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Published: Sunday, 7/29/2007

Dems' leader tries his hand at cat-herding

Dear State Democratic Party Chief Chris Redfern,

Thank you for the lovely gift.

As you know, sometimes the media in general (and columnists specifically) face "dry spells," occasions when there seems to be so little happening of any genuine and/or compelling interest.

No, besides Nicole Richie, et al.

Anyway, Mr. Redfern, your gift was - is - such a wonderful demonstration of your thoughtfulness. My heartfelt thanks to you, sir.

Lucas County Democrats - the gift that keeps on giving!

Such bounty! Such abundance!

Friday's headline: County's Dems huddle to quell party infighting: Elected officials meet privately.

Now, I do understand that your prettily wrapped "gift" wasn't meant to be opened by me and my ilk whatsoever. Quite the contrary, in fact.

You are making your people toe the line. Your are instilling order. Calling for unity. Putting folks on notice. Passing out the playbook and the talking points. You are, sir, circling the wagons.

Or, as Councilman Wilma Brown put it after your Democractic Unity Confab: "It went well, but it was not for the media."

Hmm. Who knows?

Maybe it'll work, whatever this regimen is that you're trying to impose. Whatever riot act you read 'em at that meeting later emerged, when filtered through the mouth of county Comish Ben Konop, like this: "We're trying to keep this an internal discussion within the party, so I can't comment. We're trying to work amongst ourselves."

Mr. Redfern, I confess to feeling a wee bit sorry for you. It occurs to me that trying to get Lucas County Democrats to fall in line is a lot like (what's that old clich?) herding cats.

Or some such thing.

Put it this way: On buckeystateblog.com recently, I came across this rather startling online confession:

I've never understood Toledo politics. It's one of the reasons I never write anything about Toledo. A splintered Democratic party divided into an "A" team and a "B" team that oppose each other as much as Republicans. A party willing to support Republicans to ensure the other team doesn't consolidate power I never understood any of it - following it always had me hanging my jaw open.

Imagine that.

If a Web site that describes itself as "one of Ohio's oldest and largest political blogs," a blog that claims to be visited daily by "thousands of Ohio politicians, consultants, candidates and activists" who want to load up on statewide "political news, gossip and shenanigans" - if a political-junkie blog like THAT can't describe our brand of politics, who can?

While I'm grateful for the entertainment value of county party high-jinks, Mr. Redfern, I do understand that you're in a pickle. I mean, some of us think all this is knee-slapping funny, and perhaps privately you might even think so too - had there not been the matter of upcoming elections.

As you reconfigure the Lucas County Dems, even bringing in a paid administrator - OK, baby-sitter - the hilarity stops being hilarious once you factor in the upcoming 2008 election. (Not that Ohio's an important state or anything, and not that Lucas County means all that much.)

Accordingly, let me adopt the same spirit you demonstrated when, after your big Come-To-Jesus meeting last week, you said that whenever one Democrat speaks publicly of another, "it should be constructive, rather than destructive."

So let me just say this: That monogram on your whip is really a work of art, Mr. Redfern.



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