Will Labor Support Union-busting Penn?

Ari Berman kicked off the conversation about Mark Penn with a great article on his career as executive in a company with a union-busting division.  Ezra Klein is calling labor leaders to see what they think about Hillary Clinton's chief strategist having this kind of history, and I'm curious how they respond.  Typically union leaders hate criticizing Democratic officials, and do not want to be forced to potentially get into a spat over something like this.  

Mark Schmitt also points out that Penn isn't particularly ethical in his polling practices.

And that fact proves Ari Berman's conclusion that Penn's choice of categories has little to do with the actual data and everything to do with his presumptions going in -- populism doesn't work, don't criticize corporations -- which in turn have a delightfully precise correspondence with the interests of the clients of the firm of which Penn is Worldwide President and CEO.  And that's why neither Senator Clinton, the people with good sense in her campaign, labor leaders or other Democrats should accept lobbyist Howard Paster's explanation to Berman that Penn's corporate and anti-union clientele is "part of a whole 'nother life we lead."

This is a dilemma for labor leaders.  For my part, I hope they put pressure on Clinton to distance herself from Penn.  He's a seriously bad Democrat, and they would be letting their members down if they handled this problem any other way.

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DC Pollster Culture

In honor of Ezra's piece criticizing DC pollster-for-sale Doug Schoen, here's a prediction made by Schoen prior to 2006.

The 2006 Congressional elections thus far are a missed opportunity for Democrats to lay out an agenda for change that both unifies the party and presents them to the electorate as the logical (and acceptable) alterative to what the Republicans are offering America today.

Unfortunately, the Democrats have simply not done a credible job defining who they are or what they stand for. Their rationale today is simply a litany of individual top scoring policy proposals, and not an agenda to move the country forward by addressing the common good.

I enjoyed this prediction.

In order for Democrats to fully benefit politically from Republican failures and begin to position themselves for success in 2008, their Common Good agenda must address these matters and move away from the pie-in-the-sky political rhetoric that promises healthcare and college for all. The consensus in the minds of the public is to move away from policies that seek to redistribute wealth and pursue market based solutions instead.

Schoen is a paid contributor to Fox News, and didn't disclose it in his interview when he was on the radio bashing Moveon during the Fox News/Nevada Democratic Party scuffle.

Oh, and both the way, he's done a lot of work for pharma, and tends not to disclose it in editorial pieces unless pushed very hard. Schoen was a very important pollster in the 1990s, business partners with Hillary Clinton's chief strategist Mark Penn until fairly recently. People like him are the reason the party is so messed up. It's like we handed over the keys to our car to a drunk driver and didn't notice for fifteen years.

Update (Chris): I just have to pile on this one. I received exactly the same email Markos posted on Dailykos, word for word, requesting some front-page time for Doug Schoen. I mean, it was exactly the same, except that it was address to me instead of Markos. It is so utterly out of touch with the world of the blogosphere that it is hard to fathom. It is as though diaries don't exist, and that in order to submit an op-ed I have to be approached in the same manner of an op-ed page editor. I emailed the guy back, linking to a recent article I wrote ripping Doug Schoen, and told him that if I was interested in further debate I would write another post, and if Schoen was actually interested in further conversation that he could just post a diary (or just email me directly, which I did not actually write in my email response). I received an email back explaining that Schoen was not exactly blog savvy or something, and needed help in that regard. Yeah, no kidding.

I want to point this out not just to rip on Doug Schoen, but to rip on the entire DC consultant culture that views people like me as nothing more than megaphones and bulletin boards for their message. Like I am just hear to echo them. What really pisses me off about it is how I am constantly being told what I need to be blogging about (which is always whatever topic someone else is working on) even though those people are quite wealthy, have never offered bloggers one iota of support, and don't even understand bloggers at all. It is all just so fucking elitist and patronizing that I want to scream. It is quite literally and attitude that people like me exist in order to support our Democratic betters. They don't give a single shit what I think, or even how I pay the rent. All they want to do is use me to help increase their message.

It need to be understood that this is a problem that is by no means specific to Doug Schoen. However, at the same time, it needs to be understood that the negative things we say about Doug Schoen need to be understood not as just dismissing DC consultant culture in general, but much more specifically about hating on Doug Schoen in particular. It is Doug Schoen's individual actions that piss me off, and whatever vague conclusions we draw about DC consultant culture based on Doug Schoen's actions, it needs to be remembered that we are always specifically hating on Doug Schoen more than on DC consultant culture in general. Making generalizations from particulars is always difficult, and it seems ahrd to imagine that all that many Democratic consultants engage in behavior as egregiously awful as Schoen. The only generalization I like to draw is that people like Schoen are openly tolerated at the highest levels of Democratic consultant and political culture, and that tolerance for this kind of behavior is demonstrative of a serious problem we face. Regular failure to disclosure conflicts of interest, overt ignorance of new media, and elitist, patronizing behavior toward the Democratic rank and file would result in progressive blogosphere death. And I don't mean that a combination of those three would be a problem, I mean any of those would be a problem that would basically result in exile. However, apparently in D.C., it results in consultant stardom that no elected officials are willing to speak out against. It is left to poor saps like me to finally push back when one too many Democratic free loaders in DC go too far in demanding that we spread their message and do their work for them without ever expecting any support in return for ourselves. I mean, of course we are supposed to post their op-eds no matter what they say, but heaven forbid their Leadership PACs donate to progressive netroots organizations, or even that bloggers be defended in the established media. We might as well just be interns who should be grateful for supporting the Democratic cause, rather than valued members of a broader political community.

