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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Markos-Ford (Non-)Smackdown

Those who expected a good, cathartic, intraparty brawl here at Netroots Nation during a session featuring Markos Moulitsas and Harold Ford went away disappointed. It was all very civil. Ford said a lot of very positive things about the value of the netroots, and argued that the party needed to “suspend” internal conflicts at least until Barack Obama is elected president. Markos said of widespread anger about Obama’s FISA vote that “we’ll get over it,” and also said FISA showed the netroots wasn’t strong enough to beat a small group of telecomm lobbyists. Ford mentioned Al From’s name and didn’t get booed. Markos cut off a couple of questioners who tried to make Ford get down in the weeds of FISA details.
Best I can tell, Markos’ equanimity about what some have called Obama’s “betrayal” on FISA is shared more broadly at this assemblage than I would have guessed. And Ford’s decision to appear here and pay his respects to the netroots role in the party seemed to do him, and maybe even the DLC, some good.
All in all, I’m not seeing many signs of party disunity. But I am reminded of an anecdote from the 1924 Democratic Convention (no, I wasn’t there) wherein someone said to Will Rogers that the convention seemed pretty quiet. “Be patient,” said Rogers. “That will change. Those are Democrats down there.” He was certainly right. It took that convention 103 ballots to nominate a candidate.
Good thing we’ve already got a nominee this year (presumptively, as they say).

One comment on “The Markos-Ford (Non-)Smackdown

  1. Rick on

    RE: Obama’s “betrayal” on FISA.
    Yeah, I was very disappointed too. Until I got to thinking about the practicality of it all. In the environment of another 911 event, is it really fair to expect telecom executives to say “no” to a federal government request for wiretaps?
    I think there is some displacement going on here. The real crime was the Executive *asking*, not the telecoms agreeing to do it. The right place to direct disappointment is at the Executive who over-reached. Sure, we all want to believe that we’d stand up to the feds, but a corrupt government has ways (“you will never get another government contract again”) to extort private parties to cooperate.
    More problematic. Assuming that these companies *were* held accountable, do you really think that would stop them from doing the illegal wiretaps in the next 911 disaster? Won’t they just make the feds sign papers to indemnify and defend them against lawsuits? Offer them immunity against prosecution? Of course. So the net effect would be to transfer the cost of the illegal activity back to us taxpayers through indemnification.
    I’d love to think that every corporate executive would have the cajones to say “no” to an insistent federal request in time of crisis. But is that realistic? Do we really want to put CEOs in the horrible position? Choose who you stand with; your government or your shareholders?


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