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27 months ago Chris Bowers issued his famous 80 district challenge to the DCCC. At this point he hadn't begun to do the fundraising math -- but he apparently assumed we could take out GOP incumbents, in ordinary years, in 55% Red districts, by dint of "full-frontal assault". (Or at least he assumed we could do this cycle after cycle throughout the Kerry presidency.)

19 months ago Stu Rothenberg cited this challenge in a well-reasoned tutorial rant, noting two bloggers in particular for their "clueless" political naivete. [Subscription-only Roll Call; link is to RedState, and let any copyright grief be on their heads.]

This month Markos has taken to citing Rothenberg over and
over and
over and
over and
over as ironic evidence that the DC establishment is clueless. Does Kos's evidence support Kos's claim? Or just the opposite? Take a closer look.

This month selected GOP incumbents are getting struck by lightning, and the rest are dog-paddling through a mounting anti-Republican groundswell.

Did these conditions exist when Bowers framed his challenge? No. Was it predictable that they would? No. Are they likely to recur? Yes -- about twice a lifetime, but not cycle after cycle.

Did bloggers create them? Bowers seems to think so, as if we created Katrina ... Dubai Ports ... gas prices ... Abu Ghraib ... NSA eavesdropping ... Korean nukes ... or Mark Foley. As if.

Collectively, we've inspired volunteers, brought along a couple viable candidates, and -- pertinent to the 80-district challenge -- we've raised about enough cash to fuel one major House race, or a couple of lower-profile, cheaper media market contests. (We can't tell how much of this money would have found its way to the campaigns without us.)

We hope Bowers has acquired a clue or two since he wrote what he wrote. Developments in the interim neither prove not disprove his case. But Rothenberg was informed, insightful ... even prescient! In an impressive display of situational awareness, he writes (same piece):

... there have been cycles ... where the DCCC showered money on second- and third-tier contests that it hoped would develop during a political wave ... DCCC would be thrilled to come up with 80 competitive races for 2006 ... if Democrats get the political version of a tsunami ... I'm sure they will.

Exactly as it has happened.

As to clueless bloggers, Rothenberg reminds us of 2004 results for dailyKos funding favorites ("Newberry drew 28 percent ... Seeman hauled in 33 ... Konop topped the trio, taking 41") and full-frontal, funded races in districts targeted by Bowers ("Don Barbieri got hammered by almost 20 points in an open-seat contest. ... Neugebauer smashed [our best] by 18 ... Garrett [won] by more than 16").

Is Rothenberg right that "Democrats would not hold even a single additional seat had they put a name on the ballot in every district during the past two cycles"? So it seems. No cluelessness there.

Mercifully, he refrains from mention of the Ginny Schrader debacle. Lightning did strike in 2004. We suddenly faced an open seat in a swing district, and DCCC wanted a few days to recruit a viable standard-bearer. Certain bloggers worked themselves into a collective hissy-fit, asserting squatters rights for a "people powered" disaster of a candidate. We threw away a pick-up opportunity, and now we're struggling to oust a settled incumbent. (Inexplicably, some still celebrate the anniversary of this pyhrric victory as "Blogosphere Day".)

Clueless? Not Rothenberg, who saw and described the possible futures. He described precisely how we could and would and in fact DID respond to one of them.

Bowers posed a fixed strategy for variable circumstances, and hadn't even worked out the implications of that one. As progenitor of the Contest Every District movement, I have mixed sympathies and not a little embarrassment.

And Markos repeatedly cites an instance that refutes his claim, confident no readers will click enough links to find him out. That may be worse than clueless.

Originally posted to RonK Seattle on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 04:56 PM PDT.


Clueless? Who's clueless?

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| 45 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Point taken (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Yes, Chris probably would've been a bit more off the mark had things not started sliding downhill quickly, beginning with Katrina. That being said, it was only a matter of time before the GOP's incompetence caught up with them. And the strategy itself was a good idea. Perhaps the thought that we would take over the House was a bit gaudy, but nevertheless, the strategy behind it was sound.

