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At a Loss

by: Julia Rosen

Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 11:11:05 AM PDT

Oh Jerry McNerney.  What is to be done with you?  Frankly, I am saddened about this whole thing.  It has been clear that all of our work to create communications channels about your Iraq positioning was for naught.  Many a blog post has been written, warning you to take a strong stance on withdrawing from Iraq or face the loss of the blogosphere's support.  In fact, you heeded our calls to do exactly that.  You were praised here and across the blogosphere.  Finally, it appeared that you were living up to your campaign promises.

But only hours later came this article in the WaPo.  There are so many things wrong with this story and your role in its creation that it is hard to know where to start.  The entire premise of the article is that the Democrats are in disarray.  After all of the work done this summer to divide up the Republicans, we are now undoing all of our gains through these articles.  Repeat with me, "the bloodiest summer yet".  Just check out this lede:

Julia Rosen :: At a Loss
Democratic leaders in Congress had planned to use August recess to raise the heat on Republicans to break with President Bush on the Iraq war. Instead, Democrats have been forced to recalibrate their own message in the face of recent positive signs on the security front, increasingly focusing their criticisms on what those military gains have not achieved: reconciliation among Iraq's diverse political factions.

I am no foreign policy or Iraq expert.  What I can say is that the Democrats are screwing up the messaging in their attempts not to appear against the troops.  But that's what Obama, Edwards and Clinton have been screwing up on.  You take a different tact to blow up the national strategy for Iraq: declare the Republicans reasonable, announce your desire to negotiate with them for a timetable and undercut the Democratic leadership.  It's a trifecta on a day when you appeared to mend fences.

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), who made waves when he returned from Iraq by saying he was willing to be more flexible on troop withdrawal timelines, issued a statement to constituents "setting the record straight."

"I am firmly in favor of withdrawing troops on a timeline that includes both a definite start date and a definite end date," he wrote on his Web site.

But in an interview yesterday, McNerney made clear his views have shifted since returning from Iraq. He said Democrats should be willing to negotiate with the generals in Iraq over just how much more time they might need. And, he said, Democrats should move beyond their confrontational approach, away from tough-minded, partisan withdrawal resolutions, to be more conciliatory with Republicans who might also be looking for a way out of the war.

"We should sit down with Republicans, see what would be acceptable to them to end the war and present it to the president, start negotiating from the beginning," he said, adding, "I don't know what the [Democratic] leadership is thinking. Sometimes they've done things that are beyond me."

Answer me this, what is possibly gained from trying to negotiate with the Republicans about a specific timeline for withdrawal when they are trying to keep the war going on indefinitely?  Negotiating over a specific timetable can and will occur when we have enough votes for a timetable in the first place.  We don't have that yet.  What exactly do you mean Jerry, when you say that we need to stop being partisan about our withdrawal resolutions?  You can't possibly be suggesting that we agree to the "moderate" Republican demands for a non-binding timetable.  What the heck do you think you or the fight to end the war will gain by attacking the Democratic leadership in the Washington Post?  They have bent over backwards to ensure you have an excellent shot to retain your seat, despite the concerted efforts of the Republicans to target you.  I would argue that they have been more timid than I would like in terms of ending this war, not too much.

You were supposed to be our Mr. Smith goes to Washington and be a fighter to end this war, not some squishy person in the middle attacking both sides.  You have listened to what we have to say, but it has done little good.  I am at a loss of what to do.  More talking has clearly not been productive.  I am curious about what the community here thinks should happen.  You seem to have hung our friend Eden out to dry here, but more than that, you tried to pander to us and then undermined the entire movement to end the war.  This one hurts and I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that there must be consequences.

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At a Loss | 40 comments
It's just naive (0.00 / 0)
You're just not going to find more than three Republicans willing to end the war in less than 3 years.

The WaPo Comment (0.00 / 0)
Was vague and relatively inconsistent with what he said earlier in the day. So, what is it?

I think we are still at the point where Republicans need to come to us, not vice versa.  Approximately 60% of Americans want a timetable. If Republicans want to talk about what the date will be, but, for me, without a binding timetable there is no negotiation.

I think?

More timid (0.00 / 0)
Exactly.  It is SO frustrating to see our Congressional leadership steering a more moderate course than a lot of people would like, but still messaging like hell to get the broader public on our side, and then have one of the supposed beneficiaries of this moderate course turn around and embrace the opposition. 

