You Are an Obsession, You’re My Obsession

The normally even-keeled Emptywheel:

There’s a lot that’s interesting in this tick-tock of General McChrystal’s firing. It’s a finely crafted narrative, down to the foregrounding of Joe Biden, in spite of the way that the chronology appears to belie that narrative (that is, the chronology appears to start when the White House Press Office learns about the article). And note the way the normally cowardly anonymous source, Rahm Emanuel, is on the record, as the story’s official narrator?

This is bordering on clinical. Now it’s just fact that Rahm was the anonymous source for any quote that upsets the netroots.

Someone needs to do a long write-up on whatever Rahm did to so infuriate the progressive left. It would be nice to know the chain of events. I understand a lot of this has to do with electoral strategies, but I just can’t remember everything involved.






102 replies
  1. 1
    jon says:

    Rahm’s existence is the reason the centrist Obama is a centrist rather than Mr. Super-Progressive. He’s Obama’s Rasputin, Grima Wormtongue, and Benedict Arnold all in one.

    Never mind that all actual facts suggest that Obama is Walter Mondale with charisma. Just blame Rahm.

  2. 2
    dmsilev says:

    A lot of it is pretty simple. Emmanuel spent a lot of time butting heads with Howard Dean when Dean was DNC chair and Emmanuel was the head of the DCCC. Dean was putting a lot of money into his ’50 State Program’, which was essentially a long-term “grow the party infrastructure” idea, and Emmanuel thought that the money would be better spent in supporting candidates in the 2006 and 2008 elections. Since Dean is, roughly speaking, the Moses of the online progressive movement, anyone who went up against him was going to be seen in a poor light.

    Combine that with Emmanuel’s preferred recruitment strategies, which tended to favor more conservative candidates in more conservative districts, and you have a recipe for various bloggers doing their best William Shatner impersonation and screaming “RAAAAAAAAAHHHHHMMMM” at the drop of a hat.

    dms

  3. 3
    taterstick says:

    It’s simple. They have to have an “enemy” in order to maintain their “anger,” in order to write blog posts full of existential angst. Without George W. Bush, Rahm drew the “progressive” short straw.

  4. 4
    stuckinred says:

    Someone needs to do a long write-up on whatever Rahm did to so infuriate the progressive left.

    Shit, that’s why I quit reading that firebagger bullshit!

  5. 5
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    This is weird. He’s a coward when he leaks anonymously (and I always find it telling that no one has ever disputed those suppositions) and….. what, exactly?…. when he speaks on the record?

    Doesn’t everything flow from the “fucking retarded” moment? And he was, IIRC, the chief proponent of abandoning a BFD HCR bill, in favor of a series of ‘small bills’ that didn’t scare poor little Olympia Snowe.

  6. 6
    Chyron HR says:

    Strawman! Strawman! I don’t care if it’s a direct quote taken in context, it must be a strawman!

    (Also many hippies were punched too.)

  7. 7
    stuckinred says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: And he has dual citizenship with the great satan 2 and was in the IDF.

  8. 8
    Another County Heard From says:

    Someone needs to do a long write-up on whatever Rahm did to so infuriate the progressive left.

    Well, he turned me into a newt.

  9. 9
    debit says:

    @Another County Heard From: That wasn’t very long. And you got better.

  10. 10
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Jeeze, that whole post is some weird and to my mind utterly pointless speculation, but apparently the gist is, since Rahm was the “official narrator”, McChrystal’s firing was an attack on “Hillary”. Or something.

  11. 11
    TR says:

    Rahm stubbed my toe this morning

  12. 12
    jayackroyd says:

    Combine that with Emmanuel’s preferred recruitment strategies, which tended to favor more conservative candidates in more conservative districts

    Who frequently lose elections (See Ford, Harold) at great expense.

    And who vote against absolutely no-brainer public policy like an effective jobs bill.

    Rahm seeks a party with more representatives in office, at the expense of the party’s putative mission. The derision directed at that mission (as in “fucking retards” [who have been, just by the way, right on pretty much every critical policy issue]) does have an inflaming effect, but the heart of the problem is he recruits and directs money at candidates and seats that weaken the party as a whole.

    Now, this is not Rahm the architect. Obama is the architect. Obama picked Rahm for this role because he values it, values people like Blanche Lincoln, as does Rahm (and Bill Clinton, ftm. The New Democrats, corporate partners.)

  13. 13
    C.S.Strowbridge says:

    “Since Dean is, roughly speaking, the Moses of the online progressive movement, anyone who went up against him was going to be seen in a poor light.”

    You forgot to mention that Dean was 100% right on the matter, and that he was punished anyway. Dean was right, Rahm was wrong. Rahm was promoted, Dean was pushed aside.

    Of course people are going to dislike Rahm.

  14. 14
    kay says:

    @dmsilev:

    Combine that with Emmanuel’s preferred recruitment strategies, which tended to favor more conservative candidates in more conservative districts,

    I’ve always been confused about that part, though.

    I don’t know if we were just wrong here, or what, but I understood it as Dean wanted to build state Parties and local organizations. We had an organizer, and he made presentations that included urging to run a Democrat in every race. The focus was building an organization and running local and state candidates in “red” areas (I live in one). I thought Emanuel’s focus and job was different. He wanted “X” number of Democratic (federal) House members, so focused on who he thought could win.
    I don’t know why those two things are contradictory, other than a sort of ordinary organizational tug of war over funds allocated.
    I never thought the two ideas were at odds, and I never saw it as ideological. That isn’t how it looked from here, but I may have missed some huge broader theme, which is not unusual.

  15. 15
    geg6 says:

    Well, I am not a Rahm fangirl, but he certainly isn’t he Rasputin that the FDLers make him out to be. Marcy is usually one of the more level-headed among the frontpagers there (with the exception of Tbogg, who rocks wherever he posts), but she goes off into crazy Janeland every now and then. This is obviously one of those moments.

