Thursday, July 13, 2006


Responding to Sirota

Earlier today I put up a post on the new pro-Joe Lieberman blog (Lieberdem) that was meant to rebut recent commentaries from Democratic blogger David Sirota and Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson.

Among other things, I challenged Sirota's credibility by revealing that he had interviewed for jobs in Lieberman's Senate office and presidential campaign not long before he began viciously attacking the Senator. Sirota responded on his blog much as I expected, with a slew of personal attacks, disingenuous claims, and easily-documented inaccuracies.

Here is the follow-up post I put up on Lieberdem earlier this evening.


A friend forwarded me David Sirota's reply to my post from earlier today, in which I exposed the fact Sirota had interviewed to work for Lieberman's Senate office and presidential campaign not long before he began viciously attacking the Senator. I fully expected Sirota to attack me personally and rationalize his hypocritical behavior, but there is no way I could have predicted the masterstroke in self-delusion he produced.

In explaining his decision to interview in 2003 with the target of his current hatred, Sirota actually goes so far as to claim he thought he of all people might be able to bring Lieberman to his senses:

"I figured Lieberman might have been considering a reform of his politics back to the old days when he was far more progressive, and that they wanted me to discuss progressive strategy with them. What other reason would Lieberman people call me and ask me to chat with them?"

The rest of the piece is so similarly and comically self-aggrandizing that I am tempted to just let it stand for itself. But because Sirota's delusions get in the way of the truth in a number of relevant places, and might cloud the impressions of casual readers, I thought it was important to clear up the worst inaccuracies in Sirota's reply.

1) I am not Joe Lieberman's "top political consultant." If Sirota had bothered to check his facts, he would know that I stopped working for Senator Lieberman in the spring of 2004, and have not been in his paid employ since. I have no formal association with his reelection campaign, though I am trying to helpful as a friend and admirer of my old boss. And no one asked me to do this post -- it was purely my idea.

2) This is not my blog. It was recently started by a Lieberman supporter named Matt Smith, who I never had any contact with until a few days ago, when I asked him if he would mind if I contributed a post here and there. (If anyone is interested, I do have my own blog:

3) Notwithstanding Sirota's overheated use of the word lie, he does not in the slightest disprove anything I said about his seeking jobs with Lieberman. I wrote that he had job interviews both with the Senate office and Lieberman's presidential campaign in 2003, and I think any reasonable person would deduce that if Sirota wasn't interested in working for the man he so despises now, he wouldn't have interviewed in one of those shops, let alone both.

4) I have never said a word about the outcome of those interview processes, on this blog or anywhere else, nor accused Sirota of sour grapes. I only noted that Sirota came in for interviews, which was more than enough to reveal his rank hypocrisy. Plus, after seeing more closely how he operates, the last word I would ever use to describe my feelings about Sirota not coming to work with me for Lieberman is "angry."

Now, others have noted to me that it is curious that Sirota only discusses his interview with the Lieberman Senate office, and says nothing about the presidential campaign. Maybe that is because Sirota did not take himself out of the running for that job, but was rejected by the campaign, something that was confirmed to me by a person with firsthand knowledge of the interview. That same person noted that when Sirota was asked why someone who seemed so liberal wanted to work for Joe Lieberman, "he specifically said that he was excited to have a Jew in the White House."

4) Speaking of Jewish, nowhere in my post did I "play the Jewish card" against Sirota in my post, as he disingenuously suggests. I simply made a general point about the views of Lieberman-haters about Israel and other issues. Here is the passage in question:

"Once you strip away these flimsy arguments and faulty claims, what you see is that Meyerson and Sirota and their comrades-in-anger are simply projecting their own views and biases, not those of Connecticut's Democrats. THEY think Lieberman is wrong on trade and Israel and other pet issues of the angry activist base, most everyone they talk to in the blogosphere thinks Lieberman is wrong on these same matters, and so of course most Democrats in Connecticut must agree -- which ipso facto makes Lieberman out-of-touch with his constituents."

Nowhere in there do I accuse anyone of anti-Semitism. And to the less self-aggrandizing reader, it would be obvious that the use of the word "they" there was meant to be general and not to single out Sirota. But if Sirota feels I mistakenly lumped him into the category of those haters who think Lieberman is wrong on Israel, then I apologize for my lack of precision, and I look forward to getting Sirota's statement of support on Lieberman's position.

5) My favorite part of Sirota's post is his accusation that I am making "a great living off Big Money's dime." As he could have seen from simply checking my website, a courtesy I gave Sirota, almost all of my consulting clients have been small, progressive advocacy groups -- such as the community coalition that is fighting the massive basketball arena development in Brooklyn, for whom I do pro-bono advising. Frankly, I would bet that between all Sirota's consulting work, his speaking appearances, and his thoughtful new book, he is making a good bit more money than I am.

In full disclosure, I did do some work to help Duke University launch a new environmental policy center, but don't think that's what Sirota had in mind. My only corporate client I have had to date is the Connecticut-based Pilot Pen Corporation, and in that case I helped them arrange an event in Washington to promote a widely-praised reading program they had funded.

As for political clients, I have had two. One was a progressive Democratic candidate for Public Advocate in New York City named Andrew Rasiej, who made it his cause to take on Time Warner, Verizon and other big telecom companies that were standing in the way of universal Wi-Fi, the centerpiece of Rasiej's agenda. The other is Tom Suozzi, the reform-minded Nassau County Executive, who is running against Eliot Spitzer in the Democratic primary for governor in New York. Suozzi dismantled the corrupt Republican machine in Nassau to become County Executive, and his gubernatorial campaign is focused on taking back New York's dysfunctional state government from the big-monied special interests Sirota detests and making it work for the people again.

Sirota is right about one thing. I am technically a political loser -- Rasiej got his head handed to him, Suozzi is way behind in the polls to Spitzer, and we all know what happened to Senator Lieberman's presidential bid. I'd like to think I added some value to those campaigns, which were all longshots from the start for varying reasons, but there is no denying the results. I'm not sure, though, how that distinguished me from other Democrats, I'm sad to say. Nor, more importantly, do I have any idea how that is relevant to the question at hand, which is whether Sirota and other out-of-state Lieberman-haters have any legitimacy in speaking for most Connecticut Democrats or judging what's mainstream.

I thought my original blog post fairly effectively discredited Sirota's credibility on this count -- notice in his post that he does not contest the fact that he has attacked Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for being bad Democrats. But if there were any doubts after reading my post, Sirota's fantastical reply should eliminate them once and for all.

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