The changing power in Washington DC

On Thursday morning I was at breakfast with Alec Ross. One of the tech guys who advises Barack Obama. He told me to look around the restaurant at the Mayflower hotel in Washington DC. He said I had landed a breakfast in one of the most powerful rooms in Washington DC (I had no idea I had before breakfast had started). Then he said “they are pissed.”

But back to who they were. He said they were the Democratic Party’s top “bundlers.” These are people who raise funds for candidates. They hold parties for rich people in their home towns and “bundle” those rich people’s donations together.

Until now they played a major role in deciding who the next president was, and they, Ross told me, do that to have access to the President.

Back to why they are pissed. Barack Obama, Ross told me, is raising tons of money $50 to $100 at a time outside of this “bundling” system. The people in the old system don’t like that a new system is being built and that they aren’t part of it.

ABC News was there at the dinner where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spoke together later that night and said you could cut the tension in the room with a knife.

Of course, it’ll be interesting to see if Obama’s new donors will get tired of constantly being seen as an ATM, which is the reaction of some over on FriendFeed.

Interesting to have been in that room, though, talking about tech policy with one of Barack’s advisers. He told me that Obama is going to make tech (both the policy of, and understanding of) one of the key differentiating points between Obama and McCain. To me that mattered more than who was raising money for the candidates, even as that story swirled all around us.

I asked Ross to get Obama online to demonstrate he’s willing to use online media to listen to his supporters and have conversations. I also encouraged Ross to bring Obama out to meet with other bloggers so he could explain his tech policies and how they are different from McCain’s. Of course, maybe they should just pass out this video, where McCain admits he doesn’t know how to use a computer.

Of course, at the Personal Democracy Forum earlier this week, that alone caused a pretty sizeable debate. Does a President need to know how to use a computer? Does that affect his view of the tech industry? Several Congressmen and women (Democrats, of course) told me it does. We were debating just that over on FriendFeed all week.

Regarding the Presidency, several Congressmen and women made it very clear they couldn’t wait to have a new President, no matter who it is. Both Republicans and Democrats told us that (mostly off camera). Why? They said this administration has blocked so many of their efforts that the Congress has totally frustrated them. 2009 will be an interesting year in politics, the city felt like a pressurized bottle just waiting for someone to pop the cap off.

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