    Deny My Freedom
    "Inconvenient truths do not go away just because they are not seen." -Al Gore

    by PsiFighter37 on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 04:59:57 PM PDT

  •  Hard to pick just one of the options... (0+ / 0-)

    ...on your poll.

  •  As is often the case, you're interesting and most (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bumblebums, vcmvo2

    of all, provocative.  And I think you're not wrong about a lot of what you say.  At the same time, I just looked back at what Markos wrote about Ginny Schrader, and while I honestly know nothing about Schrader herself, I think it's really interesting to read through what he wrote chronologically.  There was a clear learning process there.  Maybe he didn't learn all the available lessons, or the ones you think are most important, but there was movement there.

    As well, I think if you look at the choices for the netroots list this time, they did learn several of the lessons you think should be drawn out of several debacles (as I think you correctly term them) among the candidates supported by blogs in 2004.  And that's worth noting.

    My point here is kind of tangential to yours, and probably not something you're particularly interested in.  But as a case study of a political learning process, I'd argue that the differences in the choices made for the Kos Dozen in 2004 and the netroots list in 2006 is worth looking at.

    •  Yes, our children is learning ... (0+ / 0-)
      ... and there's much else to discuss, especially after the current cycle, but that's not the point of this diary.

      Kos is front-paging nonmeritorious personal claims by presenting some excerpts totally out of context, and burying others. (Some people think that's about all there is to political activism ... but maybe they can eventually learn their way out of it.)

      None Dare Call It Stupid!

      by RonK Seattle on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 05:18:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Several points: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MattR, vcmvo2, clammyc

    First, Bowers - and everybody else - knew there was a high chance of a Dem wave in 2006 and that 2006 would not be a normal year. In the past swings over 40 have been downright routine in these 6th year election. So whatever the case, we should have been planning for a very wide contest and jumped on any contest with a strong candidate and some momentum. It's not acceptable for candidates who had already been within the MOE for some time to get added to "Red to Blue" 11 days before the election. Most of those races should have gotten a 100K infusion three months ago.

    Second, we are seeing a big partybuilding aspect to these challenges. We have a number of challengers doing much better the second time around - Busby and McNerney are in my neighborhood but there are many others around the country. Even when another candidate runs the second time we can get a big effect - look how competitive Wulsin has been in OH-2. I think you can put that at the feet of the grassroots campaign for Hackett. Look at how IL-06 changed with Cegelis' earlier campaign. Strong grassroots campaigns change landscapes, permanently.

    Third, we are fortunate to have had the 50-state campaign and so in many places like Idaho and Nebraska at least somebody in the party had the sense to put some basic infrastructure in place. It's a real pity Rahm hadn't the foresight to get a few "nosepickers" out there this summer. His caution will cost us big, whatever happens. I honestly expect we could have taken 10 more seats if we had planned for a good broad campaign all along. (We'll argue that out in the postmortem, not now.)

    Basically I think Bowers was right to start with - we should be working any vaguely competitive district, just for the long term benefits. And by the beginning of 2006, it was clear we had a real good chance for a big shift and should have been planning a broad campaign for short-term purposes too.

  •  Had the recruitment of (6+ / 0-)

    candidates based on the "contest every seat" ideal NOT happened, we would have been in no position (at all) to take advantage of events as they transpired.

    The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

    by RedDan on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 05:29:18 PM PDT

    •  Yes. I think people get caught up (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vcmvo2, curtadams

      in picking one side or the other and going with it all the way.  Now, partly I think this because I'm an inveterate mediator and generally want everyone to be able to have their cake and eat it too.

      But I think in this case it's fair to try to pick a point somewhere in the middle.  

      Bowers was right insofar as without working on having a lot of candidates, right now it would be impossible for us to be where we are, but we should understand that where we are now is also a product of circumstances outside our control.  

      The people who think the DCCC should be forking over hundreds of thousands of dollars to their candidate who's only raised $50,000 on his own need to get over that notion.  And we should acknowledge that Markos, Bowers, et al seem to have learned some of those lessons, probably from the very things RonK is attacking them for doing in 2004.

