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The Kos Democrats have to bear

Matt Labash and Matthew Continetti attended the YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas, as did Byron York. Two interesting thoughts, the first from York on press coverage of the DailyKos and its founder:

[A]t some point, coverage of the DailyKos phenomenon will move into a new cycle. In politics, no person, and no movement, can attract as much attention as DailyKos has received recently without eventually attracting scrutiny. And that will likely bring attention to what is said—and who says it—on the website.

The obvious focus will be on DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas himself. While his writings—and the controversies they have caused—are an old topic in the blogosphere, they have remained largely unexamined in major media outlets. For example, one of Moulitsas’s most famous statements, involving the brutal murders of four American contractors in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004—“I feel nothing over the death of mercenaries. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.”—has been the target of extensive criticism on conservative blogs and in conservative media outlets, but, according to a search of the Nexis database, has never been mentioned in the Washington Post. (It was quoted, once, in the New York Times, deep in a September 2004 feature story on bloggers.) Nor has it been reported in any major newsmagazine or been the topic of conversation on any major television program.

The other is from Continetti, reflecting on the Kossacks and their approach to politics:

:In some sense, the YearlyKos conference was an exercise in social differentiation, a way to say, I am not that, whether that is a religious nut who votes conservative or a neocon warmonger. For many attendees, the answers to all political questions were self-evident. While the politicians were working to tap a new source of campaign money, the bloggers, it seemed, cared more about being with people who agreed with them and dreaming of future Democratic victories. At the moment, the netroots is a political movement with only the fuzziest ideology.

Just listen to its founders. "I’m not ideological at all," Moulitsas once told the Washington Monthly’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells. "I’m just all about winning." In Crashing the Gate, Armstrong and Moulitsas write, "It’s not an ideological movement--there is actually very little, issue-wise, that unites more modern party activists except, perhaps, opposition to the Iraq War . . . "

And yet, if Armstrong and Moulitsas are correct, their movement is not a substantive engagement with the issues facing the country. It eschews serious persuasive argument in favor of coalition-building. And this coalition is unconcerned with convincing anyone beyond its borders.

The activists say they take their cues from the right, which, in their view, gave up short-term political victories in favor of a generational march toward partisan realignment. So, while the netroots build their coalition and bide their time, they are content to let what they call the "Democratic establishment"--the Democrats who aim to govern beyond the echo chamber--suffer defeat. At a moment when Democratic candidates face close races almost everywhere in the country, one of the party’s most influential constituencies is looking only for politicians who emote, who oppose, who rail against Bush, the GOP, and the war.

I can’t help but think that Markos Moulitsas is ultimately a liability for Democrats actually interested in winning and governing. He and his supporters seem less interested in making arguments and building winning coalitions than in venting spleen and excoriating, not only conservatives, but moderate Democrats. In the short term, press attention can’t be good for them and for the politicians who court them. (I can imagine, for example, running ads against Mark Warner that force him to differentiate himself from the sentiments expressed by the various loose cannons on the DailyKos site.) In the long run, of course, there’s some possibility of evolution (they like that word) in the direction of political responsibility and seriousness. But if the average age of YearlyKos attendees is 40-45, I’m not sure how much more growth and maturation is possible.

Discussions - 3 Comments

I do also think that the Internet has proven to be a more powerful tool on our side than it has been for the other side. It has proven to be a tool on our side to sort of unite Conservatives and have a healthy intra-movement dialogue. But it’s essentially been something that has helped us gain in influence and broaden our appeal. Among Democrats, my sense is that the blog world has tended to strengthen the far Left of the Democratic Party at the expense of liberal, but somewhat less liberal, members of their party. It has tended to sort of drive their party even further to the Left rather than focusing on good ideas that would help unite people around common goals and common purposes. Instead, the Internet for the Left of the Democratic Party has served as a way to mobilize hate and anger — hate and anger, first and foremost, at this President and Conservatives, but then also at people within their own party whom they consider to be less than completely loyal to this very narrow, very out-of-the-mainstream, very far Left-wing ideology that they tend to represent. Karl Rove

The Kosmonauts are just a tribe, nothing more. The only thing that unites them is angst and bile...if they actually formed policies they would splinter. This is what I mean about identity...if people don’t have ascribed statuses to rely on they seek to recreate the "tribe," often on vague ideological grounds.

I think this gives us an advantage...they have "clumped" together, and that makes them an easy target...or more likely, a nice weapon/symbol to use against the real threat (the totalitarian statists among the Dems).

The Matt Labash article was laugh-out-loud, call people and read passages to them, spot-on, hilariously funny.

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