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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Two Days in Chicago

I didn’t choose to “live-blog” the Democratic Leadership Council’s National Conversation this year, partly because I was too busy (moderating three Sunday workshops on election reform, new social media, and “a look ahead to November”), and too ill with a flu-like bug, and partly because internet access in the conference areas of the cavernous Chicago Hyatt was so poor.
But as usual, the focus of the DLC event was on the three-hundred-plus state and local elected officials who attended, and who filled nearly every room in the nineteen Sunday workshops on issues ranging from immigration and poverty to pre-K education and state greenhouse gas initiatives. Attendees were unsurprisingly disappointed that presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama didn’t show up (he didn’t do any public events on Sunday), but there was a strong sense of unity and optimism about the general election.
I had one very unusual experience in Chicago: introducing Markos Moulitsas. The fiery founder of DailyKos, a noted DLC-hater in the past, agreed to speak at the event as part of a agreement he struck with DLC chairman Harold Ford during a joint appearance on Meet the Press last year (Ford will reciprocate by attending the DKos-oriented Netroots Nation event in Austin later this month).
Markos was on a panel I moderated with Jennifer Duffy and David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report to discuss the general election outlook (mostly at the congressional level), which all agreed was very rosy for Democrats. You can read Markos’ take on the appearance here, but as I told him after the session, I didn’t share his surprise at the applause he received for referring to Sen. Joe Lieberman as an “asshole.” Whatever residual admiration of Lieberman in DLC circles that existed after 2006 vanished the moment he endorsed John McCain for president. Like them or not, DLCers are committed Democrats, not, as Markos has been in the habit of calling them, “Liebercrats.”
I have to share a small but hilarious moment that occurred after the session. As moderator, I thought it was only right that I buy Markos, Duffy and Wasserman a drink in the hotel bar. At one point, Markos drew our attention to a television monitor over the bar that was displaying one of those blue-and-red-colored maps of the states, and said, in shock, “Where did that map come from?” (It had much of the South colored blue). Turns out it was a map of salmonella outbreaks. We all got a good laugh at our mutual political-junkie inability to look at the states as anything other than bearers of electoral votes.

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