Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ford Links DLC to Wall Street

If there were any doubts in your mind about where new DLC Chair Harold Ford stood, this should dispel them.
Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. today announced that Harold E. Ford, Jr., former congressman, Ninth District of Tennessee, will join the company as vice chairman and senior policy advisor, effective March 5. Mr. Ford will advise senior management on domestic policy issues, serve as a member of the firm's public policy and social responsibility management committee, and support a variety of business development initiatives in the institutional and retail markets. He will report to Greg Fleming, president of the firm's Global Markets and Investment Banking group and maintain offices in New York and Nashville, Tenn.
Nothing like putting the DLC's ties to the corporatocracy and specifically Wall Street right out in the open, along with the nature of the relationship. Mr Ford will "report to" ML's investment banking group like the good little corporate stooge he is. Like the good little corporate stooges of the DLC that he represents.

Al From and Bob Shrum and the Clintons have been pretending the DLC is something it isn't, and they've sold that narrative to the press, especially the business press. Viz.:
Earlier this year, he was elected chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, the progressive policy and issues advocacy organization....
"Progressive" my ass. The only thing "progressive" about the DLC is the growth of its willingness to turn the Democratic Party into a lapdog for global corporatism at the expense of the old Democratic constituency. You know, us. The un-rich. The non-CEO's. The non-investment class. That effort "progresses" nicely as liberals and real progressives get minimalized and sidelined so as not to get in the way of Terry MacAuliffe's maniacal corporate fund-raising machinery.

As head of the DNC, Howard Dean is clearly trying to turn that equation on its head, but it's an uphill battle. I mean, look at who we've got running for pres. Hillary is a founding member of the DLC; Tom Vilsack is a former Chair of the DLC; Obama has been calling Ford, trying to make nice because he wants into the DLC's exclusive club; Edwards gave up most of his independence (and many of his convictions) in order to be approved by the DLC as Gore's VP. Three of those runners constitute the top tier of candidates. Of those remaining who have the traditional snowball's chance in the primaries, only Dodd isn't a DLC robot; Richardson is, at this point, an unknown quantity. Of the rest, Wes Clark and Dennis Kucinich are outsiders. Clark demonstrably has no taste for kowtowing to McAuliffe & Co, and Dennis hates them - with good reason. Neither of them has a prayer.

The DLC is clearly still calling the shots, and apparently they don't need Ford to do that. Dean had been busting his ass full-time at the DNC because there's so much work to do, but Harold appears to be so little pressed that he can take a time-consuming job on Wall Street that, by any reasonable measure, should be considered a conflict of interest. This makes Harold nothing more than a figurehead at the DLC and exposes his true role: liaison between the real powers at the DLC and the Republican powers on Wall Street. Wall Street will be able to tell Harold what they want the Democratic Party to do for them, and Harold will transfer their orders to the DLC leadership, particularly, one suspects, Hillary.

It's a neat arrangement - if you don't give a damn about the working poor and the middle class.

(link thanks to Mark at Norwegianity)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The DLC and the Edwards Blogging Controversy

(cont'd from Witness for the Prosecution)

I told you that so I could tell you this:

For those of you who enjoy the excitement of unfettered speculation nicely spiced with a decent conspiracy theory or two, let's spend a moment conjuring up the genesis of the Edwards blogging controversy.

1. Who told him to hire them in the first place?

Let's begin by stating the obvious: John Edwards knows no more about blogging than I do about nuclear physics: he's aware of its existence but as far as the details go, well, it's all sort of over his head. The idea that he might have heard of Marcotte and McEwan before the suggestion came to hire them, let alone actually have read and been familiar with their blogs, is laughable on its face.

Which naturally raises the question: Where did the suggestion come from if not from his own brain?

