Sunday, February 04, 2007

With friends like these...

Rick Perlstein reviews McAuliffe's paean to self:
    McAuliffe taught Democrats that to win they had to learn to play with the billionaires. But there were, as the economists say, “opportunity costs.” In 400 pages of blow-by-blow, one momentous event passes with barely a whisper: the 2002 elections. Some hoped that President Bush’s ties to Enron would make 2002 a Democratic year. Instead, Democrats lost the Senate. As the televised face of the party, McAuliffe got in some hard punches on Enron, but Republicans replied that he himself had made an $18 million profit from a mere $100,000 investment in the controversial communications company Global Crossing.

    Sour grapes, McAuliffe insists, quoting his comeback to Sean Hannity: “What are you, jealous or something? ... It was a great company.”

    Some would disagree — pointing to the ugly way the chairman, Gary Winnick, later misled Global Crossing’s stakeholders about its financial health, pauperizing them from a palatial office known, internally, as the Oval Office (perhaps in honor of the $1 million he gave to Bill Clinton’s presidential library). McAuliffe settles that score by writing, “The S.E.C. ruled after a four-year investigation that nobody had committed any wrongdoing at Global Crossing.” (A Justice Department inquiry was also dropped without charges.) You might say the more proximate wrongdoing was going on TV in an election year in which corporate greed was the Democrats’ best issue and saying a company that had only not quite swindled millions of pensioners and individual investors was “great” — and then being so un-self-aware as to brag about it in your memoir.
Whatta guy.
    Shortly after the disappointing 2004 elections, he’s talking strategy “with the president and Hillary.” All agreed the Republicans won because “they inflamed their strong supporters with emotional talk of abortion and gay marriage.” But this is simply not true as an analysis of that campaign. Bush’s performance among heavy churchgoers was no different in 2000 and 2004. The extra margin that gave him a popular majority, his first, consisted of voters who made more than $100,000 a year. Those voters made up 15 percent of the electorate in 2000, and 54 percent of them voted for Bush; in 2004, at 18 percent of the electorate, 58 percent of them supported Bush. Rich people may have given more than they ever had to the Democrats, but they didn’t vote more for Democrats; they voted less. And the money they kicked in, whatever else it did, wasn’t successful in disseminating a message convincing enough to people making under $100,000 to make up the gap.

    “People ask me all the time what the trick to fund-raising is. They always want to hear that there is some secret. But it’s simple enough, and I’ll spell it out in black and white: As a fund-raiser you’re selling belief. You’re selling vision. You’re selling hope. You’re selling dreams.” The question is: what dreams, and whose? You won’t find that difficult discussion here. But did you know that Kirk Douglas is “just like he is in all his movies”?
The presence of Terry McAuliffe front and center in the Clinton campaign gives me an unpleasant sense of deja vu.

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