  16. 16
    valdivia says:

    title of this post FTW.

    I’ll volunteer to be the doll if Rahm gets to touch me :)

    ETA– @kay: this.

  17. 17
    kay says:

    @dmsilev:

    Our House candidate at that time was not “chosen” on any ideological basis. I know that, because she ran twice, and lost twice, and we spent a lot of time with her. She was “recruited” only in the sense that she (reluctantly) agreed to run in a district with a “safe” Republican. It wasn’t like there was this fierce competition, and Rahm chose the conservative. She was “recruited” by the sitting Democratic House member one district over. I was aware of two like that, people who were contacted by a sitting House member and asked to run. I don’t think they had any particular ideological preference. “Democrats” (so Dean, I guess) just wanted a challenger in every race.
    My assumption was 1. they wanted Republicans to spend money defending safe seats, and 2. build the local Party organization, by actually running candidates.

  18. 18
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    You forgot to mention that Dean was 100% right on the matter, and that he was punished anyway. Dean was right, Rahm was wrong. Rahm was promoted, Dean was pushed aside.

    This is straight from the Democratic Election Strategy Manual 101: Always tack right and re-hire the losers.

  19. 19
    lawguy says:

    Huh? I think the article itself says it when it describes itself as a sort of Kremlinology, insider baseball things.

  20. 20
    jayackroyd says:

    @kay:

    What was different is that Dean wanted to move the power out from Washington to the state organizations. He wanted to adopt a strategy more like the Republicans use, of local candidates working their way up the ladder, rather than Rahm’s preference for high profile candidates who (supposedly) could raise more money and more easily win Congressional and Senatorial elections.

    It is true that these could easily be complementary strategies, but you would have to have buy in from each side on the appropriateness and value of the other’s.

    Some of this, of course, is just about institutional power. I don’t think a Democrat in Lincoln’s seat is going to behave much differently from Lincoln, but he would have a different set of fealties.

    And, no, I do not understand the derision directed toward Dean. He has been right on both policy and political strategies, pretty consistently. Oh, wait….

  21. 21
    NobodySpecial says:

    @kay: The problem was the money Dean was using to build local infrastructure was the money Rahm wanted to give to the Harold Frauds of the party. Which, coincidentally, was the main reason Rahm was so pissed at Dean.

    Part of the reason people like me are so pissed at Rahm is because he’s following in the fine tradition of folks like Paul Begala, who proclaimed that

    What he (Dean) has spent it on, apparently, is just hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around Utah and Mississippi and pick their nose.

    and continues that failed strategy of the ‘triple-bank shot’ to win the Presidency and doesn’t do a damn thing to advance the Democratic Party’s putative principles as outlined in our platform (See Lincoln, Blanche; et. al.) Rahm’s another New Democrat who managed to do not much towards advancing Democratic goals in the 80’s and 90’s besides making himself a power broker, and he wants to keep his power now.

  22. 22
    kay says:

    @valdivia:

    I watched the organizer Power Point, val, at the time. I may have drifted off, gazing out the window, but I thought I got the general idea. Apparently I missed this whole underground Dean v Rahm battle going on, but if I did, I wasn’t the only one.
    We had ONE House candidate. ONE we could possibly find. It’s not like people were lining up to ruin their lives and spend 6 months running in a 70/30 R district.

  23. 23
    jayackroyd says:

    @kay:

    My assumption was 1. they wanted Republicans to spend money defending safe seats, and 2. build the local Party organization, by actually running candidates.

    No need to assume it. That’s what Dean said.

    In even the reddest of states, two fifths of the electorate vote Democratic. It is silly to make those people fell all alone. Moreover, as races get more local, party affiliation matters less, so you can get a respected local official into an office that makes him credible for a Congressional run.

    I used to see this from the other side when I lived in Bergen County NJ. Torricelli wasn’t a terribly popular Congressman in a not terribly liberal district. If the Republicans had put up real candidates against him, he might have been vulnerable. But they ran stooges, placeholders. Contesting more races puts more races in play.

    There are lots of bad incumbents out there in putatively safe seats. It makes sense to run against them. Even in primaries….

  24. 24

    @dmsilev:

    A lot of it is pretty simple. Emmanuel spent a lot of time butting heads with Howard Dean when Dean was DNC chair and Emmanuel was the head of the DCCC. Dean was putting a lot of money into his ‘50 State Program’, which was essentially a long-term “grow the party infrastructure” idea, and Emmanuel thought that the money would be better spent in supporting candidates in the 2006 and 2008 elections. Since Dean is, roughly speaking, the Moses of the online progressive movement, anyone who went up against him was going to be seen in a poor light.

    Combine that with Emmanuel’s preferred recruitment strategies, which tended to favor more conservative candidates in more conservative districts, and you have a recipe for various bloggers doing their best William Shatner impersonation and screaming “RAAAAAAAAAHHHHHMMMM” at the drop of a hat.

    Even beyond that, for most of 2006, Rahm advocated a very narrowly-focused approach to winning back the House, one essentially of identifying your 15 best races and putting everything into them. The netroots (Kos, Stoller and Bowers, etc.) went strongly for an approach of widening the field as much as possible, picking 50-60 races where the Dem candidate might have a chance, and raising funds, phonebanking support, etc. for those candidates.

    Rahm changed his mind somewhere around September 2006 when it became clear that the netroots approach was not only going to work, but had the chance to win big. He jumped on board the widening-the-field bandwagon when it was already working well without his help, then pretended he’d been leading that parade from the beginning, taking credit for it every which way.

    So yeah, there’s bad blood between Rahm and the netroots. It’s not too hard to imagine why.

    While I wish him all the success in the world in his current job, I don’t trust him one bit.

  25. 25
    kay says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    Right, I get that, but that’s a battle over funding.

