March 8, 2006


Democrats' Data Mining Stirs an Intraparty Battle: With Private Effort on Voter Information, Ickes and Soros Challenge Dean and DNC (Thomas B. Edsall, March 8, 2006, Washington Post)

A group of well-connected Democrats led by a former top aide to Bill Clinton is raising millions of dollars to start a private firm that plans to compile huge amounts of data on Americans to identify Democratic voters and blunt what has been a clear Republican lead in using technology for political advantage.

The effort by Harold Ickes, a deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House and an adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is prompting intense behind-the-scenes debate in Democratic circles. Officials at the Democratic National Committee think that creating a modern database is their job, and they say that a competing for-profit entity could divert energy and money that should instead be invested with the national party.

It's not hard to imagine the Democratic Party splitting into an ideological party of the Left, incorporating the Greens, and a moderate one that wants to win elections, which eventually drifts into the GOP.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 8, 2006 8:22 AM

Officials at the Democratic National Committee think that creating a modern database is their job...

Then DO IT already.

Whiny incompetents are the worst.

Posted by: Noam Chomsky at March 8, 2006 9:02 AM

Hillary probably has the best and most secure data base extant what with the 900 raw FBI files she started off with from ten years ago and who knows what other confidential material she's gathered since then.

A golden opportunity for hackers to show off how good they are. I wonder if the NYT would print leaked material from those secret files.

Posted by: erp at March 8, 2006 9:18 AM

I think you'll see a split in the Republican party as well, with half joining the sane half of the Democratic Party in a "Third Way" party and the more hardcore ideologs gaining control of the GOP.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 8, 2006 9:20 AM

No the ideologues are a naturral fit with the extreme Left -- anti-immigration, isolationist and anti-capitalist.

Posted by: oj at March 8, 2006 9:26 AM

With Soros and Ickes involved, it's a question whether or not this effort is an attempt to gather a data base to run to the left of the current Democratic National Committee -- which is pretty amazing when you consider Howard Dean's in charge of the DNC -- or if it's an effort to circumnavigate any obstruction by Dean's people of the Hillary clan towards getting accurate data for the 2008 election cycle (which would explain Ickes' involvement, but the missus is playing with fire as far as her "moderate" image goes if it turns out she's using George Soros' cash to gather info about potential voters and/or donors).

Posted by: John at March 8, 2006 9:44 AM

The Third Way is a Trojan Horse. Sometimes there are liberals inside, sometimes there are conservatives, but those who worship the horse always get slaughtered.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 8, 2006 9:53 AM

And the horse just keeps winning the race, nmo matter who the riders were. The parties are quite insignificant to the success of the Third Way.

Posted by: oj at March 8, 2006 9:59 AM

For some strange reason, I can't help thinking about the old tv show The Twilight Zone, when I hear about the Third Way.

Posted by: AllenS at March 8, 2006 10:23 AM

OJ: Yes, that's my point. The Third Way is a softening of sharp edges, a blurring of distinctions; it is a promise to the voters that they don't have to make hard choices but can have it all. That's why the rider doesn't matter.

But note how you've changed the metaphor. You and Bill Clinton think that the Third Way is just a horse that will carry any jockey to victory. Once elected, as you constantly note, Bill didn't govern with Third Way policies except when forced to. That's because he never thought of the Third Way as anything but a means to election, after which he could try to govern from the left.

Bush and Rove, on the other hand, use the Trojan Horse metaphor. The Third Way is a means to smuggle radically conservative ideas into government past a Congress and an electorate that wouldn't stand for the straight conservative medicine. One thing they didn't count on, though, was that conservatives would be so stupid that they wouldn't notice that the horse is hollow from the inside.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 8, 2006 10:37 AM

Now, if the NSA were doing this sort of data mining, it would be further evidence of the Orwellian plot by the Bushitler regime to shred the Constitution and invade everyone's privacy . . . but this is Mr. Soros (PBUH) and Harold Ickes, and the whole purpose is the promotion of progressive and enlightened politics, so it must be OK.


Posted by: Mike Morley at March 8, 2006 10:40 AM


Yes, it doesn't matter whether Bill Clinton or George Bush is president or Thatcher, Blair, Brown, or Cameron is PM, political reality is driving the Third Way throughout at least the Anglosphere. That party will win elections which adheres to it most closely.

Posted by: oj at March 8, 2006 10:44 AM

Sure thing, Fukuyama.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 8, 2006 10:56 AM

Fukuyama is a neocon not a Third Wayer. Note that the neocons can't figure W out at all.

Posted by: oj at March 8, 2006 11:00 AM

Yes, I agree, many conservatives and some liberals are being incredibly dumb about how Bush is using Third Way means to achieve radically conservative ends.

Both you and Fukuyama think that politics has reached an end state. Fukuyama may well be right.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 8, 2006 11:17 AM

To begin with, we need to remind ourselves that all these catchy phrases, such as "hird way," and "Trojan horse," are not reality, but merely ways of looking at reality.

