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November 24, 2007 12:50 AM UTC

Jared in Iraq

  • by: DavidThi808

For those that missed it (and apparently a lot of you did), Jared Polis is in Iraq. I have been writing this post over the last several days because I see so many facets to it and I wanted to hit them all.

1) Lets start with what Jared learns from this trip. He clearly has learned quite a bit as shown here and here. And there is substantial value in actually going there as opposed to just reading about it. The statement a picture is worth a thousand words is very apropos in this case. To take one example, you can read about how much of the war has been outsourced but passing through checkpoint after checkpoint that are controlled by civilians working for a contractor brings that home in a way that no writing can.

At the same time, we should not over-estimate the value of this. What comes from this is some more data, some more understanding. But hand in hand with that comes the danger that too much credence is paid to the bits and pieces that Jared learned watching and listening. He’s a smart guy but people almost always overemphasize what they themselves experience.

He also is not going to find any magic solutions. It is unlikely that he learns anything that has not been presented by numerous others that have been there. So Jared has and is learning quite a bit. And from this he has a better understanding of the situation there. And that is a good thing, but not a gigantic thing.

2) Next is the question of is this an appropriate trip for a candidate to Congress. And the answer to that must be hell yes. I haven’t heard of anyone else doing this but the thought that has consistently gone through my mind from the day he announced this was – why hasn’t anyone else done this? In fact, why isn’t every candidate doing this.

Iraq is the biggest near-term problem facing our elected representatives. Not just because of the war itself and it’s collateral damages to our country, but because the money and lives spent on it preclude doing anything else we need to address. And a trip to Iraq is not just a learning experience, it is also a statement that Iraq is that important an issue to be worthy of a week of a candidate’s time.

3) I can’t read Jared’s mind on why he did this but I think it is a desire to both bring Iraq front and center to the primary election and to a strong position for himself on the issue. I think he failed on the first but did well on the second. In terms of bringing Iraq to the front page, this seems to have only resonated with those who are already paying attention to Iraq (more on this below) so no win there. But for those those that are paying attention to Iraq, Jared has made himself a much more compelling candidate.

I don’t think this gets him many votes. But what I do think it does is give him a strong platform from which to campaign on the Iraq issue. Joan & Will will not be able to denigrate his background and knowledge of Iraq. It also forces the other two to build up their credentials on Iraq which will increase their knowledge of the issue. So for all of us, we get candidates who are paying more attention to Iraq and what we should do there – so good news all around.

4) Is how he marketed this appropriate? This is Jared’s campaign’s New Coke moment. This started off as a United Way trip with no campaign component. Then it turned in to a full blown campaign event with the web ads, mailers, and robo-calls (inviting contributors to join the conference call). But then Jared in his posts has made it totally about how things are going in Iraq.

So it’s bounced around in terms of what supposedly is going on. But it appears to have settled down as Jared learning about Iraq so he can share what he has learned with us. So it’s a learning trip for Jared and that I think is the absolutely best way to present this in terms of helping his candidacy.

I also have to add that I think his doing this is absolutely brilliant – it is one of the best campaign events I have every seen anyone running for Congress come up with. As one poster on ColoradoPols said when this was first announced, this was either going to be a home run or a disaster. I agree and I think it’s now safe to say – this is a home run. Whoever first thought this up (my guess is Jared) – very well done.

And is it appropriate to make this a campaign event? He’s running for congress – if he pets a dog while walking down the street that’s a campaign event. Anything any of the candidates devotes a week to – absolutely it’s a campaign event. Not just for what they do, but what it is that is worth a week of their time.

5) Ok, Joan and Will are not happy about this. I wouldn’t be either in their shoes as it helps Jared to their detriment. But I think they have both reacted appropriately, at first saying nothing, and then with a statement that questions Jared’s reasons for going – and then dropping it. A pissing match over this only benefits Jared but bringing up legitimate questions once to decrease the impact of his trip does provide some slight benefit.

And both are now keeping quiet on it, which is probably the best response as the trip is not resonating much. So encouraging the non-attention with silence seems to be their plan.

6) Ok, so very useful and education trip for Jared. Brilliant marketing idea and effort behind the work. And the reaction from the electorate? Pretty minimal. It’s interesting how this is playing. On DailyKos which has a nationwide liberal audience this got significant attention. On Colorado Confidential and Square State which have a statewide liberal audience it is getting really good coverage although the comments on Square State are much lower than I expected.

Then we go over to ColoradoPols which is a statewide political blog that has members from all political persuasions (although it tends liberal). And quite a bit of discussion there but it has quite a bit of questioning and/or negative posts as well as positive ones. And a lot of it revolves around technicalities.

Then we drop down further to the Boulder Daily Camera where they had a short article and only 8 comments – most of which were hateful toward Jared in general by a couple of the standard wingnuts that post there. So basically 1 post by someone responding to the specifics of the story.

I’ve asked a bunch of people about the trip and only 1 even knew Jared went. Most of the rest know who he is but were unaware that he is in Iraq. They liked the idea though. So in terms of a bump for the campaign from this – I don’t see it happening.

7) There have been some questions about how is this being paid for and does it all meet the FEC guidelines. If Jared’s campaign does not have that in order I would be very surprised. This is a non-issue (although “independent” individuals will keep flogging this to try and attach a negative to the campaign).

