Monday, April 7, 2008

Anti-McCain Mobilization Rooted in Hardline Anti-Iraq Constituencies

Tom Matzzie

The Politico reports that an attack campaign planned by left-wing fanatics against John McCain appears to have fizzled for a lack of money:

Democratic talk of an early, hard-hitting campaign to "define" and tar Arizona Sen. John McCain appears to have fizzled for lack of money, leading to a quiet round of finger-pointing among Democratic operatives and donors as McCain assembles a campaign and a public image relatively unmolested.

Despite the millions of dollars pooling around
Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, anti-McCain funds have fallen far short of the hopes set in November, when a key organizer, Tom Matzzie, reportedly told The Washington Post that the "Fund for America" would raise more than $100 million to support the activities of a range of allied groups.

The Democratic National Committee, too, is organizing an anti-McCain campaign, but a spokeswoman, Karen Finney, said fundraising to support that effort has met "mixed" results.
The rest of the story details various, ongoing plans for Democratic Party attack advertising and media buys this year (we'll see plenty of anti-McCain ads in the months ahead).

But what caught my eye is the mention of Tom Matzzie, who's noted as a "key organizer" for groups allied with the Democratic Party's efforts at media mobilization against McCain.

This is significant. Matzzie's formerly the Washington Director for

He spearheaded last year's smear campaign against General David Petraeus on the eve of his congressional testimony on Iraq in September. Matzzie
attacked Petraeus' strategic assessments with outright lies, for example, that a long U.S. deployment in Iraq would inevitably lead to the restatement of the draft: "Bush-Petraeus 10 Year War = Endless War and a Draft":

The left's demonization of Petraeus went over poorly in public opinion, giving a black eye in ongoing partisan battles over the war (congressional Democrats even denounced the smear on Petraeus).

Matzzie's shifting gears however. As his profile at Source Watch indicates, he's refocused his efforts this year away from radical direct action to electoral politics:

Tom Matzzie is the former Washington Director and lobbyist for and former Campaign Manager for Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI) who now runs the AAEI spin-off Campaign to Defend America.

On November 11, 2007, the Washington Post reported that MoveOn's Tom Matzzie has been hired to run an AAEI spin-off called Campaign to Defend America, "an independent money machine that will rival or eclipse what they created in 2004, when donors poured millions into two key outside-the-party organizations -- America Coming Together and the Media Fund. ... Those familiar with overall Democratic fundraising plans for 2008 say that everything is still in a very nascent stage, but party heavyweights are clearly on the march -- setting up various organizations that may be integrated into a larger uber-fundraising effort, perhaps under Mattzie's group. Last week John Podesta, a longtime Democratic operative who runs the Center for American Progress, and Anna Burger, a high-ranking official at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) formed a soft-money 527 group called the "Fund for America." Burger is also vice chair of the Democracy Alliance, wealthy liberal funders of various Democratic Party aligned organizations.

In February, 2008 journalists Matt Taibbi analyzed how the MoveOn-led Americans Against Escalation in Iraq has become "a political tool for the Democrats — one operated from inside the Beltway and devoted primarily to targeting Republicans. ... At the forefront of the groups are [former MoveOn lobbyist] Tom Matzzie and Brad Woodhouse... [M]uch of the anti-war group's leadership hails from a consulting firm called Hildebrand Tewes Consulting — whose partners Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes served as staffers for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Matzzie's quoted in the bio as indicating, "I've essentially quit anti-war organizing and gone into politics."

Today's Democratic Party is increasingly captured by hard-left forces extremely hostile to the Iraq war, forces who have much of their own base the hardline anti-American fringes of American politics (more information on MoveOn is available here).

As the Democratic campaign move towards is denouement, look for Matzzie and his radical attack organizations to pick up widespread financial support among mainstrain Democratic constituencies.

See also, "The Hole at the Heart of the Democratic Party."

For the introduction to the "No Enemies" series, see "No Enemies on the Left? Progressives for Barack Obama."

Photo Credit: New York Times