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Monday, November 17, 2008

Don't Feed The Haters

George Donnelly, can you remind us as specifically as you can what you suspect is happening in the dark here that should be happening in the sunshine instead?

I’m just wondering if you can summarize the substantive reasons you’ve heard — if any — about why “people have expressed concern about secretiveness” regarding executive sessions. Your earlier posting about LNC compliance with policy about minutes etc. contains zero specifics about how executive sessions might be being abused.

I asked if you can explain why I as an LP activist should worry that executive session is being abused. You responded by saying “people have expressed concern about secretiveness”. If that wasn’t in response to my question about executive-session “darkness”, then my original question still stands.

If you have no reason to think that executive session is a problem, then I remain curious how that came to be the subject of this interview project.

My question was always the same: can you tell us as specifically as you can what we LP activists should worry is happening in the dark here that should be happening in the sunshine instead?

I think I’ve got my answer now. Thanks.

George, the comments from Marc Montoni and Jim Davidson perfectly illustrate the dynamic that you have to be wary of inadvertently feeding. Montoni’s oblique yet hyperbolic vitriol is richly ironic — he’s censor-in-chief of an “incestuous little camp” where I’ve heard that as recently as a week ago he smeared me by name (about a matter that I’ve already explained to him). Out here in the free-speech parts of the Internet, where he has to deal with the real thing instead of an effigy, he’s much more cautious. Davidson is the opposite extreme, disgorging 5 kilobytes of feverishly specific complaints — all without ever coming close to mentioning a single decision or action of the LNC.

I’m simply asking for a précis of the most specific indictment that can be made of LNC’s use of executive session. Since nobody here can muster one, I’ll apply some critical thinking to Dr. Lark’s list and offer a couple of suggestions. First, BCRA is a serious concern of some serious people, but we should always be cautious of BCRA making us too cautious. Second, the real and imagined problems of interpersonal and factional conflicts can only be exacerbated by each marginal minute spent in executive session.

I would suggest that anyone worried about LNC secrecy should focus on its email policy. My (naive?) position is that openness and transparency will ultimately strengthen civility in a healthy (or at least salvageable) organization. (Davidson might agree with me on this principle, while disagreeing on how the BTP example illustrates it.) That’s why I’ve argued (unsuccessfully) for more transparency on the LPUS PlatCom and LPCA ExCom, and why I insist on it for the Reform Caucus forum. Some may worry that more transparency would just give the haters more to hate about, but I think the haters are already hating as hard as they can. Then again, there may be some tactical wisdom in the LNC’s current policy. If a target-poor environment leaves the haters fuming irrelevantly about Kissinger and Mao and sewer pits, that might explain why it seemed in Denver that most delegates pay no attention to the haters’ fulminations.