NDN Blog

NDN in the News

Simon is in the USA Today discussing Senator Lieberman's decision to run as an Independent.  For more of Simon's thoughts on the CT primary, check out his blog entry from yesterday. 

"Simon Rosenberg, president of the centrist New Democrat Network, called Lieberman's loss "a political failure of great magnitude" and urged him to "end this part of your remarkable career."

Where the smart money is after Connecticut

And a big NDN hello! to our new readers, after yesterday's fun and excitement. I'll be leaving the state of the nation stuff to Simon, and go for the fripperires instead. Much discussion today of how yesterday's events in Connecticut will play out during the coming three months. Its a toss-up between Democrats heading for cut n'run rack and ruin if you believe the Vice President; Democrats energised and united if you believe the Democratic leadership; or the country hungry for the McCain-Lieberman Party, if you believe David Brooks. How can you tell who is right? Enter a nifty website a friend sent me this morning, Tradesport.com, which uses betting patterns to provide odds on all manner of good things. What do the punters say? Yesterday, it showed that the long term slide in odds of the GOP retaining the House in November continued. Not quite as rosy on the Senate, however. Joementum or not makes little difference in a fairly steady bet that the Dems are in an uphill struggle to take back the Senate. To think: all of that commentary ink spilled, and the betting men are unmoved. A lesson for us all?

NDN in the News

NPI Fellow Jennifer Nix is in the San Francisco Chronicle today discussing the impact of the netroots in yesterday's CT Primary.

Slate on You Tube, User Created Political Videos and the Lamont Campaign

Interesting article at Slate on the Lamont campaign and it's use and encouragement of user created videos on Youtube...

"Lamont's forces have proved one lesson of campaigns in the digital age: Content is king. Throughout the contest, the challenger's supporters produced and circulated a steady stream of videos that were witty, powerful, and in a way became the fulcrum of the campaign...

The Lamont forces have now shown the better way. (Lieberman's supporters did not seem to participate in any meaningful way in this new medium.) The Lamont videos were far more effective than tendentious blog posts, and they gave energetic supporters an outlet for their energies (a person can only pound so many yard signs). What's more, the videos offered a regular dose of entertainment to supporters who were interested but not obsessed."

Bernanke's Recession Gamble

Startling as it might seen, some news happened outside of Connecticut in America yesterday. Fed Chair Beranke's will-he won't-he dance came down on the side of won't, as rates were left unchanged. Good news for the mortgage, bad news for the economy? Seems like it. What last week looked like recession predictions from baby Bear have been joined this week by the Mama and Pappa Bear's of the economic firmament: Krugman, De Long , Feldstein to name but three. The balancing act is well put in a piece in the Times this morning:

The dilemma for policy makers is that if the Fed is forced into a serious crackdown on inflation, it risks throwing the economy into a recession. That would leave workers whose wages in recent years have barely kept up with price increases in worse shape, just as many are beginning to reap some modest gains from economic growth. And with energy prices up sharply, many workers, whose pay increases have also lagged far behind productivity gains, have less disposable income for other purposes.

There was further evidence that the White House is paying more attention to pocket book issues yesterday, when Press Sec Tony Snow led off his noon "gaggle" by pushing hopeful looking hourly compensation figures from the commerce department. Bill Emmott, former editor of the Economist, writes this morning that a slowdown in the US economy would be no bad thing, just as his ex-magazine wrote last week that slower american growth was exactly what the Fed should be in the business of promoting to combat inflation. And so they might. But a recession, following growth which failed to benefit most American workers, is a fix even the able Mr Snow might not be able talk himself out of.

The morning after

With many days of discussion ahead, I offer a quick take on the meaning of Lamont’s win last night:

1. Those running too close to Bush and his government could pay a heavy price this fall. Joe Lieberman has been one of the most public defenders of Bush and his failed government, even attacking other Democrats who challenged Bush. Two-thirds of the American people want a new direction. Candidates credibly offering a new path will have the upper hand this fall.

2. In this new era, partisanship is a virtue. The conservatives rise to power, and their utter failure to govern responsibly or effectively, requires a new progressive politics of confrontation, not accommodation. This new politics may be uncomfortable to those used to an America governed by Democrats and progressive values, but for our politics and values to triumph progressives must and are learning how to resist “cutting deals,” working to “get things done” on terms set by an irresponsible governing majority.

