The four potential 2008 Demcratic Presidential candidates who have been listening to the Democratic Leadership Council (Hillary Clinton, Tom Vilsack, Mark Warner and Evan Bayh) are finding out that they are on the wrong side of history when it comes to where Democrats want the Democratic Party to go. Fighting Democrats are blazing this trail, with or without Al From's candidates. The DLC candidates are flopping in the polls, combining for only 41% in the Iowa Cauces. The blogs have been slapping around Mark Warner for trying to buy the netroots while theocons are cheering his campaign. And now, Hillary Clinton is getting boos at the Take Back America conference...Matt Stoller reports:
Taylor Marsh tells me that during her morning speech Senator Hillary Clinton was booed for saying that it would be wrong to set a timeline or date for withdrawal from Iraq.Campaign leadership needs to come from the candidate and Clinton seems to have surrounded herself with yes-men who are either not telling her what she needs to hear or she is too scared to listen and boldly act. Either way, there is a serious problem with either Clinton or her bubblistas who think they are defending her, but only with a Maginot Line. It is one thing to focus on fighting the last war, but Clinton's Maginot Line looks even more out of place now than it was when history mowed it down in World War II.
That's a big deal. I sympathize deeply with Senator Clinton. She has not lived in the real world since 1993 out of necessity. The vicious smears by the right-wing forced her to build a phalanx of advisors who protect her from feedback. This was necessary, but it carries a severe cost. That cost is that she lives in a bubble. It's a different bubble than that of Bush, but not as different as you might imagine. It is a bubble built of big money donors, right-wing beltway pundits, campaign consultants, and constituency group leaders.
She doesn't get that a fundraiser with Rupert Murdoch, or chastizing young people, or pandering on abortion by pushing Bob Casey, or flag burning, or sticking with Iraq as the right thing to do, or any number of third way moves is not where the country is.
It's not really her fault. She lives in a bubble. Anyone in her position would have to do so, or risk going insane. But it is what it is, and it means that she has exceptionally bad judgment.
Many people have written important articles about how Hillary Clinton's values and policy have always been where they are now. Who cares, it isn't where Democrats are. I think the chip on her shoulder is because of her resentment to being attacked as too liberal and having been outspent in the past. You see the former in her DLC approach and the latter in her corporate suck-up approach. In Crashing the Gate there is a great story about how pissed off HRC was when Feingold returned financing of campaigns to the people (which has worked perfectly for Democrats). Hillary Clinton missed the boat, again, because of her poll-driven bubble.
All of the evidence shows that 2008 is an entirely different situation than the '90s, Democrats are tired of triangulation and the grassroots and netroots can raise more money than Bill Clinton ever dreamed of. But Hillary Clinton can't get over the chip on her shoulder, because of her bubble which is keeping her from understanding to where politics have progressed. The healthcare-just-failed mindset is the last thing a 2008 nominee needs to worry about 15 years after the fact.
One major disadvantage for Clinton is that she doesn't have anyone super close to her who is reading the blogs and giving her the pulse of real-time politics. For some candidates, that person is their spouse (sorry Hillary, but you're out of luck here). For other candidates, it is one of their kids (sorry Hillary, again out of luck with Chelsea's busy schedule). For other candidates, it is staff (but Clinton staff care more about the bubble than stepping up and saying what needs to be said).
I think it is increasingly important for candidates to have somebody reading the blogs who has 100% access and no fear of losing a job -- somebody who can tell it as it is. Smart candidates need a netroots coordinator on staff and somebody in their kitchen cabinet who isn't afraid to tell it like it is. Clinton doesn't have either, in fact one of her staffers unsubscribed to a blog email list after the negative feedback following last summer's DLC convention. Hiding from real-time feedback is not the answer, learning from it is what segments dynamic leaders from dogmatic politicians.
Some candidates are showing the ability to learn by distancing themselves from the DLC. Others are getting booed. Who wants to follow a candidate who can't learn to progress? Who can follow a candidate who isn't leading, but retreating?
Increasingly, the DLC candidates are so far out of touch that there is zero reason to respect them, much less support them.