Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sirota's Delusion Continues

A friend forwarded me David Sirota's reply to my post from earlier today, in which I exposed the fact Sirota had interviewed to work for Lieberman's Senate office and presidential campaign not long before he began viciously attacking the Senator. I fully expected Sirota to attack me personally and rationalize his hypocritical behavior, but there is no way I could have predicted the masterstroke in self-delusion he produced.

In explaining his decision to interview with the target of his current hatred in 2003, Sirota actually goes so far as to claim he thought he of all people might be able to bring Lieberman to his senses:

"I figured Lieberman might have been considering a reform of his politics back to the old days when he was far more progressive, and that they wanted me to discuss progressive strategy with them. What other reason would Lieberman people call me and ask me to chat with them?"

The rest of the piece is so similarly and comically self-aggrandizing that I am tempted to just let it stand for itself. But because Sirota's delusions get in the way of the truth in a number of relevant places, and might cloud the impressions of casual readers, I thought it was important to clear up the worst inaccuracies in Sirota's reply.

1) I am not Joe Lieberman's "top political consultant." If Sirota had bothered to check his facts, he would know that I stopped working for Senator Lieberman in the spring of 2004, and have not been in his paid employ since. I have no formal association with his reelection campaign, though I am trying to helpful as a friend and admirer of my old boss. And no one asked me to do this post -- it was purely my idea.

2) This is not my blog. It was recently started by a Lieberman supporter named Matt Smith, who I never had any contact with until a few days ago, when I asked him if he would mind if I contributed a post here and there. (If anyone is interested, I do have my own blog:

3) Notwithstanding Sirota's overheated use of the word lie, he does not in the slightest disprove anything I said about his seeking jobs with Lieberman. I wrote that he had job interviews both with the Senate office and Lieberman's presidential campaign in 2003, and I think any reasonable person would deduce that if Sirota wasn't interested in working for the man he so despises now, he wouldn't have interviewed in one of those shops, let alone both.

4) I have never said a word about the outcome of those interview processes, on this blog or anywhere else, nor accused Sirota of sour grapes. I only noted that Sirota came in for interviews, which was more than enough to reveal his rank hypocrisy. Plus, after seeing more closely how he operates, the last word I would ever use to describe my feelings about Sirota not coming to work with me for Lieberman is "angry."

Now, others have noted to me that it is curious that Sirota only discusses his interview with the Lieberman Senate office, and says nothing about the presidential campaign. Maybe that is because Sirota did not take himself out of the running for that job, but was rejected by the campaign, something that was confirmed to me by a person with firsthand knowledge of the interview. That same person noted that when Sirota was asked why someone who seemed so liberal wanted to work for Joe Lieberman, "he specifically said that he was excited to have a Jew in the White House."

4) Speaking of Jewish, nowhere in my post did I "play the Jewish card" against Sirota in my post, as he disingenuously suggests. I simply made a general point about the views of Lieberman-haters about Israel and other issues. Here is the passage in question:

"Once you strip away these flimsy arguments and faulty claims, what you see is that Meyerson and Sirota and their comrades-in-anger are simply projecting their own views and biases, not those of Connecticut's Democrats. THEY think Lieberman is wrong on trade and Israel and other pet issues of the angry activist base, most everyone they talk to in the blogosphere thinks Lieberman is wrong on these same matters, and so of course most Democrats in Connecticut must agree -- which ipso facto makes Lieberman out-of-touch with his constituents."

Nowhere in there do I accuse anyone of anti-Semitism. And to the less self-aggrandizing reader, it would be obvious that the use of the word "they" there was meant to be general and not to single out Sirota. But if Sirota feels I mistakenly lumped him into the category of those haters who think Lieberman is wrong on Israel, then I apologize for my lack of precision, and I look forward to getting Sirota's statement of support on Lieberman's position.

5) My favorite part of Sirota's post is his accusation that I am making "a great living off Big Money's dime." As he could have seen from simply checking my website, a courtesy I gave Sirota, almost all of my consulting clients have been small, progressive advocacy groups -- such as the community coalition that is fighting the massive basketball arena development in Brooklyn, for whom I do pro-bono advising. Frankly, I would bet that between all Sirota's consulting work, his speaking appearances, and his thoughtful new book, he is making a good bit more money than I am.

In full disclosure, I did do some work to help Duke University launch a new environmental policy center, but don't think that's what Sirota had in mind. My only corporate client I have had to date is the Connecticut-based Pilot Pen Corporation, and in that case I helped them arrange an event in Washington to promote a widely-praised reading program they had funded.

