If you've ever wanted to see why The New Republic can't even give away their magazine to young people (circulation down 40% in the past four years), watch the assumptions at play in this critical article about Howard Dean:
Up until recently, the DNC was the last place you'd expect to find such amateurism [at big donor money raising]. Dean's immediate predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, learned his craft from legendary House Democratic moneyman Tony Coelho in the 1980s, then went on to become "the greatest fund-raiser in the history of the universe," as Al Gore has claimed. McAuliffe once grappled with a 280-pound gator to seal a contribution from a Florida Indian tribe; he has passed many a "three-brunch, three-lunch day," as The Washington Post has put it, frolicking among donors. Not surprisingly, McAuliffe believed his job as DNC chairman consisted mainly of one responsibility: stockpiling money for the upcoming presidential election. And he was fabulously successful at it. In 2004 alone, McAuliffe raised roughly $350 million, helping the DNC out-raise its GOP counterpart for the first time ever…
…A big part of the problem is Dean himself. Unlike McAuliffe, Dean had little entrée into the world of big-time Democratic donors when he took over as chairman; most of the money he had raised for his presidential campaign had come from small, online contributions. Culturally, too, Dean remains the antithesis of a Washington eminence. He still resides in Vermont, and, unlike McAuliffe, who owns a home in McLean, Virginia, Dean stays at a hotel during the night or two a week he's in town. You could stake out powerbroker haunts like the Capital Grille or the Caucus Room for weeks before ever seeing him.
Can you listen to the reporter's glee with how capable the DNC is at keeping the donations running in? Alligator wrestling! Wow, look – Democrats can grab money from Indian tribes too!
Evidently the New Republic magazine is the only one left happy about the fact that Bob Shrum gets to be a gazillionaire while losing the hand-me election in 2000 and running the Vietnam culture wars in 2004. The period in which the Clinton insider crowd was "fabulously successful" at raising money was the same period in which they lost control of two, and soon to be three, branches of the government. And there are plenty of places online willing to call bullshit on this crop of democratic insiders running the party into iceberg after iceberg (next up, the "triangulation" of the privacy rights of 51% of the population).
I have my disagreements with Dean and the dailykos.com crowd, but the idea that they aren't the big name Clinton guys isn't one of them – in fact it's kind of the point. And I think the coming democratic majority is likely to see it in a similar way.