Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Beyond the Ballot: After Lunch Liveblogging

430PM As the conference closed for the afternoon, an proclamation was made that the City of New Orleans had declared November 9 Bipartisan Day. The proclamation was signed by all city council representatives.

3:30PM Politics of Crisis

Kathleen Koch moderating: During times of crisis, partisan politics are the furthest thing from the mind. National crises are what governments are supposed to do.

Lanny Davis: Country has a good track record putting asite partisan nature to respond to crises; September 11, Oklahoma City, Katrina and the Flood. But the focus also tends to be on scandal.

Koch: But does this country always get it right.
Hilary Rosen: Remember Katrina different than Lanny does. Bush was classic leader after September 11, CEO in shirt sleeves. Democrats were unforgiving after Katrina.

Koch: Dan is that what you were trying to accomplish?
Dan Bartlett: Political environment in Washington didn't allow much flexibility in 2005, but there may have been too much politization of the response. See also the Financial Crisis, parties came together, reluctantly, did what they had to do, reluctantly, and both got punished for it.

Koch: What is the lesson to be taken from bipartisanship being punished?
Paul Begala: It is more complicated. Sometimes you have to hold onto your partisanship. Wish the GOP had kept FDR from interning Japanese Americans in WWII. TARP could have been better constructed, even if the taxpayers will get money in the end, Wall Street made the most money.

Joeseph Cao: Everyone wants to help people, but scoring political points happens. During Katrina, Democrats took punches at Bush for inability to act. During the Oil Spill, GOP took punches at the President to make him look bad. Drilling moratorium was enacted by President and Democrats to appeal to interests on the left.

Koch: What responsibility does the media have to provide atmosphere where working together can happen?
Rosen: Media were unusually involved in Katrnia coverage; Anderson Cooper in the Convention Center yelling at Mary Landrieu. Television news makes journalists part of the story.
Davis: Difference between "media" doing fact checking and "internet media" that don't have to fact check items and can print anything. Ideological bias in all media organizations, but distinction between fact-checking and verification of facts. Reporters who get things wrong can claim "it was all over the internet" to publish the story.
Bartlett: Media pushed to get story out quickly, sometimes keeps fact checking from being done. Deal with own emotions, journalist emotions, sprinkle on partisanship and it makes ability to deal with crisis more difficult.
Begala: Different roles between media and officials.

Power cut out around that time, so I wasn't able to take notes. However, as the panel wrapped up, Begala did get in several zingers (shocker): The PATRIOT ACT and the Iraq War are examples of bipartisan behavior where he wishes Democrats would have held onto their principles more robustly. He also mentioned that if you want to go to a place where there was no partisanship, North Korea doesn't have anyone arguing over politics.

320PM Technicals...

Politics of Crisis panel coming up. This is the one I really want to see. I hope I'll have enough power to keep posting. The lack of outlets in the room is a real drag for people updating on their computers, even if I don't see many doing that.

I've seen several Twitterers, but the internet focus of this gathering seems to be on broadcasting the information via the internet.

As far as the handout materials, they are very helpful. The Program is a full glossy booklet with the schedule and participants, sponsorship pages, and participant bios with pictures. That way, you always know who is talking and why they are participating in the panel.

The internet connection to Tulane has been fast and easily accesible, as you can expect.

The room is much more comfortable now, as the crowd has been cut roughly in half. Though the AC is making the room very cold in the absence of the standing room only crowd.

220PM The Democracy Project

Specific ways to make a meaningful difference. What are the structural architectures of democracy?

Walter Issacson, Moderator: Growing up in New Orleans, it was one large congressional district. Hale Boggs represented the district, and had to appeal to different constituencies. After he died, and his wife stepped down from the seat, the district was split up by specific constituencies.

Looking at redistricting and civility.

Redistricting: Steve Case. Watched Washington deteriorate into hyperpartisanship. While partisanship is to be expected, it is noticably worse over the past several decades. Not much conversation outside specific interests. Most redistricting is about preserving incumbency, does not create exchange of ideas healthy to democracy.

