Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 28, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE CONSULTANT RACKET....It's a blogosphere truism these days that Democrats are too reliant on a tired bunch of Beltway consultants who are out of touch with the liberal base, reflexively recommend poll-driven caution and mushiness, and have losing streaks that make the '62 Mets look good. But you would have heard about this more than two years ago if you'd been subscribing to the Washington Monthly back then. Amy Sullivan told the whole story in "Fire the Consultants," in our January 2005 issue:

[Joe] Hansen is part of a clique of Washington consultants who, through their insider ties, continue to get rewarded with business even after losing continually. Pollster Mark Mellman is popular among Democrats because he tells them what they so desperately want to hear: Their policies are sound, Americans really agree with them more than with Republicans, and if they just repeat their mantras loud enough, voters will eventually embrace the party....Hansen and Mellman are joined by the poster boy of Democratic social promotion, Bob Shrum. Over his 30-year career, Shrum has worked on the campaigns of seven losing presidential candidates--from George McGovern to Bob Kerrey--capping his record with a leading role in the disaster that was the Gore campaign. Yet, instead of abiding by the "seven strikes and you're out" rule, Democrats have continued to pay top dollar for his services.

I've been reading the Monthly for nearly three decades now, and it's because stories like this pop up in virtually every issue. It's great stuff, and it's stuff you won't find anywhere else. You really, really ought to be reading it every month.

So subscribe today. It's only 30 bucks and it just takes a minute. You can subscribe for yourself here. Or order a gift subscription here.

Kevin Drum 3:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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Comments

Amy Sullivan wrote something that didn't have to do with religion?

Posted by: grape_crush on February 28, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

You're building a compelling case here, Kevin. A couple more good excerpts showing the quality of the magazine's journalism, and you'll probably lure the $30 out of my wallet.

Posted by: Vanessa on February 28, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I miss Ms. Sullivan's contributions to PA. Even though I rarely agreed with her point of view, she brought up opinions shared by many people and subjects I like to rant upon.

Posted by: Brojo on February 28, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK


When I was in DC yesterday, I bought an issue of Washington Monthly. Do you know what was the best part?

No ads that I noticed! I tire of magazines that are so loaded with ads that I literally have to go through dozens of pages just to find the articles.

Posted by: Brian on February 28, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Are you really trying to claim that Amy Sullivan was ahead of the curve with a story about consultants TWO years ago? Is this why we should get the Monthly, so that we can read the 30 year old stories that you pretend to break?

Posted by: david mizner on February 28, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

At least the '62 Mets were lovable losers -- with Manager Casey Stengel publicly asking if anyone on the team could "play this game", they probably attracted significant attendance just from the camp factor alone.

The only thing Bob Shrum has in common with the Mets' catcher in '62, "Marvelous Marv" Thronberry, is that both managed to parley mediocrity into a lucrative career. The significant difference between the two is that Thronberry fully realized his limitations, and thus had the good sense to never take himself too seriously.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 28, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Brian: "I tire of magazines that are so loaded with ads that I literally have to go through dozens of pages just to find the articles."

Next time you're in Hawaii, try picking up and thumbing through a copy of our local morning paper, the Honolulu Advertiser. The only thing Rush Limbaugh has ever said with which I was in full agreement was his observation about The Advertiser as "the only newspaper I ever saw that fully strives to live up to its name."

The editors have said that the Advertiser is designed with the notion that it should be a "quick read", and in that they've undoubtedly succeeded in spades. To add insult to injury, they charge 75 cents a copy -- a quarter more than the Los Angeles Times!

The line below the New York Times masthead reads "All the News That's Fit to Print". There should be a line below the Advertiser mastehead that reads, "All the News That'll Fit, We'll Print".

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 28, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'll subscribe when this blog has user registration.

Posted by: Tanuki on February 28, 2007 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

What the f are you people talking about? Dems won the presidency three out of the last four times: in '92 and '96, and they even won it in 2000 -- Gore won the popular vote AND the ectoral college -- it was determined after the fact that if the vote recount in FL had been allowed to continue, he would have won FL and thus the electoral college. AND THIS WAS DESPITE THE FACT THAT GORE WAS BUTCHERED NOT JUST BY THE RIGHT, BUT BY THE MAINSTREAM PRESS -- probably worse than any presidential candidate ever. (Kevin, what would Bob Somerby say about this screaming ommission in your account above?) And by the way, Dems just took BOTH House and Senate in case you hadn't noticed. Good god, talk about "revisionist" history.

Posted by: Mike Lautermilch on February 28, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Tanuki: I'll subscribe when this blog has user registration.

American Squawk Over my dead body.

Hey, I'll gladly take that trade-off.

Seriously though, patrolling, yes. Registration, no.

1. It's pretty easy to tell who the sock puppets are.

2. Sock-puppetry can allow someone to step out of their screen persona and away from their screen face to make a (sometimes good) point.

Plus, I also like how sometimes handles are used as part of the message.

Posted by: no registration is a net plus on February 28, 2007 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

I have a client who subscribes to the washington monthly. It's a really really good magazine. It and tapped and reason are the 3 best political magazines (no opinion about which is better.) Almost good enough to read cover to cover. Really good writing.

But paying for a magazine is so 1990s when blogs are around. Get with the times. The days of paying for magazine content is over.

I'm giving a couple donations to my favorite bloggers instead.

Posted by: TomK on February 28, 2007 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'd been meaning to resubscribe, but I get most
of my current subscriptions electronically now
(eg .PDF). for example, The American Prospect,
and TNR (cough...), SciAM, and so on, with the
subscription fees on auto-draft.

The Washington Monthly ought consider offering
electronic subscription; I'd sign up in a hearbeat.

Posted by: LarryB on February 28, 2007 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Of all the issues that concern inmates, which do you think concerns them more: the violation of their right to vote, or the repeated rape and physical assault?

Posted by: JB on February 28, 2007 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

Of all the issues that concern inmates, which do you think concerns them more: the violation of their right to vote, or the repeated rape and physical assault?

Not that this is the right thread, but as long as they don't have the right to vote, what makes you think public officials are going to even give a passing thought to addressing what concerns them?

Further, if criminalization wasn't a useful tool for disenfranchisement, maybe the increasing criminalization of American society and the consequent increasing incarceration and resulting overcrowded, uncontrollable prisons wouldn't happen in the first place.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 1, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK
Of all the issues that concern inmates, which do you think concerns them more: the violation of their right to vote, or the repeated rape and physical assault
plus, learn to read - it said felons _who_have_served_their_time Posted by: firefall on March 1, 2007 at 3:21 AM | PERMALINK

learn to read

Oh c'mon, this is like asking him to shed his ah, 'philosophy.'

Posted by: Not all conservatives are stupid, but most stupid people... on March 1, 2007 at 4:03 AM | PERMALINK

Peddling Amy Sullivan's tripe is not good marketing here, Kevin.

Posted by: Marlowe on March 1, 2007 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Donald from Hawaii,

To continue the analogy of the Mets and their first baseman Marvelous Marv, Kerry could have emulated Casey by saying, "I would have given Shrum a birthday cake, but he might have dropped it."

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 1, 2007 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

You realize of course, bloggers were saying that and it was conventional wisdom BEFORE 2004?

Posted by: MNPundit on March 1, 2007 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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