Straying off message...

The Democrats are struggling mightily to stay on message this week at their national convention in Boston, but cross the Charles River to Cambridge where the progressive group Campaign for America's Future is running a quasi-alternative convention, and the message gets a little more undisciplined.

Failed Democratic primary candidate Howard Dean, talking about how candidates of the future will be guided by blogs and meet-ups and not controlled by focus groups, recalled fondly that a group of Bay Area supporters was organizing meetings on his behalf before his campaign ever knew about it. Of course, the old Deaniac conceded, that can be risky. “You can’t call the President a fascist. Not supposed to do that—at least not this week,” he joked.

Former Clinton Labor Secretary and Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Robert Reich told the same gathering that “We’ve got to understand the central reality about the economic recovery: There is no economic recovery.”

The famously diminutive economic thinker, who stood on a plastic milk crate behind the podium, quipped that the Bush Administration saying “average wages” are rising is like saying “the basketball player Shaquille O’Neal and I have an average height of six foot one.”

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