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Joe Trippi Stays in the Picture

The last time we saw Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s former Internet guru and campaign manager, he was disheveled and sleep-deprived, hunched over a laptop behind a messy desk at the Dean for America headquarters in Burlington, Vermont. The pied piper of political activists, he commanded a staff of fervent and, this being Vermont, frequently tie-dyed youngsters, joyously engaged in the heady business of ‘Taking Back America.’

The last time we saw Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s former Internet guru and campaign manager, he was disheveled and sleep-deprived, hunched over a laptop behind a messy desk at the Dean for America headquarters in Burlington, Vermont. The pied piper of political activists, he commanded a staff of fervent and, this being Vermont, frequently tie-dyed youngsters, joyously engaged in the heady business of ‘Taking Back America.’

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Our story on his odyssey, “Joe Trippi’s Killer App” asked the musical question: Will this white-hot campaign flame out like a Silicon Valley dotcom? Well, we all know how that tale ended — with Dean’s primal scream in Iowa, and Trippi’s being banished from the kingdom.

But despite the ignominious ending, the revolution Trippi and his troops started is still having an effect on the campaign. Witness John Kerry’s Internet-based fund-raising prowess, or the ads that Moveon.org (a refuge for many former Deaniacs) has been fielding, or the centrality to the debate many of the issues that Dean was the first to raise — affordable health care, among them. So we were happy to see Joe, looking remarkably rested and well-pressed, at a party last week celebrating the publication of his new book, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything”

We like Joe, but were a little surprised to see an endorsement blurb on the cover, attributed to Fast Company. “Obsessive and brilliant!” it crowed, under our name. Hmmm, re-reading the story we can’t for the life of us locate that phrase, although we did call him “rumpled” and “cocky.” But hey — who’s quibbling…..Probably just another case of political spin.

Speaking before a small group of media hounds and publishing mavens, Trippi was ebullient over the choice of Edwards for the ticket, predicting the Dems will take back the White House and the Senate, and narrowly miss recapturing the House.

As for his own next gig: keep an ear out for him soon on Saturdays on the liberal talk radio station, Air America. Given his penchant for a well-informed rant, it should make for great entertainment. But more importantly, for anybody who doubts that one person can make a difference in changing this country’s political process, it should be required listening.

About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.

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