Back in the late 1990s, I joined a small but growing group named "Censure and Move On." At that time, when the internet was a relative toddler, Wes Boyd and Joan Blades had an idea. In the midst of the impeachment of President Clinton, they would use email and the internet as a tool to quickly and fiercely organize activists to give a dose of backbone to Democrats in Washington, to fight the Republican attempts to unelect Bill Clinton.
Some might not remember, but initially, the Congressional Democrats were stunned by impeachment, paralyzed with no idea what to do - defend this guy when he did what he did? Stay silent? They were embarrassing in their inaction. "Censure and Move On" quickly boomed into an effort that flooded Capitol Hill with phone calls, petitions, protests, which gave Democrats what they needed to fight. And thus, the group played a key role in saving the Clinton presidency.
That's why the tape, uncovered by HuffPost, of Senator Clinton slamming Move On and activists is so troubling. Without Move On, she would not be Senator Hillary Clinton. She would be the wife of disgraced-and-removed former President Clinton. If there is one group that doesn't deserved to be tossed under the bus by the Clintons, either in public or private fundraisers, it's MoveOn.
It's a pattern, of the Clintons tossing aside key supporters, when they believe the political situation calls for it. It happened when President Clinton slapped the Gay and Lesbian community across the face by signing the homophobic Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It happened when Bill Clinton passed a harsher-than-needed Welfare Reform package that hurt the single mothers and children that Hillary Clinton once worked to defend, as part of the Children's Defense Fund (Marian Wright Edelman's husband, Peter, called it "the worst thing Bill Clinton has done").
And, of course, there is Bill Clinton playing cutsie racial politics with his Barack-Obama-as-Jesse-Jackson statement in South Carolina. If there's another group largely responsible for rallying behind Bill Clinton and saving his presidency, it's the African American community.
That Hillary Clinton is frustrated with activists who now are turning out for Barack Obama is not news. The news is that the Clintons apparently are still guided by triangulation - tossing key constituencies under the bus, deriding them and playing them off as the enemy, rather than reaching out and trying to work with them and understand them. It's a strategy that was called "amoral", somewhat ironically, by George Stephanopoulos.
Who's next? In a third Clinton term, who will be the next core constituency to be steamrolled when the Clintons think the situation calls for it? Labor? Latinos? Who knows?
But, if this tape proves anything, it's that, indeed, the Clintons learned the wrong lessons from the 1990s, and that everyone should watch their backs.