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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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Monday, March 08, 2004


Tom Brokaw as Veep?

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, March 08, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Sometimes, ideas in politics come from so far out in, er, left field, that I'm completely blown away. Who would have thought that Tom Brokaw was a credible choice for Veep? well... after doing some cursory research into his biography, suddenly I think so too. Brokaw is retiring from his anchor position at NBC and at age 63 is still not too old to switch careers.

Reading over the transcript of Brokaw's moderation of the Iowa Debate, I come away impressed. Even the Village Voice grudgingly admitted that Brokaw did his job well, asking tough questions all around.

I was fascinated to find out that Brokaw dropped in unannounced to the Dean campaign headquarters the day before the Iowa caucuses, to chat with Trippi. A recent Q&A with Brokaw by the CJR asked him about his plans after retiring from NBC, and he also had some comments about Dean's campaign:

The mainstream media initially missed the strength of Howard Dean’s campaign. Was that because Dean was succeeding through the Internet — or because Dean’s message was so strongly antiwar, and the conventional wisdom at the time was that such a message was suicide?

I think it was a combination of those things. I also don’t think that you can discount the tepid response of Dean’s opposition to his early gains — it gave him running room in a way that not even Dean could have anticipated. But this speaks to what’s going on out there — which is that Dean is generating a new constituency of voters in the Democratic Party, and reaching them through the Internet. We’re always a beat behind on that technology.

and here are some comments by Brokaw on the Dean campaign during an interview with Roger Simon:

Tom Brokaw. The ascendancy of Dean is a surprise. To me, not to him! (Laughter)
I think it's a tribute to two or three things. One is that there is a large body of people who feel left out of the process and they feel he can bring them back in or that he's their ticket to get them back in in some fashion. Also, his ability to not be locked into "Washington speak" every time he opens his mouth on a subject. Even to run the risk of saying something that he has to pull back the next day. You know, it helps him.

Roger Simon: Right. His mistakes don’t seem to matter.

Tom Brokaw: It makes him seem human. And then finally, and I think this is partly generational, you cannot overstate for younger voters the place of the Internet in their lives. It's a force. It is the force. They're on it all day long as a means of communication with one another and as a means of retrieving information. It shapes their world. And he tapped into that.

What interests me is the explicit acknowledgement by Brokaw of the real innovation of the Dean campaign, which was to draw people into the political process. If he were to be Kerry's veep, then we can probably be confident that he would bring some of that recognition to the campaign and to the eventual Kerry Administration.


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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.