Playing the Electability Card
by Chris Bowers, Mon Jan 22, 2007 at 10:24:18 AM EST
In a clear reference to Obama's lack of political experience on the national stage, Penn wrote: "Some of the commentators look at the ratings of people who have not yet been in the cross-fire, and say they might have a better chance. Recent history shows the opposite."
He then set his sights on Sen. John Kerry and former Vice President Al Gore, who also might run in 2008. "The last two Democratic presidential candidates started out with high favorable ratings and ended up on Election Day - and today - far more polarizing and disliked nationally," said the pollster, who cut his teeth on President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign. Even though there is currently no candidate in the 2008 field who I back strongly enough to actually advocate on his or her behalf, there are still many things I would like to accomplish during the primary season. One of my goals is to help diffuse the Democratic obsession with electability, whichI believe is extremely damaging to the party around the country. It makes Democrats appear pandering (we will tell you what we think you want to hear in order to get elected), shiftless (we don't stand for anything except getting elected), out of touch (our ideas aren't good enough to get us elected--we have to change and move toward Republicans in order to achieve office) and dishonest (we can trick people into voting for someone based on his or her resume / demographic profile). In short, in the effort to make one Democrat look good, playing the electability card makes the whole party look bad, and more interested in power for the sake of power than power in order to do actual good.
It is sad to see the Clinton camp to play the electability card so early in the process, even if it isn't entirely surprisingly that it was DLC-nexus uber-pollster Mark Penn who did it. This is a guy who has made a name triangulating against Democrats and progressives, and whose firm has of late quite literally made a living by shilling anti-Democratic messages for pharmaceutical companies without disclosure. This is the sort of shit that has to stop, and stop now. Democrats need to be made to feel strong incentives against this sort of behavior.
That goes for people in the netroots who echo the Republican line that Clinton isn't electable, too. Not only does proclaiming Clinton unelectable do the Republican Noise Machine's bidding, it is just doubly sad to see progressives use the same tactics against the DLC-nexus that have for so long been used to weaken us. We can't win an electability war against the DLC-nexus. I mean, they invented the concept in order to destroy us. The netroots might as well try to win Democratic primaries by raking in more donations for corporate PACs as do DLC-nexus candidates. Not. Gonna. Happen.