Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Prepare the Circular Firing Squad

From the Washington Post:

A group of well-connected Democrats led by a former top aide to Bill Clinton is raising millions of dollars to start a private firm that plans to compile huge amounts of data on Americans to identify Democratic voters and blunt what has been a clear Republican lead in using technology for political advantage.

The effort by Harold Ickes, a deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House and an adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is prompting intense behind-the-scenes debate in Democratic circles. Officials at the Democratic National Committee think that creating a modern database is their job, and they say that a competing for-profit entity could divert energy and money that should instead be invested with the national party.

Ickes and others involved in the effort acknowledge that their activities are in part a vote of no confidence that the DNC under Chairman Howard Dean is ready to compete with Republicans on the technological front. "The Republicans have developed a cadre of people who appreciate databases and know how to use them, and we are way behind the march," said Ickes, whose political technology venture is being backed by financier George Soros.

This is nasty.

Let's say what this is really about: Hillary's run for 2008. Hillary will need every possible tool at her disposal to have a shot a winning the '08 presidential election, and as the consummate insider, she both dislikes and distrusts Dean to be the caretaker of one of those critical tools.
So, rather than raise money for and try to work with the Democratic National Committee, this renegade crew decides to compete against them. Classic "insiders" vs. "outsiders" Democratic self-immolation.

As a candidate, Dean blew away fundraising records using the internet. Under Dean, the DNC is connecting with rank-and-file voters like never before. But none of that is good enough for Ickes and his posse.

Well, I wish everybody the best of luck on this. But if the idea is to target communications to the individual household to drive up turnout a few percentage points, I know of one group for whom these random database approaches will mean little: African Americans. Unless you're bringin' the funk with actual programs, policy votes, and outreach over the years between elections, you can forget "energizing" the black vote, no matter how many targeted mailings, phone calls, and home visits you make. John Kerry comes to mind as one who failed to catch on to that fact. Likewise Bill McBride, who was slated to unseat Jeb Bush in 2002.

Like I said, though, good luck. Hope whatever approaches the Democrats work up take control of the White House away from the a destructive GOP.


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