October 07, 2003
More Rifts In the Clark Camp Over Micropolitics

Curiouser and curiouser…

Not long ago, I reported on rumblings coming out of the Wesley Clark campaign to the effect that Clark was turning his back on the netroots “draft-Clark” movement, and going instead with a team of campaign pros from the old Clinton-Gore team.

Then, it appeared that maybe Clark wasn’t being so rash after all, when in the wake of those revelations he moved to appease key netroots activists and said all the right things to indicate that he had bought a first class ticket on the cluetrain.

Then I check today’s news and see this:

Yahoo! News - Wesley Clark’s Campaign Manager Quits:

Wesley Clark’s campaign manager quit Tuesday in a dispute over the direction of the Democratic presidential bid, exposing a rift between the former general’s Washington-based advisers and his 3-week-old Arkansas campaign team.

Donnie Fowler told associates he was leaving over widespread concerns that supporters who used the Internet to draft Clark into the race are not being taken seriously by top campaign advisers…

From the start, there has been tension between the campaign’s political professionals and the draft-Clark supporters, many of whom consider computer-savvy Fowler their ally.

Fowler has complained that while the Internet-based draft-Clark supporters have been integrated into the campaign, their views are not taken seriously by [communications adviser Mark ]Fabiani, [policy adviser Ron ]Klain and other top advisers, many of them based in Washington.

Note that Mark Fabiani was the Gore 2000 warhorse whose sudden influence in the Clark campaign was noted in the Daily Kos article I pointed to back at the beginning of this whole brouhaha. (Kos is commenting on Fowler’s departure now, too.)

Now, it’s only fair to note that we only have Donnie Fowler’s word on why he’s stepping down at the moment — it’ll be interesting to hear the campaign’s side of the story. And it’s not like Donnie Fowler is some kind of outside-the-Beltway insurgent himself, either — he’s the son of Don Fowler, the former chairman of the Democratic Party.

But — if he’s right, and all the gestures by Clark to make nice with his netroots were just that, empty gestures, and the real power behind the throne is going to be wielded by a few political pros and big campaign contributors — I foresee a good bit of disillusion heading down the pike for Clark & Co.

UPDATE (10/8/2003): To their credit, the Clark campaign is hosting an open discussion of Fowler’s departure on their blog.

Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at October 07, 2003

He is crazy to shun the grassroots movement that has sprung up without him. Embracing such a movement has worked so well for Dean. I think the reason Clark is choosing not to go this root is that he is being secretly backed by members of the Democratic establishment who are desperate to stop Dean because they don't want an outsider leading the party.

Posted by: Laura in DC on October 9, 2003 12:55 AM
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