Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Colorado Political Trivia

I'm awful tempted to follow Kevin Drum out the door for the rest of the day, but instead I guess I'll just post about things that are probably of interest to, well, me, and maybe a handful of you.  Beginning with:

Via Seth, I see that John Hickenlooper has now been sworn in as governor of Colorado.  I'm halfway through Frank Bruni's profile, but I really need to ask this question: what's with all the Democratic politicians in Colorado and Wesleyan University? 

We're talking current Governor Hickenlooper ('74, MA '80).  And current Senator Michael Bennet ('87).  And former (1987-1999) Member of the House David Skaggs ('64).   None of them are from Colorado; they grew up in or near Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York City, respectively.  

This blogger (Wesleyan '85) is curious: has anyone in Colorado politics ever remarked on this odd coincidence? 


  1. I've worked in Colorado politics since graduating law school 5 years ago (including with several of the people named above) and have never heard it mentioned or brought up.

    Tangentially related former Ohio pol Dick Celeste is currently President of Colorado College. He advised then-candidate Bill Ritter on how to select a running mate and that advise ultimately led to Ritter selecting Barbara O'Brien,

    So even when they're retired pols Ohioans are making their marks in Colorado politics.

  2. T.R.,

    I don't know anything about Barbara O'Brien, but I can't help pointing out that the linked article compares here to Bill Belichick. You know, Bill Belichick, Wesleyan '75. Yeah, we're everywhere.

    (But Wesleyan is in CT, not OH, so I'm not sure what the tangential connection is...not that I mind, since it worked out so well).

  3. Drum's position may provide some insight into why the left is routinely routed in the spin wars for at least the past decade, maybe longer.

    Consider: in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, some on the left (rightly, FWIW) questioned the appropriateness of America's vast, not-particularly-discriminating military response. The weakness of that position quickly became a right-wing media meme that was repeated incessantly for years; such messaging hasn't entirely disappeared. The message was political gold that the right mined exhaustively.

    Recently, the right has been exposed for the dangers of its extremist ideology, which the left mentioned for about five minutes before becoming exhausted.

    #11 among the "22 Immutable Laws of Marketing" is this: marketing effects take place over an extended period of time. Leading to an important corollary: put the gears to a good thing.

    It seems fairly obvious that one party follows this law religiously, while the other is basically indifferent to it. Explains a lot, methinks.

  4. CSH,

    Feh. I disagree that "the left is routinely routed in spin wars." At least assuming that you mean liberals (like Drum), and not the actual left. Iraq post-invation; Katrina; the economy in 07-08...in each case, from the polling we have the public agreed with what liberals were saying.

    Yes, there are plenty of counterexamples the other way, but overall I'd be very careful about assuming that one side or the other wins most of the time, at least without careful empirical study.

  5. My assertion above may be incorrect, but in addressing the question, I think I'd want to study the frequency with which policy is enacted contra public opinion, as a result of one side or another winning the spin war. A significant contemporary example for the Right would be the recent two-year extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which, IIRC, is opposed by a majority of Americans.

    The tax cut sop for the wealthy pretty much occurred because the right fought for it harder then the left fought against, yes? That's also why Guantanamo soldiers on, no public option in the ACA, no climate legislation on the horizon, etc.

    In fact, I am hard pressed to come up with an example of contemporary left-wing political victories when opposed by the right and a majority of the public. If I had to bet, I'd unhesitatingly claim that the right wins way more of these then the left, and I'd say its because the right fights much more diligently.

    But I'd be curious to see the empirical data.

  6. So I was thinking about the above comment today, and it occurred to me that the conclusion overlooks two important factors: first, that the 21st Century Right is a bit nihilistic, making it hard to oppose your opponent's popular policies when he doesn't really have any.

    Second, every cite in the post above shares a common thread: deep-pocketed interests pushing for the outcomes against public consensus. Especially in the post-organized labor era, deep-pocketed agitators tend to be scarce on the left (while ubiquitous on the right).

    I was going to let it go at that, figured that most folks reading the post above saw those flaws, and anyway, if I tried to walk back every half-baked comment I'd have no time left on the tubes. But thinking a bit further - and this is a bit O/T - it seems that the disproportionate influence of big-money agitators (on the right v. left) explains quite a bit about the difference in rhetoric, power of partisan media, etc. I hadn't fully appreciated the influence of big money previously.

    Which has lots of interesting implications which are obviously off-topic. I'll share one: courting big money may be the unacknowledged genius of Murdock/Ailes and right wing radio. Its not just the old folks who now have a channel ideologically suited to them; its the institutions willing to invest in the development of brands like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others, each of whom is without parallel on the left, not because the left lacks passionate advocates, but rather because the left lacks big money institutions whose self-interest would support the nurturing of such brands. Pretty big aha for me (if a bit O/T for this thread).

  7. Jon,

    I think the answer is simple.

    Williams grads can't crowd them out, because Williams graduates some truly awful politicians (Garfield, Bill Simon, and Martha Coakley are amongst our graduates). And Amherst? Come on, let's be realistic. Elections tend to weed out people that are THAT stupid.


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