    I always understood these two goals as separate, but complimentary. For example, if a local group has a candidate to run, that would be one way they would build the organization, by actually doing something.

    As a practical matter, it’s difficult to get people to go to political meetings and such if you’re just sort of outlining goals like “bigger” or “more effective”. They have to actually have something to do.

    I understand money allocated to organizers, but there’s really not much more to spend money on after that, lacking an actual candidate. Once there’s a candidate, then there would be money spent, on that race. I saw it as two tracks, going to the same place.

  26. 26
    mclaren says:

    It’s much more likely that McChrystal staged the whole thing so he could set up the narrative of the dolchstosslegende. McChrystal, the heroic warrior, gets fired by a weak president who stabs America in the back by refusing to give our brave troops the money and manpower they need to win in Afghanistan.

    McChrystal isn’t stupid. Notice that in the article there are no quotes by him trash-talking Biden or the State Dept. All the ridicule comes from his aides.

    McChrystal probably took a look at the disastrous 2009 intelligence report on Afghanistan, concluded that the war was unwinnable and that he’d been given an impossible job, and he figured a neat way out of the hot seat. Now Petraeus gets to be the schmuck Who Lost Afghanistan To Al Qaeda intead of old Stan the man.

    Well played, Stanley. Just what we’d expect from the former head of a global assassination squad known as JSOC. Mister Black Ops done good for hisself. After Petraeus’ rep gets ruined by the Afghanistan collapse and ignominious retreat (soldiers clinging to the skids of helicopters, mayhap?), old Stanley might even wind up in line for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs when the next Republican president comes into office. After all, McChrystal’s staff treated that DFH Obama with all the contempt he deserved for his Kenyan Maoist defeatism, so what better qualification could you hope for?

  27. 27
    kay says:

    @jayackroyd:

    I saw the sense in it. It did have some ripple effect, here, which was sort of exciting. We elected two Democratic mayors. The towns are tiny, but still, they don’t generally elect Democrats here.
    I can say confidently, though, there was no ideological test for our federal House candidate. She was the only person who would run. I was amazed she ran twice.

  28. 28
    taterstick says:

    I look forward to our Supreme Overlord, His Royal Highness Glenn Greenwald, stepping in here to tell us John Cole syncophants and Obamabots where we are all wrong and expose us to the Holy Truth as Proclaimed by His Holiness.

  29. 29
    debit says:

    @taterstick: Oh dear. I should get dressed, then.

  30. 30
    Nick says:

    @dmsilev:

    Combine that with Emmanuel’s preferred recruitment strategies, which tended to favor more conservative candidates in more conservative districts, and you have a recipe for various bloggers doing their best William Shatner impersonation and screaming “RAAAAAAAAAHHHHHMMMM” at the drop of a hat.

    This is actually wrong. I covered the DCCC in 2006. Rahm didn’t push the idea of conservative candidates in conservative districts, Dean did, Rahm was fine with Dean on that regard.

    Rahm wanted to pour money into marginal seats and seats moving toward the Democrats, while Dean wanted to go after longtime GOP held seats. Many of Dean’s critics were worried his strategy would lead to either very conservative Dems or a lot of 51%-49% losses.

    For some reason the Hamsher-elk were able to create the wrong narrative that Rahm wanted a Blue Dog Majority and Dean wanted to run progressives everywhere. It’s untrue, but it keeps Dean worship alive.

  31. 31
    NobodySpecial says:

    @kay: At the time, there was no Obama effect in fundraising. Democrats were expecting every election to be outfunded by a 1.5/1 or 2/1 ratio nationally, so every dollar was fought over like bread by starving men. Every dollar Dean put into actually having organizers in places like Mississippi was a dollar Harold Fraud couldn’t spend telling everyone how much he hated Democrats.

  32. 32
    kay says:

    @jayackroyd:

    It seems like two issue: the battle over funding for two different spheres, or jobs, and whether Emanual chose House candidates who were more conservative.

    Those seem to me, to be two different “charges”.

    Can you point me to a specific race where that happened? Where there was a more liberal possible House candidate and a more conservative possible House candidate, and Emanuel’s intervention made the liberal drop out?

    Did he perhaps de-fund more liberal candidates that were actually interested in running?

    Did he show a preference for more conservative candidates in swing Districts, in some verifiable way, like campaign funding?

  33. 33
    Nick says:

    @NobodySpecial: You do realize in building the “local party infrastructure,” Dean created even more Harold Frauds in the process? Right?

    Dean’s strategy should be commended for giving the Democrats to ability to compete in places no one ever thought they could, but it did help the Blue Dogs more than anyone else and Dean knew it.

  34. 34
    kay says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    So, is your beef that he withheld money to develop a playing field where more liberal House candidates would 1. run or 2. win, or is your beef that he actually knocked (existing) more liberal candidates out by showing a preference for conservative candidates?

  35. 35
    kay says:

    @Nick:

    I think there’s truth to that, because if you have a challenger in a conservative district, they come from the local pool, and lean conservative.

    They need some base-line support from local Democrats to run at all, and local Democrats in conservative districts are (surprise!) more conservative.

  36. 36
    eemom says:

    @valdivia:

    I’ll volunteer to be the doll if Rahm gets to touch me :)

    As they say…..This.

  37. 37
    NobodySpecial says:

    @kay:

    It seems like two issue: the battle over funding for two different spheres, or jobs, and whether Emanual chose House candidates who were more conservative.

    Not quite. Emanuel was perfectly fine with not running candidates at all in safe seats, whereas Dean wanted candidates in all districts, which is what the netroots wanted as well.

    As I also recall, the DSCC spent money for Brown against Hackett in Ohio, for Duckworth over Cegelis in Illinois, and for Webb over Harris Miller in Virginia.