As for political clients, I have had two. One was a progressive Democratic candidate for Public Advocate in New York City named Andrew Rasiej, who made it his cause to take on Time Warner, Verizon and other big telecom companies that were standing in the way of universal Wi-Fi, the centerpiece of Rasiej's agenda. The other is Tom Suozzi, the reform-minded Nassau County Executive, who is running against Eliot Spitzer in the Democratic primary for governor in New York. Suozzi dismantled the corrupt Republican machine in Nassau to become County Executive, and his gubernatorial campaign is focused on taking back New York's dysfunctional state government from the big-monied special interests Sirota detests and making it work for the people again.

Sirota is right about one thing. I am technically a political loser -- Rasiej got his head handed to him, Suozzi is way behind in the polls to Spitzer, and we all know what happened to Senator Lieberman's presidential bid. I'd like to think I added some value to those campaigns, which were all longshots from the start for varying reasons, but there is no denying the results. I'm not sure, though, how that distinguished me from other Democrats, I'm sad to say. Nor, more importantly, do I have any idea how that is relevant to the question at hand, which is whether Sirota and other out-of-state Lieberman-haters have any legitimacy in speaking for most Connecticut Democrats or judging what's mainstream.

I thought my original blog post fairly effectively discredited Sirota's credibility on this count -- notice in his post that he does not contest the fact that he has attacked Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for being bad Democrats. But if there were any doubts after reading my post, Sirota's fantastical reply should eliminate them once and for all.


Blogger Joe B. said...

David Sirota has more Democratic credentials in his small finger than you and Joe-mentum combined.

And, isn't the name of this site wrong? Lieberrep would be more fitting.

7/13/2006 1:57 PM  
Anonymous TCinLA said...

Desperate times require desperate lies, eh? But then, an otherwise-unemployable D.C. pimp like you, Mr. Gerstein (is "Gerstein" a synonym for "loser"? Looking over your stellar resume, I think it is) knows what it means to have your incompetence on public display.

Here's the truth, for anyone who cares to know it:

Lieberman aide/consultant Dan Gerstein - known in Washington as a classic, haughty, self-
important, professional election loser - claims in his new blog that "the same guy who is
viciously attacking Joe Lieberman as the great Satan of the Democratic Party actually sought not one but two jobs from the target of his hatred, and did so at time when all of the supposed sins that Sirota is attacking Lieberman for now were well known." In other words, Gerstein is
claiming that I sought not one but - gasp! - two jobs from Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2003, and am
thus a hypocrite for pointing out that Lieberman has sold out the Democratic Party.

The fact that Gerstein would write such a lie in black and white shows the depths of the desperation Lieberman's camp has reached. Here's what really happened folks: In 2003, after I
had just arrived at the Center for American Progress, I received inquiries from various Lieberman staffers about a press job, and whether I would come in to chat with them - and possibly the Senator - in preparation for Lieberman's presidential run. Obviously, they knew who I was and what kind of serious progressive politics I represented, as evidenced by Gerstein's derisive reference today to the fact that I served "a stint with the lone socialist in Congress" (aka.
progressive champion Bernie Sanders). I figured Lieberman might have been considering a reform of his politics back to the old days when he was far more progressive, and that they wanted me to discuss progressive strategy with them. What other reason would Lieberman people call me and ask me to chat with them?

An eternal optimist in the ability of people to see the fault of heir ways and change, I agreed to the meeting and had a very cordial interaction with Lieberman's chief of staff, Clarine, and then held my nose for a meeting with the notoriously arrogant Gerstein. They seemed interested in having me work for them in some capacity, they made clear Lieberman was going to run his campaign on the themes of undermining the Democratic Party from the right. Over the next few days, I discussed the interaction with a bunch of folks at the Center for American Progress, including my boss John Podesta. And after a few days, I decided I simply was totally uncomfortable with the concept of working for Lieberman, that his staff showed no signs that
they were interested in being progressive team players, and that as a committed progressive, it
would be wrong for me to go to work for Lieberman. So, via email and phone, I respectfully
declined the offer to chat further with them, as I didn't want to waste any more of their time (And by the way, as the American Prospect points out, you'll notice that in his post, Gerstein
doesn't say why I didn't end up working for Lieberman - his silence on this matter is
incriminating: he doesn't say it because telling folks that I told them a flat no would expose his
whole story as a lie).

Glenn Greenwald has moronic scumbags like you figured out perfectly, Gerstein:

"American political conflicts are usually described in terms of "liberal versus conservative," but that is really no longer the division which drives our most important political debates. The
predominant political conflicts over the last five years have been driven by a different dichotomy
- those who believe in neoconservatism versus those who do not.

It is not traditional conservatism or liberalism, but rather one's views on neoconservativsm,
which have become the single most important factor in where one falls on the political spectrum."

Go stick your head back up Holy Joe's ass where you usually dine, loser.

