Mark Schmitt's post on the narrow missions of foundations reminded me of something Nick Confessore wrote a few weeks back in his New York Times Magazine expose of Bush's tax plans (behind the archive so no link):
Within Republican circles, Norquist's job is to organize other organizations, making sure the different branches of conservatism are moving in the same direction, at the same time, to the greatest extent possible. His particular genius is for persuading one organization to reach beyond its own agenda to help out another -- for getting, say, the cultural traditionalists at the Eagle Forum to join the business libertarians at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in opposing fuel-economy standards for automobiles by convincing the traditionalists that, as Norquist once explained to me, ''it's backdoor family planning.
I know lots of lefties who wonder why we lack a Grover Norquist-like enforcer, but not enough who wonder why we lack movement chieftains with his talents. A few days ago, Joe Rospars sent me a Hotline piece dissecting the Democratic response on Social Security that, for the first time in a long time, left me nervous about the fight:
Dems have "talked up plans for a high-dollar rebuttal campaign, but with the exception" of MoveOn.org, which has about $500K so far for ads, "most groups have eben slow to organize or fallen prey to 'donor fatigue.'" Starting 2/14, [The Media Fund] and ACT strategists are "meeting to sort out what role, if any," they will play. TMF's Harold Ickes: "Issue campaigns are always a hard sell to donors. It's not a candidate that you can talk to or take a picture with. You can't schmooze with Social Security" (2/21 issue).
We need some movement guys with the trust of the left's funding source and the ability to explain why supporting causes that don't directly relate to them is actually in their self-interest. Maybe Ickes is making a play at it, but if not, someone better step up.