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“Are you saying I’ve committed the unpardonable sin?”
June 13, 2013 6:37 AM   Subscribe

Inside The Meltdown At America’s Most Conservative, Most Christian Political Consulting Firm
Rex Elsass built a Republican empire on his faith. But he found himself battling his closest allies over his immortal soul.
posted by andoatnp (39 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does the left have any equivalent heavy player consulting firms in the US? My political science degree mostly concerned itself with the structure of various democracies in relation to each other, the particulars of (Canadian) law and treaties on public policy, often over a century later and individual voting behaviour, so I'm curious about this part of the political process.
posted by Phalene at 6:47 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


America’s Most Conservative, Most Christian...

I's like to say that those two things are not identical, but given the current sociopolitical climate I think I'm restricted to saying that they didn't use to be identical and don't have to be identical.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:51 AM on June 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


During the 2012 campaign, I recall reading about a liberal consulting firm that perhaps played a somewhat similar role on the left side of the spectrum. My recollection is that their work was highly quantitative in nature, and that they also did a-political work for clients as well. Googling didn't turn up an answer. Anyone know what I am talking about?
posted by andoatnp at 6:59 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


given the current sociopolitical climate

Where "current" is "the last 30 years at an absolute minimum, probably closer to 50".
posted by DU at 7:04 AM on June 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Does the left have any equivalent heavy player consulting firms in the US?

Kind of, though my sense is that consulting firms on the Democratic side are somewhat smaller and definitely more specialized. It would be unusual to hire one firm that does TV, field, and new media in one shop.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 7:06 AM on June 13, 2013


Aggggh egregious semicolon misuse in that article.

(I'm readin', I'm readin'!)
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:06 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not at all sure what Jesus would do in any given situation but I'm fairly confident he wouldn't do this.
posted by tommasz at 7:07 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Among his favorite themes to visit in his preaching are man’s need for humility and repentance — “We are all products of our brokenness” — and the ungodly greed and corruption that plagues his industry.

Yet further on it states:

As important inside a company deeply concerned with character, Elsass was behaving more erratically than normal, some of his employees thought. Two employees said he was drinking more, and his mood would yo-yo at a dizzying pace. He was showing off his opulence with increasingly Trumpian zeal, and the Cessna Citation lifestyle that had once seemed alluring to his young staff was wearing thin, even sometimes causing problems with clients. In a meeting with New York City mayoral candidate Joe Lhota, Elsass allowed a pitch to devolve into an argument over private jets, with the CEO apparently trying to one-up the politician, a witness said.

So much for humility....
posted by caddis at 7:13 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


But he found himself battling his closest allies over his immortal soul.

When I first saw the post I read that as "immoral soul". After reading the article I think I may have been correct.
posted by TedW at 7:13 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does the left have any equivalent heavy player consulting firms in the US?

Huffington Post?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:18 AM on June 13, 2013


This was a really well-written narrative. I enjoyed reading it, although the abrupt ending reminded me of the final episode of The Sopranos - instead of kicking my TV and cable box I was looking for the next article jump...

Anyway. As I read this, I kept thinking, "Rex sounds like a massively insecure and possibly bipolar douchebag." And then, realizing that mental illness is nothing to be funny about, I kind of felt sorry for the guy. And for the people he works with.
posted by Thistledown at 7:28 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Agh that whole thing was so weirdly-paced and oddly structured. It read like an amateur attempt to copy Gene Weingarten's style.

Interesting story, I guess, but it skirted around and quickly away from the central story – guy in charge of firm has emotional problems and a history of substance abuse – to focus on this Everhart guy whose firing, it seems, is a part of a bigger set of trends rather than any sort of meaningful climax. I was expecting something to happen after Everhart was fired, but the article ends on "and then he was fired, and sent an angry email, and that's it." If there's a punchline to all this, it hasn't yet come.

In fact, considering Everhart had ties to Buzzfeed (as the article discloses), I kind of suspect this was written either by a friend of Everhart's, or even at Everhart's request. It reads like a PR attack against his former firm, and a clumsy one at that, that's disguising itself as a piece of journalism with a motive.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:30 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does the left have any equivalent heavy player consulting firms in the US?

The US has something called “the left”?
posted by acb at 7:37 AM on June 13, 2013 [21 favorites]


Does the left have any equivalent heavy player consulting firms in the US?

The US has something called “the left”?


Was just about to make the same point. If by "the left" you mean Democrats and what are called "liberals," then yes, I'm sure we do. But if you mean by "the left" you mean the political left... no.
posted by Rykey at 7:43 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The US has something called “the left”?