Dirk Kempthorne: Local government is closer to people, and is most accessible. You can find your local officials in their coffee shops.

Dan Glickman: Politics is tough, hard, important business. Sometimes it has a mean spirit, and that's nothing new. But it is worse now. There are no incentives in the system right now to get people to work together, there is no push for people to find common ground. Mutual respect builds trust. Social engagement may get people to like each other, and that will tone down rhetoric.

Case: Redistricting is one of the critical issues. In the past few decades, districts have been a very precise science for preservation of incumbency. Incentivises extremes, coupled with cable, radio and internet, people talk past each other. More competitive districts will lead to more responsive candidates, appealing to diverse constituencies. Must use internet to spread the word.

Kempthorpe: Districts have to represent communities, can't just be drawn specifically to maximize votes. Can you come together after the atmosphere created by an election like the last one. Lincoln - Douglass debates were intense and expressing competing views, but were civil. Engagement has to be done in a way that is healthy for democracy.

Glickman: Has faced redistricting twice. Self-preservation is a big deal, even in politics. Politicians get to pick their voters. It has to be done in a more fair way. Voting Rights Act has required by law that minority voters cannot be intentionally diminished. Divisiveness of last election was so vicious because so many people are so uncertain of future and distrustful.

Issacson: To what extent is Gerrymandering causing the increased divisiveness?

Glickman: It is a contributing factor, but a bigger problem is the amount of money involved.

Kempthorpe: It also has to do with structure, families. Elected officials now leave every weekend; families don't live in Washington. Was once 3 weeks on, one week off.

Case: Political structures like this may sound soft and squishy, but these are real structural factors.

Glickman: The frenetic money chase is required of elected officials; it takes people away from people's work, degrades working relationships with colleagues.

Questions: Citizens United, how does it affect?
Kempthorpe: Believes in PAC's as a force multiplier for your industry.
Glickman: Problem is that CU made it that you don't know where you're money's coming from.

Question: Public finance?
Glikcman: I hope it doesn't take a great scandal to change things. One positive thing is that several candidates who outspent opponents lost. Voters need to be more civic-literate.

Question: How do you get rid of political stigma of living in Washington and creating collegial structure?
Kempthorpe: Ask the spouses, not the long time politicians. That way you can be a father or mother, while doing the people's work.
Case: If you hired someone, and they only worked a few days a week while living somewhere else, how good a job do you think they'd do?

Question: How do we as constituents to be cleaner and more fair? How from Washington leadership, and how from grassroots?
Glickman: Individually, everyone wants to do what we're talking about, but what are the incentives in the system to do things right? If the system doesn't work, open for 3rd party candidates.
Kempthorpe: Look at the poll numbers for both parties. Look at the poll numbers for institutions. If you're a leader, you have to work on improving your organization's credibility.
Case: Getting people to engage in these issues, galvanize voters. Redistricting - Iowa, Florida and California are already working on it. Will require engagement, and realize these are long term goals.


Hunger and electricity issues have caused me to miss the "Journalism or Entertainment?" panel. Of course, does that question really need to be answered, or is it just asked rhetorically? Though I've begun to think that media being some sort of unbiased, antisensationalist industry is probably a construct in any case, historically. Did we ever, as a nation, have news that was not entertainment?



jeffrey said...

Pat, thanks for taking the trouble to make these notes. I found them helpful, although they also confirm my initial impression that this would have been an infuriating event for me to attend.

All of these insiders whining about the "civic illiteracy" of the rabble or how they don't get to spend as much time making the D.C. social circuit as they used to really is unpleasant to hear but not surprising.

I read on Twitter that Bartlett theorized about Rahm Emmanuel being too much of a gung-ho liberal. If I were there I would have thrown something at him.

Dante said...

I appreciate the coverage. Thanks.