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April 20, 2005


I'm told it is common practice to challenge a "token" member of one's own party to preempt the argument that the campaign is entirely partisan.

As the Common Dreams link indicates, this ad is being run against 10 Republican members of Congress, as well as Rep. Hoyer. One of the targeted Republicans could argue, "The bankruptcy bill had broad, bi-partisan support, and those left-wingers at Moveon.org are trying to make it into a partisan issue by targeting only the Republicans who voted for it, and none of the Democrats."

I have no idea whether there is any validity to this. Obviously, Moveon's partisan leanings are well-documented, so it's not as if they are going to hide anything, but they may still feel obligated to do this sort of thing for the sake of appearances.

I do think it is worth reminding Democrats that the grass roots are out here watching. Presumably, as this post suggests, it would be much more effective to remind them before the vote is cast!

Steve--if MoveOn weren't already perceived as so clearly partisan, I'd accept the "token strategy" as necessary. But as you said, their partisan leanings are well-documented, so there's not much point in adding a Dem for innoculation against charges of partisanship; that die has been cast. It's because of their percieved partisanship that I think this is a silly idea. No Repub is going to think of them as a group that plays on both sides of the fence in the sense of helping out the occassional Republican (like even organized labor does); this just means they'll attack Repubs and even the occassional Dem.

Maybe it's not the Republicans they are trying to convince of their nonpartisanship, but the grassroots Dems. As you know, many, many Democratic voters are outraged by the bankruptcy bill, and outraged by the number of Dems who voted for it. If MoveOn gives those Dems a "free pass," then it risks being seen as a shill for the Democratic Party, rather than an advocate for the views of its members. In a sense, MoveOn is simply representing a constituency, because if it doesn't, someone else will.

Howdy -- just checking out the joint.

DHin, I don't get your not getting MoveOn's purpose here. They've never claimed to be a Dem party mouthpiece, but a lib/lefty pressure group. If you listened to the ad, it's mostly about the bill, and asks why Hoyer would vote for the credit cos. and against the people. You don't think that's a valid question?

Personally, I'm relieved that MoveOn remains issue-oriented and not just another Dem appendage. Have you never sickened at the serial betrayal of principle by Dems in power? Iraq, Patriot Act, welfare "reform" come quickly to mind. Do you think nothing should be done as long as it's Dems doing the betrayal? They get away with it because they "know" that there's no place else for the lib/left to go, so they can bend over for money at will. MoveOn is trying to hold them to account.

I don't advocate hammering Dems every time they stray on any issue, but there was no justification for voting for the bankrupcy bill. It's essentially a private law for the benefit of a handful of banks, and against the interests of everybody else. There was no reason for any Dem to vote for it except as payment in kind. Maybe Hoyer will think twice next time he takes a legalized bribe for his vote instead of representing the interests of his constituents. Maybe his Dem colleagues will, too. I'm at a loss to think what's wrong with that.

Let's see.

MoveOn didn't go after Reid, a Dem in a red state.
MoveOn went after 10 Republicans.
MoveOn went after 1 Democrat, who (as you've pointed out) can handle the heat.

Hearings are starting about 527s. I'm not so sure that your dismissal of the CYA motive is accurate. Aside from perception, there are legal standards that these groups have to meet.

Were these ads run by the MoveOn 527, the MoveOn PAC, or MoveOn the 501c(3)? Isn't there something about issue advocacy vs. partisan politics that certain types of organizations have to adhere to?

This is a move by MoveOnPAC, not MoveOn.org, so they are not constrained to mix up the palette in order to maintain nonpartisanship.

There's another reason possible reason: pointing at demons to motivate donations.

DaveW -- we usually put pressure on things to make them move (or change shape). MoveOn doesn't seem to be doing that. Pressure for its own sake doesn't hold anybody to account.

Dave--what's accomplished by running the ads after the vote? You either run the ads before the vote to get the person to vote the right way, or after the vote to hurt their reputation. But if you don't want that person defeated, then why run the ads? Besides, I think it's a waste of money to run the ads after the vote even against the Republicans. If you don't want to defeat Steny Hoyer and he's already cast the vote you didn't want him to vote, chalk it up to something you can't fix, and save the resources for another battle.

Bill--the press release I hyperlinked is from the PAC. If it were the 501(c)3--and are you sure it's a (c)3 and not a (c)4?--they would have a hard time justifying an issue ad after the issue had been decided without it looking like a blatant case of express advocacy in support of or opposition to a candidate, which I assume you know is illegal for a 501.

DHin, I think you're still confusing MoveOn with the DNC. They have made no promise that I know of the be all Dem all the time. You run the ad after the vote for the same reason you arrest the perp after the crime. Pols don't necessarily telegraph how they're going to vote ahead of time, so what's the point in running ads because of what they might do. As good liberals, we might like to think people stop at red lights because they're just basically good and law-abiding, but knowing that people get tickets has a little something to do with it too, doncha think?

Maybe you don't share my disgust with the bankruptcy bill. But if you do, who's going to rap the knuckles of Dems who support crap like this? The Heritage Foundation?

Dave--it's a bad analogy, because my point is there are no consequences to MoveOn's actions except they've wasted a bunch of money and maybe slightly sullied the reputation of some MoC. But they claim to not want to see Hoyer defeated, so they engaged in a contradictory action.

If you want an anology from law enforcement, I think a more apt analogy is that MoveOn issued some bench warrants, but then lost the paperwork, so nobody will end up being picked up and brought to account for what they did.

My objection isn't about the bill, it's about the ineffectiveness and strategically muddled waste of money that could have been used on something with a goal and a potentially measurable outcome. This is just some vague "we're pissed and we're going to let everyone know we're pissed" kind of act, and I don't know that it accomplishes a damn thing except possible, as Ron suggests, whip up their donor base over something that tastes good by has no nutritional value.

I think a message gets sent for future votes, something along the lines of "we are out here, we are watching, and we have enough money to run TV ads in your district next election." If you can impress a Congressman that you represent a powerful constituency, the effects are felt beyond just a single vote.

I couldn't have timed this better: I just received a solicitation from MoveOn asking for money to help them run ads addressed at protecting the filibuster. They claim to need $400,000 (which, btw, doesn't pay for much of anything; one week of statewide TV in Michigan alone costs about $1 million). But if they need $400,000, I wonder if that $100,000 they claimed to have spent in Hoyer's district and whatever else they spent in the 10 Repub districts might have been used against the $400,000 cost for the filibuster ads.

I haven't seen much media from MoveOn that I think is effectively persuasive, which is too bad. I'm concerned that they preach too much to the choir.

"We’re not the party,” he said, when asked about charges that the ads were poorly timed"

That's odd. I thought it was their party, they bought it, and they own it...

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