Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Democratic Candidates,Take The Pledge: "If Nominated, I Will Not Hire Bob Shrum"

Experience vs. judgment.

Bob Schrum has experience, lots of it.

By Mark Leibovich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 10, 2004; Page C01

Each day at the Democratic convention in Boston, a team of 10 speechwriters would convene in a windowless office behind the Fleet Center podium to help compose and polish that night's speeches. In the spirit of camaraderie, the speechwriters discussed making T-shirts for themselves.

One suggested a design featuring the slogan "Reverse the Curse" over a picture of Bob Shrum, the Democratic strategist whom many perceived to be presidential candidate John Kerry's closest adviser. "The Curse" referred to Shrum's career-long slump in presidential campaigns, a well-catalogued losing streak that runs from George McGovern to Al Gore.

The shirts were never made for fear of offending Shrum. But the slogan endures as a joke among Kerry staffers. The implication is that Kerry is battling not just President Bush, but also the history of his ever-present aide-de-camp. It also underscores the degree to which Shrum's 0-7 win-loss record in presidential elections has become ensconced in the psyches of the campaigns he orchestrates.

Well, that was before the 2004 election. Now he's 0-8. From today's New York Times:

It was the spring of 2004, and Senator John Kerry had just secured the Democratic presidential nomination. But as huge sums of money began pouring into his campaign, his top strategists had more on their minds than just getting ready for a tough race against President Bush.

Behind the scenes, they were fighting over the lucrative fees for handling Mr. Kerry’s television advertising. The campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, became so fed up over the squabbling that she told the consultants, led by Robert Shrum, one of the most prominent and highly paid figures in the business, to figure out how to split the money themselves.

Divvy it up they did. Though the final tally has never been publicly disclosed, interviews and records show that the five strategists and their firms ultimately took in nearly $9 million, the richest payday for any Democratic media consultants up to then and roughly what the Bush campaign paid its consultants for a more extensive ad campaign.

Mr. Shrum and his two partners, Tad Devine and Mike Donilon, walked away with $5 million of the total. And that was after Ms. Cahill, in the closing stages of the race that fall, diverted $1 million that would otherwise have gone to the consultants to buying more advertising time in what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to defeat Mr. Bush.

It's time for the Democratic candidates to pledge that, if nominated, they won't use Shrum. Can you point to a recent Democratic candidate who did not hire Shrum? That's right, Bill Clinton.

Let's get Carville and Begala back on board!

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Anonymous said...

I agree all D candidates should take this pledge and hire a competent media firm. But your analysis has a critical flaw. John Kerry did win in 2004. The important subject matter of any D candidate pledge must be never to repeat Kerry's unforgivable, abhorrent concession, an act which will stand in infamy as one of the greatest crimes against democracy of all time.

Ginny Ross

Mister Mxyzptlk said...

You may be right about that. And of course many would say Al Gore really won in 2000. But here's the rub: Both should have won definitively enough that shenanigans in Florida (2000) or Ohio (2004) wouldn't have been enough to turn the result.

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