We won’t have Unity08 to kick around anymore. Since they won’t need their cool graphics and logos, DWSUWF (being the environmentally sensitive sort) has been rummaging through the detritus to recycle what we can. Unity08 was always more a slick, professional PR and marketing effort as opposed to the the grass roots political movement they pretended to be, so they’ve got some pretty nice stuff. The hot air expelled and greenhouse gas burned in the short life of Unity08 probably raised the temperature of the globe by a degree or two. It is incumbent on us to recycle and make use of what we can from these Unity08 waste products.
The first indication of the impending Unity08 demise was the story by Elizabeth Benjamin writing in the New York Daily News Politics blog, saying that "Unity08 to jump on Bloomberg Bandwagon":
I checked out the site and found, buried deep in a forum comment thread, one mention of the story:
"A source familiar with the Bloomberg for president movement says the bipartisan Unity08 effort is poised to shut down its Web site, reconstitute as a Draft Bloomberg site and launch its own 50-state signature-gathering operation on behalf of the supposedly reluctant would-be independent presidential candidate."
In this thread, a Unity08 member expresses concern about the NY Daily News story. Understandable, since the raison d’etre for Unity08 was to have the members/delegates select and nominate a centrist, non-partisan ticket. The notion that Unity08 might support Bloomberg appeared to skip a few steps, specifically - asking the members if they want to support Mike Bloomberg. Even though the site shutdown was only hours away, for whatever reason, Bob Roth, VP Marketing, Unity08 saw fit to mislead this member by implying the story was false, while actually only “correcting” one aspect of it - the connection to Bloomberg. Ha! Ha! Good one, Bob!
It seems obvious now, that from the beginning Unity08 was indeed a Mike Bloomberg stalking horse, funded and staffed by Bloomberg loyalists. They couldn’t pull off the Bloomberg run within the Unity08 structure, so they closed up shop to make room for the imminent Bloomberg Independent candidacy, redirecting management and money resources to the impending campaign. The Unity08 tombstone is enlightening:
[UPDATE: 12-January-08 The above is a quote from the Unity08 announcement as it was orginally posted. In the revised version, the mention of Baily and Rafshoon going to the Bloomberg campaign has been excised.]
“And, of course, waiting in the wings should the divide persist, is the potential of a serious non-partisan candidacy in the person of the Mayor of New York (and indeed we have lost two of our leaders, Doug Bailey and Jerry Rafshoon, to a committee :forming to draft Mayor Bloomberg should the circumstances seem right)… But we’re not closing our doors. We believe it is important to see our case against the FEC through (both for Unity08 and any similar movement in the future) and be ready to gear up if (when) we win our case and political circumstances warrant later this spring. Unity is in the air right now, and Mayor Bloomberg seems poised to run on his own (and the fact is that two independent candidacies wouldn’t work) if the parties leave the sensible center open - but all this could change in a matter of weeks.”
Unity08 had over 120,000 members and raised over a million dollars. Not as much as they wanted, but nothing to scoff at. Actually, I liked the idea of a Hagel/Bloomberg Unity08 candidacy, which is why, although dubious, I signed up as a “delegate”. I feel bad for those who put their heart and soul into the effort, as they have been treated rather shabbily by the organization. The whole thing smells so manipulative, so contrived and betrays such cynical contempt for the Unity08 supporters that I would find it difficult to support Bloomberg now.
But Unity08 is dead, and let us not speak ill of the dead. Let us instead reflect on the short life of Unity08, with a retrospective of DWSUWF's greatest Unity08 hits.
Unity08 was created with much fanfare and a big publicity splash in June of 2006, in the same timeframe that DWSUWF published our first blog post. We'll admit to a little popularity envy, as Unity08 was embraced by pundits, bloggers and columnists at a time the infant DWSUWF readership was leveling out in the high single digits.
Our first post focused on Unity08 was October 16, 2006, where we announced the formation of "Disunity '06", comparing and contrasting the differences in our approach to the 2006 midterm elections and the problem of a dangerous single party Republican government that was spinning wildly out of control:
By November 3, 2006 - just a week before the midterms, it became clear that "Disunity06 kicks Unity08 butt":
"Now in my simpleminded view, the solution here is not to find ways to hold a civil discourse with the party in power to politely register dissatisfaction with the path they have taken. My view is that very first step in solving these problems, is to rip some the power away from the single party on watch when the problems were created, and give that power to the opposition party. This is a fairly simple solution that can be implemented on November 7 of this year... If the Democrats achieve a majority in both the House and Senate in 2006, vote for a Republican president in 2008. If the Republicans maintain a majority in the House and Senate in 2006, vote for a Democratic President in 2008... Disunity06 - No contributions. No infrastructure. No political party. No delegates. No convention. No leaders. No candidates. Just common sense, and Just Vote Divided."
Umm - I told you so.
"It is just so painfully obvious that the "unity" in Unity08 will last exactly as long as they support no actual candidates, have no platform, and have no opinion on any actual issues, and will not last one minute longer... Lets just call this post a place-holder for me to link with a giant "I told you so" post a year or two from now. I do have one serious question for any Unitoids that may read this - If a divided Republican/Democrat ticket in '08 is a good thing, why wouldn't a divided Republican/Democrat government in '06 be equally good?... Unity08 is promoting a meaningless petition in '06, while voters embracing the idea of divided government may be the very reason that the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives next week. There is a lesson here for Unity08. It is not too late for Unity08 to become relevant in '06."
On February 22, 2007 we offered a history lesson in "Unity08 and fellow travellers Tony Snow and David Gregory promote Un-American activities" where we concluded:
There were a few other posts where the Unity08 efforts were noted, but over the last few months it became clear the blogosphere was not big enough for both a Unity08 and Bloomberg independent run. Particularly if the Unity08 members might somehow manage to accidentally not nominate Michael Bloomberg.
"One is tempted to suggest that unity, political civility, and polite debate is downright Un-American... It seems pretty obvious to me, that if we want more participation by the American voting populace, we want more, not less, political polarization. And conversely, a unified, politically correct, socially acceptable and boring form of partisan discourse, will inevitably result in less participation in the political process. What to do ? I suggest we just don't pay attention to those Un-American unifiers. Instead, I submit for your consideration - Divided We Stand United We Fall Rule #1: Polarized Partisan Politics Promotes Popular Participation."
Finally, no eulogy of Unity08 would be complete without noting the work of
Unity08 is Dead.UPDATE: 16-January-2008
Long Live Disunity08.
Long Live Disunity08.
This post was cross-posted at Donklephant, where it caught the attention of Bob Roth and he responded in the comments. In the interest of fairness and completeness I will paste that comment exchange here. I have edited only the portion of Bob's comments that were directed to another commenter, and his full comments can be found at the Donklephant link:
The Bob Roth chronicles continue at the Irregular Times where
Curiouser and curiouser.
While I was at Unity08, we registered hundreds of domain names for all of the possible well-known candidates that had yet to enter the 2008 race, but could possibly do so. draftmichaelbloomberg.com happened to be one of them. The DBC purchased this asset from Unity08 as a temporary URL until draftbloomerg.com (the current URL) had propagated. draftmichaelbloomberg.com is now redirecting to draftbloomberg.com.
Comment by Bob Roth — 1/16/2008 @ 9:58 am