*Waves*

We're over here, trying to get the Green Party to be a little more progressive. We'll be meeting in the basement of the Unitarian Fellowship building. Please bring a gluten-free vegan treat to share.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:59 AM on June 13, 2013 [28 favorites]


I don't know about consulting firms, but both political parties have unofficially-affiliated firms that do everything from polling to demographic research to software development for campaign websites and other stuff. They typically work for one party or the other exclusively.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:03 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're over here, trying to get the Green Party to be a little more progressive. We'll be meeting in the basement of the Unitarian Fellowship building. Please bring a gluten-free vegan treat to share.

This, in a nutshell, is why the Rublicans win and Barrack "Domestic Spying & Drone Strikes" Obama is what passes for a progressive in 2013.

I think Zizek was correct; we need a Thatcher for th left. Someone who will wade in with elbows swinging and an "I don't give a fuck what you think" attitude, and leave an indelible mark on society.

Except for good rather than evil.

Because the kumbaya, gluten-free, horizontalist, pass-the-talking-stick, "Hey gang, left march in the streets with signs" path has produced fuck-all but disillusionment and punch lines.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:28 AM on June 13, 2013 [20 favorites]


The company had the rare distinction of working, serially, for two presidential candidates last year — Michele Bachmann then Newt Gingrich.

Does the left have any equivalent heavy player consulting firms in the US?

With enemies like this, I don't know if the Democrats need friends.
posted by straight at 8:35 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's safe to say that this guy wouldn't know "Christian" if it bit him in the ass. Fuck him and all like him.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:45 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I kid the gluten-free vegans because I love the gluten-free vegans. Church basements are where it's at. There's a liberal minister and a photocopier and a couple of people working the staplers, and coffee all day. But I don't work to organize sign-waving. I work to organize voters. Sign-wavings are a good place to go with a clipboard and get contact information from people who Care, and want to Do More, but don't know who else is on-board. I don't know anyone that considers sign-wavings to be the end-product.

Politics is a long game around here.

I don't want a Thatcher. I believe the "I don't give a fuck what you think" attitude is Part Of The Problem, and people who have used it to make indelible marks on society always think they're using it for Good.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:57 AM on June 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Someone who will wade in with elbows swinging and an "I don't give a fuck what you think" attitude, and leave an indelible mark on society.

You mean Alan Grayson?
posted by Lord Dimwit Flathead The Excessive at 8:58 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Someone who will wade in with elbows swinging and an "I don't give a fuck what you think" attitude, and leave an indelible mark on society.
posted by snottydick at 9:17 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


“We are all products of our brokenness”

I have noticed this type of phraseology popping up more and more in megachurch Christian blog circles and the evangelical Christian media -- "a broken world" is another popular phrase -- and wow, does it set off alarms.

Rather than coming across as humility -- as in "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" -- it comes across as viciously anti-life, and intrinsically loathing of humanity and anything that humanity's created. This creates a handy way to dismiss progressive accomplishments as nothing because they're the products of broken people in a broken world. It's also a great way to co-opt humanity's greatest tragedies and atrocies -- see? Proof that without God, the world is "broken." And it's a great way to avoid walking the talk: Why bother trying to live out the social justice creed of your so-called messiah when this world is "broken" and you've been promised a better one once you die?

While it is incredibly amusing that the very people who should be in awe of the planet that their God made in (a metaphorical?) six days started calling it broken while the science-friendly folks at Discover were busy singing about how much they loved the world, it is also deeply alarming that people who buy into the idea of broken people and a broken world want to allegedly run this broken world, whether in office or behind the scenes. Because what do they want with a world they reject as broken?
posted by sobell at 9:17 AM on June 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


I believe the "I don't give a fuck what you think" attitude is Part Of The Problem, and people who have used it to make indelible marks on society always think they're using it for Good

That's a cop-out.

Because the results can actually be judged in the real-world. Good? Evil? These are real-world determinations that can be made. Intentions, what people think, these don't matter in the least fucking bit.

Measurable, real-world results matter. And the results are in. Corporations, banks, and the assassins over at JSOC win, the rest of us foot the bill and live in the disintegrating society on the scraps while the kids in tents and masks get to play another round of "Taunt The Cops".

If yanking on the reins of power and making shit happen once you've actually been elected can only be used for Republican-brand corporatist evil and war, then we're seriously fucked.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:29 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey: "I think Zizek was correct; we need a Thatcher for th left. Someone who will wade in with elbows swinging and an "I don't give a fuck what you think" attitude, and leave an indelible mark on society. "

I don't think we'll have a viable, national figure without building things at the local level first. The groups that meet in UU Fellowship Halls make for a quick laugh line, but they're doing necessary work.
posted by brundlefly at 9:43 AM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Please bring a gluten-free vegan treat to share.

this is, in a nutshell, the reason I now have such a distaste for getting involved with left leaning causes. Not because of the food per se , but because of the sanctimonious, un-organizable people eating it.
posted by Dr. Twist at 9:43 AM on June 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


"the suit accuses Everhart of unzipping his pants and relieving himself in the presence of a colleague to exert dominance."


