I know you thought you would never read those words here but it’s true. There is a superb Op-Ed in the Washington Post written by one Markos Moulitsas, regarding Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign:
She’s part of the Clinton machine that decimated the national Democratic Party. And she remains surrounded by many of the old consultants who counsel meekness and caution. James Carville, the famed longtime adviser to the Clintons, told Newsweek last week, "The American people are going to be ready for an era of realism. They’ve seen the consequences of having too many ‘big ideas.’ "
Meanwhile, pollster Mark Penn, a brilliant numbers guy, has counseled the Hillary team to ignore the party’s netroots activists as "irrelevant." (After all, didn’t Dean lose?) Little surprise that in late March, the Daily Kos’s bimonthly presidential straw poll delivered bleak results for Clinton, with just 2 percent of respondents making her their top choice for 2008.
At a time when rank-and-file Democrats are using technology to become increasingly engaged and active in their party, when they are demanding that their leaders stand for something and develop big ideas, Clinton’s closest advisers are headed in the opposite direction.
I ‘ve been re-reading this really superb book called Crashing the Gate (by all means check it out if you haven’t) and there is a great story in there about the McCain-Feingold bill, and how it posed a much bigger threat for Democrats at the time than it did Republicans due to the fact that the GOP was leagues ahead in targeting donors through sophisticated direct-mail operations. The Democrats, meanwhile, remained dependent on fatcats. As the Washington Post said at the time, "There is absolute unanimity on the part of the Democratic consulting community that this bill is a disaster for Democrats."
The book tells of this encounter:
Senator Hillary Clinton and [Russ] Feingold sparred over the legislation, as reported by the New York Daily News on July 18, 2002. At a closed-door Senators’ luncheon at the Capitol, the possibility of legal challenges by Republicans to Democrats’ fundraising efforts was brought up. When Feingold dismissed such speculation, Clinton "exploded," the newspaper said, and shouted "Russ, live in the real world!" Feingold stood his ground. While Clinton and Feingold reportedly made nice later with apologies all around, a Democratic source told Roll Call, "It was riveting — it was wonderful. It was like a genie out of the bottle — somebody actually told Russ Feingold to go fuck himself." (Roll Call omitted the expletive.) Feilgold told Roll Call that at least five other senators also "threw a fit."
The book goes on to say that "Feingold told us that he knew he was stepping on toes inside his own party, but he saw no choice…Feingold faced down his party and force it to reconnect with its base."
Hillary Clinton has always perceived the empowerment of the grassroots as a threat. If her expensive consultants are telling her to ignore these new realities (and obviously receiving a sympathetic ear) it was kind of Markos to point it out to her but quite possible unnecessary; I believe everyone is entitled to the best advice money can buy.
BTW: If this is the Washington Post’s idea for a liberal blogger, I think it is an excellent choice.