8) Finally, I think this speaks volumes to the type of Representative Jared would be. In the start-up world which Jared comes from you fund 10 companies and hope for 1 – 2 home runs and 3 – 4 solid wins. And the remaining 4 – 6 fail. In that world that is the road to maximum success. If you are so careful to never have a failure, you will never take the risk needed for a success (remember Microsoft Bob?).

Jared clearly brings that same approach to politics. In the case of Amendment 41 it had a significant negative component because fixing it requires waiting 2 years while the law is in effect. In the case of the Iraq trip it is something very positive that comes out of that same mindset.

These are two sides of the same coin – you got both or neither – you don’t get to pick just one. Harry Truman was similar in this respect, he was willing to try some very different approaches which had some great successes (the Marshall Plan, keeping Greece a democracy) and failures (Korea, Civil Rights).

It’s going to continue to be an interesting primary…

Crossposted at Liberal And Loving It

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8 thoughts on “Jared in Iraq

  1. Doing a fund raising ask from Iraq is a campaign event. And that is different than petting a dog. This was a stunt and he proved it by asking for money.

      1. The trip is a campaign event, but he it seems like he is not intending on fully reporting it as an expense.

        That said, I think it was very informative and Jared showed a very thorough understanding of the issues on the conference call.  He never really talked about Iraq until this spring, but he is a quick study.

        I’m glad he went, I’m glad he understands alot of the complexity–I am sorry that he seems to be playing cute with campaign finance law.

        I think most know I have a problem with Jared because of A41 and his support of vouchers, but I found myself warming to him on the conference call until he asked for campaign volunteers, money, and caucus support on a trip that was supposedly “not a campaign event.”  Which brings me back to why I have a problem with A41:  Jared seems to think that there are rules for regular people and a special set of rules that apply to Jared.

        1. Please check his campaign website issues section. It is very clear. From what I understand from news stories, he once supported a bill that was a pet project of Ken Salazar’s, back when KS was AG, that was kinda sorta supportive of vouchers. When it got changed by the Repub legislature into a straight voucher bill, Jared withdrew his support.

          The story that “Jared supports vouchers” is entirely based on an erroneous news story that appeared about that time.

          1. A.  Who gives him money.

            1. Alex cranberg–Alex Cranberg, heads the oil and gas firm Aspect Management, and is one of the state’s biggest political donors. He gave $25,000 to the Colorado Republican Committee in 2000 and again in 2002, and $100,000 to the unsuccessful statewide school voucher initiative in 1998.


            2. Ed McVaney.  Formed in the past two years to advocate educational options such as charter schools and vouchers. But its chairman, Denver millionaire businessman Ed McVaney, was one of the key players who funded the election of the district’s first reform slate in 2003.


            Mcvaney ased for his money back because he is an anti gay wingnut, but he supported jared when he thought he was just a liberal who supported vouchers.


            3. Jack Kemp. Yes that jack kemp.  i won’t post a link, he was afterall the conservative, pro voucher candidate teamed with moderate Bob Dole to make him more appealing to conservatives in 1996.

            B. Other politicians

            Bob Shafer–According to former U.S. Congressman Bob Schaffer(R), Polis was “the most reliable Democrat on school choice and far more independent in his thinking.” Schaffer added that he sees Polis as “an activist who happens to be a Democrat, not as a Democrat activist.”  When asked why he believes Polis is a Democrat, Schaffer is puzzled. “He’s generally libertarian economically, and he just happens to be in a party that is at odds with all of those values.”


            State Board member Randy DeHoff, R-Littleton, expressed disappointment but little surprise at his former colleague’s newly clarified position on school choice. “Like every other Democrat in the past who has supported vouchers, as soon he runs for national office, he forgets everything he said previously and tries to deny it,” said DeHoff.


            C. His own words.

            The 2006 boulder democratic party survey. Not against vouchers


            (he coincendentally said he did not believe in a date certain withdrawal from Iraq).

            I’ll skip all the articles where now he says he reporters got it wrong even though the articles were written 3 or 4 ears ago.

            I would include his Rocky op-ed where he supported vouchers, but I can’t find the link. Does anyone have a link to the the Op-ed.

            He clearly supported vouchers in the past.  The only question is why did he change his position (if he changed his position), and why don’t people like Cranberg and Kemp know it (McVaney must know since he got his money back)?  Who is being buffaloed the conservatives like Kemp or the liberals like me?

      2. Anything a politician does to raise money is a political stunt. See here is the difference between genuine and political. Genuine Jared would have gone to Iraq last year…before he was running for office. Political Jared goes this year, and makes it a fundraising trip.

        Of course it is what MOST politicians do. The point is, Jared is trying to say he is different. Yet he is the only one of the three that continually says one thing and does another.

        Should ban private militia’s-while he uses them to protect his hide.

        Should not take money from lobbyists (and in fact says he won’t) while taking money from lobbyists).

        Says lobbyists have too much influence in government, yet uses them to push for his broken “ethics” measure.

        The list goes on and on. And then the defense of him is always that it is just what politicians do. Fine. But if we want the same old politician, why pick Jared?

        1. successful ones at least. They must leverage every event to the max and they must sell themselves as a breath of fresh air with a new approach and not part of the system.

          I’m not saying it’s terrific, just that it’s necessary to win.

          To me the more interesting question is what does this say about how he would operate as a Rep. I want to see some more of what he does – and doesn’t do – over the next couple of months.

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