Jerry: Pelosi and company aren't avoiding the really tough votes for their own health. They're doing it because if Democrats lose people like you in the next election, and put a lock-step, intellectually infantile Republican majority back in charge, we're going to be in a lot worse situation than we are now.  With a republican majority in charge, we're never, ever going to see an end or even conditions on the spigot of money AND LIVES the U.S. is pouring into Iraq. 

So:  Maybe violence is down (but remember, "bloodiest summer") but do you really believe that a short term reprieve in violence, which we've seen before, is going to magically cause Iraq to right itself?  If so, why hasn't it already happened?  Why is the political situation getting worse?

Right now, the war debate is political messaging and posturing, sadly.  Don't go handing sound-bite victories to Republicans.  It's setting back the longer-term goal, a goal which your allies and your leadership are fighting dearly for while trying to keep you in office. 

I don't understand this. (8.00 / 1)
McNerney is all over the place on this. He claims to support firm deadlines for withdrawal, but then puts it up to negotiation with a Republican Party that has shown zero interest in this? I worry that he might just be overly impressionable, if he comes back from the Potemkin Village show he likely saw in Iraq and thinks that anything other than a firm stand against the war and Pelosi's efforts to that end will work.

There is a shift among not just the netroots, but among the Democratic base. You're seeing it in the open forums, the public questions at debates, in polls, in town halls, in everyday conversations. Rank and file Democrats are fed up with bad political leadership, a failure to aggressively pursue our policy agenda, and an unwillingness to fight Bush.

McNerney knew how to successfully ride the wave in 2006 - but if he keeps this up he's going to be on the wrong end of another wave, and soon.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

I'm over it (7.00 / 3)
I've heard a lot over the past 3 years about Jerry McNerney voting his conscience and being motivated by principle.  I don't doubt that.  But it's become clear over the past several months that whatever conscience and whatever principles are guiding him, I just don't understand them.  It's not a criticism or a complaint necessarily, closer to a lamentation. I wish it were different. But I'm to the point where, for me at least, Jerry McNerney holds no particular distinction among  his Congressional colleagues.  He's better than a Republican and certainly miles better than Richard Pombo, but I derive no particular optimism about the course of this country from having him in Congress.  I may worry less without Richard Pombo, but I don't dream any higher with Jerry McNerney.

A smart man once told me the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference.  And it is what it is.

The (0.00 / 0)
practical question is of course, does he come off the Calitics ActBlue page?  Thoughts?

[ Parent ]
I think (0.00 / 0)
We start from scratch. If someone wants to nominate him, he can be considered by the same standards as any other candidate.

[ Parent ]
Refunds (8.00 / 1)
Personally I wish ActBlue would give refunds for defective goods.

My opinion - rip him off the ActBlue page.  He is either incompetent in his messaging or he has violated a campaign promise and has let down not only the people who helped him win, but the vast majority of the country.  In either case, he does not deserve to be rewarded with more money from us. 

Maybe in the end he'll vindicate himself.  But I think he needs to be in the doghouse for a while after that stunt.

[ Parent ]
what FaceBook just asked me (0.00 / 0)
Remove group membership?
You are attempting to remove yourself from a group for which you are the only administrator. You will not be able to get these privileges back. The administrator position will be offered to other people who are currently in your group.

Are you sure you want to remove your membership from Proud of Jerry McNerney?

Twitter: @BobBrigham

Bob, pride is fleeting, disappointment endures... (7.00 / 3)
Just sayin'

[ Parent ]
First of all (4.40 / 5)
Jonathan Weisman is not a reporter who wins awards for doing Democrats any favors.

Weisman's basic position is that if he perceives divisions behind the scenes in the Democratic Party, especially in the leadership of our Congressional delegation, then he's going to write a story that reflects that.  With Steny Hoyer's leadership/stewardship being what it is...Weisman will ALWAYS have material to work with.

Second, Congressman McNerney wants to bring our troops home from Iraq.  He's voted against permanent bases and FOR withdrawal with a date certain.  In this, he is more or less in much the same position as other folks in the class of '06:  Chris Murphy, Tim Walz, Joe Sestak, Jim Webb, Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill. These folks were elected to end the US occupation of Iraq and they all know it. We helped elect them.

