Before I get to the story, a brief detail. September 2, 2020, marked the 51st anniversary of Vietnamese dictator Ho Chi Minh’s death. The Vietnamese government reported last year that the Vietnamese Communist Party leader’s embalmed corpse was in great condition. It probably still is.
I wish I could say the same for Jeff LeTourneau’s political career. He’s finally gone too far. And after a lengthy DPOC executive board meeting last night, LeTourneau, who had been fighting a tsunami of calls from friends across OC and California’s political spectrum, finally agreed to resign as North Vice chair and as co-chair Bylaws and Resolutions committees. He remains a Central Committee member representing AD-55 with four months remaining in the current calendar year. LeTourneau finished 7th – and out of the money – for re-election to the Central Committee in June. His only shot to continue as a Central Committee member is for someone to appoint him as an Alternate, and that is being discouraged by various Central Committee members.
It remains to be seen if Democratic candidates in OC and our elected Congressional delegation will view LeTourneau’s resignation from all leadership positions, while remaining a rank-and-file Central Committee member, will suffice. His complete removal from the Party’s Central Committee is still a very real option.
Some backstory here.
A Facebook post Sunday, up for about 90 minutes and posted “without much thought,” that praised Vietnamese despot Ho Chi Minh as someone who “liberated an entire poor, colonized nation from 2 of the most powerful military forces in the world (the US and France) and won full independence for the people of Vietnam” has enraged OC’s Vietnamese community, Vietnam veterans, and Orange County Democrats. It’s clear not much thought was given to this post.
His argument was that a person of small stature was able to get his country “free from colonialism and military occupation” despite Ho Chi Minh’s small stature (he was 4’ 11” less than 100 pounds) and lack of wealth. The Voice of OC quotes LeTourneau with this: “Don’t let anyone tell you (that) you can’t do great things because you don’t have an office or money or power … don’t let anyone tell you (that) you can’t be a leader — leaders come in all shapes and sizes.’”
Great things? Torture. Murder. Imprisonment.
History offers dozens of better examples of people of small stature who became leaders. Hundreds if you look. “Mahatma Gandhi” ring a bell? Mother Theresa? Winston Churchill? Benito Juarez (only 4’ 6”). Lot’s of despots are short. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Kim Jung Un…all 5-5 or so.
Imagine, if you will, that another Party leader or elected uttered such an insensitive social media comment about the LGBTQ community?
Multiple elected Democrats from Congress to State Office to local office and candidates for the November election and party officials called for LeTourneau to resign. He resisted the tug all week until late Wednesday night, claiming there are no grounds for his removal in the Party Bylaws and the Central Committee didn’t have the votes to do so. He’d be wrong on both counts. LeTourneau has some allies within the party, some of whom are resorting to outright harassment of executive committee members and other central committee members with multiple phone calls, emails and late-night text messages.
The November election is the most important in our nation’s history. Every race matters. LeTourneau has placed himself and his party leadership position ahead of candidates for Congress, State Office, County office, City Councils and School boards – all with an argument of his comment was “free speech” rather than irresponsible speech.
Getting LeTourneau to resign had to be like giving birth after a long and painful labor. It was exhausting, sweaty and a little bloody. By forcing the County Party to go through the effort of removing him at this critical time was pure selfishness and will hurt our candidates up and down the ticket. And it undoes years of work done by Democratic operatives in Little Saigon to advance party efforts for recruiting and electing candidates.
The bottom line: LeTourneau put his interests ahead of the party’s unnecessarily. The full impact can only be known on election day.