solaris_219 (solaris_219) wrote in olympiasnowe08,

A quick update on what's going on - and the bankruptcy bill

Since the site went live on March 1st, I've not really posted much of anything by way of an update - I wanted to post a quick "this is where we're at". I also want to make a quick note about the bankruptcy bill, which I'll get to in a minute.

Here's what we've been working on: there are currently two critical "foundational" projects underway. The first is technical, and thus within my remit; the second is strategic, which I'm not especially qualified to speak to. I'll start with the second, because that's the subject on which I have the least to say. We've been blessed with a handfull of people who have a lot of experience with, and ideas on, running an actual campaign. I try to keep something at the forefront of my mind at all times when I'm getting bogged down in the technical minutiae of what I'm working on: the quote from Ken Mehlman I posted back on 2/21: "Technology is a way you communicate a leader's message, a candidate's message, a campaign's message - they are not a substitute for the message". Technology is no substitute for a message, and I think Sen. Snowe has one. However, we also need a strategy for how to move the campaign forwards and to move the campaign beyond the web - certainly, we are going to use the web extensively, but it is not and can not be anything more than a tool to the ultimate objective: building a case and a movement. We are working on building that strategy.

Let me make a very broad and general note about my little corner of Snowe08 (the official title of which, I think we have determined, is "The Campaign to Draft Olympia Snowe" - Snowe08 or OS08, our internal shorthand, if used in public contexts, carries the risk of people thinking that we're officially sanctioned, which we are not), which is the technical stuff. As mentioned above, we are going to be be using the internet to tie the campaign together: as a recruiting ground, as a communication tool, and as a means of rolling out tools to volunteers nationwide. My task in the last two weeks has been in completing the back-end that will allow us to do that; it's been a slow process, because of other commitments I have, but we're nearly there. Once that work is done, I think we're going to be in very good shape, we'll have a very solid foundation on which to build, a good system for bringing people in and communicating with them.

So right now, we're still rather inwardly-focussed - we had a really nice burst of publicity immediately prior to the launch of the site, and that's brought in a lot of interest, and we're working on the strategic and technical framework that is going to let us go forwardly confidently, effectively and with a high level of confidence in the technology we're using. The thing to keep in mind is that no-one has ever done anything like this before - although we draw precedents from Dean for America, from Draft Clark, from Bush-Cheney '04, no-one has ever tried to do something quite like this (a genuine draft movement in the information age); Dean was seeking the nomination before his campaign coalesced, and I don't get the impression that General Clark needed drafting so much as inviting. We are in the slightly different position of supporting a candidate who isn't seeking the office, and that carries a unique set of burdens - but personally, I think that her seeming lack of aspiration to the power of the Presidency is another good reason why she should get the office.

Now, my nose has been deep in the the technology trough, to the point where I took my eyes off the Senate, and we're getting people e-mailing about why Sen. Snowe is supporting the bankruptcy bill, not to mention all the various traffic in the blogosphere. I hope to be able to speak with some kind of authority on that matter later this week, but for now, I'm going to refrain. As noted above, running a campaign without the sanction of the person you're campaigning for does carry certain burdens, and one of them is that it isn't as simple as just calling her and asking for an explanation, in the way that, say, the Dean campaign could ask their candidate for an explanatory 101 on something he vetoed.

One thing that I do want to address, though, is this ludicrous notion that Sen. Snowe "voted against an increase in the minimum wage" in the process of the voting on the bill.

Here's the text of a letter I just sent off to the Times-Record on this matter:

I write to express dismay at your recent editorial regarding Senator Olympia Snowe's vote against the Kennedy Amendment to the Bankruptcy Bill ("Senate failed the test", 03/09/2005).

Your editorial attempts to charactertize Senator Snowe as being opposed to a rise in the Federal minimum wage, based on her vote against the Kennedy Amendment, which you insist on referring to as a "bill". Neither contention is accurate, and I can't help but suspect that the latter inaccuracy is an attempt to support the former. As Senator Kerry discovered to his cost last year, the voting public is usually unaware of (and uninterested in) the minutiae of Senatorial procedure, but that uninterest and misunderstanding can only be fostered by articles such as the one you chose to run, and for that reason, I feel compelled to contend the point.

Senator Snowe supports the Bankruptcy bill, and opposed an attempt by Senator Kennedy to kill that legislation by way of an attatchment which would provoke the bill's demise in the House of Representatives. If the amendment had passed, the bill would have died in the House - great for the bill's opponents, not so great for the bill's supporters, and in neither instance would the minimum wage have risen. The extremely relevant question that your editorial fails to ask is, if Senator Kennedy's intent was to raise the minimum wage, why was his attempt to do so presented as an amendment to a hugely controversial and complex piece of legislation, rather than a bill of its own?

Senator Kennedy is an extraordinarily skilled and experienced politician; unlike his Junior colleague from Massachusetts, he knows and understands that the headline that people will read will be "GOP Senators oppose raise in minimum wage", not "Kennedy attempts to kill bankruptcy legislation through procedural mavouvering". But it is still the latter which is true, not the former. This was not about the minimum wage - it was about the attempt by opponents of the bankruptcy bill to attatch to that legislation a poison pill. No Senator who genuinely supports the bankruptcy bill could vote for Kennedy's amendment - no matter how supportive of the minimum wage they might be when that is the issue at hand.

As a further correction, your editorial states - with heavy inference - that Congress has raised its own pay while declining to raise the minimum wage. It should be noted that Senator Snowe opposed the Congressional pay raise in 2002 and 2003, while also voting to return money to the taxpayers in supporting the President's tax cuts. More information on this latter point can be found on the website of the National Taxpayer's Union:
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