Why is Joe Trippi singing the praises of the DLC Chair?

by: Adam Bink

Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 16:00


So Joe Trippi published a post, amazingly, defending Harold Ford's record, couching it in terms of "New Yorkers should have a right to choose."

After reading it, here's a few reactions:

1. First, Trippi doesn't come at this with clean hands and a unimpeachable good government interest. Don't forget he was chief strategist for Carolyn Maloney, who was in the primary until she dropped out shortly after. Let's not also forget he was caught astroturing for her without revealing who his client was, and sockpuppeting at DailyKos. So I don't trust his motives.

2. Normally I am a big supporter of primaries as instruments to move people to the left. Despite his pander on marriage equality, it is far from clear that Ford will run a campaign at Gillibrand from her left. What in the world would he have to say? He was one of the most conservative Democrats in the House and a member of the Blue Dogs. He ran against Pelosi from the right for Minority Leader in 2002. He ran a campaign for Senate that would make Creigh Deeds look like Donna Edwards. Then he became Chair of the DLC. Then he signed on as a Fox News contributor. Then he became Vice Chairman of Merrill Lynch. Harold Ford embodies everything progressives fight against, so how in the world is this going to push Gillibrand to the left?

3. Gillibrand already has a challenger from the left- Jonathan Tasini. Sure, his campaign isn't very good, but notice nowhere in Trippi's piece did he mention Tasini or pushing Gillibrand to be more progressive. It depends on whether you actually want to push her to the left, or you think she should have a challenger just because you want her to have a challenger, in which case, like Trippi, it seems you pretty much support anyone who comes calling.

4. Trippi talks about democracy and the right to choose in an election. Here's what that ignores. Um, Ford might actually win! Harold Ford Jr. is a DLC, Joe Lieberman clone. I have no faith whatsoever he will be at all progressive while in the Senate. So I have no problem with keeping him from running.

So, it depends on what is more important to you- having a primary just so a Joe Lieberman clone can run, or keeping a Joe Lieberman clone out of the Senate. I know which I care more about.

Adam Bink :: Why is Joe Trippi singing the praises of the DLC Chair?

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Should change "signing" to "singing" (0.00 / 0)


While I agree with Trippi that primaries should be able to happen free of establishment influence (4.00 / 2)
Joe Trippi's effusive praise of Ford as "far more progressive than people give him credit for" was bizarre.  I don't think there's any way for Ford to credibly run to Gillibrand's left.

On the other hand, Trippi does make a somewhat valid point here:

This is not about ideology. Senator Gillibrand has never been a darling of progressives - she has represented and defended big-tobacco as a corporate lawyer, has had a rating of 100% from the NRA, and on immigration she opposed a path to citizenship as part of reform. Her record has evolved on these and other issues only after she was appointed to the Senate - why should Harold Ford Jr. be held to a different standard by progressives?

While I agree that Gillibrand is also a centrist who switched her positions almost overnight, I think she's a lot less so than Ford.  Besides which, many liberals, myself included, are not enthusiastically supporting Gillibrand either, especially when there's a good candidate called Jonathan Tasini in the race.


So what if Ford might win? (4.00 / 2)
I don't think it's possible to be non-hypocritical if you argue for primarying Democrats from the left while also desiring to shut out anyone who dares mount a primary challenge from the right.

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Are you serious? (4.00 / 1)
So what if Ford might win?

It depends on whether you care more about vigorous debates and openness and all of that than you do about public policy. I care more about public policy.

It reminds me of people who clamor for bipartisanship on bills, even though on big issues like health care, the more bipartisan a bill gets the less good it does for people. But it depends on whether bipartisanship, comity, small "d" democracy and all of those virtues is more important to you than public policy. You can't say you care more about good public policy and then say you don't care if Ford might win.


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[ Parent ]
While I do think that policy outcomes are generally more important than process (0.00 / 0)
I think we all agree that there are lines that you can't cross.  For example, if Medicare for All could be passed but only if a thousand innocent people were slaughtered, I'm sure none of us would agree to that deal.