7/13/2006 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You, sir, are a lapdog to a and sad, sad, Joe the Liar richly deserve each other

7/13/2006 3:34 PM  
Anonymous david mizner said...

Wow, this is an entertaining pissing match. I'd say the key point regarding this argument is who reached out to whom. Since you don't contest Sirota's claim that it was the Lieberman camp that reached out to him, we can assume that this is how it went down. In any case, I'd stop obsessing obout out-of-state Dems. The Dems you should be worried about live in CT cause they're fleeing from Joe as if from from a fire.

Oh, and I'm still waiting for your response to the quote, the one in which Joe chastises people for criticizing Bush. You know the one. I eagerly await your explanation-justification-celebration-modification-calibration-qualification of the quote. Thanks.

7/13/2006 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a snappier name for this site would be:

Home of Joe Lieberman - America's only Fox News Democrat

7/13/2006 4:00 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Not cool to pretend he actually wanted the job, when he refused to have further talks after realizing you guys weren't interested in the progressive ideals Sirota espouses.

Shame on you. Yet another reason not to vote for Lieberman in the fall.

7/13/2006 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't work for Lieberman, why would you bother putting up a press release on your website that says "Dan Gerstein, Senior Lieberman Advisor, Launches New York-based Strategic Communications Firm"? I mean, FORGIVE US for not reading the fine print, but "a longtime advisor to the Connecticut Senator" is a little bit ambiguous.

Seriously, your blog is like watching Dynasty. Carry on, Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan. But I mean my god, at least get better writers.

7/13/2006 5:53 PM  
Blogger SeedFreak said...

I don't think I've ever in my life seen a political party embrace and franchise hate as much as the progressives do.

It's simply stunning that Lamont's campaign feeds upon its own self-generated hate.

You ARE the pary of hate.

7/13/2006 6:10 PM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

I don't think I've ever in my life seen a political party embrace and franchise hate as much as the progressives do.

It's simply stunning that Lamont's campaign feeds upon its own self-generated hate.


(deep breath)


That comment, this "blog," the whole thing is hilarious.

Great stuff, folks. Keep it up, I need the laugh material.

7/13/2006 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hate? People are angry because average American's common interests are being sold to the highest corporate bidder inside the beltway. America needs more progressives willing to speak out like David Sirota!

7/13/2006 7:40 PM  
Blogger Anthony Cartouche said...

No love for Rape Gurney Joe. No love at all.

7/13/2006 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lamont campaign is bad for the Democratic party - even if Joe Lieberman is a sucky Senator.

Good thing that Gerstein et al will have the last laugh when Joe wins the primary handily. Connecticut voters are moderate and suburban - most of the blog addicts posting in this thread obviously have no idea how next-to-impossible it is to win a primary challenge against an incumbent.

7/13/2006 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gerstein - I don't really have a skin in this game. I don't like Senator Joe, but I think Sirota is a bit full of himself - all those 'check me out on Channel 3' pics of himself littering his website is kind of creepy and narcissistic.

But you offer a strange defense. 1) Sirota got my job title wrong. 2) Sirota says this is my blog when it isn't....huh? who the hell cares about that?

I think you should consider defusing a little bit, offering a simple apology and going on your way.

In spite of Sirota's innacuracies, which are pretty irrelevant to the storyline, he comes out better in this exchange than you. The arc is simple: you put out a piece and implied that he did something contradictory to the values he espouses at such high volume. Regardless of your details, it's clear that what you were getting at, that was the effect you wanted to create...Sirota was selling out his principles to gain a position of power.

But Sirota's explanation, while not perfect, is pretty convincing in re-directing the arc. He came in for the interview, evaluated to what extent he'd be able to do the job asked of him and maintain his principles, and decided the balance wasn't right. He didn't want Joe, Joe didn't want him - agree to disagree. There's just not much of a scandal there I'm afraid. You calling his perfectly reasonable explanation 'ludicrous' and 'fantastical' just kind of makes you look desperate. Call it what you thought it was: innacurate or unfair or not representatives. But the hyperbole just doesn't fit and everyone can tell.

And now it's evolved into this ad hominem daggerfest. In the words of many 5 year olds - YOU STARTED IT. So do the right thing. End it.

7/13/2006 9:47 PM  
Anonymous CentristDem said...

Anon -

I'd argue that Sirota's lies about Gerstein being a "Top Lieberman Aide," which he isn't, and of him and the Lieberman campaign running this site, which they aren't, were pretty central to his arguments. He did, after all, repeat them several times.

Sirota comes off as an arrogant, self-important prick in all this. He posted a reply to Gerstein's reply on his own website, and repeated the lie that this blog is run by "the Lieberman campaign." Does this guy really think so much of himself that he thinks the Lieberman campaign would waste one second or one dime on him? Sorry, but he's just not that important.

