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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Faulty Radar

If you stay in politics long enough, you’ll have the wonderful experience of finding yourself reading a “news”‘ story that you infallibly, personally know to be utter crap. That happened to me yesterday when I followed a link at DailyKos to an “exclusive” story at Radar Online entitled: “DLC Shakeup Comes To Fruition.” Written by a Jeff Bercovici and posted last Friday, the piece suggested the DLC had forced Gov. Tom Vilsack out of its chairmanship because it favored Bush’s Iraq plan and Vilsack opposed it:

But while Vilsack’s statement cited “the precedent established by former DLC Chair Bill Clinton,” who resigned in advance of his 1992 White House bid, a Washington source says there was an additional factor in his departure: the widening rift between Vilsack and DLC’s permanent leadership over what to do about the crisis in Iraq.Al From, the group’s founder and CEO, and Will Marshall, head of its policy arm, have called for an escalation in troop levels, while Vilsack has spoken of his “fundamental opposition to leading more troops into harm’s way in Iraq.”With President Bush outlining a plan to send fresh forces to Baghdad this week, the divergence of thinking was at risk of becoming untenable, says the source. “Vilsack and the DLC talking heads have been heading in different directions on this for some time,” he adds.

There are only two problems with this “story.” The first paragraph is absolutely wrong, and so is the second. No one at the DLC “called for” an escalation in troop levels in Iraq, or supports Bush’s plan; the same day Bercovici posted his story, in fact, the DLC put out a New Dem Dispatch opposing the escalation. And Vilsack’s resignation was decided upon, by him, in November, when he decided to run for president; as a courtesy, he simply held off announcing it until the DLC had time to decide on a successor.Presumably the author of this “exclusive” could have learned all this with a phone call, instead of relying on one of those unnamed “Washington sources” who in this case didn’t know his butt from page eight.So who cares? Nobody but me, probably, and even I wouldn’t be writing about it if it hadn’t popped up in a major blog site. When a BS story gets linked to and repeated a couple of times, it might as well be fact. So it’s occasionally worth the trouble to shoot one down.

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