Of course, having a conservative primary challenge shut down isn't nearly a dramatic of an example, but IMO, in general anyone should be "allowed" to run, and if they win, well that's democracy.

Of course, there's a big difference between a candidate not running because he couldn't find enough support among voters versus because the White House or Chuck Schumer told him not to.


[ Parent ]
I would trade (0.00 / 0)
Support for the war in Afghanistan, and perhaps even Iraq, for Medicare-For-All, so perhaps I am one of those people.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Well I would too, probably (0.00 / 0)
But in my example I was thinking of American innocents, and not slaughtered like in a war, but slaughtered by a random firing squad for no reason at all, aside from making Medicare for All happen.

[ Parent ]
I'm saying Ford's possibility of winning shouldn't matter (0.00 / 0)
It's one thing if you want to discourage Ford from running, but you said keeping him from running, which sounds to me like actively preventing him and banning him from running, if possible.

It's like saying you're all for habeus corpus, but you'll make an exception if someone is bad enough to be a terrorist.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
I am sorry, I do not undetrstand your point. (4.00 / 1)
If you are saying, people 'should be allowed to run' well then ok, even okey dokey. If you are saying.... nope I got nothing.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Primary Opponents (4.00 / 1)
Being, in general, in favor of open primaries doesn't mean that it should be the upmost goal of progressives. More important is achieving progressive policies. I have no problem with forcing Ford not to run. Politics is a struggle to achieve your/our objectives & the process is not the most important goal.

[ Parent ]
Harold Ford: More Right and Less Bright (0.00 / 0)
Has anyone ever listened to this man trying to be a pundit? He's smarter than Palin, but not by enough to make me happy.

Gillibrand may not be overly liberal but she seems to getting attuned to her contituents.

And Trippi seems to be getting dumber all the time. Jerry Brown should dump him. Has he ever really been a successful campaign leader?


Ford (4.00 / 2)
I'm deeply suspicious of what would cause Ford to run. He just relocated to the state, is not known or liked, & his politics is far to the right of the state's Democratic Party. I suspect, given his high level position at Merrill Lynch, that he's basically a trojan horse for Wall Street, who urged him to run. This sends a powerful message to Gillibrand that you don't cross Wall Street or there's a horse's head in your bed.

Gillibrand, at present, seems not to be receptive to Wall Street's positions. If you think this is black helicopter stuff, keep in mind that Wall Street tycoons set up a fund to investigate exGov Spitzer's personal life after he began going after Wall Street & forced him in a corner where he had to resign after they uncovered his sexual activities.


Do you have linkable stories about Wall Street going after Spritzer? (0.00 / 0)
I would love to be able to show that around. That's movie stuff, and fits well with their status as the evil warlords of our post-democratic country.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Spitzer (0.00 / 0)
I'm not good at doing internet searches but it was a story that made it in some major news outlets, albeit not on the front page. In fact, a couple Wall Street bigees, that were part of the cabal that chipped in the money (less than a million dollars in the pot - this is chicken feed to them) were bragging about how they took Spitzer down.

They gave the info to Bush appointed regional DA, who then did an investigation with the threat of prosecution. Some how the story immediately leaked (surprise, surprise). Immediately, after the election & after Spitzer had resigned, the AG determined that there weren't any prosecutable offenses. What makes this episode so incredible is that this all occurred at the same time that Senator Vitter (Repub of Louisianna) was similarly caught doing prostitutes. The difference is that Vitter liked kinky stuff, notably wearing a diaper. Somehow the MSM gave this limited coverage, unlike the Spitzer story which for some reason was considered more important. Vitter is still in the senate, there was no AG investigation into possible unlawful behavior. Oh, Vitter is one of those who favored the Clinton impeachment & is a deep social conservative.


[ Parent ]
If you remember the source, it'd be great if you could post it. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
They knew about the adultery for years (0.00 / 0)
they sit on that type of stuff in case their servants (not ours) get out of line, as Spitzer did.