As for the rest of it - he never answered why he interviewed TWICE to work for the Senator if his differences were so irreconciliable the first time. That's a major and salient point that both you and Sirota ignored.

This whole thing is ridiculous, and has nothing to do with anything in the CT Senate race. But Sirota came off like a posturing teenager in need of attention, which is hardly coming off better than Gerstein, whose posts seemed even-headed enough and didn't resort to hurling dishonest insults.

That's all I'm going to say about this. Now that this is all done with, can we talk about something that matters?

7/13/2006 10:05 PM  
Blogger Neil Sinhababu said...

This is entirely off topic, and I'm sure people have said it before, but I think it's really cool that your name fuses into "DangerStein".

7/13/2006 10:13 PM  
Blogger Ken Balbari said...

Mr. Sirota obviously has a problem dealing with truth.

"In other words, Gerstein is claiming that I sought not one but - gasp! - two jobs from Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2003"

he calls a "a lie in black and white". Then he gives his version of events which basically confirms the above facts. Is anyone else reminded here of Mr. Lamont's inability in the debate to truthfully provide a direct answer to a simple question about whether he has released his tax returns?

Then we have the fictional "he’s now dispatching his top political consultant to create a blog," and then an imagined accusation of anti-semitism which Mr. Sirota further imagines that Mr. Gerstein has made at the behest of Senator Lieberman. Putting aside that the anti-semitism charge is entirely invented, and that no fair reading of Mr. Gerstein's post could back it up, can anyone imagine the response if a Lieberman supporter tried to claim that Ned Lamont was personally authorizing any of the frequently fantastical content of many of the well known pro-Lamont bloggers?

From start to finish, Sirota's post reaks of a degree of delusional paranoia which seems to be almost endemic amongst adherents of the most extreme political idealogies.

That said, while revealing the fact of there having been a job interview doesn't strike me as out of bounds, Mr. Gerstein's direct quoting of reponses to interview questions strikes me as unprofessional. Is it not customary for an employer to treat such conversations with some confidentiality?

7/14/2006 12:17 AM  
Blogger SeedFreak said...

Late last night I did a little googling as DangerStein's name was stuck in my head--yes I do also read it as DangerStein and will readily take this guy on my side in a bar fight. I am glad Dan that you mentioned your work with Tom Suozzi's campaign, that is where I remembered you from. I spent Sunday's at Tom's campaign re-election office on OCRd behind the front desk answering phones, or databasing and making bundles and bundles and bundles of campaign paraphernalia.

I don't know this Sirota fellow, but you I can say are a dignified and respectable man. You believe entirely in the work you do because you believe it is right and just. Dignity is everything and it is something that, with rare exception, I don't see in the opposition supporters.


7/14/2006 4:22 AM  
Anonymous MikeB said...

Is Lieberman actually paying you for this crap? If so, he isn't getting his money's worth. Sirota seems like an entrepreneurial sort, more power to him. It sure wouldn't have been a career-building move to go work for Lieberman, right Gerstein? About like buying Enron stock before the fall. Maybe you can get a job in one of the other "Connecticut for Lieberman" offices after losing the election.

Lieberman has a genius for undermining himself, for validating all his opponents' narratives. Lieberman a nice guy? Forget about it.

7/14/2006 6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sirota began his career working as a shill for AIPAC, can't imagine that he has views that dissimilar than Lieberman's on Israel...or would that be another sign of hypocrisy?

7/14/2006 12:35 PM  
Anonymous DreadFlinstone said...

This is absolutely pathetic! Leaveittorepublicman is toast simply because his values are not in synch with the consituents he wishes to serve. The fact that you're a politically challenged moron doesn't help either. Close this blog down and get a life...*sheesh*

7/14/2006 12:54 PM  
Blogger Sundog said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/14/2006 2:03 PM  
Blogger Sundog said...

Previous post deleted because I judged that I wasn't knowledgeable enough yet.

Now I've read through the whole mess at Sirota's site and here, and sir, your tactics are despicable. If you think you're doing Lieberman a favor here, you are very, very wrong. Why?

Your problem, that none of you seem to be able to get through your heads, is the OPTICS. If only you could see how downright Republican we observe all of you Lieberman people to be acting. Don't be sliming David Sirota like some slavering rightwing idiot, for Heaven's sake. It will win you NO friends and will further antagonize people like me to whom character is terribly important, and who judge unreasoning insults harshly.

It also plays into the hands of the people - like me - who are coming to the conclusion that you people aren't real Democrats at all. You think, act, and insult Democrats and the netroots like Republicans.

7/14/2006 3:46 PM  
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