This is not an ideological development in progressive politics, but a pragmatic one. Senator Lieberman never understood this, constantly seeing this discussion through an outdated and inappropriate ideological prism. Of course there is room for someone with Senator Lieberman’s view on the War, for example. He was after all endorsed by virtually ever major institution in the Democratic family. There is a growing, and necessary, intolerance, however, of progressive leaders unwilling to take on Bush and his failed government head on – and this was the battleground in this election, whether the Senator understood it or not.

I have great sympathy for those wishing our politics could be more genteel, where both sides could come together to work things out for the common good. But we live in a different time, and our the rising partisanship in the Democratic Party is a necessary, pragmatic and I believe virtuous response to the circumstances we face today at the dawn of the 21st century.

3. A new 21st century politics is emerging. As NDN and its affiliate NPI have been saying for some time, new governing challenges, new ways of communication and a changing American people are rapidly creating a new politics unfamiliar to those of us who grew up in 20th century American politics. Political success in the future will derive from a leader’s mastery not just of a compelling and effective governing agenda, but of “new 21st century tools” to get one’s message out more effectively and the engagement of vital new citizens who are yearning to be part of – and ultimately will change – our politics.

4. Senator Lieberman should end his re-election bid. There are many reasons he should bring his campaign to an end, but in this entry I site one above all - performance. From the beginning of this race the Senator has seemed to be conducting a campaign for a different era, a different conversation and a different time. Given his stature, losing a Democratic Primary to an unknown opponent is a political failure of great magnitude. I have offered my advice and my critique of what has been a terrible campaign on this blog for the past several weeks. Given the scale of the mistakes he has made so far, and how out of touch with the state he has become, why should anyone believe he will figure out to do something seldom done in history – win as an independent after losing a primary?

It is time, my good friend. Senator Lieberman, it is time. Time to end this part of your remarkable career with dignity, grace and honor. You had a great run, made a great contribution, and done a lot of good. But it is time to move on.


Given the interest on this issue, i wanted to point to some previous blogs during the Primary campaign. I wrote about Senator Lieberman's three main missteps last week, and earlier in the month had offered my advice on his campaign. I also posted some comments on a perceptive article by Ruth Marcus. I hope this helps understand where I am coming from on this. Simon.

NDN in the News

Joe Garcia, Director of NDN's Hispanic Strategy Center, was in the Miami Herald on Sunday discussing what a post-Fidel Castro Cuba could mean for GOP politics.

''Republicans have had a lot of bark and no bite, but the bark has been enough,'' said Joe Garcia, a former executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation and director of the New Democrat Network's Hispanic Strategy Center. ``Once Castro is gone, you can bark all you want, but Castro's not there. You've got to develop a more realistic agenda that's in tune with the Cuban-American reality.''


NDN in the News

Simon was in the Washington Post Friday discussing Iraq and this year's mid-term elections.  

"The Republicans are in trouble," said Simon Rosenberg, founder of the centrist New Democrat Network. "But the map is tough. It's going to be hard for us to win one of the two chambers. It's certainly possible. I think both are going to be hard."

Democrats needed "a broader narrative" on foreign policy, especially in light of the Lebanon crisis, and should avoid becoming wedded to the idea that Iraq -- and Iraq alone -- represented their best chance of winning, Rosenberg warned.

"There's a general sense of chaos, that whatever we attempted to do in the Middle East, it certainly seems to be getting worse not better," he said. "If we bet the whole farm on Iraq, it may not work for us."


It's a Purple Monkey, I Think it Speaks For Itself

The title to this post is actually the introduction to a purple monkey puppet that is a recurring guest on lonelygirl15's youtube.com hosted video blog.  I began watching her fascinating, enthralling and slightly voyeuristic collection of viral video after reading the New York Times critic Virginia Heffernan's blog post about this YouTube sensation.

Lonelygirl15 is actually a 16 year-old girl named Bree.  Bree speaks directly into a webcam, sharing quixotic but inspired observations about her life, conservative parents, interest in science, ever more complicated relationship with her friend/producer Daniel or anything else that is on her mind. 

In just two months, Bree and her purple monkey's seventeen videos have been viewed almost four million times.  Heffernan says that MTV should offer Bree and Daniel a spot on their broadband video channel MTV Overdrive.  I can't believe MTV hasn't already.  This technology is exploding and has applications for what we do - watch Julie Bergman at the NPI New Political Tools of 2006 event to learn more.  So, do progressives need to learn to master the 700 pound purple monkey that is viral video?  I think that "speaks for itself." 