Notice how Sanford sits untouched, a "made man" of The Family?


[ Parent ]
If Harold Ford wants to run a primary challenge (0.00 / 0)
to Guillibrand, there is no way we can stop him, nor should we unless we think there is something wrong with primaries when we don't.

If you don't want ford to win argue against ford winning.  Why bother to keep him out?

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Um (0.00 / 0)
If you want to make sure someone doesn't win it generally the best strategy is to keep them from entering the race altogether. That is the answer to "why bother to keep him out". It would also save a lot of resources to be used on more projects than trying to make sure Ford doesn't become Joe Lieberman's sidekick.


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[ Parent ]
How do you go about keeping him out (4.00 / 1)
without discrediting primaries?

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[ Parent ]
Embarrass him with stories about his flip flopping, exposure of his right wing credentials. (0.00 / 0)
Linking him with Bush would keep him out, he past positions on any issue near to the heart of New Yorkers, so that people ask what the hell he thinks he's doing lying about his past beliefs instead of talking about the spin he is trying to push.

Those are a few methods.

I don't think Adam is talking about using his immense political power to have him legally prevented from running. Or that's what seems probable to me so far. I could be wrong.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
It's pretty easy to link him with Bush. (0.00 / 0)
[ Parent ]
If that's all, then fine. (4.00 / 1)
But I am opposed to denying anyone the right to run for office, and that was the way Adam's argument came off to me, because there's actually nothing we can do to force Ford to not run without either being hypocrites or doing something illegal.  The things you mentioned doing are things that would normally be done to try to convince people to not vote for someone.  This is normal campaigning stuff and has nothing to do with forcing someone out of a race.  Ford could always choose to continue his campaign, even knowing he has no chance of winning.

Thus, I (and probably others) could only interpret Adam's remark to force Ford out of the race to mean doing something which would ensure Ford could not run, and that is something I oppose on principle, no matter who the candidate may be.  If you are a citizen and meet the Constitutional requirements, you have the right to run for office.  Period.

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[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
We're not talking about lawsuits or breaking anyone's legs. This is on an ideological basis. Ford getting elected would be very damaging to progressives and so I would prefer he did not run.


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[ Parent ]
If you try to keep him from entering the race (4.00 / 1)
Then you have no grounds to argue against party bosses trying to clear the primary field for a less-than-progressive candidate.  You'd be on the same level as the Republicans who argue against the Senate filibuster when they are the majority and for it when they are the minority.

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[ Parent ]
This is just so odd. (0.00 / 0)
Adam is talking about keeping him out of the race, by not allowing him to lie about his record.

Adam is not talking about breaking his legs. He is talking about defeating him with ideology.

That is our job.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
It's not clear what Adam is saying (0.00 / 0)
From the tone of it, it seems like Mr. Bink would be happy to change the party rules if it would somehow prevent Ford from being able to run.  I'm all for harassing Harold Ford and making his life completely miserable on a personal level.  Heck, I wouldn't care if you take a page out of the Jane Hamsher playbook and go after his wife.  

I just don't get the apparent fear of Ford.  In my opinion, the attitude should be to "bring them on" and relish any opportunity to have a fight with people like Ford or Lieberman.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
This isnt a case of Fear and Loathing, with apologies to the late gonzo Hunter S. Thompson (0.00 / 0)
its just loathing.

He's among the pack of Lieberman Democrats, it is a pleasure to stop from pretending from representing the Democratic party. I like democracy, I support democracy and I think talking, writing blogging is part of democracy. To me the process is important. So defeating him with democracy is a democratic effort and an organizing effort.

America needs more of both, and less of the Lieberman crap.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Nowhere (0.00 / 0)
Did I suggest changing party rules, lawsuts, breaking legs, Tammany Hall, or really anything other than preferring Ford did not run for ideological reasons.

If you prefer small "d" democracy for its Broderesque virtues over the importance of public policy, fine. But trying to make it sound as if I have some Machiavellian tactics for preferring Ford did not run other than ideological justification is misrepresenting my argument.