The current battle over the particulars of what Jerry has said/been quoted by Weisman is a tempest in a teapot when compared to the political reality we face as Democrats in August/September of '06 facing this war:

-we need unified leadership in the Democratic caucus (that includes folks like Hoyer and, yes, Murtha)
-we need a unified voice from our freshman class of electeds
-we need to pull GOP votes to our side and pass legislation that starts bringing our troops home now

In effect, that's what Jerry told the Washington Post. Why is he being hung out to dry?

My challenge to the netroots is this.  Are we going to help Congressman McNerney do the right thing or are we going to retreat to our silos and complain?  I think the Front Page posts at dailyKos were deeply irresponsible and did none of us any favors.

I'm tired of the whining already. If we want a politician to do the right thing, we have to HELP THEM do it. Expressing disappointment is "nice" but I don't see things that way.

We in the netroots have the privilege of speaking in public as the face of the thousands of folks who don't have the time or energy to blog, folks who gave tens of thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of hours in service to defeating Richard Pombo and electing Jerry McNerney. The vast majority of that energy was motivated by a firm desire to end the occupation of Iraq.

I do not believe for ONE SECOND that Jerry McNerney isn't for what he's said he was for all along: removing our troops from Iraq in a responsible fashion starting now and with a date certain end point.

I think quibbling over what Jonathan Weisman chooses to print in the WaPo is a WASTE OF TIME and a distraction.  I've spoken to Weisman on the phone and interacted with him in emails. He sees his job as pointing up dissension among Democrats. Why are folks giving him the privilege of the benefit of the doubt? He's not doing us any favors. If anything, he's allowing Steny Hoyer's office a chance to play the netroots.  That's the real story here.

Our job is to help Jerry and every last Democrat do the right thing. That's the paradigm we are building here. That's the movement we started. Our support must mean follow through and the perseverance to wade through tough times.

At the end of the day, there will be a chance, and soon, for Jerry to cast a meaningful vote of consequence on withdrawal from Iraq.  Let's help him join with the entire freshman class of Democrats and a coterie of GOP electeds to do just that.

That's what this is about, period. That's the big picture.  Jonathan Weisman won't write about that.

We should.


Here is the thing (5.80 / 5)
We know that writers like Weisman are out to sow dissent in the Democratic ranks.  Jerry should have been prepped so that he would ensure that he would not feed into that narrative with this reporter, particularly on a day when he was working on shoring up his relationship with the netroots.  Instead the opposite happened.

I would argue that Jerry directly undermined the Democratic leadership by expressing dismay with their performance, and saying they were being too partisan instead of working to end the war.  Jerry most certainly did not do any favors in terms of having a unified voice for the Democrats let alone the freshman.  Yes, we need to pull GOP votes to our side, but that is not the job of a freshman legislator with no previous legislative experience.

My issue is that I have been working to help Jerry do the right thing.  I have used back channels to his staff at the highest levels.  I have deliberately written my pieces to encourage discussion not a flame war.  It has not worked.  He continues to give these damaging quotes to the press.  The carrot has not worked and I am leaving open the question of using the stick.

[ Parent ]
Rookie mistakes... (7.00 / 3)
It sounds like the Congressman and his staff need to sit down and figure out exactely where he stands, and what his messaging strategy is going to be, rather than ping ponging back and forth.  I'm sure he is going to get a lecture about that next time he sees any Dem leadership, but in the meantime he needs to sit down with his staff and develop a single, coherent message.  Ideally one which is in keeping with his past votes, unless he really has fundamentally changed his stance on the war, in which case his letter to supporters was misleading.  As it is, he seems to be coming dangerously close to saying one thing in DC and another in CA. 

[ Parent ]
Jerry has done the right thing (6.00 / 2)
with the exception of McGovern:

H. Con. Res. 63:  Yes
H.R. 1591 initial: Yes
H.R. 1591 softened: Yes
H.R. 1591 veto override: Yes
H.R. 2206 initial: Yes
H.R. 2206 Senate-weakened amendment: No

On top of which he's done these things for his district:

HR, 2304, the Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007 - Authored and incorporated into the recent House Energy bill, HR 2776, which passed the House.

