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March 7, 2006
Are The Democrats Coming Apart?

A coalition of Democrats have begun an effort to wrest control of the Democratic Party away from the train wreck of Howard Dean's chairmanship. This coalition, led by former Clintonista Harold Ickes and funded by George Soros, has selected Ickes to head a data-mining project intended on giving better voter information to key Congressional campaigns:

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.

Ickes and others involved in the effort acknowledge that their activities are in part a vote of no confidence that the DNC under Chairman Howard Dean is ready to compete with Republicans on the technological front. "The Republicans have developed a cadre of people who appreciate databases and know how to use them, and we are way behind the march," said Ickes, whose political technology venture is being backed by financier George Soros.

"It's unclear what the DNC is doing. Is it going to be kept up to date?" Ickes asked, adding that out-of-date voter information is "worse than having no database at all."

Ickes's effort is drawing particular notice among Washington operatives who know about it because of speculation that he is acting to build a campaign resource for a possible 2008 presidential run by Hillary Clinton. She has long been concerned, advisers say, that Democrats and liberals lack the political infrastructure of Republicans and their conservative allies. Ickes said his new venture, Data Warehouse, will at first seek to sell its targeting information to politically active unions and liberal interest groups, rather than campaigns.

It looks like Soros is playing both sides of the street. His money helped launch MoveOn and keeps it going to this day, and that faction of the party is the same that pushed Dean into the top spot at the DNC. Now Soros has chosen to also finance Ickes and his attempt to bypass Dean's inept leadership and the DNC altogether by building a competing GOTV machine.

This puts Democratic candidates in a real bind; normally they would work with their elected leadership to coordinate voter strategy and outreach. However, now they will have to choose between that official leadership and this shadow elite that wants to use Soros' money to bypass the party's official management. This promises to set up a serious split in the party, with incumbents and challengers forced to choose between the two cliques. Even though Soros has involvement in both factions, it will likely develop into a split between the leftists that insisted on Dean for the chair and the people who believe that the Democrats have to come back to the center to be competitive.

In an election that appears to hold the most promise for Democrats in over a decade, this could not come at a worse time. The immediate blame for this goes to the Clintonistas, who have never been happy with Howard Dean -- and who could blame them? The real problem started with his election and the emergence of the Left in the Democratic Party, and the loss of common sense and electoral intelligence it portended.

I find it deliciously ironic that this split will probably become unavoidable all because of a dispute over the best management of data mining. Too bad the Democrats didn't have this kind of enthusiasm for it when Able Danger and LIWA developed usable intelligence that could have identified the 9/11 terror cell before the deadly attacks.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 7, 2006 10:52 PM

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