The Connecticut race

A whole lot is going to be written about what happened in Connecticut.  Whether Lamont wins or not, we know that a major national politician has been seriously challenged by a newcomer.  How did we get to this point? I think there were three critical moments in this race which left the door open for Lamont to make his remarkable run:

1. Lieberman attacks other Democrats over Iraq.  Last year the Senator choose to publically chastise other Democrats for challenging the President over our failing policy in Iraq.  Many, including me, thought this was way over the top.  The Administration used the Lieberman lines against other Democrats for weeks.  What is critical here is that Joe went after Democrats not for our policy choices, but for even wanting to have a debate over whether Iraq was working or not.   Understanding this part of the story is essential, for the anger towards Joe has always been more about his defending a failed President against other Democrats than it has been his stance on the Iraq War itself. 

2. Lieberman ignores and discounts his opposition.  In a period that lasted from last year to until a few months ago, Lieberman, in a very dangerous move, essentially told those who were unhappy with him to pound sand. His first ad of the campaign told voters that even though they disagreed with him on the War, there were many other things they did agree on - the message there being I know you are unhappy with me but too bad.  And what is incredible is that he used his own money to remind the voters of the state why they were angry with him! 

During this time the inchoate anger towards him for betraying those that brought him to office was buttressed by this incredible arrogance and self-righteousness.  Remember a third of the country was against the War when it happened; meaning that perhaps half of all Connecticut voters were against the War when it happened; meaning that more than half of all Democratic voters were against the War when it happened three years ago.  Today more than three-fourths of the state believe the President is doing a bad job, and that the War is a failure.  To tell voters that on the issue they most care about that they are wrong, and I know better isn't principle, as Joe has asserted, its arrogance.  Particularly when it is clear the voters are right on this one.  The President and the War are a disaster. 

During this long period many tried to intervene and help the Senator.  His path was simple here - just make it clear that though you are sticking to your guns on Iraq, you want to listen to the concerns of those who are concerned and unhappy about the War.  Sit with folks who are angry.  Listen.  Attack the President in your ads, and in your speeches for Katrina, for a declining middle class, for the high levels of corruption in Washington, for the estate tax, etc.  If the main attack against you is that you are too close to Bush make it clear you think he is doing a bad job - something two thirds of the country agrees with you on. 

None of this happened.  Millions of dollars and countless days were spent on messages to the voters of Connecticut that nothing to do with what was on their mind - why is our Democratic Senator seemingly so uninterested in what Democrats think and believe, why is he defending a War that seems like such a disaster, and why is he so close to Bush?  This campaign will go down as one of the worst of modern times. 

3.  Lieberman goes independent.  So Democrats are wondering whether you a Democrat any more and whats the answer? File as an independent, essentially proving that the opposition's attacks on you were right.  This was the most important moment in the campaign, and the one that if Joe loses, I believe, is the main reason why.  Prior to going independent, Joe was up by 20 points in the polls and in command of the race.  Lamont was still ill-defined, and Joe plenty of money to take control of the dialogue and the race itself.  All were waiting to see what Joe would do with this stronger than expected challenge.  He choose to cut and run, and not stand and fight.   

Within weeks of this decision the race shifted dramatically.  20 points in some polls, 30 in others.  Shifts of this magnitude can only happen with extraordinary external events.   In this race one of those extraordinary external events happened - a popular and respected Senator had proven that his critics were right - he no longer cared about being a Democrat.  He was going independent, leaving his Party.  And that is the reason this decision to go independent was so fateful.  It reinforced the essential concern Democrats in the state had.  And it was the kind of bad decision that causes even people like Joe Lieberman to lose an election. 

Final thoughts.  Joe Lieberman is my friend, and a mentor of mine.  He is a remarkable man, a good leader and one of the smartest people I know.  It has been personally very painful for me to watch this political trainwreck over the past year.  I offered my advice, weighed in when asked, tried to help, but not suprisingly, there was very little interest from the Senator and his people in what folks like me had to say.  They never really believed it was going to be a race until it was too late.   

While I believe there are larger lessons here for the Party about our passion, our principles, our ideology, the rise of the netroots etc, I think first and foremost the story of the Connecticut race is one of a good man who had lost touch with the people that brought him to office; and the main lesson is that candidates who get too close to Bush and his failed government this fall could pay a terrible price. 

But of course all of us will have more to say about this in the days ahead.  Very interested in your thoughts. 

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