HR 700, the Healthy Communities Water Supply Act of 2007 - Authored and the House passed

HR 2201, Caring for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 2007 - Authored and incorporated into HR 2199, which passed the House

Successfully fought for nearly $40 million in environmental restoration and water infrastructure projects for California's 11th Congressional District

Forgive me for respectfully disagreeing that highlighting the Weisman interview is the focus we should have re: Congressman McNerney in the netroots. We should instead be  making sure that the Democratic Party marshalls his legislation through the Senate and onto the desk of the President. That means getting the CA delegation and our Senators to go to bat for Jerry.

Jerry will vote the right way on Iraq to the extent that the freshman class of Democrats unifies to vote the right way on Iraq. Jerry is right in one sense, we need to pull GOP defectors to join that group of Democrats. Singling Jerry out for awkwardnesses in that interview, as Weisman did, and which the Front Page of DailyKos then bought into hook line and sinker, is bad politics, imo.

What is the story here with that Weisman piece? Really?

Is it about dissension among the netroots? Yep. Is it about portraying us in the netroots/grassroots as inflexible firebrands who eat our own? Yep. 

When that happens, Steny Hoyer wins. That's why he feeds Weisman this crap.

We are about something bigger than that. When push comes to shove, Jerry McNerney will do the right thing. But we need to work to make that so. We need to keep our eyes on the prize.


[ Parent ]
The issue (6.50 / 2)
is message discipline on the one issue that dwarfs all others.  This has little to do with the netroots, ego or individual votes.  I could give a crap about that right now.  I want our troops home ASAP and Jerry brought us a step backwards with his comments.

McNerney argues in one of the nations largest papers that the Democratic strategy on Iraq is wrong, that we are playing politics instead of ending the war.  This, at a time when we were actually making progress at pulling Republicans off is extremely damaging.  Look at the $15 million ad campaign by Freedom's Watch.  They would not be doing that if our strategy of peeling off Republicans was not working. 

This is a long fight, one that will require many votes.  We need to ensure that we are moving forward in a coordinated, strategic manner.  There is a great left-wing strategy for ending the war in Iraq.  Jerry being off on his own, undercutting that strategy, slows things down.  I don't doubt that Jerry will vote the right way.  I don't support primarying him.  What I do want is for him to get the message that his comments were damaging to the effort to end the war and that I am reluctant to support him because of it.  That was not the case the first time he did this, but previous communication has not had the desired effect, thus this post.

Ironically, Tauscher gets this where Jerry does not.  Like Kagro, I could have never predicted this several months ago.

[ Parent ]
That's a mischaracterization (5.00 / 2)
Jerry argued on Dailykos for his true position. It's consistent with the votes I linked to above.

You linked to it and supported him.

He was interviewed by a dissension-sowing reporter from the WaPo and put into that reporter's frame. You disagree with that frame AND with Jerry's quotes.  Fair enough.

However, when you write

Ironically, Tauscher gets this where Jerry does not. Like Kagro, I could have never predicted this several months ago.

I am left scratching my head. Seriously.

On the basis of one Weisman WaPo interview filtered to write a "Dems in Disarray" story you are telling us that Tauscher "get's it" and Jerry doesn't?  Did I really read that?

Especially after Jerry just wrote a diary on DailyKos articulating exactly what his views are? ie. Speaking to the netroots?

I'll be frank, I read Kargo and Meteor Blades in those threads and thought to myself: "Message discipline applies to politicians, but apparently not to us in the netroots."

Those posts will impact netroots dollars and boots on the ground in the fall of '08...without a doubt.

However, we all know that Jerry wants to end this occupation.  We all know that he will vote the right way on the legislation that matters in that regard.

Knowing that, do we have any responsibility to have message discipline of our own?

Do we have any responsibility to the tens of thousands of volunteers and donors who read what we write online and look to us for leadership on what to do come election season?

Respectfully, I do not believe that Tauscher "get's it" and Jerry "doesn't"...and I'm definitely not going to take Jonathan Weisman's word for it. 


[ Parent ]
So what are we supposed to say? (4.00 / 1)
Listen to Jerry when he talks to DailyKos but not when he talks to the Washington Post? He only really means what he says when he says what he means?

The best intentions are great and the votes are the most important part.  But he wasn't misquoted no matter what the agenda of the article was, and it's not just an issue of what people who read blogs think.  You know better than a lot of people here that blogs only reach so far.  What do I say tomorrow when I talk to someone who reads the Post but doesn't read blogs?  The netroots obviously can't get into "I know he said that, but what he really means is..." territory.

