It's funny. President Trump is having maybe the worst week of his life, with his campaign under investigation and his efforts to sell his health care snake-oil proving that The Art of the Deal should have been shelved under fiction. Wall Street -- perhaps not a coincidence -- is tanking today harder than the 76ers, and Villanova's March dance got devoured by Badgers before it really started.
But you know what? Philadelphia-area Democrats would probably trade places with any of them today.
Need to get away? Let's count the ways that the city's Rube-Goldberg-like Democratic "machine" is blowing up.
One of its most visible officials, District Attorney Seth Williams, elected eight years ago as a "reformer," was indicted on federal charges today that include the high comedy of taking a special-order sofa as a bribe and the tragedy of making off with $10,000 meant for his mom's nursing home expenses. How Williams -- who as of this writing still hasn't resigned as DA -- plans to even show his face in public over the 9-plus months still left in his term is something of a mystery.
But this is hardly an isolated episode. Some 100 miles to the west in Harrisburg, former state treasurer Rob McCord, the Pride of the Main Line, has been telling jurors the story of his willingness to help out large donors with "quid pro quos." The front page of the Daily News and the Inquirer seems to be plastered day after day with local officials who didn't think twice about living high off other people's money -- including not one but two staffers for the Mayorality Formerly Known as Ethical who thought the Mayor's Fund was something for calling Uber, eating gourmet restaurant meals and buying Ivanka Trump apparel. (That in and of itself should be a felony.)
Those were the shots; now here's the chaser. Tonight, it's possible -- likely, actually -- that Philadelphia Democrats will lose an important special election for the State House in a poverty-wracked North Philadelphia district's that 85 percent Democratic. That's because their candidate is running a difficult-to-impossible write-in campaign, and that's because wise party leaders initially nominated someone who doesn't really live in the 197th District. You Have One Job, creaky Democratic Party machine, which is to nominate various hacks and apparatchiks in special elections where hardly anyone votes -- and you're no longer even capable of that. Sad!
At some point, after more than 100 years, there has to be a solution besides just quoting Lincoln Steffens and shrugging. It's past the point of even trying to explain why so many people who allegedly work for the citizens of Philadelphia think it's OK to take anything that isn't nailed down. When it gets to the point where they're stealing Mom's nursing home money, the only answer is a massive transfusion of new blood.
The long-time boss of the Democratic machine, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, did some good things once by promoting racial harmony at a time when it looked like Philadelphia might explode (and one block actually did). That was in the 1980s. The 1980s were a long, long time ago. It's time for Brady to step aside and let new leadership take over.
The timing couldn't be better. In the Age of Trump, we've witnessed literally thousands of people, just in Philadelphia alone, who weren't politically active now say that they want to get involved. Since November, hundreds of people -- some of them "new Philadelphians," and some who've been here a while and are just fed up with all the BS -- have said they want to run for positions including Democratic Party committee person, the nuts and bolts of the so-called "machine." If they can follow through, there's real potential to re-invent a party that would serve the city's neighborhoods instead of serving to line the pockets of political hacks.
To be fair, Philadelphia's Democrats aren't even the only ones screwing things up. National Democrats have their own problems.
How so? Tune in tomorrow.