We Read The Atlantic's Paul Maslin Piece So You Don't Have To
All you need to know about pollster Paul Maslin's first-person account of the Dean campaign:
• Much of it is spent talking about polling.
• There is one really outstanding section of dirt about Joe Trippi. Sample: While more reliable than Dean about staying "on message," he also turns over a desk "in a rage," he calls Dean's assistant "That bitch," and was a press hog. (Quoted in full after the jump.)
• Then it goes back to passages like this:
- We had decided to test two messages in that poll. One stressed the story of the campaign and its reliance on small givers—in essence arguing that Dean would be uniquely able to break the power of special interests. It produced a good but hardly overwhelming response. The other likened Bush's handling of the economy to the practices of Enron—in both cases the rich and powerful made off with the money while ordinary people got screwed. This message tested much better.
There may be some better stuff after that, but our computer crashed when our face hit the keyboard. Maybe you need to read it yourself after all.
The Front-Runner's Fall [TheAtlantic.com]
Trippi was the one person other than Dean—and at times the only person, including Dean—who could be counted on to stay on message, yet he so jealously guarded his press contacts and attention that even his closest associates were wary of talking to the media for fear of alienating him. He believed passionately in Howard Dean's message, yet he allowed himself to become almost a rival messenger; he came to be viewed, by supporters and detractors alike, as the true core of the campaign, more so even than the candidate himself.
It should have been no surprise that normal petty jealousies and staff rivalries, when combined with a full dose of Trippi, led to a very dysfunctional organization. (Trippi would often joke, "If these other campaigns only knew what this campaign is really like ...") Slights, real and imagined, bred accusations that were hurled back and forth in our Burlington office or in hushed phone conversations around the country. Joe threatened to leave more than once, predicting disaster all along; those who were not fans of his threatened on several occasions to have Dean replace him. At one point he overturned a desk in rage in front of his personal assistant, Kristen Morgante, who not surprisingly walked out of the office and didn't return until two days later, after Trippi had apologized. Another characteristic outburst occurred in a hotel in Des Moines, when Dean balked at Trippi's idea of putting out a pamphlet aping Thomas Paine's Common Sense because he had been given only a couple of days to review it before the printing deadline. Trippi blamed Kate O'Connor, Dean's closest aide, for the holdup; he left the candidate's suite, threw his cell phone down the corridor, and screamed, "That bitch!"