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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, June 28, 2004

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, June 28, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Looks like Change For America will be shuttering down in favor of the new Joe site, which currently features some excerpts from Trippi's new book (to be released July 6th). I've asked Joe for a review copy, if he sends me one I will review the book here. In the meantime, will probably be similar to a Scoop-style site with user diaries and moderation, and they will likely transition to that site in the next few days.

The introduction to JT's book is online, and has a fairly powerful anecdote of a meeting between the campaign staff and HD about the decision to seal his gubernatorial records. Excerpt:

“You’ve got to release the records, Governor.”

His eyes are set, and his open face is pulled back defensively into that tree-trunk neck. “But there’s nothing in there.”

“If there’s nothing in there, then we should release them.”

“But there’s nothing in there.”

“That’s why we have to release them.”

“But why should we release them when there’s nothing in there?”

We go around in circles like this until Governor Dean—whose running mate could have been stubbornness—ends the debate by saying he’s done talking about it. “I would rather withdraw from the race than release those records.

We’re all quiet. The frontrunner in the 2003 Democratic presidential campaign is threatening to quit, while he still has the lead. The meeting ends, Governor Dean nods in my direction and chokes out the words, “Follow me, Joe.”

I try to keep up, but he’s striding down the hallway toward my office, and I’m straggling fifteen feet behind him, reassuring staffers as I move down the hall.

My office is in the corner of the third floor, a long narrow gash of a room—a crash site of paper, CD cases, and empty Diet Pepsi cans. Howard Dean is standing against the wall, his back to me. He’s shaking.

“You made this too easy,” he manages to say.

“What?” I ask.

“This. I never thought it would go this far. I was going to raise my profile, raise health care as an issue, shake up the Democratic Party. Help change the country. But I never thought this would happen. Don’t you understand?” He turns and faces me. “I never thought I could actually win. I wanted to . . . but I never really thought it could happen.”

I'd heard that anecdote before, and I suppose it's a mark of how deepy I have drunk the ABB kool-aid that in retrospect, I can't imagine how the Dean campaign would have survived the general election season, for precisely this problem - Dean is just too blunt, too real. Kerry isn't going to be as easy to distort. I think that Trippi's point, that though the candidate lost, the campaign actually won, is valid here - it's our success and our passion for Dean that have given Kerry the strength to do what perhaps our candidate ultimately wouldn't be able to.

It's impossible to say whether Trippi admits to any role in the failure of the campaign to react and adapt or whether it really is everyone else's fault - but I hope to read his book and see for myself what his side of the story is.

CORRECTION: Mordecai lets us know that CFA will remain as a community political site. I know I've been hard on CFA in the past as an organization, but let me state for the record that the CFA bloggers have been doing a great and underappreciated job. Rather than just Drymala posting about "change! real soon now...", its become a soli team effort. Check them out if you haven't in some time...


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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.