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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, January 29, 2004


General McClellan

posted by Dana at Thursday, January 29, 2004 permalink View blog reactions

A reporter called me to ask about Trippi. It’s part of the “picking of the bones” process.

While we were talking an analogy occurred to me, from the first Civil War. (I credit Vietnam as the second.) It came in historian Shelby Foote’s praise of George McClellan, the Union General fired in 1862. “He really built that Army,” Foote said, and much of what that Army did afterward was a tribute to McClellan.

No analogy is perfect. Trippi combined much of McClellan’s organizational brilliance with the imperfections of generals who succeeded him, like Ambrose Burnside and Joe Hooker. Trippi fought, hard, but the costs exceeded results in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Dean lacks the luxury of the years Lincoln spent in finding Grant. He also needs someone with Lee’s tactical brilliance – Grant really won by grinding the opponent down through superior forces.

And what of Roy Neel? I know him best from my work on the technology beat, where he ran the US Telephone Association during the boom. Yes, he’s an insider, but we need one now. He’ll be the first to tell you he ain’t Robert E. Lee.

But this is not a time for fighting. This is a time to make a case. And the case is there to be made. John Kerry was Michael Dukakis’ Lieutenant Governor, he is Teddy Kennedy’s junior Senator, he has never run anything bigger than a Senate office, he’s a defensive politician at a time that calls for offense. He is yesterday’s man. The last really courageous thing he did was throw away his medals at a VVAW rally. The definition of insanity is to repeatedly do the same thing and expect a different result. Kerry is the same thing.

Right now Democrats need to play offense, not defense. They need an executive, not a legislator. They need someone new, not someone old, borrowed or blue. When it comes to true electability and the personal qualities the nation needs there is just no comparison. Dean was making this case last week in New Hampshire. Neel can press it.

Most of us, meanwhile, are clear on who and what we’re working for. We’re working on making Howard Dean our President, for to take this country back from the idiots now in charge of it. It’s the Union, not the General, who matters to us foot soldiers.

Your orders, General Neel?


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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.