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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Thursday, December 18, 2003


They're Not Listening Still (Perhaps They Never Will),18471,561479,00.html

posted by Dana at Thursday, December 18, 2003 permalink View blog reactions

Aziz' great item (below) put Joe Klein's snarky column (link above) into context for me.

Klein is best-known for his book "Primary Colors," written (supposedly) by "Anonymous." It was a thinly-veiled profile of Bill Clinton, portraying him as a womanizing, superficial hypocrite.

That's the way the press has seen every candidate since the 1960s, by the way. Reporters like Klein think they must vette everyone, tear down everyone, because everyone is a crook (except Klein, who beause he "fictionalized" his story was not bound by facts and got the money, the girl, the Hollywood deal, and all praise for being "ethical") and everyone needs to know it.

Except Joe Klein of course. Except rich, smug, sanctimonious, hypocritical Joe Klein, who never takes responsibility for his words, because he never has to put any idea into practice.

Campaigns, to these jokers, are inside jobs, a candidate and a small staff secretly plotting strategy, manuevering the American people around a board like generals at headquarters. The press can sit comfortably in the staff room, play armchair general on talk shows, secure in the knowledge that they have climbed the greasy pole at their paper and thus have to answer to nobody.

Howard Dean doesn't just threaten the established political order. He threatens the way reporters like Klein think politics is played.

So, yes, we're a threat, and he treats us as such:

Indeed, they seem to have replaced religion with cybercommunity; the monthly Meetup is their church.

Never mind how many people I've seen at Meetups are regular churchgoers, and how some actually come from Church (when Meetup is on a Wednesday).

But it is style more than substance that distinguishes Dean Democracy from its predecessors — cyberstyle. When the Supreme Court upheld the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance-reform law last week, it was a ratification of New-New fund-raising practices. Soft money — that is, giant corporate contributions to political parties — is out; giant personal contributions to nonparty activist organizations like are in. "The irony is, the Democratic National Committee could use soft money to run positive ads about our candidates," a prominent Democrat told me last week. "The law says isn't allowed to promote individual candidates. They're limited to informational ads, like the ones they're running now about Bush. In other words, this is a reform that will result in a tidal wave of negative ads."

Notice how Move-On is now to blame for negative campaigns!

There is, however, another statistic that may put the Dean phenomenon in perspective. On Sept. 30, Dean had approximately 452,000 Internet supporters. Trippi said the goal was a million by the end of the year. Last week they had only 515,000. The New-New movement may have reached a plateau. Then again, doctors have been known to change their diagnoses. The devotion of his followers gives Dean the leeway to take the movement in any direction he wants. One can only wonder what the next New-New thing will be.

You see it's all a fad, it's all phony. We're phony. We're dilletantes, manipulated by the boys in the back room (Trippi and Dean in this case). Nothing has changed. Joe Klein will still tell you how to think.

It's not just the Washington Democrats, or even the Republicans, that I want thrown out. It's Joe Klein and his whole "inside baseball" view of how politics is played, as a parlor game to which the public is not invited.

That's what is really behind the so-called MSNBC "Demo Derby" nonsense. In their latest edition Dean and Gephardt are still neck-and-neck, because Iowa comes first and it's a better story.

Never mind the polls, which show Dean breaking away and Clark the only serious threat (in some western and southern states). MSNBC will tell you what the "real story" is.

Let me tell Klein, MSNBC, and all the other lazy talking heads what's really going on.

It's not Trippi. It's not Dean. It's not some "secular-humanist church" thing. It's us. It's 536,000 people (more every day) the largest political army ever assembled. We're being visible, we're talking to people, we're explaining our campaign and its vision. And when we get objections, we go back to the Web site for more ammunition...maybe we've printed up our own copies and hand them out.

We talk to people, one on one, the way candidates do, the way they can't because they're surrounded by self-important idiots like Joe Klein. But we have the facts, we have the marketing materials, we have the passion, we close the sale.

One person at a time, we close the sale. And the numbers add up, in those polls. (Oops, there are 537,000 now.) We're growing a little big stronger now, every day, and a little bit louder now, every day. And the person we sold yesterday is on the trail with us today, and someone he or she sells today will be on the trail with us tomorrow.

We're taking our country back one citizen at a time. We're not just taking it back from the Washington Democrats or the Bush Administration. We're taking it back from the Joe Kleins of the world.

We are the largest political army ever assembled in American political history. (Clark has finally gotten the message, which is why he's doing well, and now has a battalion behind him. Maybe we should rename him "Colonel" Clark.)

Joe Klein is out of the loop. Politics has become the Great American Conversation. Spread the word.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.