  38. 38
    grandpajohn says:

    rather than Rahm’s preference for high profile candidates who (supposedly) could raise more money and more easily win Congressional

    Yeah a really great strategy especially for those of us in deep red states(SC) where there are no high profile democratic candidates, because Well why spend money at the grass roots level in local and state elections to develop high profile candidates( 50 state strategy) when they couldn’t win ( well not until money was spent to develop medium profile candidates who then had a chance to win state elections and become high profile candidates). If having a farm system to develop talent works in baseball why won’t it work in politics, after all both of them are considered as games aren’t they?
    Why does the democratic party simply write off a whole section of the country as irrelevant and unobtainable when as someone mentioned above, even in red states the democratic candidates were getting something like 40 to 45 percent of the vote?As a resident of a red state, it is hard to keep the faith with the party when they keep throwing you under the bus. This is a question I was asking long before Dean came along.

  39. 39
    teejay says:

    “Show me on the doll where Rahm touched you”

    John could you at least have an attendant forewarn us: seats in the upright position and belts buckled? I fell out of my chair.

  40. 40
    jayackroyd says:

    @kay:

    First, lowtech cyclist reminds us that this was also about picking your top 10 or 15 races vs a broader strategy. (Note that 2006 was a very good time for a broad strategy, and that the fact that it worked then doesn’t mean that is a generally more effective way to operate.)

    I would point to the Donna Edwards race, where she was championed by the Deaniacs, was the better candidate on policy grounds, and was challenging an incumbent of questionable ethics.

    But I do not think there is much question that Rahm, and the heirs of the WJC presidency believe the future of the party lies in chipping away at the republican control of large corporate donors, and that good policies are those that treat corporate entities as partners rather than adversaries.

    (And, while I do not think there is much question of that, it is hard to see how such a radical shift in outlook can be labeled “progressive” or “liberal.” Part of what is going on is the New Democrats are engaging in some Orwellian manipulation of the language, which makes discussing these issues difficult. The Progressive Policy Institute, isn’t, just as the Moral Majority, wasn’t.)

  41. 41
    Nick says:

    Can you point me to a specific race where that happened? Where there was a more liberal possible House candidate and a more conservative possible House candidate, and Emanuel’s intervention made the liberal drop out?

    They’ll say IL-06, 2006, when Rahm put resources into Tammy Duckworth’s campaign over blog favorite Christine Cegalis. Duckworth narrowly beat Cegalis in the primary and narrowly lost the general election. Except what they won’t tell you is that Duckworth was also Dean’s preferred candidate.

    In typical blogistan fashion, because they supported someone, that obviously means Dean was on their side.

  42. 42
    NobodySpecial says:

    @Nick: I actually don’t mind Blue Dogs as long as they don’t pretend that they’re the entire reason for Democratic dominance of the Congress and actually back the party platform when they take the party shilling. My anger is at the Harry Reids of the party who put these people into influential positions that you couldn’t get them out of with dynamite which keep our agenda from being implemented.

    Emanuel? He’s overhyped and self-absorbed, but the minute Daley decides investigators are too close, he’ll be gone for Chicago.

  43. 43
    valdivia says:

    @eemom:

    :) you will have to pry him out of my cold dead hands….

  44. 44
    kay says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    Well, Brown is a good example, because there was no ideological test there. Brown is more liberal than Hackett. He was also the better candidate. That wasn’t Emanual, by the way, it was Schumer, Schumer ran the Senate races, and he absolutely decreed that Brown was the candidate. It was not as subtle as “spent money there”. They ran Hackett off. Blatantly. They chose Sherrod Brown. A liberal.

    No ideological test there. Brown was the Party pick, and he’s the liberal. I think you have to explain that, if this theory is going to hold together.

    Which leads me to believe what I always believed, that they just want to win, and aren’t conducting some ideological test.

    I think Emanual counts seats. I don’t think he has any ideological preference at all other than “winning”.

  45. 45
    Nick says:

    @NobodySpecial: You know why that is? Because they ARE the reason for Democratic dominance in Congress and both Rahm and Howard Dean KNEW that.

  46. 46
    NobodySpecial says:

    @Nick: Right, right. This is a center-right nation and all that claptrap.

    /rolleyes

  47. 47
    kay says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    I have to say, too, it is an absolute given that two people fighting over finite funds for two different (allied) objectives are going to say their objective should get priority.

    I would expect Dean to fight for money, and I would expect Emanual to push back. It’s practically the sum total of their jobs. They both want the money. That isn’t underhanded or sneaky, or even ideological, it’s how big organizations work.

  48. 48
    Nick says:

    @grandpajohn:

    If having a farm system to develop talent works in baseball why won’t it work in politics, after all both of them are considered as games aren’t they?

    Because in baseball, you get ahead by how good you are at the game and how good you practice. In politics, you get ahead based on how many idiots check the box next to your name.

    You can be Babe Ruth, but if you’re in rural Kansas or Wyoming, you aren’t making the team. Examples; Scott Kleeb, Josh Segall, Gary Trauner.

  49. 49
    Rosalita says:

    You Are an Obsession, You’re My Obsession

    thanks for the ear-worm John…although I did enjoy that song in my young and stupid days…

  50. 50
    Nick says:

    @NobodySpecial: No, I’m supposed to support your oblivious delusion of the great progressive America!

    Of course if we ran Alan Grayson in Nebraska, he’d win in a landlside, why didn’t Rahm think of that?

    Oh wait, he did

    It’s a center right nation, you don’t have to believe, but don’t whine when electoral results show it every single time.

  51. 51
    NobodySpecial says:

    @Nick: I note that a wild eyed lefty in Nebraska got 45% of the vote with damn little support from the national party for Tom Osborne’s seat.

    I think you might wanna reassess the force of your argument if that’s the best you have.

  52. 52
    Nick says:

    @NobodySpecial: Kleeb got a lot of support from the national party because Adrian Smith was Coakleying the election. Rahm pulled a lot of resources into the district in the final month.