It's not hard to predict the conversation on this-  What is this quote about Democrats not knowing how to end the war?  Isn't that why I voted for a Democrat?/ Well, you have to look at his voting record and what he said over here on this blog./ Well, I don't know about blogs, but I know about Americans coming home in wooden boxes and Democrats admitting they don't know how to stop it./

Is that fair to Jerry McNerney or to the Democratic Party? Not particularly. But does fair matter? Not particularly.  So what reaction should there be that's better?

[ Parent ]
The "it" (0.00 / 0)
is message discipline and how the failure to do so means that quotes get twisted by the media and the White House.

Jerry's position on the war is that he wants timetables.  That is not in question here.  The topic is how best to end the war and get to a point where we can pass legislation that includes timetables.  More delays mean more people die.  Repeatedly Jerry has shown that he will say things to the media that are damaging to the campaign to end the war.  That is a major problem for me.  It has lead me to say here that we may need to withdraw our decision to place Jerry on our ActBlue page and look to more actively support other candidates.  I agree with Lucas, that if we were to do that it should be open for his re-addition.

My message is that we need to encourage our legislators to keep the pressure on the Republicans.  We need to not fall for this "surge is working" crap.  Repeatedly falling into the Republican's messaging trap is unacceptable.

[ Parent ]
There's an unfair impatience, yes (5.67 / 3)
But there's a breakdown on both sides.  Activists online and off have a tendency (sometimes slight, sometimes pronounced) to be more focused on the end goal than on the process.  That's fine in itself, and is probably inseparable from the nature of activism.  But I rarely see a sincere explanation from elected officials of how an intermediary step fits into the larger goal.  To me, the disinclination of members of the grass and net roots to trust their leadership implicitly is well founded.  For elected officials to not take it into consideration is a disconnect in itself.

So if we're all on the same team working towards the same ends, that's fantastic and quite frankly, I don't have much (if any) reason to doubt that.  However, we don't have the Jerry McNerney playbook in whatever shape or form it might exist.  It's tough to run a coordinated blocking scheme if you don't know what play is being run.

[ Parent ]
Thank You k/o (8.00 / 1)
Excellent perspective on what actually just happened.  This is my take-away from your comment (repeated here for emphasis):

"The current battle over the particulars of what Jerry has said/been quoted by Weisman is a tempest in a teapot when compared to the political reality we face as Democrats in August/September of '06 facing this war:

  "-we need unified leadership in the Democratic caucus (that includes folks like Hoyer and, yes, Murtha)
  "-we need a unified voice from our freshman class of electeds
  "-we need to pull GOP votes to our side and pass legislation that starts bringing our troops home now

"In effect, that's what Jerry told the Washington Post. Why is he being hung out to dry?"

Guess I still have San Francisco hippie values, although I'm an engineer

[ Parent ]
Where did (4.00 / 1)
Jerry say anything about unity or leadership, other than to attack it?  He said:

"We should sit down with Republicans, see what would be acceptable to them to end the war and present it to the president, start negotiating from the beginning," he said, adding, "I don't know what the [Democratic] leadership is thinking. Sometimes they've done things that are beyond me."

Let's parse this shall we...

According to Jerry the Democratic leadership is making big mistakes, ones that he can't understand.  That comes across as Pelosi and Reid being illogical, and dumb.  His use of the word "acceptable" totally puts the burden on the Republicans to determine the method by which we end the war in Iraq.  It implies that they know best and if we are just nice enough and bend over backwards, those smart Republicans will end the war.  That is an incredibly weak frame.  He implies that the president will be amenable to agreeing to a withdrawal, even though he has been very clear that he is not willing to entertain the notion.  Bush calls that "defeat" and it just isn't going to happen on his watch unless we get enough support to override his veot.  McNerney comes across as naive with that statement and it is harmful to Democratic unity.

[ Parent ]
You are ignoring Steny Hoyer. (5.00 / 2)
Who do you think is the roadblock here? Who do you think told the WaPo, in another Jonathan Weisman piece, that the Dems had already caved on a timeline?

I am pretty stunned that you let Hoyer and Weisman off the hook.

Jerry McNerney voted against FISA and for overriding Bush's veto. He was for resubmitting H.R. 1591. He would have gone down that path. He will vote for whatever meaningful resolution that Democrats rally around that gets troops to start coming home from Iraq...just like Tim Walz or Joe Sestak or Claire McCaskill will.

