads absolutely nothing. She really isn’t a risk because she is just going to go along with her Congressional brethrens’ plans and claim them as her own to her constituents. And, it’s hard to fight her on any other basis. She stays away from scandal and doesn’t fight for anything significant, she just nods her head and goes along for the ride.

The opposition looks at her as a non-entity. The philosophy goes like this: if the R’s are in power, their agenda will be satisfied by the majority, if the D’s are in power, well, then we lose anyway.

It’s a foul cycle.

What it would take to beat DeLauro is someone who could energize a younger voting base and get them involved in the political process. Unfortunately, we all know how hard that is. Most political operatives would argue that all you need is money to beat her. That is not necessarily true. What needs to be done is to impassion the electorate by making them understand how ineffectual she really is.

One problem has always been that her husband (I am assuming it’s him) will only allow limited and selective debates with her opponents. The reason: she can’t defend her job and is indeed a lousy public speaker. They aren’t going to risk having her look bad when faced with substantive questions. No matter how many times candidates in the past have tried to insist on debates, she always wears this false air of importance around her that she is too busy to debate. Ridiculous.

So, my prediction is that unless a real firecracker of a candidate comes along, DeLauro will remain a fixture until the majority of her constituency dies off, or she does herself. Until then, the 3rd District can depend on very little coming from the Feds thanks to DeLauro and the sheep that vote her in.



  1. Who killed my sister? And your little dog too!

  2. Teds Dead, Dodds Done, Delauro Next!

    I didn't know there was someone who could like her less than me.

  3. Oh, I have to tell you Anonymous, I tamed this post down!

  4. My wife and I have the distinction of having Rosa sitting behind us at the movie on our first date. Other than that, I have no recollection of anything she has said or done.

  5. Isn't "Do Nothing" exactly what Republicans are looking for in their candidates? It seems like you complain about the over-reaching of govt out of one side of your mouth, then you complain when a Dem does nothing out the other side?
    Ineffectiveness seems like one of the planks in the Republican platform.