How to Win Friends and Influence People
Ellen Tauscher sure did paint a target on her back with a couple of poorly placed comments to the NYT. But it seems her talent for disparaging grassroots activists isn't something new. One of her constituents gives the following account of a speech she gave earlier this year:
I am 18 years old and a senior at Acalanes High School. I am the Youth Outreach Coordinator of the Lamorinda Democratic Club, President and Founder of the Acalanes Democratic Club, member of East Bay for Democracy and East Bay Young Democrats, and during the next several months will be working to create a Contra Costa County Young Democrats. Despite all this involvement, I have only seen Tauscher speak once. Maybe this is because, as a Congresswoman, Tauscher's in DC all the time (which I doubt is the reason because I've heard Miller speak 3 or 4 times) but I suspect that it is more because she does not like dealing with local clubs knowing that she will be put under the spotlight and actually asked tough questions.
One person asked why the Democrat's didn't have a set, united platform. Tauscher responded that they did. After multiple people further questioned about what the platform was and why we didn't know about it, Tauscher expressed her disappointment that we (remember, we're a smart district) hadn't done our research and that if we simply went to her website we'd find her policies. Now, of course this answered no questions because we wanted to know about a united Democratic platform not one Congresswoman's platform. Finally one person got to the point and asked the right question. He wanted a united Democratic platform that was simple and easy for Americans to understand, one similar to the Republican's Contract with America which helped them win in 1994. Tauscher paused a moment and then asked the man if he was a professional activist or politician. The man smiled, shook his head, and responded that he was a doctor. Tauscher promptly replied that she doesn't plan on performing surgery just because she saw it on TV.
As you might assume, the meeting ended shortly after that and Tauscher did not stick around to shake hands. After that meeting I swore I would never vote for Tauscher. It didn't matter that she had well thought out answers to the topics of Iraq, Iran, and Nuclear Bunker Busters or that her record on social issues is quite decent. I wasn't even taking into account her terribly pro-corporate stance on economics. I could not and still cannot vote for Tauscher because she does not believe that we the people should run our government. Her belief that government is for professional activists and politicians undermines all that netroots, grassroots, and the Democratic Party should stand for.
As Kos notes, Tauscher's camp has been doing a Lieberman-esque whine about how the netroots shouldn't be making her life difficult by challenging and disparaging her because it's bad for the party. Somehow this wisdom did not grip her when she was Sista Souljah-ing progressives to the NYT.
And the fact is — if she's got perceptive 18 year-olds running around her district asking pointed questions she can't effectively answer, she's got bigger problems than the netroots. Much bigger.