    Lying doesn’t help your arguments.

  53. 53
    kay says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    I guess what bothers me (and this doesn’t apply to you, personally) is that these themes are born, and there’s some validity to them, but then they take off in the same way conspiracy theories do.
    When Obama hired Emanuael, I thought “two Chicago Democrats who have worked together and know and trust each other. Not surprising”.
    What I read on liberal blogs was, “Obama is thwarting liberals with this pick”.
    There’s a tendency to see what you want to see when you’re building a cohesive narrative, and ignore information that contradicts the theme. I’m wary of all these connections, because they seem to be based on stringing together things that happen, but only by a relying on a broader “explanation”.

  54. 54

    @jayackroyd:

    As head of the DCCC, Rahm had nothing to do with Harold Ford, and the dynamic you describe doesn’t hold in the House. More members in seats means a bigger margin on committees, and a bigger cushion to cobble a majority together with.

  55. 55

    @C.S.Strowbridge:

    Here I was, all excited that someone finally demonstrated that they understood what happened: and then you have to go and post the dumbest thing I’ve ever read on the topic. Figures.

  56. 56

    @kay:

    That’s not quite right. Basically the whole fight was over how DNC money would be dispensed. Dean wanted to disperse it through state parties, while Rahm wanted to spend it directly on Congressional campaigns. At the end of the day, the whole “war” was basically irrelevant: the fundamentals were such that the Democrats were going to make huge gains in 2006 and 2008 either way.

  57. 57

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Even beyond that, for most of 2006, Rahm advocated a very narrowly-focused approach to winning back the House, one essentially of identifying your 15 best races and putting everything into them.

    Dude, listen to yourself. You can’t really believe that.

  58. 58

    @NobodySpecial:

    You’re calling Sherrod Brown more conservative than Paul Hackett? I figured the netroots would be trying to scrub that one from memory by now.

    Also not sure what Rahm has to do with the DSCC, or what the DSCC had to do with that race.

  59. 59
    jayackroyd says:

    @kay:

    Which leads me to believe what I always believed, that they just want to win, and aren’t conducting some ideological test.

    Right. The conflict consists of each side accusing the other of using an ideological test to select a candidate who is less likely to win.

    This part seems easy to resolve with a Democratic 11th commandment, neutrality during primaries, and wholehearted support for the Dem nominee.

    The way to solve the money fights is for contributors to stop giving to the aggregators. As long as they do, there will be fights.

  60. 60

    @kay:

    The netroots, particularly Markos, got it in their heads that Hackett was like the perfect candidate because he was an Iraq war vet. Apparently that was enough to overcome the insanity and egomania.

  61. 61

    @Nick:

    The better way to put it is that, whatever the nation as a whole might be, the current design of House districts leans towards the center-right, and the distribution of Senate seats certainly leans to the right. So whether the nation as a whole is center-right or center-left, our institutions are fundamentally wired to lean to the center-right.

  62. 62
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @kay:

    Can you point me to a specific race where that happened? Where there was a more liberal possible House candidate and a more conservative possible House candidate, and Emanuel’s intervention made the liberal drop out?

    Not drop out, but some Democrats in Mark Kirk’s district think Rahm took a dive for a friend and didn’t support Dan Seals adequately.

  63. 63
    Nick says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    Not drop out, but some Democrats in Mark Kirk’s district think Rahm took a dive for a friend and didn’t support Dan Seals adequately.

    Which is why Seals was one of the top funding candidates in both 2006 and 2008?

  64. 64
    jayackroyd says:

    @Brien Jackson:

    Good point. And a good response to people complaining about Rahm is the House has been producing pretty decent legislation that the Senate has been gutting.

  65. 65
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Nick: Apparently Rahm never appeared with him at campaign events. I don’t know the whole story, but there’s bad blood.

  66. 66
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Brien Jackson:

    This piece is pretty favorable to Rahm but acknowledges where the fault lines were:

    The netroots also mistrusted Emanuel because of his clash with Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, a lefty-blog favorite. Dean was spending the DNC’s cash on his “50-state strategy” to build up the party in Republican enclaves like Wyoming and Idaho. It was a long-term plan that even he admitted might not come to fruition for several presidential elections (though after the election bloggers would point to a blue wave in state legislatures as an early sign of success). As Emanuel saw it, he had to win now, and that meant pouring money into districts where Democrats were competitive.

    Emanuel had witnessed this struggle in Illinois, too: it was the party regulars versus the goo-goos. Emanuel, the Daley protégé, is a regular who believes money and a disciplined organization win elections. He seemed to see Dean as a goo-goo, a good-government reformer with a base of liberal idealists who are more educated and individualistic than your average Democratic machine foot soldier, but less reliable when you need someone to hand out palm cards on Election Day. The machine has been paving over goo-goos since the 19th century. As a beery alderman once put it, “Chicago ain’t ready for reform.”

    When Emanuel and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York met with Dean to ask him to shift money to congressional races, Emanuel mocked the former Vermont governor as a political lightweight from a tiny, rural, homogenous state. “No disrespect, but some of us are arrogant enough, we come from Chicago, we think we know what it means to knock on a door,” Bendavid quotes Emanuel as telling Dean. Emanuel “slammed his hand on the table,” then continued his tirade: “Look, Chuck comes from Brooklyn. I come from Chicago. It ain’t Burlington, Vermont. Now, we understand that Burlington knows a lot about grassroots politics and we know nothing. I know your field plan — it doesn’t exist. I’ve gone around the country with these races. I’ve seen your people. There’s no plan, Howard.”

    http://www.salon.com/books/fea.....hm_emanuel

  67. 67

    Someone needs to do a long write-up on whatever Rahm did to so infuriate the progressive left.

