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Comments by YACCS
Wednesday, June 14, 2006

They might be bloggers, don't feed them.

Can liberal bloggers and Democrats get along?
Knight Ridder Newspaper


Moulitsas, for instance, has backed at least 12 Democrats in congressional races since 2004. All have lost. The bloggers also seem out of step with broader party sentiment about 2008. They love Russell D. Feingold, the liberal Wisconsin senator, yet he barely registers in the polls that query Democrats nationwide.

Conversely, the bloggers dislike Sen. Hillary Rodman Clinton of New York; she is routinely reviled on their sites for being timid, especially on the Iraq war. Yet, in the latest polls of all Democratic voters, she is easily the top choice for 2008.

At the very least, in other words, the bloggers threaten to become an increasingly divisive force within the party. They are always beating up on the Democratic establishment - especially the Washington party consultants who keep earning fat TV ad commissions even as they keep losing elections - and they beat up on each other as well. Everyone seems to think that the tone will get uglier as the 2008 race heats up.

Chris Bowers, a Philadelphia blogger (and a state Democratic committeeman) who helps run the popular website, foresees a lot of "flamewars" in the months ahead. That's blogspeak for "online arguments characterized by personal insults."

But Tim Tageris, another proponent of blogosphere clout, has no problem with online animosity: "That's the nature of debate. Nothing wrong with debate. These are passionate people. Passionate about change. I'll trade a little rancor for a lot of passion any day of the week."

Tageris, with his backward cap, Phillies sweatshirt, and I-Pod ear buds, is one of those aspiring power brokers. Right now, he's literally living a flamewar. He's the Internet guy for Ned Lamont, the antiwar Democratic upstart who is challenging pro-war Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut in an August primary. Among his other duties, Tagaris links the bloggers to Lamont. Indeed, Lamont virtually owes his viability to the bloggers, who have raised money and boosted his name ID in record time. Last month, Lamont was drawing 19 percent of likely Democratic primary voters; this week, Lamont stood at 40 percent.

So the drive to oust Lieberman is really the next big test of the bloggers' political clout. They detest Lieberman. Any politician perceived as siding with the GOP, or sucking up to President Bush, is described as "pulling a Lieberman." Any Democrat who defends Lieberman is denounced.

Sen. Barbara Boxer of California was here the other day, and when asked about the blogs' push for Lamont, she defended Lieberman. A blogger from promptly posted this comment about Boxer: "She's an idiot."

The Democratic players back in Washington think these bloggers have way too much attitude; they recall what happened when one of their own, strategist Steve Elmendorf, told a reporter that Democratic candidates should not become "captive of the activist left." For that, Moulitsas called Elmendorf a "sleazebag," threatened to wreck his business, and triggered a flamewar against the guy. This is why, today, the D.C. insiders will only voice their concerns about the bloggers in exchange for anonymity.

Thus, one top Washington strategist said by phone: "The vituperative yelling, the screaming, the hollering - they're amateurs trying to play like professionals. Yet we see all these Democrats starting to hire them, pay them for advice. It's crazy. The real question is whether this new medium will amplify their voice to the point where it distorts our party politics. They are not a bellwether of what Democrats generally think. They are just another interest group, flying to Vegas to have a convention."

But Moulitsas blames Washington strategists for turning the Democrats into wimps who won't speak out for their progressive principles, especially in opposition to the Iraq war.

"By being outspoken, you may offend some people," he argued. "But you inspire and motivate your own people. ... Leadership makes enemies. But Bush has taught us that you can offend people on issue after issue, and they'll still vote for you. ... Voters think, `If you're not strong enough to stand up for what you obviously believe in, then what will you stand up for?'''

Spoken like a true rebel; Moulitsas wrote recently that the party insiders can either work with the bloggers, "or get out of the way." Yet there's always the danger that the outsiders might wind up seduced and co-opted.

Which brings us back to Mark Warner. The ex-Virginia governor threw a swell party; he spent $50,000 on the bloggers (including T-shirts emblazoned with his face), and he has hired a top Moulitsas ally, blogger Jerome Armstrong. Yet Warner is a red-state business guy, not an antiwar liberal. No wonder that giddy ride to the top of the world left a lot of the bloggers nursing moral hangovers.

As Edward Anderson of Connecticut remarked, "You're up there, with the view and the black-tie waiters, and you think maybe you've made it. But I don't want our guys to think they can be bought off by shrimps and martinis. It's out of keeping with where a lot of us are coming from. It's uncomfortable. We're supposed to be outsiders. Me, I really don't want the temptations. I'd rather eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."

Hmmm, anyone see a word about Russ Feingold on this blog?

And we didn't go to Yearly Kos either.

But we know failure when we smell it and the DC consultants, arrogant cowards one and all, when not kissing our asses and feeding us their polls, try to save their businesses.

They're losers, Vichy collaborators offering up the same strategies for failure. Seeking a way to accomdate the GOP wackjobs as they destroy themselves.

The "professionals" are so fucking incompetent at their jobs, ordinary citizens are trying to supplant them. And not one of these gutless bastards would turn down a dime raised online. They just hate being held accountable.

Mark Warner? Doesn't mean shit to me. Don't care about him one way or the other.

Mr. Anderson needs to attend a trade show with a press pass. Talk about lavish? Nothing like Microsoft serving you Grey Goose martinis while you nibble on stuffed mushrooms, a personal favorite. No well liquor there, only top shelf, and free as the sun. I've had lunch at the Plaza and the UN as a reporter.

To have a Washington strategist complain about people paying out of their own pockets to talk about politics in Las Vegas is ridiculous. I mean, this is a guy who can tell you the best holes at Pebble Beach and Hilton Head and his handicaps there. Who the fuck is he kidding? A couple of bloggers get treated well, and it's an issue? Wes Clark's entire campaign, not Howard Dean's, was a creation of the Internet. The General owed his online supporters a party.

Bloggers are just being treated like any other wealthy contributor. If I was running for office, I'd stuff all the vegan meals I could afford down Kos's throat, because the man can raise money. I'd throw in some meat for Atrios and the Firedoglake crew, but the point is that they are as entitled to free meals as Dick Polman and his collegues. Just like they do to rich people.

Mr. Anderson needs to get over his love of poverty and disrespect. If he was a Republican, he would be treated far better. Even the College Republicans are treated well. The people who went to Yearly Kos work hard, I know I do, and a party or two is a just reward for that work, not some bribe. Because if it was, every reporter ever fed by people, all of them, would be bought cheaply.

If Bill Gates can feed me, so can a politician.

posted by Steve @ 12:24:00 AM

12:24:00 AM

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