Tasini’s Experiment

Well, that challenge to Hillary from the left has materialized. Cindy Sheehan said “no,” but she’s endorsed one Jonathan Tasini, a labor guy whose name will be familiar to freelance journalists and New York Times lawyers* and not many other people.

His challenge is based first on the charge that Hillary “has been one of the leading proponants of the war,” he said in an interview this morning, and secondarily on economic issues like Nafta.

In a statement on Tasini’s Web site, Sheehan describes Clinton as “a candidate who advocates for continued killing on the basis of flimsy reasoning.”

Tasini’s challenge — along with running threats over at DailyKos to primary Joe Lieberman — represent the Web-organized, anti-war wing of the Democratic Party putting its electoral money where its much-hyped mouth is. Here, Tasini faces a real logistical challenge, first of all, in even getting on the ballot, needing 15,000 signatures scattered across half the state’s counties.

“If there’s a base of [financial and volunteer] support within about 30 to 60 days, I think this campaign has legs and is going to get off the ground,” he said. “This may not touch an nerve and then we’re not going to be able to do it. We’ll see.”

He also mentioned that the activist group Code Pink plans to begin regular protests at Clinton events.

Some will speculate that this sort of thing is just what Hillary needs for her national image, and it’s hard to imagine the campaign — from, incidentally, some of the folks who brought us Norman Siegel this time around — will do a whole lot of electoral damage. But who knows where the politics of the war will be when she hits New Hampshire two years from now.

*Tasini was the plaintiff in a case freelancers brought,and won, against the New York Times for the use of their work outside the print paper. Which means his campaign will put the Times, and perhaps freelancers who benefited from the settlement, deep in disclaimer-land when they write about him.