I don't get your stance. I don't get the standard Jerry is being held to. I don't get why folks are isolating him and separating him from the entire freshman class of Democrats with whom he pretty much agrees and, compared to whom, Jerry's got a darn good voting record.

Vis a vis the accuracy of Jerry's statements...are you disappointed in the Democratic Leadership and somewhat mystified with how they've conducted themselves? I know that I am. Are you looking to pull GOP support to our side by negotiating with them like Jerry is talking about? I know that I am.

I'm certainly not going to threaten to withhold my support from Jerry based on a Jonathan Weisman interview w/o calling the Congressman's office first.

I did that this AM and got what, to me, was a satisfactory and consistent response on the war and Jerry's record.  I've conveyed that here on Calitics today and will keep conveying it in the netroots.


[ Parent ]
I can't (0.00 / 0)
do anything about Steny Hoyer.  There is little I can do to express my frustration that Pelosi/Reid use all their gunpowder to end this thing right away.  What I can do is influence our friend Jerry McNerney.  I know he is paying attention and I know he needs us, thus we have leverage to improve his interaction with the press.

No, I don't want to negotiate with the Republicans right now.  I want to stop saying the surge is working.  I want to get more Republicans to agree that a hard time table is needed in the first place.  We cannot begin to negotiate over the exact length of it with the Republicans and generals until we have enough votes to actually pass it.  We don't get more votes in Congress by appearing weak or divided.  That just reinforces the status quo.

[ Parent ]
I Sympathize 100% With Your Sense of Frustration (6.50 / 2)
As witness my Ebola Virus snark.

But KO is making good points.  So the question becomes, isn't there some way for you to be more effective by stepping outside the box you feel yourself constrained within?

What I'm talking about is something in the way of collaborative action, along the lines of what's happening with the Bush Dog campaign, which is only just starting to get off the ground.

McNerney is not the same as those who have actively been voting wrong, as KO points out.  But he is problematic for us, he is from a swing district and our challenge is--rather than flailing around with retail attempts to straighten these folks out--to find an effective wholesale strategy to influence, persuade and educate them.

One thing that I think we should seriously consider, for example, is fielding a poll--much like MyDD did--that can yield us important information that we can use to lobby and pressure Dems in marginal districts.  If we field a national swing district poll, similar in scope to the recently-released Democracy Corps poll but with our own carefully-crafted question set--again see the MyDD example--I think that we can generate some extremely useful ammo for making our arguments.  What's more, simply by fielding a poll ourselves, we start to alter their perception of us.

I know this can seem like an enormous distraction of your energy.  But if we had just one netroots activist from each of those battleground districts, that would be 70 activists.  Collectively, the sort of work that such a group could do would be utterly amazing.  We could do advanced press work before the poll is released that would make it highly attractive to local political reporters.  That's the beauty part.  For this kind of work, we don't need to kiss the national media's ass.

We do the poll, we assemble the data, then, in all 70 districts, we pull together a group of local activists and experts whose knowledge and activitism ties into points that emerge from the polls, and put together press conferencs in all 70 districts on the same day, and combine that with a national teleconference or webcast, and that's something that will get serious attention.

Yes, it's a lot of work.  But you know quite well that you're going to do a lot of work anyway.  It's who you are.  So, the question is, are you going to do something like this--a laterally-organized collective effort working with others like you in other, similar districts, or are you going to let yourself be limited by the options they hand you?

Let me be clear.  Although I'm a strong advocate of the power of using polls as I've just described above, it is meant primarily as a for-instance.

If you've got another vision that can accomplish the same sort of thing, unifying activists like yourself across swing districts to create a more powerful and influential voice, then I'm all ears to hear it,  The more ideas we can come up with the better.

[ Parent ]
MoveOn a poll (0.00 / 0)
In early March.  Or I think it was MoveOn who commissioned it, but it was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.  I have a non-electronic copy, but you might ask someone from MoveOn if they can share. 

It's actually a good poll, with some subtle questioning about swing districts, broken down by rural, suburban and ex-urban (CA-11).  The basic conclusion was that in early March, Democrats had momentum on the war, Republican swing district voters disapproved of the war and Bush as much as their Dem counterparts did, and the time should have been right. 

