"Mudcat": Webb is Secretariat; Dems can retake the South
by lowkell, Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 11:32:12 AM EST
In today's Roanoke Times, there's an excellent, entertaining profile of Jim Webb senior advisor - and Roanoke County developer - Dave "Mudcat" Saunders (pictured at the far left), one of the most colorful characters I've ever had the privilege of meeting. Besides advising people like Mark Warner - in his 2001 run for Governor - and Jim Webb for Senate, Saunders is now coming out with a book entitled, "Foxes in the Henhouse : How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must Do to Run 'em Out." The book is co-written with another senior advisor to both Mark Warner in 2001 and Jim Webb in 2006 - Harvard Professor Steve Jarding (the guy in the blue shirt next to Mudcat in the picture). The book is avaliable in bookstores on March 28, and the Saunders/Jarding team is gearing up to promote it.
This is the same Mudcat who, as a young sportswriter, asked NFL quarterback great Johnny Unitas why he dried his privates before his face after a post-game shower.
The same Mudcat who, once he decided to stop killing himself with booze, made and lost millions selling real estate and helped Northern Virginia Democrat Mark Warner get elected governor of a red state by, among several other vintage Mudcat ideas, penning a bluegrass campaign song.
I actually had the privilege of listening to Mudcat play me a recording of the song - he wrote the words in the shower and set them to the music of "Dooley," originally sung by the Dillards of The Andy Griffith Show. The song was a hit, and helped burnish Northern Virginia high tech executive Mark Warner's rural "cred" in the 2001 election. Sample line: "Get ready to shout it from the coal mines to the stills/Here comes Mark Warner, the hero of the hills." Ha.
Now, Mudcat and Saunders are teaming up again to elect Jim Webb to the U.S. Senate. If I were George "California Cowboy" Allen, I'd be afraid. Very afraid. Jarding and Saunders believe, as I do, that Democrats must broaden their base, specifically in rural America. As Saunder says, "The swing vote is what's left, and it lives in rural America. These people have been voting Republican, but they're not really Republicans, and we need to show 'em why."
Saunders certainly has a unique way of expressing his rural, good-ol' boy, progressive populism. For instance, here's classic Mudcat: "To me, as far as gays are concerned, ... what's two queer guys gettin' married got to do with me losing my job?" Ha, excellent point. Last time I checked, married men in this country weren't being lured away from their wives by gay guys, but by other women and their own "cheatin' hearts." Can't blame gays for that one!
More seriously, Mudcat believes that - as the Roanoke Times reporter writes - "Democrats need to reframe the debate and start talking about what rural Americans really worry about," although the way Mudcat puts it is much more colorful: "It's unbelievable that Democrats can't figure out that what we're really worried about is health care and jobs, that Mama's got to get a second job and how we're getting Junior to the dentist." You said it, bro.
On politicians in general, Saunders believes that voters are looking for "a dog that'll hunt." And Saunders strongly believes that Jim Webb is exactly that kind of dog. Or maybe a horse - Saunders mixes animal metaphors by saying of Webb, "The guy is Secretariat." A hunting horse-dog? Hell, I'll take it! Ha.
Perhaps most intriguingly, Mudcat talks about bringing "black Democrats and Southern Bubbas together to talk about how to get this race thing behind us and quit letting the Republicans put this wedge between us." Jim Webb, meanwhile, wrote in 2004: "the greatest realignment in modern politics would take place rather quickly if the right national leader found a way to bring the Scots-Irish and African Americans to the same table, and so to redefine a formula that has consciously set them apart for the past two centuries." Fascinating.
Looing ahead to 2008, Saunders has an interesting take on Hillary Clinton and how she can win the White House - he's promised to tell me the whole story sometime, and I can't wait. Basically, though, Mudcat believes that Hillary has proven she can win over "Bubba up in upstate New York." In addition, Mudcat believes that "No one should discount the fact that her last name's Clinton."
The bottom line is that Davd "Mudcat" Saunders is a colorful, larger-than-life charater who happens to be a political genius. Saunders and his friend Steve Jarding represent a huge asset to Jim Webb as he seeks to win the "Four Virginias" - Richmond, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Northern Virginia. They've already proven they can do it - with Mark Warner in 2001 - and now they're going to do it again with Jim Webb. First Virginia, then the rest of America. Watch out Republicans, cuz Mudcat's on the loose for the Democrats and he's "ready to shout it from the coal mines to the stills!"