While it makes many Republicans sad to see her go, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s time strutting across the national stage as a leader and spokesperson for the Democratic Party is largely at an end. Yes, she recently won her primary race and will probably get another term in the House, but her resignation as the DNC Chair put an unpleasant tasting finishing touch on her run of national influence. Still, she’s a fascinating figure and I would like to direct everyone with an interest in such things to a highly revealing (and perhaps disturbing) interview she recently gave to the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart in the most recent episode of his podcast, Cape Up.
Capehart is an unabashed progressive who you might expect to pitch softballs at a figure like DWS, but he continues to surprise me with his willingness to “go there.” He manages to conduct his interviews in a fun way which keeps the subject at ease and he makes time for some fluffier material (you’ll learn about Debbie’s curly hair at the end of this one), but he gently probes into some uncomfortable areas.
What I found most revealing here, and what may be of even more interest to critics of DWS, wasn’t really her explanations for recent events, but the earnest way in which she delivers them. One great example is their discussion of how she wound up resigning as DNC chair and not even taking the stage at the convention. She paints a brave face on things, claiming that she didn’t want to distract from the overall goal (which would be the default answer for anyone in such dire straits) but her inclusion of a claim that she organized the most successful political convention in modern presidential history is stunning.
If she’ll pardon my saying, I was there for the entire convention. In fact, checking her calendar of appearances, I was actually in Philadelphia longer than she was. I was on the floor, roaming the halls, meeting and interviewing both supporters and protesters outside of the convention center, and was still able to take in the media coverage of it for comparison when I returned to the hotel at night. The unrest taking place both inside and outside only missed being historic by not coming off quite as badly as Chicago in 1968.
Jonathan also asked her about the boos she received at one breakfast event there and the “opposition” (to put it kindly) she met from some of the conventioneers. Take the time to listen to her answers. She blames pretty much all of it on a disgruntled handful of Bernie Sanders supporters. (DWS cites a figure of 30 or 40 for the Florida delegation event.) What comes off as truly surprising is the sincerity she conveys. Any politico in a tough spot will generally look for a way to put some rose colored glasses on a bad scene, but you can tell when they’re just toeing the party line. We’ve seen Debbie do it repeatedly in the past when asked about Secretary Clinton’s emails. But in this interview, talking about her own ragged reception at the big party, she seems to honestly believe it.
I won’t spoil the entire interview for you, but there’s also some very telling portions which deal with the circumstances of her resignation and how and when it happened. Whether you’re a fan or a detractor, this is twenty minutes with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz which is worth a listen.