Monday, November 12, 2007

Bob Rubin sure knows how to lose

Flashback to 2004: A time when even though I was crushed about Dean's defeat, I figured that anybody who could string two sentences together and not lead us into a senseless war would beat George W. Bush. Enter Bob Rubin:
He (Jagdish Bhagwati) was rambling on about Kerry, and the Kerry campaign and said that at some point in the general election, after Bob Rubin had signed on as an advisor, he saw Kerry giving a speech in which he blasted “Benedict Arnold” companies for pursuing off-shore tax havens. According to Bhagwati, he picked up the phone and called Kerry and said “If you ever say that again I’m off the campaign.”
Needless to say, the Benedict Arnold line had been getting enthusiastic reception and tested off the charts. It never made another appearance. Another example of the Bob Rubin effect on the Democratic party.
So obviously the 2004 loss was about more than this one thing, but it really shows the idiocy of these DLC consultants. Even though these issues are popular with the public (as well as, you know, the right thing to do) the corporate wing of the party has managed to keep them from ever seeing the light of day. It's funny looking back, because I remember talking to Rahul at the time about Kerry's use of the phrase, and us both thinking that it was a great way to rail against tax cheat companies. For more on Bob Rubin, check out this older profile which includes this shameful story:
In April 2004, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney grew concerned that John Kerry was getting too much of his economic advice from the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party. Kerry had just completed his primary sweep. In the general election, he would need the unions. Sweeney proposed a private meeting to discuss living standards as a campaign issue, and the candidate invited the labor leader to his Beacon Hill home. Sweeney arrived at the Kerry manse, bringing his policy director, Chris Owens, and Jeff Faux of the Economic Policy Institute. There, seated in the elegant living room, were Robert Rubin and two longtime lieutenants: investment banker and former Rubin deputy Roger Altman, and fellow Clinton alum Gene Sperling -- Kerry's key economic advisers.

In a three-hour conversation, the group discussed the deficit, taxes, trade, health care, unions, and living standards. The labor people urged the candidate to go after Wal-Mart's low wages. Rubin countered that a lot of people like Wal-Mart's low prices. Kerry eventually announced that the meeting needed to wrap up, because "Bob has to get back to Washington." Rubin responded that, no, he could stay as long as Kerry wanted. Sweeney and his colleagues were ushered out the door; Rubin, Altman, and Sperling remained. "Wall Street was in the room before we arrived," says Faux, "and they were there after we left."
Bob Rubin is the poster child of the wrong side the Populist/Corporate split within the democratic party. As long as he and other impediments to real change hold sway within the democratic party, no election is a sure thing. 2008 may seem that way now, but remember how we felt in the lead up to 2004. Some people still don't understand that Republican lite will never beat Republican: they're just better at it than we are.

Oh yeah, and this cycle Bob Rubin is supporter of Hillary Clinton. Shocking, I know.

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