Also "bring them on" is unstrategic. In the first place, it would waste a lot of money that could be spent on plenty of other fights. In the second, sometimes things go awry and the conservative challenger does in fact win. Whoops. Better to not have to face it at all.


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[ Parent ]
This makes sense for joe trippi (0.00 / 0)
After all wasn't John Edwards a part of DLC as well?  

John Edwards was a conservative who pretended to be liberal too so it seems like a perfect fit for Joe Trippi.  If anything Joe might be the architect behind such maneuverings.

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Joe Trippi also worked for Howard Dean (0.00 / 0)
yet another conservative who pretended to be liberal...

[ Parent ]
I do not remember anything about Edwards position on anything being conservative. (0.00 / 0)
He suffered from other faults. Ones that in France would never have been brought to light for example. Or in America before the republican party became the taliban.

Eisenhower had a mistress, FDR had a mistress, it is said that Mrs. Roosevelt had a mistress too.

Do you have links to positions of John's you really can't abide?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
What about the Iraq War? (0.00 / 0)
Russ Feingold seemed to have problems with Edwards, who didn't just vote for the AUMF, but co-sponsored the resolution.

Edwards says he listened to his advisors and made bad votes because of his future ambitions.  However, just because I may want to hear some populist rhetoric, that doesn't mean I believe it coming from the mouth of John Edwards.  I always considered Howdy Doody by far the phoniest 2008 candidate out there, Democrat or Republican.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
Again, a link to something. (0.00 / 0)
Anything. Edwards was the first of all the democrats to apologize, and knew to apologize, for that vote. Many have not even apologized yet.

If that is all anyone can come up with its nonsense.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Does anyone here really think that Ford might win? (4.00 / 2)
Setting aside the huge albatross that is his shameful conservative past, primary elections usually pit the grassroots liberal against the establishment centrist.  The establishment is already behind Gillibrand, so Ford has to either run as a grassroots liberal (haha) or as a grassroots centrist... and I've never heard of a grassroots centrist, let alone one who prevailed in a Democratic primary.

I'm not sure if this counts (4.00 / 1)
But there do exist Democratic Senators who have been successfully primaried because they were too far to the left, mainly on the issue of war.

In 1968, Mike Gravel won a primary against Ernest Gruening, who was hurt by being one of only two Senators to have voted against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.  Gravel admits to intentionally remaining silent and letting people assume he disagreed with Gruening when he considered himself to the left of Gruening.  Gravel actual opposed the war and his filibuster of the renewal of the military draft was probably one of the annoyances that encouraged the Senate to drop the cloture threshold from 67 to 60.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
But I'm assuming that the pro-war position was the popular one (0.00 / 0)
which is why Gravel was able to incongruously ride that wave.

But usually, a competitive primary features an in-step grassroots candidate (e.g. Gravel) vs. an out-of-step establishment candidate.  I've never heard of an out-of-step grassroots candidate winning.  Usually when out-of-step candidates win, it's because of overwhelming establishment support combined with lack of name recognition for the grassroots candidate (e.g. just about every liberal primary challenge that failed).

Unless Ford tries to run to Gillibrand's left (which he could be delusional enough to try) we'd have to believe that Ford can win by running to Gillibrand's right and against most New Yorkers' views, while having no name recognition and with the entire establishment against him.

If he does try to run to Gillibrand's left, then his race will better fit the usual winning formula, but the idea of Harold Ford Jr., the Merrill Lynch Hotshot, running as some kind of lefty hero of the masses is laughably absurd.

Either way, I take great comfort in my prediction that a Ford challenge will make for amusing entertainment rather than an actual threat to the seat.


[ Parent ]
The carpetbagging also counts (0.00 / 0)
You can talk about RFK or Clinton, but they were major national figures who worked hard to get the nomination.

Ford is to most people a nobody, who's only recently moved to New York, will have to change his policies to get elected and who lacks any real connection to the grassroots.

He's just not a serious candidate. He's the astroturf primary candidate, and they almost never win or even get close.

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