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Friday, July 21, 2006

DLC Hates Democrats

hillary clinton DLCThe Democratic Leadership Council really hates the Democratic Party, the netroots, and the blogosphere:

The annual meeting of the Democratic Leadership Council, a group that came to prominence in connection with President Clinton's electoral victory in 1992, takes place as the organization has become a lightning rod for criticism from liberal Web-based activists known as the netroots.

The Denver gathering is scheduled to hear from the putative Democratic frontrunner for 2008, Senator Clinton, as well as other possible contenders such as Senator Bayh of Indiana, Governor Vilsack of Iowa, and Governor Richardson of New Mexico.

A former Congressional staffer sharply critical of the group, David Sirota, said the speeches to the group will carry some political cost. "Among a certain segment of voters, it's absolutely, positively negative. It's radioactive," Mr. Sirota said. "Candidates should at least consider the radioactivity."

It is radioactive and Jerome Armstrong deserves serious props for the fact that Mark Warner won't be attending this year.

The DLC message is hurting democrats this year just like it did in 2004 and 2002 and 2000:

However, two centerpieces of the council's agenda, a "muscular" foreign policy and support for free-flowing international trade, are squarely in conflict with positions many political analysts believe could carry the Democrats to victory this fall and beyond. Most Democratic lawmakers who backed President Bush's invasion of Iraq have been steadily retreating from their support. A longtime DLC leader who has been unwavering in his support for the war, Senator Lieberman of Connecticut, is facing a strong primary challenge from a candidate close to the netroots, Edward Lamont. A poll released yesterday showed the challenger with a slight lead.

Mr. Reed said Mr. Lieberman's primary fight should not be seen as a referendum on the DLC, in part because "diehards" are more likely to turn out for a mid-summer election.

Connecticut is clearly a referendum on the DLC and it hasn't been a good year for DLC candidates. DLC'er Steve Westly blew a fuckton of money to lose to Phil Angelides in California and DLC'er John Morrison had a 2:1 money advantage, but was stomped by 26 points by netroots hero Jon Tester in Montana.

But the best quote in the story gets at something I've been saying for a long time: the netroots are successful against the DLC now for the same reason the DLC gained power.

The Web activists' struggle is a mirror image in many ways of the DLC's challenge to party orthodoxies two decades ago, a Democratic strategist, Kenneth Baer, said. "

"They would have been the DLC, when the DLC was founded,"Mr.Baer, co-editor of a new quarterly, "Democracy: A Journal of Ideas" said. "Their criticism that Washington insiders are calling the shots, it's exactly the DLC's critique," he said.

Baer nails it. Clinton was successful because he captured the backlash against what was viewed as the biggest obstacle to Democratic Party success. Right now, the barrier that needs circumvention is the DLC. That is why membership in the DLC is radioactive for a 2008 presidential candidate. Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, Bill Richardson, and Tom Vilsack are not gaining support from the DLC, but a tether that will prevent their campaigns from achieving full potential.

With today's political tools -- especially the internet -- a candidate can build an organization from scratch very quickly and a self-created organization is more tailored than any organization they could rent from the DLC. Which means that it is fair to question the political instincts of any politician who would rather eat from the DLC poison tree than plant their own orchard.

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