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Hullabaloo


Saturday, April 06, 2013

 
Oh good: the Obama campaign apparatus is going to primary liberals from the right

by digby

Hey kids, guess what? The Obama campaign team is going to try to primary liberal Democrats from the right. I'm not kidding:

Rohit (Ro) Khanna isn’t a member of Congress yet, but people who encounter him might think otherwise. He’s outgoing and amiable. He wears dark suits and polished shoes. When we met for pizza in Palo Alto recently, he had already adopted the politician’s habit of speaking in the royal “we.” As in, “The old model of politics is to run against someone and point out their deficiencies. We want to try a new model—run a campaign that is excellent in substance, in execution, in figuring out how to get people involved and win on excellence, as opposed to tearing people down.”

Khanna, 36, is campaigning to represent California’s 17th District, which includes much of Silicon Valley. Apple (AAPL), Cisco (CSCO), and Intel (INTC) all have headquarters there. On paper, he’s the Platonic ideal of a candidate for 2013: He’s a first-generation Indian American, an Ivy League-educated technology lawyer, and already a veteran of the Obama administration, having done a stint as a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Still, the odds of his representing anyone in Congress next year look awfully long. Khanna is vying to unseat incumbent Democrat Mike Honda, a seven-term congressman. In March, Honda’s campaign released a poll showing him with a 52-point lead over Khanna, who drew a meager 5 percent support.

What makes Khanna more interesting than your typical underdog is who else he has in his corner. On April 2, when he announced that he would challenge Honda, he also revealed that the people who will be running his campaign are many of the same ones who just got Barack Obama reelected. Even though Khanna has never been elected to anything, he has managed to sign up one of Obama’s top-three fundraisers, Steve Spinner, as his campaign chairman; Obama’s national field director, Jeremy Bird, as his chief strategist; and the president’s media firm, pollster, and data-analytics team, along with assorted other veterans of the reelection. Their aim is to build at the congressional level the same type of campaign they ran for Obama. It’s as if Bill Belichick and the staff of the New England Patriots decided to coach a high school football team.

You have to love the fact that they see their legacy in these terms:

Khanna is the first test case. He might seem an unlikely choice—not only because Hillary Clinton, or a promising gubernatorial candidate, or one of the many vulnerable Democratic senators up for reelection in 2014 all seem like more natural beneficiaries of this state-of-the-art campaign firepower, but also because Khanna is taking on a fellow Democrat. Yet the merit of challenging a popular establishment figure is deeply ingrained in the people who inhabit the president’s inner orbit. They see themselves as being loyal to something larger and purer than party alone. That was the rationale for challenging Clinton in 2008. It’s also the reason they give for supporting Khanna. “In 2007 we saw a guy who most people didn’t know and didn’t give much chance to be president,” says Larry Grisolano, a strategist and ad maker for Obama. “But we thought we could build a movement around his personal story and vision for the future. That’s what attracted us to Obama. These people don’t come around every day. But we all have an excitement about races that have that possibility. I think that in Ro, there’s the sense that he’s that kind of candidate.”
[...]
In Washington, Obama’s idea of a post-partisan America has gone stale. Khanna and his advisers believe that its power endures. His own flourish is recasting that idea as the pathway to economic salvation. “I believe there are ways of cutting past some of the ideological logjams in Washington when it comes to issues of American economic competitiveness and a pro-growth agenda,” he says. By implication, Honda, the reliable party man, is part of the problem—a message that doubles as an appeal to the independents and Republicans who will vote in the open primary.

“The Obama vision is still in demand,” Grisolano says. “I think you’ll hear candidates across the country trying to meet it. When you listen to Ro, you’ll hear it. It’s very Obama-like in its echoes of challenging Hillary.”

As I have often suspected, that campaign was more important to them than any victory over the Republicans. This was their ecstatic moment of glory and they just want to live it over and over again. I recall the president himself referencing the campaign for years after he was president as proof of his competence (even though political campaigns and governance only tangentially require the same skills.) Meanwhile, the rest of the country and all but the most delirious of campaign partisans moved on long ago.

If it weren't for the vast sums of money they will tap to take out liberals I'd just dismiss this as sort of sad. Unfortunately you can't ever dismiss that kind of money especially when it's coming from the right.

Update:  Haha.  It looks as though they don't have the support of everyone from the Obama campaign:

Honda’s staff issued a release early this morning announcing that President Obama has endorsed him for re-election in the 17th Congressional District, certainly one of the earliest endorsements of the 2014 congressional campaign cycle.

“Congressman Mike Honda is the right leader for the 17th district. Together, we’ve worked hard these last four years to bring meaningful, positive change to our nation, but there is much more to do,” Obama said. “As we continue rebuilding our economy from the middle out, we know expanding educational opportunities is critical. Congressman Honda’s lifelong commitment to education and fierce advocacy for innovation and technology is exactly what this nation needs as we continue to move America forward.

“We need Congressman Mike Honda in the United States Congress, and I urge you to vote to keep him there.”

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