Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

Rappaport was blown away by the half-hour-long presentation. ''Man,'' he said, ''that's all it took to buy the country?''

An informative historical article (i.e. from July) from Matt Bai

''The Conservative Message Machine's Money Matrix,'' essentially makes the case that a handful of families -- Scaife, Bradley, Olin, Coors and others -- laid the foundation for a $300 million network of policy centers, advocacy groups and media outlets that now wield great influence over the national agenda. The network, as Stein diagrams it, includes scores of powerful organizations -- most of them with bland names like the State Policy Network and the Leadership Institute -- that he says train young leaders and lawmakers and promote policy ideas on the national and local level. These groups are, in turn, linked to a massive message apparatus, into which Stein lumps everything from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page to Pat Robertson's ''700 Club.'' And all of this, he contends, is underwritten by some 200 ''anchor donors.'' ''This is perhaps the most potent, independent institutionalized apparatus ever assembled in a democracy to promote one belief system,'' he said.
''What you need to understand about me is that I try to be respectful and objective about this,'' Stein went on. ''Not only is it a legitimate exercise in democracy, but I think they came up with some extraordinary ideas.'' The problem, he said, was that conservatives had moved beyond those policy ideas, into the realm of attack and innuendo. And Democrats had to understand that they were overmatched.
Democrats have been maddeningly slow to adapt their message to the postindustrial age. ''The truth is that a lot of the people who ran the Democratic Party in the 70's and 80's ran it into the ground,'' Simon Rosenberg said.... ''We lost our way, and we've got to fight back.''

The vast conspiracy is neither inherently leftist nor inherently centrist:

Although he made his name in the party as a centrist New Democrat, Rosenberg, now 40, saw opportunities for his organization -- and, naturally, for himself -- in the increasingly confrontational slant of the party's base during the Bush administration. He didn't agree with all of Howard Dean's positions, but Rosenberg was among the first centrist Democrats to embrace Dean, sensing early on the potential of Dean's following. While the Democratic Leadership Council attacked Dean for his angry brand of populism, Rosenberg looked for a way to tap into the genuine passion among Democrats for a more creative, more defiant kind of politics.

The article also has a refreshing dash of that dot-com-era optimism:

For Soros, spending $13 million on a campaign is like you or me buying 100 boxes of Thin Mints from the Girl Scout next door....He became what the financial world would call the angel investor for an entirely new kind of progressive venture.

Ahhhh. Waiter, another iced latte, please.


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