This is pretty much how I built my entire career.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:47 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone who will wade in with elbows swinging and an "I don't give a fuck what you think" attitude, and leave an indelible mark on society.

Except for good rather than evil.


We used to have a dude like this named Jesus. Let's see where he got us.
posted by Legomancer at 9:48 AM on June 13, 2013


“We are all products of our brokenness”

I have noticed this type of phraseology popping up more and more in megachurch Christian blog circles and the evangelical Christian media -- "a broken world" is another popular phrase -- and wow, does it set off alarms.

Rather than coming across as humility -- as in "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" -- it comes across as viciously anti-life, and intrinsically loathing of humanity and anything that humanity's created....


I've come across that "brokenness" phraseology a few times, and I've never heard it used in a way that's "viciously anti-life, and intrinsically loathing of humanity and anything that humanity's created." I've always heard it used to mean something like "We're/I'm not perfect and I'm not going to beat myself up because I'm not perfect, but I'll still try."
posted by cosmic.osmo at 10:13 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"the suit accuses Everhart of unzipping his pants and relieving himself in the presence of a colleague to exert dominance."


This is pretty much how I built my entire career.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:47 PM on June 13 [+] [!]


I'm not sure if this is eponysterical, but if it is then I don't want any details.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 10:55 AM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's always so amazing to me when God tells people to do exactly what they feel like doing.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:31 PM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


We're over here, trying to get the Green Party to be a little more progressive. We'll be meeting in the basement of the Unitarian Fellowship building. Please bring a gluten-free vegan treat to share.

We're also over here in the Democratic Party, running a strategy of long-term entryism.

I think it's worthwhile, when considering the lack of a functioning institutionalized left in the United States, to make clear that it's not the people of the United States who are broken — it's the institutions.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:59 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not because of the food per se , but because of the sanctimonious, un-organizable people eating it.

why is it sanctimonious to suggest people bring sharable snacks? I don't understand the hostility... yes, organizing so that everyone is happy isn't always the easiest thing, but it's not really always the hardest thing either, and I don't see how it's sanctimonious. It's just trying to be thoughtful - no?
posted by mdn at 1:01 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't get the hostility either. But, they're putting a lot of weird hormones in red meat these days, so it's probably related.
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:21 PM on June 13, 2013


Here in the Bay Area, "gluten free" reads as code for Berkeley, where the caricature is that people will come to a meeting about "X" & get side tracked about is the coffee free trade, and further digress into shouldnt the coffee cups be paper rather than styrofoam.

And nothing gets done, but everybody is heard and feels like they got a chance to make a contribution w/out feeling judged.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:26 PM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


a world they reject as broken

You're making a LOT of unfair and incorrect assumptions and generalizations in this post, but I'm going to try and tackle this one. Accepting the brokenness of the world doesn't neccessarily mean refusing to take action to address problems that you see. It's a lens through which one can view the world, and for me at least, is a lens that helps create empathy and acceptance.

Let's say you have a dog you love and the dog gets cancer. Calling it a cancerous dog doesn't change the fact that you love it, or that you will do everything in your power to help it to regain its health. But it does mean that when you see that your pet is, say, a lot slower than he used to be and maybe can't jump anymore, you think "well, he's an old dog and sickly. It's no wonder. And it's not really his fault". That's not a rejection of your dog.

When I see all the awful things that happen in the world, they upset me. But I remind myself that it's a broken world, and that these awful things can't be helped, and it lessens my anger. It gives me peace and makes it easier to do what I can while knowing that what little I can do may ultimately be useless. It helps me be gentler to myself and the people around me.


Would you take issue if someone said "the world's a fucked-up place", or "the more things change, the more they stay the same", or "everybody's got problems"? Or are yoy just angry about this because Christians say it?
posted by windykites at 5:59 PM on June 13, 2013


I'm angry because Christians are saying it, and frankly I want them to get their religion out of my politics. You like prayer? Good, do it in church, not in my kid's school.
posted by evilDoug at 9:37 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


And nothing gets done, but everybody is heard and feels like they got a chance to make a contribution w/out feeling judged.

True enough, but, that's just true of small groups of humans in meetings - faculty meetings, town halls, I'm sure it's just as true for tea parties as for the berkeley people. The majority are badly organized and a waste of time, because people just like to hear themselves talk.

Occasionally you get groups that are either led by someone inspiring or efficient, or have a clear enough agenda that things can get going, but really, a big percentage of people who can attend optional meetings will be unemployed, retired, or looking for something social anyway.
posted by mdn at 9:50 PM on June 14, 2013


it's not the people of the United States who are broken — it's the institutions.

The institutions of the nation are, I believe, a fairly clear reflection of the people of the nation.
posted by snottydick at 7:01 AM on June 17, 2013


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