As noted in earlier comments, the reason the Republicans have been so successful is asssemblling and maintaining a winning voter coalition has been that that the components of that voter coalition have been politically mature enough to respect one another's dominance within each area of greatest concern.

It is a matter of deference. Gun-rights voters defer to the concerns of advocates of the unborn regarding ending baby-murder, and vice-versa. Both of these defer to those called theocons, neocons and econocons, and vice-versa regarding the concerns of each respective component of the voter coalition.

This is not an ideological approach: it is the opposite of an ideological approach. The gun rights-voter does not hold other members of the coalition to some abstract test of ideological purity, he just wants his assault rifle and his permit-to-carry. The opposition, being ideologues themselves, complains of this, saying that we are unprincipled and inconsistent.

This model has been working because it is most in accordance with how American government and politics are set up.

Those people on the other side, on the other hand, have been auguring in to destruction because they have been following a Marxist, European model of politics, and each component dreams of being "The Party," and dictating the "Party line" to all its fellows, and to all of us, by the way.

Now this is what some of us have been calling the "third way." It will keep working only so long as we continue to respect one another's domains. If we start acting like ideologues ourselves, turning on our partners because they do not match some abstract theoretical model, then we could be in as much trouble as the other side.

The danger is there. We can see the fissures, and sense that some of our coalition partners are lusting to impose their ideological views on others' areas of primary concern.

It is quite true that a major political re-alignment will involve both parties. If anyone is ready to throw anyone else's baby out of the sled, he or she had best recall how close the last two presidential election had been.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 8, 2006 11:39 AM


The Third Way isn't the end--it's just a means of getting us back to the First Way.

Posted by: oj at March 8, 2006 11:42 AM

There is no political price to be paid for ignoring those who wish to thwart the will of the overwhelming majority.

Posted by: oj at March 8, 2006 11:47 AM

OJ: Which is why it does make a difference who the rider is. Bill Clinton, given his druthers, would ride us back to 1968.

Lou: The hard part is remembering that all these ways of thinking about the world are just different lenses and that, without the lenses, we are incapable of seeing reality itself. (The metaphors a little messed up, but I think you know what I mean.) The reward is that all the different lenses give some reflection of reality and all, even the lefty lenses, allow for the possibility of real insight.

I think that we're perfectly happy to toss each other out of the movement, but we've done a much better job than the left of keeping the movement and the party separate. There does have to be some common ground, however. The econocons and the conocons and the theocons and the neocons have to have some sympathy with, for example, the gun nuts, and vice versa. That's why the paleocons have been easing themselves out of the party; they have less and less in common with the rest of us. But they're in a bit of bind because the Democrats, being more movement based, don't want them even as their desired policy solutions coalesce.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 8, 2006 12:00 PM

It's a democracy, the parties don't get their druthers. They get to do what people want them to do.

Posted by: oj at March 8, 2006 12:04 PM

The first-past-the-post electoral system guarantees there will be 2 major parties. The Democrats will not split, but there will likely be a refiguring of the coalition. This is inevitable, but it will take some time. Great coalition builders can figure out the narrative and agenda to keep such disparate groups together, but they are rare. FDR was one. Reagan was another.

The next one for the Democrats may not come for another 10 years, but eventually the Democrats will tire of losing elections and the far left will swallow its pride. The Republicans in Washington are already showing a great deal or arrogance and corruption. That can continue for a while, but eventually they'll get too bloated and fat for voters to tolerate.

Politics has cycles, and the GOP is already at their zenith of one, not the beginning.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at March 8, 2006 12:10 PM


That's not how either American politics or the Left works. Parties dominate for decades on the strenghth of core ideas. The ideas dominant now--free markets, traditional morality, etc.--are antithetical to the party of the Left so it will be in the wilderness until the next Depression.

Posted by: oj at March 8, 2006 12:17 PM

Chris: The Dems are in such deep trouble because of Roe. Roe preposterously elevated unrestricted abortion to a Constitutional right, which is like saying it's one of the civic Ten Commandments. This began to drive the religious away from the Democrats. So now the Republicans are the home of those who have religious conviction that Abortion is Wrong, and the Democrats are the home of those who have religious conviction (even though it's often the religion of modern secularism) that Any Limit on Abortion is Wrong. And you don't "swallow your pride" on religious beliefs.

Posted by: b at March 8, 2006 12:57 PM

Some percentage of the current hard left will become 'normal' as they grow up and have families of their own. It might be 15%, it might be 25%, it might even be 40%. The present circus of anti-global types, Sheehan-lovers, Deaniacs, tranzis, and BDS victims is unlikely to cling to their myths for 30+ years, as the Vietnam crowd did.

Plus, the near-inevitability of future terror attacks (more than just a single nut shooting at the El Al counter, or a disturbed psych. student driving into a crowd) means that the hard left is going to have to come up with new ways to promote its views in a country that isn't going to shrink from conflict.

Also, people don't swallow their pride for politics. They may change, but they aren't going to vote differently without that change - i.e., they may hold their noses and vote for someone they view as retrograde, but they aren't going to vote for the enemy without first switching sides.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 8, 2006 1:17 PM


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