Excerpted from a letter to Joshua Micah Marshall:
It’s is a depressing fact that for a candidate to become credible in Democratic politics, they have to hire from among a group of consultants who give them credibility with the fundraisers on K St… It’s the same group of consultants who have been running Dem. campaigns since the late 1980’s. If you look at the partners of the major media firms, for example, you can almost guarantee that they were players for someone in the 1988 campaign.
This creates a different problem. For those of my generation of political operatives, the searing election experience was 1994. And the animating ideas, strategy, and tactics of the Republican House majority still dominate the way the Republicans do their politics. Unfortunately, for most of the folks still at the top level of our party, the 1994 election was just one of many elections, and you win some and lose some. For example, it would have been impossible for anybody who lived through 1994 as their baptism into politics to assume that the Swift Boat Veterans attack was anything but harmful and required any reaction but a vicious and immediate counter attack. Yet, that is what the Kerry campaign did…inexplicable. But clearly a decision made by our “older” party hands—one that I believe proved decisive.
I hope that any Democrat who is contemplating a Presidential run in 2008 observes that not only do these guys have a great track record for losing elections, but anointment by “the fundraisers on K St.” is hardly the only road to riches any more. The Dean campaign screwed up in a number of ways, but it did conclusively prove that there’s a way for a candidate to raise heaps of money without going through the traditional party gatekeepers.
And if Republican meta-lobbying efforts like the K Street Project keep working, those gatekeepers won’t have much funds to raise, anyway.