To say I'm blunt would be an understatement (although if I were a man, I like to think that people would call me "refreshingly direct", like John McCain)! So when I got to ask the last question on a White House conference call yesterday, I asked two things.
I asked David Axelrod if he knew what I meant by "hippie punching," and I also mentioned the Mike Lux article on Open Left this week. (Mike says voters are more easily persuaded by ads run by outside groups, but that Obama for America - later to be Organizing for America -- starved the liberal groups of needed cash by telling big donors to give them the money instead. That position apparently continued after the election, too).
I asked Axelrod if he saw that now as a tactical error.
That question was a response to a long explanation by Axelrod that the Democrats were under siege because the Republicans had all the outside special interest groups running attack ads for them, and that was why the Dems needed our help. That was why I asked the equivalent of Dr. Phil's "So how's that donation block working for ya?" (He said he didn't know anything about it. Uh huh.)
It was kind of funny to ask a White House advisor if he understood what I meant by "hippie punching", it amused me. (I needed a diversion, because a dear friend had surgery to remove a brain tumor yesterday and I hadn't heard from her family yet.)
But I was also trying to help. You know, as in: "If you want help from people, you need to stop bad mouthing them."
He got a little pissy at me because he tried to change what I said and I wouldn't let him. Whatevs! The call was over, and I hung up.
But then the emails started. Highly complimentary emails, which led me to the conclusion that a lot of people on that call agreed with me, but didn't feel comfortable enough to say it publicly. (Which really doesn't bother me. No matter what people say about the Veal Pen, the fact is, people have to make a living and they'll try to keep their jobs -- especially now. So I'm not casting aspersions on anyone else for not saying things like this. I'm in the uniquely dangerous position of having nothing left to lose.)
And then Greg Sargent wrote about it at the Washington Post. And all the nasty wingnut tweets started, crowing over the hippies bolting from the Democratic party. Swell.
Anyway, for the record:
- The version I wrote on my blog was supposed to be funny. I figured the "Casablanca" quote would tip people off that it wasn't verbatim, but apparently not. Not even the Jerry Springer-like tone wasn't enough.
- No, I wasn't using a date rape analogy.
- I just have to laugh at the pearlclutchers who are upset about my language. Obviously, they've never worked on a professional campaign. Trust me, that was mild and I'm sure Axelrod wasn't the tiniest bit shocked. And do I have to point out that ultimately, these people work for us, and not vice versa?
- I wasn't whining about my feelings, for heaven's sake. I mean, who cares? It would take a remarkable lack of self-awareness (the kind Republicans have) to think that Axelrod wanted or needed to hear about my feelings. I was talking about the Netroots, laying it on the line: If I take you at your word, that you need netroots support, you need to stop treating us like the girl you're embarrassed to have your friends see you with. Help us help you by knocking off the condescending digs. (And that wasn't even touching the many policy differences we have.)
Despite it all, the White House does recognize our power. That's why bloggers were the first people to talk to Elizabeth Warren, and that's why we got 45 minutes with Axelrod today. Is it enough? Of course not. It's a start, though.
Oddly enough, the wingnut tweets and blog posts in response to my question are what has finally closed the mid-term enthusiasm gap for me. Because while I am less than thrilled about this administration, spite is a very powerful force and I'll be goddamned if I'm going to spend the next two years reading a bunch of right-wing nut jobs crowing over winning this election.
Why, I'm getting enthusiastic just thinking about it!
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