If this is John Kerry's idea of moving to the center, then he inhabits an unelectable portion of the far-Left. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee hired a young lefty pit bull, Zach Exley, away from MoveOn.org yesterday, and charged him with the task of lording over the campaign’s online communications. Exley, whose idea of proper political discourse is borderline pathological, is an odd addition to Kerry’s team at the precise moment when the candidate is sprinting away from the word “liberal.”
A former union organizer, Exley first rose to prominence in Democratic circles when George W. Bush publicly berated him during the 2000 campaign via the national press over his GWBush.com website, which mostly made unsubstantiated claims about the Republican presidential candidate’s alleged cocaine use. Bush tried, and failed, to have the FEC bring a complaint against Exley. Instead, Exley received loads of favorable international press and became an instant celebrity. The site remains active to this day, hawking bumper stickers and T-shirts with tender patriotic devotions emblazoned on them, such as: “Imperialism. A Way of Life Worth Bombing For”; “Regime Change Starts At Home”; “Bush is a Punk Ass Chump”; and, oddly enough, for a site selling wares, “Capitalism: It’s Great in Theory, It Just Didn’t Work in Practice.”
Exley then organized another site, CounterCoup.com, the sole mission of which was to “question the legitimacy of a Bush presidency, due to disenfranchisement and disregard for the will of the people.” CounterCoup is no parody site, however. Toggling through the pages one will find material more than vaguely threatening. For example, one page shows a devil on the ground, a broadsword-wielding angel preparing to behead him. The devil is labeled, “Bush Coup,” while the sword the angel sports is christened, “The Spirit of Democracy.” Another box displays a picture of a screaming, lynch mob with the caption, “Sometimes Democracy Requires More Than Voting.”
Just in case the radical content of the site has left you with any question over the political leanings of Mr. Exley, he posts a prominent link to a conspiracy theory-laden article on the World Socialist Website, declaring it a “must read.”
It will be interesting to see how Exley’s well-documented hate-America attitude jives with the Kerry campaigns desperate rush for the center and the crucial independent voters. In a commentary on MoveOn.org last year, Exley urged his fellow Democrats to “reject false, jingoistic patriotism.”
“Our leaders remind us in nearly every speech they make that we live in the greatest, freest, most just nation on Earth,” Exley wrote. “They remind us so often, that one can't help but wonder if they really do believe it…What if America wasn't – or isn't – number one?” Well, let’s start by asking Exley’s new boss whether he believes America is the greatest nation on earth. Like everything else, he probably does…and doesn’t. Exley himself apparently hasn’t even figured out if there’s anything admirable here, and he’s going to lead the internet charge for John Kerry?
Exley steadfastly refuses to apologize for even the most vile ads posted on his watch at MoveOn.org. Exley would not repudiate the now infamous spot comparing Bush to Adolf Hitler, an ad even über-leftist Michael Moore rejected. Asked whether he understood why Republicans might find the comparison in poor taste, Exley dismissed the furor as, “typical Republican bullsh-t.”
The Exley hire, of course, also raises new questions about whether Kerry’s campaign is coordinating with MoveOn.org, which is strictly outlawed under the current campaign finance regime. The group has already spent more than $17 million on anti-Bush ads, with plans to spend much, much more.
This isn’t the first time Exley’s actions have raised eyebrows over what exactly the true role of MoveOn.org is in this election cycle. Several months ago, Exley took a two-week leave of absence from his position as Director of Special Projects at MoveOn.org to rewire campaign software over at the Dean campaign headquarters, a move Dean’s opponents decried as unsavory at the time.
Exley has been sold well, but Kerry may wake up one day in the not-too-distant future realizing he was conned into buying a lemon. Liberals have become so hysterical that they have confused their own hype with results. Exley and MoveOn.org are not super organizers. Their much vaunted “online primary” last year, reported the world over, showed a majority of their flock backing Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, two folks who did not turn in impressive performances when it came time for actual elections. In fact, Dean, the “straight talking” hero of the internet revolution, has been reduced to giving speeches on behalf of former foe Kerry just to maintain some semblance of relevance. Would someone please explain how this qualifies as success?
And yet, both Exley and Joe Trippi were welcomed like heroes at the recent South By Southwest conference, giving keynote speeches on Kerry’s imminent victory via online organizing. The media loves the idea and keeps it alive. (They thought the internet would deliver John McCain the Republican nomination four years ago, too.) But clearly it has not panned out so far.
Exley touts himself as some sort of martyr for internet Marxism. He’s writing a book this year on “union organization” called Trust the People, but one wonders how much actual fraternizing with the rank-and-file a 23-year-old who seems to have spent quite a bit of time learning internet code actually could have done. No, Exley’s revolt has been decidedly white collar. For example, in an essay on internet organization, Exley writes about how he set up candlelight vigils online. The best part, he explains, was that, “When you signed up, it told you that there were others signed up to attend your local vigil, so you wouldn't be the only one.”
Meet the milquetoast revolutionary, afraid to be the only one holding a sign. This attitude is endemic among this batch of lazy internet “guerrillas,” sending out e-mail petitions and spouting leftist jargon on well-financed blogs. Oh, they’ll come out to a peace march with 50,000 other college kids. But if you want to talk about sacrifice for ideals, if you want to talk about suffering or sitting in the minority, not a chance. And you can take that to the bank.
Perhaps Exley himself put it best in a speech last week. “There's a tendency to characterize people who get lucky this way as geniuses, but we're just lucky,” he said. “We're not geniuses. Calling us geniuses misses the fact that we fail a lot, too.”
Alright, Zach. I promise to stop calling you a genius. And hiring a raving leftist like Exley makes one question Kerry’s intelligence, too. Exley is well to the Left of America. In hiring him, the Massachusetts leftist is showing his true colors.