If the numbers were to be believed, about 15 republicans and all swing Dems should have voted for the withdrawal in order to save their own asses back home.  But, they didn't.  Their leadership got them to stand strong, and it is probably going to work out for them.  You'll need to do another similar poll in October to see where things stand again. 

[ Parent ]
Right (0.00 / 0)
This was a good start.  But the MyDD poll had a more sophisticated methodology, and using that in a focused manner could provide a lot more mileage for us.  I'm working on a post to expand this idea, that I'll be posting at OpenLeft, and cross-posting here.

[ Parent ]
But (0.00 / 0)
You're (I think mistakenly) dismissing the significance of having those comments appear in print.  Now, you or I may not give much credence to Weisman, but you can't write off the impact those comments will have in the wider debate over the war. 

Just because a lot of the netroots don't buy into the WaPo or other big media doesn't mean it isn't very important.  So while you can dismiss it, and say "Well, it doesn't matter, we already know Weisman is a sneaky rat," that fact is more people and other media sources get their information from that article than they do from Calitics.  So it ends up being adding a new meme to the national debate on ending the war, and the relative merits of Democrats and Republicans on the issue. 

And while I don't think that this comment justifies kicking him off the team, I think the frustration that people here are trying to articulate is the netroots put a huge effort into not just McNerney, but into other candidates, a democratic majority, and ending the war.  And to have one of their own make comments in widely distributed and respected forum which are perceived to undercut that work... well thats hard to swallow. 

As for him generally voting right, I absolutely agree, he's got a great record, one which should stand up well next election.  But, he's not going to be quoted on FISA, or SCHIP, or renewable energy.  He's going be quoted on Iraq, and I guarantee that the NRCC and local Reeps attack him on it next election, and the less disciplined his messaging is, the better those attacks will stick.

[ Parent ]
You're forgetting (0.00 / 0)
The netroots didn't elect Steny Hoyer.  The netroots elected people like Jerry McNerney in many ways as the first wave of a counterbalance to the Steny Hoyers of the world. Presumably unintentional though it was, McNerney as you rightly point out ultimately enabled Hoyer instead of providing a check.  Thus frustration.

[ Parent ]
Speaking dead honestly (5.25 / 4)
I don't know what McNerney's staff in DC is thinking or doing.  It seems like he's walking into these interviews completely unprepared not only on what to say, but also completely unprepared concerning the motives of the author writing it.

Agreed (5.67 / 3)
Having seen the inside of a DC Congressional office, I'll admit that this messaging stuff is tough, but they really need to sit down and think hard about this. 

[ Parent ]
one downside of the netroots, however (5.00 / 5)
is that we ruthlessly focus on the press and the cable media. It's always a big deal for us for someone to misspeak in the press.

That's not what the voters pay attention to, though.

I don't think that is what the '08 campaign will be about.

I think the netroots has a decision to make about how we partner to make change.

I am very interested in us finding and fielding candidates who truly represent the values of those who take the field to volunteer for them and donate money to their campaigns.

In one sense, we need to ruthlessly look for future leaders to invest in...future Jerry McNerney's who we can build relationships of trust with. Whom we can teach how to craft a consistent, powerful progressive message.

In another sense, we need to resolve what I see as a dysfunctional dynamic emerging inside the netroots world. We are building a coalition to effect change and impact legislation. Jerry, like any politician, will not perfectly represent our ethos and world view. What matters, ultimately, is how he votes and the strength of the relationship we build with him.

If we buy into a completely adversarial relationship with McNerney because of an interview he gave or his failure to perfectly execute our agenda...we give the media, the right wing and those who oppose us in the Democratic Party fodder to sow dissension among our ranks.

Jerry's job is to represent the voters of CA-11. How can we build in-district and out-of-district partnerships to help Jerry do that in the most progressive manner possible? How can we live up to our grassroots values.

I think we've only just begun to do this. I think, respectfully, that an overly adversarial dynamic does not help us to this longer term work.

At the end of the day, Jerry's votes should represent the people who turn out to vote for him in CA-11. Their passions and their concerns.

We should help him do that.


[ Parent ]
It is not about the voters in the least. (6.50 / 2)
It is about the friggen legislators.  The Republicans need to feel the heat.  They need to feel pressure to come to the light, we cannot let up.  They need to vote against this war.  This is not about winning elections.  This isn't about finding future leaders.  This isn't about the future of the blogosphere.  This isn't about building partnerships.  This is a campaign to end the war in Iraq.  That campaign is damaged when our spokespeople say we are not doing the right thing and we should be nicer to our opponents.

