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Howard Dean and Barack Obama vs. the Clintons

By Griffin · February 29th, 2008 · No Comments

Commenter warner posts some required reading on the inside political power struggles for the soul of the Democratic Party.  On one side you have Howard Dean and his 2004 ”Internet-focused, grassroots, 50-state” strategy (a strategy that’s been “perfected” by Barack Obama, according to former Dean strategist Joe Trippi), and on the other side you have the Clintons and their “traditional media, 50%+1, only focus on the swing states and ignore the rest” strategy:

Dean has remained fastidiously neutral and low-key in this presidential cycle. Yet a number of his top supporters believe the Clinton-Obama contest has become a referendum on the kind of grassroots party building and citizen empowerment Dean pioneered as a presidential candidate and continued as DNC chair. On that issue most Deaniacs, not surprisingly, side with Obama. “Ever since the TV era began in 1960, every single presidential campaign in America has been top-down,” says Joe Trippi, Dean’s ’04 campaign guru and an adviser to John Edwards before he dropped out of the race. “Only two have been bottom-up. One was Dean. The other is Obama.” 

The story also takes an in-depth look at how, a few years ago, the Clintons tried to push Howard Dean out the door of the DNC, but were thwarted by the tremendous nationwide success of Dean’s tactics in the 2006 midterm elections.

What’s amazing is how the Clintons complain about “taking fire” from Republicans or being treated unfairly by the press, yet somehow they manage to make enemies wherever they go– even within the Democratic Party.  Clearly if the nomination battle goes to the convention and Howard Dean is moderating, it’s not hard to guess which side he’ll be leaning towards.  (There have been reports that Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi are leaning heavily in Obama’s direction as well.)

What else is amazing is how much the Clintons are political dinosaurs in many ways, who can’t let go of what may have worked in the past, even if it’s badly outdated now.  It’s why they just this month realized that they should start pushing their Web site and soliciting small donors, and it’s why they’ve been barely competing in and consistently losing in traditionally red states and caucus states by 20 points or more (losing large chunks of delegates along the way).  And it’s why an election between Hillary Clinton and John McCain would be a coin toss for Democrats at best.

Great read.

Tags: Barack Obama · Bill Clinton · Democrats · Hillary Clinton · Howard Dean

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