      Rothenberg appears to have been nastier than he needed to be, and now Markos is being nastier than he needs to be - both are working to their own political purposes and there's some rhetoric involved, but nothing I personally expect to lose sleep over.

  •  So is Contest every district (0+ / 0-)

    different from Bowers' strategy? Isn't this a vindication of the people-powered strategy versus the DLC electability/ blue state strategy?

    I guess what I'm asking is when the lightening strike did indeed take place starting with Katrina, continuing with the Iraq War and then  blasting into the Foley scandal, wasn't it the 50 State strategy that propelled us forward? Put us in a position to crest the tsunami that noone really saw coming?

    Isn't the grudge match really because without the internet who would have pushed Bush's failures and scandals forward? It certainly wouldn't have been the traditional media! And to the DCCC didn't contesting every district look stupid? Didn't they mock that as being way out there and unrealistic?

    In fact without that pie in the sky attitude when Bush and the repubs suddenly became vulnerable the Dems would have been caught flat-footed without the experience of running failed grassroots candidates.
    I think that that is what kos is niggling Rothenberger about...

    Let us resolve to be the masters,not the victims,of our history,controlling our own destiny without giving way to blind suspicions & emotions- JFK

    by vcmvo2 on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 06:06:30 PM PDT

    •  Wow. so many confusions and illusions (0+ / 0-)
      It may take me several beers to get in a frame of mind to parse this.

      None Dare Call It Stupid!

      by RonK Seattle on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 06:16:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  By all means (0+ / 0-)

        Parse away! I'll wait until you get those beers down..

        Let us resolve to be the masters,not the victims,of our history,controlling our own destiny without giving way to blind suspicions & emotions- JFK

        by vcmvo2 on Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 06:29:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Still boggled (0+ / 0-)
          Almost every term and event of reference in your compound question is -- how shall I put it? -- disconnected from any reproducible external landmark.

          I don't think you are alone in this, and I don't think it's necessarily your fault.

          Time permitting, I'll diarize a few guideposts. between now and the election -- or at least the early postmortem, since much of that postmortem will be devoted to claiming and blaming in these and related terms.

          None Dare Call It Stupid!

          by RonK Seattle on Sat Oct 28, 2006 at 10:11:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Then I wasn't clear (0+ / 0-)

            I know little of the Rothenberg/kos dispute; other than what I read from the front page & you have stated it's inaccurate.

            What I was trying to comment on was your diary from 2004 about contesting every district. I thought it was brilliant & certainly proved to be prescient. You based your premise on the events that actually occurred after your diary was written. Is that because you had a historical perspective on the probability of scandals? The MSM and the pundits kept singing Bush's praises even when Iraq was going to hell. This was demoralizing especially when Kerry lost.

            So a permanent rightwing majority looked almost inevitable. Nobody I read (and I hadn't found dkos yet) was talking about fielding candidates for every race. In fact, where I live (a deep red county) in a Blue state there  were many, many uncontested races and primaries. The Democratic Party didn't even show up.

            So how did you, Dean, Bowers develop that strategy?
            I can tell you that up until 10 months ago it seemed laughable where I live. Actually the rethugs did laugh! They're not laughing now...

            I don't know if that clarifies things or not. But a diary on guideposts would be welcome for those of us that don't have the analytical or political background in this`area.

            Let us resolve to be the masters,not the victims,of our history,controlling our own destiny without giving way to blind suspicions & emotions- JFK

            by vcmvo2 on Sat Oct 28, 2006 at 10:37:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks, that'll help guide my effort (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              None Dare Call It Stupid!

              by RonK Seattle on Sat Oct 28, 2006 at 10:53:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And I probably should add (0+ / 0-)

                that I normally try to be clear in what I comment on or else I don't comment at all; but I had a monster migraine coming on & I probably should have waited to post a reply. In rereading it I'm not surprised you were confused!

                Let us resolve to be the masters,not the victims,of our history,controlling our own destiny without giving way to blind suspicions & emotions- JFK

                by vcmvo2 on Sat Oct 28, 2006 at 02:11:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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