[updated] "F-ing retards"
by tarheel74, Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 08:11:36 PM EDT
I had an interesting exchange on my previous post regarding who should take the blame for the abysmal outlook for Democrats. One of the basic problems I have with the party right now is the extremely bad messaging and the poor leadership which basically allows individual conservative Dems to thumb their nose at the Democratic party with impunity.
However, much of that blame I would also lay at the feet of the administration that neutered the third party progressive groups during the key healthcare and financial regulation debates by stifling their money. This was well exemplified by the incident from which I get the heading:
Sources at the meeting tell me that Emanuel really teed off on the Dem-versus-Dem attacks, calling them “f–king stupid.” This was a direct attack on some of the attendees in the room, who are running ads against Dems right now.
Tellingly, Rahm raised the specter of a loss on health care, sources at the meeting say — which suggests that the White House may be less certain about victory than officials allow publicly.
But now we hear a very different kind of whining from the bubble Democrats. They are basically seeing Republican outside groups outspending Democratic group by a 5 to 1 margin. Their latest whine:
“Where are those guys?” a top House Democratic aide demanded. “There is very real and growing resentment over these groups being AWOL.”
And this Democratic aide fired a warning shot at liberal groups, suggesting that their absence from the campaign could have “long-term ramifications.”
“When these interest groups come to Democrats and say, ‘We need you to do this,’ a lot of Democrats who survived 2010 will say, ‘You weren’t there for us then.’”
Liberal-leaning organizations answer that it’s not a matter of desire but something more simple: They don’t have the money.
One wonders how come the third party progressive groups do not have any money?
Mike Lux at Open Left, who has worked for many years in organizing progressive third party advocacy has a great piece, the gist of it is like this:
I have been fighting this battle inside Democratic strategy circles for 15 years now, but the problem is worse with the current team at the White House. The folks running the Obama political operation have always believed they could control the message and the resources of the party better than anyone else, and that they didn't need or want to empower outside progressive groups. Now embattled House and Senate candidates are paying the price, and it is a bitter price to have to pay. The groups that do have resources that are pro-Democratic- labor, MoveOn, Emily's List, the trial lawyers- are doing their best to stem the tide. But corporate money in the post-Citizens United era is swamping us, and unlike in some cycles in the past (2004, 2006), wealthy progressive donors were sent signals not to engage, or just not cultivated at all, and the result is that we are being badly outspent.
One final note on all this: the irony of outside progressive groups being blamed for not doing enough to help the Democrats when the White House has been complaining about the "left of the left" and the "professional left" for many months- and de-motivating donors the whole time- should not be lost on anyone. You can't attack progressives for being too strident and then wonder why they aren't doing more and still have much credibility.
As I have written in recent days, I still have hopes that Democrats can do better this cycle than the conventional wisdom suggests, especially if the Democrats use a pro-reform populist message that is actually effective. But the curse of the control freaks is not helping anything.
So there you have it. Poor leadership, poor messaging and now poor management by control freaks.
People on the left seem to have had enough of the administration's spin doctors like Axelrod.
That tension burst out into the open when Madrak directly asked Axelrod: "Have you ever heard of hippie punching?" That prompted a long silence from Axelrod.
"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added. "We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day."
Axelrod didn't engage on "hippie punching," but he said he agreed with the blogger. "To the extent that we shouldn't get involved in intramural skirmishing, I couldn't agree more," Axelrod said. "We just can't afford that. There are big things at stake here."
Madrak replied that Axelrod was missing the point -- that the criticism of the left made it tougher for bloggers like herself to motivate the base. "Don't make our jobs harder," she said.
It's time to clean house. Summers is leaving, Rahm I fervently hope does so too, I also hope we see the end of Axelrod (who basically emasculated the administration's messaging), Valerie Jarrett, Robert Gibbs and Jim Messina. Start with a new group of advisers who know how to fight back, because god knows we need it.
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