    John, you should be hating him more than anyone, since he was the guy who gave us NAFTA (the passing of which contributed to the 1994 debacle) when he worked for the Clintons (and we know how you hate the Clintons). Plus, while he was still in Congress, he helped facilitate the banking bailouts that, last I checked, you didn’t like all that much.

    If we’d spent what we did on the bank bailouts on the stimulus instead, we really would be in a recovery right now, instead of waiting for the second trough in the W-shaped recession to come along.

  68. 68

    @Phoenix Woman:

    If we’d spent what we did on the bank bailouts on the stimulus instead, we really would be in a recovery right now

    Which is why basically every leading progressive economist…supported the bailout.

  69. 69
    Sheila says:

    @Nick: Thank you for this, Nick. I was a big Dean supporter and still believe he is a fine man, but so many “progressives” forget that his 50-state strategy, which I think is a good idea, is responsible for putting many of the conservadems into office. The question remains: is it better to have conservadems or no dems in those seats? As for Rahm Emmanuel, elevating him to an arch villain stems from the same kind of lazy thinking that results in racism and xenophobia. It’s far easier to yell “Rahm” than to engage in analytical and creative thinking.

  70. 70

    @Bobby Thomson:

    Even funnier is how he’s been apparently dissing Obama and his staff as “idealist” and touting himself as the grand realist who is a political genius when his actions helped sink the Dems in 1994.

    Oh, and I don’t think that, just because the Torygraph saw fit to revive a months-old rumor, Rahm is going anywhere. I used to take those reports seriously, but not now. If past is prologue, he will likely do what he did with Bill Clinton: Hang on for as long as he can, unless Obama runs up against something like Monicagate, in which case he will quietly make for the exits when everyone is distracted so he can avoid having any of the mud splatter onto him.

  71. 71
    Nick says:

    @Sheila: I too think Dean’s strategy was a good idea, because it helped elect people like Walt Minnick and Bobby Bright, who, despite never voting with the Democrats, help Dems not only keep the majority, but accrue larger majorities on committees and give the GOP heartburn.

  72. 72

    @Sheila:

    The fifty-state strategy isn’t about backing conservadems, it’s about growing a party from the ground up everywhere and making it strong enough not to rely on a few key corporate donors, as does the DCCC.

    As the D-Trip’s chair, Rahm was parachuting into races such as IL-06 in 2006 and forcing out the locally-grown candidates in favor of his own picks (remember Tammy Duckworth?), upon whom he lavished millions of dollars while ignoring candidates like Paul Hackett, who was viable against Jean Schmidt not because of Rahm but because of the netroots.

  73. 73
    kay says:

    @Brien Jackson:

    The netroots, particularly Markos, got it in their heads that Hackett was like the perfect candidate because he was an Iraq war vet. Apparently that was enough to overcome the insanity and egomania.

    It wasn’t just that, the incidents with the guns, etc.

    Brown was a long time liberal favorite in Ohio. I found that out when he ran for the Senate. Liberals in Ohio favored Brown. That’s why I was baffled over the disconnect between Daily Kos and liberals in my county. They knew and loved Sherrod Brown. They didn’t know Hackett from Adam.

    I think that’s the danger of running these national movements, and starting a theme. You really cannot discount what the people in the state want. If you’re engaged in some national contest for primacy with Rahm Emanual, you aren’t running “insurgent” candidates in Ohio, you’re doing something else.

    That “something else” might be entirely valid, but it shouldn’t distract from the point of the whole exercise. You can’t have national “grass roots” organizers like Markos directing who the “insurgent” should be. That sort of defeats the whole purpose.

  74. 74
    geg6 says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    Which points to exactly why I am not the big Rahm fangirl so many others are.

    He’s an arrogant git who, though often politically successful in his sphere of influence, has no idea what goes into getting Dems elected in places that aren’t Chicago. The people he most loves to disparage are the people in the place where I live who are the ones on the ground. Without the old school liberals like me and the young lefties, there would be no one out there working the phones and streets here.

    I don’t hate him, but he’s no hero or genius as far as I’m concerned. I’m much more of a fan of Dr. Dean than I am Rahm. And that’s because Dr. Dean actually understood people in places like mine. I hate to tell Rahm, but here in Western PA, the liberal, educated, individualistic Dem base is the only one, along with our close friends and allies, the unions.

  75. 75
    JMY says:

    The netroots needs to get over the whole Dean vs. Rahm thing. It’s over, move the fuck on.

  76. 76
    Scott de B. says:

    You forgot to mention that Dean was 100% right on the matter, and that he was punished anyway.

    How was Dean punished. Yes, he stepped down from the DNC, but that’s because with the election of Obama, the latter became de-facto head of the Democratic Party. That’s how the system works. DNC chair is much less influential when there is a Democratic president.

  77. 77

    @Nick:

    I’m generally skeptical of long-term efforts like this, because cycles are too long, and a lot of things you can’t control can alter the landscape in a relatively short amount of time in politics. As far as the philosophical tift goes, given the underlying fundamentals of the two cycles, I tend to think Rahm was “more right,” so to speak. But given the actual results, I think it’s basically clear that it didn’t matter whose model you used: assuming basically decent candidates and competent money-management of some form, Democrats were making big gains either way.

  78. 78
    gwangung says:

    The fifty-state strategy isn’t about backing conservadems, it’s about growing a party from the ground up everywhere and making it strong enough not to rely on a few key corporate donors, as does the DCCC.

    But part and parcel of that is that conservadems become an important part of the party, and their interests HAVE to be listened to and incorported into party strategy and tactics. The result is something that’s somewhat more leftward than before…but not by much.

  79. 79
    kay says:

    @Brien Jackson:

    The netroots, particularly Markos, got it in their heads that Hackett was like the perfect candidate because he was an Iraq war vet. Apparently that was enough to overcome the insanity and egomania.

