NICCO & MCCAIN....

NICCO & MCCAIN. Alright, I have to weigh in on this. First of all, I should say that I consider Nicco Mele a friend. And now that it's been revealed publicly that Nicco has been talking to Sen. John McCain's campaign, it seems the whole Democratic Internet community is upset or at the very least saddened to see one of their favorites cross over to the other side. But if you look at Nicco's business, this move is not really as much of a shock as some people are making it out to be. My sense is that in the wake of Howard Dean's campaign, the Dean campaign technologists moved to Washington and started two companies, EchoDitto and Blue State Digital, which have increasingly diverged over time.

Blue State Digital, led by Joe Rospars, has increasingly focused on Democratic campaign and candidate work -- they have the thankless task of improving the DNC's web and database operations -- while EchoDitto has worked with a few politicians, such as Barack Obama, but primarily developed a client base of non-governmental organizations, non-profits, and corporations, such as Seventh Generation (which makes those paper products you find at Whole Foods) and Miramax Books. Blue State has evolved into a purely Democratic politics and technology strategy company, while EchoDitto has increasingly become a technology strategy company, period. Nicco's decision to advise McCain just makes that difference all the clearer.

Additionally, Nicco's support for McCain is, I find, distressingly common amongst the male voters I know. My brother, who has never voted for a Republican that I know of, has been known to ask wistfully, "Do you think he'll run?" about McCain, in the same tone he used to reserve for Gen. Wesley Clark. I don't understand it, but McCain has a kind of magnetic personal attractiveness that draws a certain sort of otherwise progressive man toward him. It's not rational, and as much as each such person I've met tries to explain it on the basis of policy, what it really comes down to is that they just like McCain. There's something about him that's compelling to them. It's what makes him such a formidable candidate, and whoever the Democratic nominee will have to deal with this, should McCain decide to go forward with a second presidential bid.

The one silver lining I can think of in any of this is that it ought to spur any and every Democratic '08 contender to snap up the rest of the new techie talent pronto, before someone else gets to them. Whoever wins the Democratic primary may have to go up against McCain's team, after all, and by the sound of it, they'll be more than ready for the fight.

--Garance Franke-Ruta

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