DC Pollster Culture
by Matt Stoller, Fri Apr 27, 2007 at 02:25:10 PM EDT
The 2006 Congressional elections thus far are a missed opportunity for Democrats to lay out an agenda for change that both unifies the party and presents them to the electorate as the logical (and acceptable) alterative to what the Republicans are offering America today.
Unfortunately, the Democrats have simply not done a credible job defining who they are or what they stand for. Their rationale today is simply a litany of individual top scoring policy proposals, and not an agenda to move the country forward by addressing the common good.
I enjoyed this prediction.
In order for Democrats to fully benefit politically from Republican failures and begin to position themselves for success in 2008, their Common Good agenda must address these matters and move away from the pie-in-the-sky political rhetoric that promises healthcare and college for all. The consensus in the minds of the public is to move away from policies that seek to redistribute wealth and pursue market based solutions instead.
Oh, and both the way, he's done a lot of work for pharma, and tends not to disclose it in editorial pieces unless pushed very hard. Schoen was a very important pollster in the 1990s, business partners with Hillary Clinton's chief strategist Mark Penn until fairly recently. People like him are the reason the party is so messed up. It's like we handed over the keys to our car to a drunk driver and didn't notice for fifteen years.
Update (Chris): I just have to pile on this one. I received exactly the same email Markos posted on Dailykos, word for word, requesting some front-page time for Doug Schoen. I mean, it was exactly the same, except that it was address to me instead of Markos. It is so utterly out of touch with the world of the blogosphere that it is hard to fathom. It is as though diaries don't exist, and that in order to submit an op-ed I have to be approached in the same manner of an op-ed page editor. I emailed the guy back, linking to a recent article I wrote ripping Doug Schoen, and told him that if I was interested in further debate I would write another post, and if Schoen was actually interested in further conversation that he could just post a diary (or just email me directly, which I did not actually write in my email response). I received an email back explaining that Schoen was not exactly blog savvy or something, and needed help in that regard. Yeah, no kidding.
I want to point this out not just to rip on Doug Schoen, but to rip on the entire DC consultant culture that views people like me as nothing more than megaphones and bulletin boards for their message. Like I am just hear to echo them. What really pisses me off about it is how I am constantly being told what I need to be blogging about (which is always whatever topic someone else is working on) even though those people are quite wealthy, have never offered bloggers one iota of support, and don't even understand bloggers at all. It is all just so fucking elitist and patronizing that I want to scream. It is quite literally and attitude that people like me exist in order to support our Democratic betters. They don't give a single shit what I think, or even how I pay the rent. All they want to do is use me to help increase their message.
It need to be understood that this is a problem that is by no means specific to Doug Schoen. However, at the same time, it needs to be understood that the negative things we say about Doug Schoen need to be understood not as just dismissing DC consultant culture in general, but much more specifically about hating on Doug Schoen in particular. It is Doug Schoen's individual actions that piss me off, and whatever vague conclusions we draw about DC consultant culture based on Doug Schoen's actions, it needs to be remembered that we are always specifically hating on Doug Schoen more than on DC consultant culture in general. Making generalizations from particulars is always difficult, and it seems ahrd to imagine that all that many Democratic consultants engage in behavior as egregiously awful as Schoen. The only generalization I like to draw is that people like Schoen are openly tolerated at the highest levels of Democratic consultant and political culture, and that tolerance for this kind of behavior is demonstrative of a serious problem we face. Regular failure to disclosure conflicts of interest, overt ignorance of new media, and elitist, patronizing behavior toward the Democratic rank and file would result in progressive blogosphere death. And I don't mean that a combination of those three would be a problem, I mean any of those would be a problem that would basically result in exile. However, apparently in D.C., it results in consultant stardom that no elected officials are willing to speak out against. It is left to poor saps like me to finally push back when one too many Democratic free loaders in DC go too far in demanding that we spread their message and do their work for them without ever expecting any support in return for ourselves. I mean, of course we are supposed to post their op-eds no matter what they say, but heaven forbid their Leadership PACs donate to progressive netroots organizations, or even that bloggers be defended in the established media. We might as well just be interns who should be grateful for supporting the Democratic cause, rather than valued members of a broader political community.
Lots more on this in the coming week. For now, I just had to vent.