    And that focus led to such bizarre results. An anti-Iraq war vet is a single issue candidate. If that was the basis for choosing him, and the fact that he didn’t have the Party seal of approval, they’re not necessarily going to end up with “better Democrats”, across the board.
    They’re going to end up with a single issue candidate with a compelling single issue biography, and an “insurgent win”, so if that was the GOAL is makes sense, but was that the goal? Were they making a statement on the war and their ability to impact House races, or picking a reliable liberal House vote?
    Jack Murtha was a veteran who came out against the war. He was also an absolute operator as far as securing lucrative contracts for his District. Does the war stance trump the, ahem, less attractive qualities he had ? I don’t know.
    Marcy Kaptur in Ohio is a reliable liberal vote on every single issue but abortion, and she caught a lot of shit during health care, but 99% of the time, she’s a hero. If there’s a challenger who is pro-choice, is that a “better” Democrat? I guess that depends on what your priorities are.

  80. 80
    Jim in Chicago says:

    @Nick:

    I call BS. I canvassed for Cegelis on behalf of my DFA group in that race.

    Duckworth looked great on paper, but she didn’t have the roots in the community that Cegelis did (she didn’t even live in the district) and was just about the worst campaign speaker I’ve ever seen. Cegelis might not have won the general, but she wouldn’t have cost the Party $4 million over the course of the primary and general, she would have stood up for Democratic values, and would have helped build party infrastructure in IL-6 by running a grassroots campaign instead of a purely over the air war.

  81. 81
    geg6 says:

    @gwangung:

    But part and parcel of that is that conservadems become an important part of the party, and their interests HAVE to be listened to and incorported into party strategy and tactics. The result is something that’s somewhat more leftward than before…but not by much.

    And I have to be honest and say that when I was under 30, this sort of thing just outraged me. But now that I’m on the other side of 50, I don’t see that as a necessarily bad thing. My life experience has shown me that this is probably as good as it ever gets and most people don’t like or want huge ideological swings of the political pendulum. Which is why I laugh when the Firebaggers and that ilk come over here and freak out at how left-center Mr. Cole and most of the commenters here are. I tend to think most of the BJ commentariat are moderate liberals who are most comfortable with a one step at a time approach rather than going for the hail Mary pass on every issue. I know I’m stereotyping, but I tend to think of the people at GOS and FDL as much younger than the people here. But that may be simply a function of their level of maturity and their behavior and not at all of their ages. ;-)

  82. 82
    El Cid says:

    @lawguy: I second the self-conscious notation that ‘it’s all Kremlinology’, and for those not used to the term it was typically a horse-shit gossip way of U.S. officials and pundit-thinkers to claim that the knew what was going on at the deepest levels of the Soviet leadership, and occasionally an edible nut was found inside all the dung.

  83. 83
    gwangung says:

    @geg6:

    And I have to be honest and say that when I was under 30, this sort of thing just outraged me. But now that I’m on the other side of 50, I don’t see that as a necessarily bad thing. My life experience has shown me that this is probably as good as it ever gets and most people don’t like or want huge ideological swings of the political pendulum.

    Yeah, that’s something that’s under-appreciated/under the radar. Changing the direction of the ship of state is hard because of the sheer number of people and size of institutions. But it’s also hard because people (as a whole) and institutions simply don’t like abrupt changes. Select parts of the population might, but people as a whole don’t.

  84. 84

    @geg6:

    I would look at it in a purely tactical sense. There are 435 districts you can compete it. All else being equal, if you assume that the most left-leaning are already held by Democrats, then the only way to grow your caucus is to win more conservative seats than those, and the only way to win a really large majority is to win districts that tilt to the center-right on the whole. There’s just no two ways about it. And while this does move the Democratic caucus to the right, in an age where voting records correspond most closely to partisan identification, replacing any Republican with any Democrats, especially in large numbers, moves the chamber as a whole to the left.

  85. 85
    geg6 says:

    @Brien Jackson:

    Oh, absolutely! And exactly what Dean was trying to accomplish. But go over to GOS or FDL and make that point and watch how they’ll try to tear that argument to bits and claim that Dean is the ultra-lefty god of all time.

  86. 86
    Ash Can says:

    @Jim in Chicago: And I call BS on the “living outside of the district” issue. Duckworth lived a whole three miles outside of the district, in a town that was partially within the district itself. To say that she was “parachuted in,” as Phoenix Woman appears to do, is laughable, and to make an issue of her living outside of the district is to grasp at straws.

    I’ve been on the losing side of campaigns after hard work myself, and it’s no fun. But politics ain’t beanbag, and there are a multitude of reasons things happen the way they do. I live fairly close to IL-6 myself, and I’m sure you know even better than I do how conservative a district that is. If the Dem powers that were — whoever they happened to be — thought that a decorated Iraq war veteran had a better chance of winning than Cegelis did, I can certainly understand why.

  87. 87
    Jim in Chicago says:

    @Ash Can:

    It was more an issue that people felt Duckworth was a candidate foisted on them from the outside at the last minute (she announced just days before the petition deadline) by Rahm and his Chicago cronies, without whom she would not have even gotten on the ballot. That she was technically outside the district was just a symptom of that (which is why I noted it in parentheses).

  88. 88
    kay says:

    @Jim in Chicago:

    It was more an issue that people felt Duckworth was a candidate foisted on them from the outside at the last minute (she announced just days before the petition deadline) by Rahm and his Chicago cronies, without whom she would not have even gotten on the ballot. That she was technically outside the district was just a symptom of that (which is why I noted it in parentheses).

    But you’re going to have that same accusation leveled at you when you run challengers against the state Party pick, or the “mainstream” choice, or the familiar incumbent.

    “Foisted” and “parachuting” work both ways. Unless the challenger from the Left is authentically grass roots, ie: chosen by local Democrats, any outside national group that appears to be “coming in” is going to have to defend from that perception.

    Bill Clinton used that very effectively against Halter. He said you were the “outsiders”.

