Southern man

The Weekly Standard cover story that Doug LeBlanc highlighted in his latest post is one of several good covers. There was also the David Gelernter cover on the importance of the Bible in Western civilization and, now, Matt Labash has a piece on Dave "Mudcat" Saunders. Mudcat is a Democratic consultant who, Labash muses, must have been "sent my way by the Color Gods of Feature Writing." Why? Because the man gives some of the most entertaining, but interesting, off-color commentary that reporters are ever likely to record. And he has a message for Democrats:

One of Mudcat's myriad cris de coeur (besides the lament that Democrats "have no testosterone" and are unable to "get through the culture" of the South) is that his party can't count. "Politics is about addition, that's all it is. It's not difficult," he says, giving me a primer on Mudcat math. "If I go get a white male," he asks, "how many votes do I get?" One, I reply. "No," he says impatiently, "I get two. Because I just took one away from Republicans."

It is the most elegantly simple precept, he says, one that could end the Democratic drought, and yet they don't see it because they think targeting Bubba males alienates their base and smacks of racism. "No it doesn't," he says. "My African-American friends want to win as much as I do. . . . Democrats are insane. They say Republicans are insane, but they win. I don't see anything insane about winning."

Mudcat thinks that the party has turned away from one of its natural constituencies -- white southern Christians (called "Bubbas") -- and is now paying for it. He wants Dems to soft-peddle some cultural issues such as gay marriage and cast themselves as a culturally sane, economically populist (i.e., interventionist but not entirely predictable) party. There are plenty of antics in the article, but it's worth remembering that Mudcat helped Mark Warner win the Virginia gubernatorial election in a state that trends Republican.

Labash does a good job of capturing not only Mudcat the strategist, but also Mudcat the backwoods pietist. Though he no longer goes to church, the man has his reasons:

As a kid, he preached a youth service in which two congregants got saved. Unlike most political types, particularly of the Democratic persuasion, he is unabashed about his faith, to the point that he calls it "blasphemy" to employ it for political ends. He thinks the pulpit is no place for politics, and vice versa. It's part of the reason he quit attending.

"I got sick of preachers telling me how great Reagan was." (He voted for Reagan in 1980, though he now claims, "I was drunk.") "Jesus don't give endorsements," Mudcat thunders. "He don't give a damn about partisan politics. G-O-P, God's Only Party -- that's bool-sheet. And it's bool-sheet that He's a Democrat -- they'll tell you to doomsday about Him healing the sick and clothing the nekkid, as if that's proof. He's too big to get involved in partisan politics. I know this, because when I'm in politics, and pray about it, I don't get any answers. But when I pray about my heart, I get an answer right now."

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