Howard Fineman: Wealthy Dem Donors Want Liberal Face for 2016

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 05:50 PM

By Joe Battaglia

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When some of the country's wealthiest Democratic donors and most liberal politicians begin three days of closed door meetings in Chicago, they will begin searching for the new face of the party, one that Huffington Post Media Group editorial director Howard Fineman says might not be Hillary Clinton.

On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will kick off the Spring Investment Conference of the Democracy Alliance, an organization that is, according to its mission statement, "made up of progressive investors/donors and movement leaders committed to a stronger democracy and more progressive America." Essentially, it allows mega donors like Tom Steyer and Jonathan Soros and other strategists to assess and screen political candidates.

This weekend's meeting, Fineman told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV, will be held against the backdrop of 2016 and is unlikely to serve as a coronation for Clinton, everyone's presumed Democratic front-runner in the next presidential election.

"They won't accept Hillary," Fineman said. "They think Hillary has done too many deals, they think she and Bill were way too close to big business over the years. They think they've taken too much money from Wall Street, etc., etc., and they're not going to go for her."

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According to Fineman, Clinton is not liberal enough to the liking of the Democracy Alliance, which he wouldn't be surprised to see throw its support behind an alternative candidate like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Additionally, he suggested that no one in the media wants a one-candidate race for the nomination.

"The mechanics of the media are such that the so-called mainstream media is not necessarily going to just give Hillary a pass all the way to the Democratic nomination, and that's because however much you all may think that ideology drives things, it's conflict that drives cable television," Fineman said.

"It's conflict that drives the coverage, and they're not going to sit still for a no-primary coronation of Hillary Clinton [in 2016] any more than the media was willing to sit still for a no-primary coronation of Hillary Clinton in 2008. That's what gave Barack Obama [a chance], that and the anti-war speech that he gave in 2002. That's what created the Obama opening and the Obama presidency."

Fineman said that regardless of who the face of the party turns out to be, a new identity must be cast, and that process will begin with this Democracy Alliance conference.

"People on the right may think of Barack Obama as a relentless ideologue, but that's not the way the grass roots of the Democratic Party, the sort of leftist, left side of the grass roots of the Democratic Party see it," Fineman said.

"They see Barack Obama as a sort of ideologically indistinct figure, they see a cult of personality, they see a healthcare program that they regard as a giveaway to the big healthcare industry, big hospitals, big pharma, etc. They're looking for an identity that is based more right this minute on the teachings of Thomas Piketty, the author of the new book called 'Capital,' which is all about the left's favorite topic, which is income equality in America and around the world.

"That's where they're headed. They don't like Hillary Clinton particularly, but that's the fault line that you're seeing, and you're seeing it start in Chicago."

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