    If it’s coming from “grass roots” it actually has to come from below. It can’t be “liberal national group selects and promotes liberal challenger”, or you’re vulnerable on the “outsider” charge.

  89. 89
    Turgidson says:

    @kay:

    Actually, I distinctly remember Kos himself suggesting that Hackett abandon his Senate bid when Brown finally entered the race. I am pretty sure he made the reasonable argument that Brown had all the institutional advantages AND was probably more liberal on the issues to boot (Hackett was kind of a blank slate aside from being an Iraq vet and pro gun, IIRC), and perhaps Hackett should just take another run at Mean Jean Schmidt’s seat in the House.

    The vast majority of commenters (and maybe even some of the other front-pagers) thought he was selling out the netroots and bashed him for it because they had become so emotionally attached to supporting Hackett. There were also sour grapes directed toward Brown because he was on the fence about getting in the race for a long time after Hackett had announced, and once he did, the national party dropped Hackett like a bad habit.

    The point that the netroots as a whole misread that situation badly and let emotion and the “cause” cloud judgment is spot-on, though. But that time, Kos was not the ringleader.

  90. 90
    taylormattd says:

    @Phoenix Woman: Oh Noes! You’ve summoned Phoneix Woman to defend the honor of FDL.

    Which makes no sense, since all during the primaries, she was recommending comments trashing her boss Jane as a quasi-PUMA. Somehow she got back on the bandwagon.

  91. 91
    taylormattd says:

    @Phoenix Woman: “apparently dissing Obama”.

    Jesus Christ you people are certifiable.

  92. 92
    mnpundit says:

    Emmanuel’s strategies have been proven wrong, and he has supported rightist candidates against better performing leftist ones. Moreover he took credit for 2006, the success of which is attributable to the online left in terms of tactics, strategies and recruitment.

  93. 93

    @geg6: I wanted to point out you comment because it seems to make the most sense to me. I will disclose that I am a Rahm fangrrl, but I can at least understand why people have difficulty with his mindset, arrogance, strategy, whatever. What I don’t get is why the particular focused venom that is spewed on him, such as in the example pointed out by Cole.

    I also agree that age may be a factor. In beliefs, I am about as far left as you can get. However, in the matter of what can actually be accomplished (and, now that I’ve seen the workings of our government, I can appreciate just how difficult it is to get anything done in Washington), I find myself to be much more pragmatic.

    @kay: Hm. I get your point now. I supported Halter’s run, but I can see why it would grate the people of Arkansas to have people outside their state pushing for him to defeat Lincoln.

  94. 94
    My Truth Hurts says:

    The only problem this progressive has with Rahm is that he is a Democrat from Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

    In other words he comes from the “I Got Mine” party of Mayor King Richard Daley which anyone from Chicago knows is just the party of money and power. Between them and the Illinois GOP the only real choice is to leave the state like I did.

  95. 95
    JR says:

    Cegelis, Schneider (who was and remains nuts), McNerney, Peggy Lamm, Carol Shea-Porter — these candidates were all passed over by DCCC during their 2006 primaries in favor of their opponents. Two of them ended up winning regardless, but the bitterness that Rahm’s choosing sides during primaries engendered in Howie Klein never went away.

  96. 96

    @Turgidson:

    I might be misremembering it, so I’ll just accept that Markos was not personally pushing Hackett over Brown. I do remember the consternation over Brown’s “indecision,” which was hilarious because anyone within a mile of Brown’s operation knew he’d been planning that run for years.

  97. 97
    kay says:

    @Turgidson:

    Actually, I distinctly remember Kos himself suggesting that Hackett abandon his Senate bid when Brown finally entered the race. I am pretty sure he made the reasonable argument that Brown had all the institutional advantages AND was probably more liberal on the issues to boot (Hackett was kind of a blank slate aside from being an Iraq vet and pro gun, IIRC), and perhaps Hackett should just take another run at Mean Jean Schmidt’s seat in the House.

    Thanks. I only read the site occasionally, but I had a good friend here (she moved) who is a long time liberal “activist” and she was really baffled at the Daily Kos support of Hackett.

    She had lived in Sherrod Brown’s district, and was thrilled he was running. She was a county chair for his Senate campaign, here. We had a (locally) famous public argument where I said he was “too liberal” to win. She was right, I was wrong. It’s long over, although I don’t make pronouncements at county meetings anymore, on who will win what, you know, standing on a chair :)

    She felt they were clueless on Ohio and had some other ax to grind promoting Hackett, so that “parachute” resentment thing was raised. “They don’t know our state!”

    In that case, though, the “establishment” were the good guys, the local guys and the national Dems. It’s a complicated relationship, and it’s not black and white.

  98. 98
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    > Someone needs to do a long write-up on whatever
    > Rahm did to so infuriate the progressive left.

    Isn’t the fact that he’s a morally retarded monster of a complete failure in a position of power enough to infuriate all decent people? Someone needs to do a long soul searching, Mr Cole.

  99. 99

    Anyone who sounds like Karl Rove or does things like Karl Rove is instantly suspect. And yet, if there wasn’t someone in the White House doing things the way that Karl Rove did things, President Obama would have been impeached by now.

    Really, it’s that simple.

  100. 100
    Mike Kay says:

    Heh!

    Not another post by john on FDL or the Fonze of freedom. We get it, you don’t like their actions, stop being so repetitive, especially with the same joke about “show us on the doll where Rahm touched you”.

    /heh!

  101. 101
    Cranky Observer says:

    @dmsilev: Well, there is the minor point that Dean’s strategy had far better results than Emanuel’s, and that the candidates Emanuel backed tended to lose quite decisively to weak Republican opponents.

    Cranky

  102. 102
    handy says:

    Coming in late, but I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised at the good discussion. Particularly the Hackett-Brown thing. I had completely forgotten about that.

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