Some Thoughts on Cegelis
by Matt Stoller, Thu Mar 23, 2006 at 06:57:56 AM EST
Like Chris, I screwed up on Cegelis. I didn't realize that the party establishment was as weak as it was, and I didn't get the basic dishonesty of the DCCC in this fight. The DCCC was squeezing donors hard to give to Duckworth, as did golden boy Barack Obama who appeared in Duckworth's commercial. But what offends me is not that they weighed in on Duckworth's side, but that they pretended like Cegelis did not exist. I bet that a substantial portion of Duckworth's voters simply did not know that Cegelis was a Democrat. They probably saw Duckworth on TV with Obama, got some mailers, and figured, hey, I'll vote for the Democrat.
Now, awhile back I was posting on Cegelis, and bumping diaries on a regular basis. I pretty much stopped for two reasons. One, Michael in Chicago misled this community on whether he was being paid by the Cegelis campaign. He did web design work for them, and got paid for it, but he was not paid to blog. Still when people asked him point blank if he was receiving money, he said 'I'm not being paid to blog.' It was a clear misrepresentation and looking through the FEC reports proved him wrong. But we could only find that out because he at one point listed his username and name together. What else was he hiding? How could I know whether his assertions about grassroots energy were real? The other reason is because another pro-Cegelis commenter lied about their location. It seems small, but this cast more doubt on the online Cegelis supporters' credibility.
Now, misrepresenting yourself on blogs is not, you might say, a big reason to jump in or out of a race. But the thing is, I had no other information about the race from Cegelis's side. I can't just fly to IL-06 and check out the district, I can't afford it. All I knew was that the two most ardent proponents on the blogs, the people who write a lot for Soapblox Chicago, were ethically lacking when they were communicating to me and this community. I don't really care that people lie in politics, that's life. But I try to base my decisions on information, and the Cegelis supporters on this blog proved completely unreliable. How could I trust Michael in Chicago when hey said that Cegelis had massive support, if Michael in Chicago was basically lying about whether he was paid by the Cegelis campaign?
It really sucks. I feel terrible this happened, but that explains why I lost enthusiasm for this race.
Now, just so I don't leave anyone out in my post getting everyone angry, let me say that Cegelis proved that Paul Hackett was a coward. Hackett refused to put his choice to the voters, and Cegelis did. And this is because Hackett didn't believe in the people working for him. He didn't believe in the grassroots and the volunteers. He didn't like doing call time, so he blamed party leadership for kneecapping him and refused to organize. And then he went on a bunch of TV shows to announce his decision before coming onto the blogs, and we were his first supporters. Cegelis did the most honorable thing possible. She didn't have Hackett's advantages. She is not nationally known, she didn't have Hollywood throwing money at her. And she had a hell of a lot more firepower arrayed against her, the whole Chicago machine as against a few phone calls from Chuck Schumer. But she organized and gave the finger to the establishment that tried to crush her.
I really don't know what to say here. I guess politics is tough, and I know I have a lot of learning to do. I know I've made a lot of mistakes, and one of them was not getting behind Cegelis as much as I should have. I hope I don't make you too angry with this, but these are discussions that we need to have.