Perhaps it is my background in campaign work, where message discipline is revered, but the failure of folks here to understand the importance of that is maddening to me right now.  We have preached this for years as part of the blogosphere's major tenants.  Democrats need to stand strong and united.  That means we bash them when they stray and praise them when they do right, which is exactly what happened with Tascher and McNerney today.

[ Parent ]
I agree with that completely (0.00 / 0)
I don't understand why people want to turn this into an antagonistic thing because Jerry's heart is still in the right place, but it just seems like he's a greenhorn when it comes to dealing with adversarial media.

[ Parent ]
I agree to an extent (0.00 / 0)
What I'm getting from this (at least at Calitics) is frustration that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

[ Parent ]
Plus, Obama's A Bad Influence (0.00 / 0)
Seriously, he seems to be (unconsciously, quite likely) taking Obama as a role model, trying to be all meta and above it, instant DC wise man style.

I really think that neither Obama's supporters nor his detractors have really grasped how terribly destructive that example has been.  It really has set a tone for a lot of newly-elected Democrats.  Not Jim Webb, thankfully.  But a lot of others.

And Obama--as his supporters never tire of reminding us--is no novice in the world of politics.

[ Parent ]
We Need A National Structure & Organizing Campaign (0.00 / 0)
I think it's obvious that we have a new national phenomena to deal with.  It's not just about electing these people (oh, yeah, not to mention recruiting them in the first place), it's about helping them to govern in a manner consistent with why we supported them in the first place.

Almost all of those we are dealing with are from swing districts, so this means developing a focus on such districts, and developing shared strategies and resources, and working together on shared campaigns.

Above, I suggested to Julia the idea of fielding a national swing district poll, similar to what MyDD previously did, and then doing press conferences in 70 districts nationwide to present and discuss the results, partnering with local activists and experts in those press conferences.

But that's only one possibility.  I'm sure there are many others that people can come up with.  The point is, if we devote just a portion of the energy we have out of our anger and frustration into a prospective, pro-active strategy, rather than gnashing our teeth after the fact, we stand a hell of a lot better chance of being effective.

[ Parent ]
He's not an Expert (5.33 / 3)
Jerry was never a politician, and we knew that when we hopped on the bandwagon. And sure, that makes for a great story. But at some point we have to be willing to endure the bumps that are almost necessarily entwined with that. You take the good, you have to be willing to take the bad.

I think perhaps the Congressman would be well-advised to know who he's talking to a little bit better. And perhaps he should work with the leadership to provide his opinions in private before airing them on the front page of the Post.

But, I'm still not prepared to jump off the bandwagon quite yet.

I think?

Agreed (0.00 / 0)
This is always going to be an issue, and it's the price you pay for having an interesting, non-politician candidate.  Someone who wasn't a politician and suddenly thrown into the very bright spotlight is always going to make messaging gaffs, thats life. 

But, as I'm sure he realizes, this is the business he's in and he needs to get up to speed as quickly as possible.  And sometimes, sadly, that means holding back some of your thoughts, or not giving vent to frustrations you might be feeling.  Particularly, making comments on a national stage that are going to be used against you and your party is a serious error, when I know there are extensive lists of talking points available to him. 

[ Parent ]
Let's Negotiate With The Ebola Virus! (8.00 / 3)
I'm sure we could come up with a reasonable plan that even the bubonic plague would be reluctant to veto.

sometimes there's a reason candidates aren't qualified (4.00 / 1)
jerry may be an example of what happens when you take a not ready for prime time player and stick him in the spotlight. clearly he's becoming part of the groupthink on iraq, and is buying into the fake "progress" we're making.

frankly, if a "surge" was necessary to "win" (whatever winning means) why the HELL didn't we have the troops BACK IN 2003 WHEN THE FRAKKING WAR STARTED?

Democrats should be pounding the Administration for screwing this war up by doing it on the cheap, and givine billions to Halliburton. Instead they are playing nice with the GOP. And we all know how well that works (See 1994, see 2000, see the Bush Administration).

yay Jerry. I guess he like most liberals think blogs and the netroots are an ATM machine that "owes" him support!


At a Loss | 40 comments
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