At first blush the most logical answer might be "from his staff, dummy". Maybe. It's certainly possible that he has, somewhere on his staff, somebody who's familiar with the layer of the blogosphere at Level A (Atrios, Kevin Drum, Andrew Sullivan, InstaMouthit Glenn Reynolds, et al). There might even be someone not unfamiliar with Level B bloggers (the HuffPo Gang, David Sirota, Brad Delong, Jonah Goldberg and the rest of the Kewl Kids, skippy, Ezra Klein, et al). But a sufficient familiarity with the outstanding writing and high esteem in which Marcotte and McEwan - Level C bloggers - are held by those who know them argues someone used to diving into the deep end of the blogging pool, and that's a bit more problematic. Not impossible, mind you, but definitely not something one feels comfortable assuming.

Unlike the Republican Party, which uses wingnut bloggers to spread lies and inuuendo on a regular basis, the Dems are famous for their blogging cluelessness. Before Howard Dean came along, and even after for a good while, Democrats acted as if the Left Blogosphere, far from being a helpmate and potential resource, was a collection of somewhat disreputable, noisy, undisciplined nags which they were more than a little ashamed of having on their side. The kind of party activists who tended to be hired as staff on various campaigns considered blogging or following blogs a waste of time and energy.

And that attitude has only recently begun to change. Considered in that light, it seems much more likely to me that the suggestion came, not from the inside of the Edwards campaign, but from the outside. Ask yourself one simple question: Who in the infamously New-Media-shy Democratic Party owns the internet? And it's not Al Gore.

Of course. See where I'm going with this?

In a post on the Winter Conference, I made two statements that are relevant here.

  1. Dean seems to have taken on the corporate enablers of the right-wing DLC in a genteel bar-fight

  2. Edwards is a fence-straddler, bowing to the power of the DLC on the one hand and trying to carve out a leftish niche of his own in defiance of them on the other

Let us suppose for the sake of argument that the suggestion to hire Marcotte and McEwan came from Dean's blog-savvy outriders at the DNC, not from Edwards' own staff. What do you imagine might happen when the prestigious (which it still is, not that it deserves the label any more) NYT prints the scurrilous and hypocritical rantings of wingnuts Donohue and Malkin as if they ought to be taken seriously? Who in the Democratic Party has a long history of running away from confrontations with the Right like tigers running away from ants?

You guessed it.

2. Did the DLC send its Enforcers to interfere?

Assume that they did and suddenly Edwards' hesitation starts to make sense. Let's suppose that the original discussion inside the Edwards campaign had to do not with whether or not to stand behind its new staff but whether to respond to the charges or simply ignore them. Let's further suppose that a DLC loyalist/spy (there's one in every Democratic candidate's entourage) calls, oh, I don't know, Terry McAuliffe, and tells him what's going on. What would Terry "I can raise a billion $$$ if y'all would just act like Republicans" McAuliffe do?

Why, he'd get on the phone and tell Edwards personally that he has to fire those troublemakers immediately "for the good of the party", making sure to mix in a veiled threat or two to make the consequences of disobedience clear. That's his style. Why would he bother with what is essentially an internal matter?

Why do you think? To give Dean a black eye.

Because this scenario presents Edwards with a real quandary: defend his DNC-recommended staff from an idiotic wingnut smear or openly defy the Party Power and risk a murderous dogfight with DLC honchos just when he's getting his campaign into gear. Al From, Hillary Clinton & Co are very big on "party discipline", which they define in exactly the same way the Republicans do: lock-step obedience. They are also determined to avoid at any cost alienating their inherently conservative donation list, much of which is right-of-center Christian (thus their hiring and support of Vanderslice and their avidity in shoving her "consultations" down the throats of reluctant Dem candidates). The last thing they would want as they're attempting to form their would-be alliance with the Christian right is a major candidate like Edwards slapping their targets upside the head.

While this analysis is undeniably speculative, it's hardly off-the-wall speculative. It fits everything we know about Edwards, the DLC. and Dean's DNC to a T, and fills in a lot of otherwise perplexing gaps in Edwards' handling of the affair.

Of course, so would cowardice.