Lots more on this in the coming week. For now, I just had to vent.

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Hillary Leads in 32 of 34 States

This according to her pollster Mark Penn, who also cites a number of national polls, with links.

I think a lot of this has to do with a superior organization which she was able to put in place early due to her easy election campaign in NY.

What is really eye popping are her leads in delegate rich states.

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Did Sen. Hillary Clinton read the '02 Iraq NIE?

The Clinton and Obama camps' fight over the Iraq War vote has spilled over into the today's WaPo:

Mark Penn and Obama strategist David Axelrod engaged in a pointed and occasionally heated exchange during a public forum at Harvard University over the issue that has become the central point of dispute between the two leading candidates for the 2008 Democratic nomination. [...]

The Clinton campaign later supplied several Obama quotations from 2004 to buttress Penn's attack. One came from the New York Times, in which Obama declined to criticize the Democratic Party's presidential and vice presidential nominees, Sen. John F. Kerry and then-Sen. John Edwards, for supporting the 2002 war resolution. "But I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports," Obama said, according to the Times.

All 100 US Senators were privy to the full classifed Iraq NIE complete with INR, DOE, and US Air Force intelligence dissents. Only 6 bothered to read it. Was Sen. Hillary Clinton one of the six?

More on the flip...

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Fox-Paid Pollster Doug Schoen Bashes Moveon, Backs Fox

Here's Doug Shoen on the Fox News scuffle.

Schoen: "I agree with Dennis Kucinich.  I think you want to go on Fox. I think you want to try to hold them to the same standards you hold everybody else. But to sort of see this in terms of power politics, leverage, I think is very much contrary to the intrerests of democracy and the Democratic Party. I think you want to go on Fox. I think you want to present your ideas, and I think one of the best ways to have as broad a debate as possible is to have the sort of co-sponsorships that Nevada considered and unfortunately in my judgement dropped.

Host Warren Olmey: What about the argument, as Adam Green contends, that that legitimizes Fox. That they are part of what he refers to as a right-wing smear machine.

Schoen: Well, A. They're not a right wing smear machine. B I don't think that tryingt to something media as part of partisan politics is a healthything to do. I wouldn't say that Air America couldn't sponsor debates. I think it woudl be great if Air America sponsored debates in the Republican Party as well as the Demcoratic PArty. I think this is a very very bonechilling trend. And I think given that Senator Harry Reid was one of those who was involved in embracing the idea, this has really becaome - as Roger Ailes said - a case of a left-wing pressure group trying to put pressure on the Democatic Party. One other thing. Roger Ailes, and I spoke to him, his comment about Obama and Osama was a joke about President Bush. It was not, in any effort, to smear, criticize, Senator Barack Obama. It was a joke that he made to a group of broadcast journalists who he thought would get a kick out of it given that, as you said, the president is not exactly all that popular and he hasn't after all found Osama Bin Laden.  I think this is just MoveOn using this as an excuse to try to put pressure on the Democrats and on Fox to advance their narrow agenda.

..."As to whetehr Fox always does what MoveOn does, what MoveOn wants, undeniably they don't. But, you know, I think part of the fact of life is that Fox news is the highest rated cable network in America.  It's got an audience bigger than CNN and MSNBC combined, and two thirds of their audience are probably non-Republicans, they are Democrats and Independents. And for the Democrats to try to run them out or put pressure on them is again contrary to the party's interest.

Adam Green brought up Fox News exec John Moody's messaging memos to the news desk, a key lever Fox News uses to maintain message discipline.  Here's Schoen's take:

You know, I think that there are different perspectives on different networks.  And one memo taken out of context does not to me decide that an organization is worthy of being excluded or shunned.

Media Matters examined 33 memos, which suggests Schoen doesn't know what he's talking about.  Actually, it's worse than that.  Schoen is a well-respected pollster in the Democratic Party, business partners of Hillary Clinton pollster Mark Penn.  Doug Schoen is also a paid contributor to Fox News, a role he didn't disclose in this interview.

If you want to know why the Democratic Party is broken, it's because of broken, corrupt men like Doug Schoen.  They will do anything to get ahead, to make a buck, or get on TV.  Anything.  And they are the ones in the rooms giving advice to Democratic leaders on how to make decisions.

UPDATE: Oh man, this guy Schoen is just a joke. Look at this piece he wrote in October, 2006, right before the election: "Without a centrist common good agenda, public sentiment can swing back to the Republicans in 2008 as the electorate remains fiscally and socially conservative."

Unethically minded and with exquisitely awful political judgment. I think Schoen's days in the party are numbered.

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