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Thursday, November 09, 2006

March of the stupids, pt II

A jedburgh team

Someone who needs history explained to them.

Netroots' Lose Their Grip In Midterms

(The Nation) This column was written by Ari Melber.

Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and Rahm Emanuel say they are happy to share credit for the Democrats' electoral success, but not everyone in the party is feeling as generous. Progressive bloggers, who often promote and criticize the Democratic Party with equal vigor, want their props. MyDD blogger Chris Bowers concluded that netroots activists were crucial to victory — long before the votes were counted. Last month, he wrote "most, if not all, of the significant improvements Democrats have made from 2004 to 2006 were generated primarily within the netroots and the progressive movement." Yet the election results suggest the netroots' scorecard is decidedly mixed.

The blogs' most famous candidate and top fundraising beneficiary, Ned Lamont, lost his bid to unseat Senator Joe Lieberman. One of the campaign's senior advisors, former Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis, said the victory "proved the blogosphere is all wind and very little sail." Bloggers tell a different story: the unusual, 3-way race should not be judged strictly by who won, but also by its success in helping "make Iraq the center of this electoral season," as Joel Silberman wrote on FireDogLake. If Lamont's loss is counted as a symbolic effort that beat expectations, his performance fits a pattern. Many of the netroots' most popular House candidates beat expectations this week, but ultimately lost.


Yet regardless of the remaining results and recounts, the fact is the netroots' favorite candidates did not perform as well as the Democrats targeted by party leaders. And they were never supposed to. Many of the bloggers' picks were aggressive Democrats in long-shot districts who were neglected by the Beltway establishment. There is no doubt that bloggers leveraged money and political buzz to make races more competitive and put Republicans on the defensive, but it was simply not the decisive factor in the elections

John Aravosis writes AmericaBlog, which raised over $100,000 from about 1,900 activists this cycle, but on election night he resisted attempts to measure the netroots' impact. "It's too hard to define who did what. We could have defined quite easily that John Kerry lost it for us if he had not shut up after two days, but to know whether blogs [had a bigger effect than] unions is like saying was Rahm Emanuel more effective than Howard Dean? I don't know," he told The Nation. That sentiment is probably shared by many netroots activists, who are more focused on the Democratic victory than parceling out credit.

The more interesting question, Aravosis argues, is how will the blogs adapt to working with "Democrats who actually have power." In the short term, he hopes to hammer home the message that the election proves Americans think conservatism is "inherently wrong," rally support for voting rights reform, and support the House Democrats' new agenda. Other bloggers are more interested in crafting the agenda: Arianna Huffington's on election night chastised Howard Dean for backtracking so far on Iraq in a CNN interview that he sounded like he was pitching "the president's plan."

Mr. Davis, a self-described "liberal Democrat" who repeatedly tangled with bloggers during his work on behalf of Joe Lieberman, said on election night that the blogopshere must evolve in order to have a broader impact. "If the blogosphere is to have an impact on changing the country as opposed to talking to each other, the Lamont campaign is a lesson in exactly what not to do. They came out of a primary and they continued to wage a primary," he said, "but they weren't talking to unaffiliated voters and moderate Republicans." Davis told The Nation he has a new proposal that the blogosphere establish voluntary rules for "fairness, accuracy and accountability," requiring writers and commentors to provide their real names, phone numbers and addresses, and forbidding anonymous comments offering misleading or personal attacks. He argues that Democrats cannot change the minds of people voting against their "economic self-interest" by offering "words of hate" or "anonymous attacks."

How the fuck could you write this shit? You've come to us for help for your articles for months and this is the crap you come up with.

Lanny Davis falsely accused the blogs of anti-semitism and couldn't come up with a single, not one, example of a blogger who anyone read, making such a statement. He repeatedly lied about the quality of the criticism facing Joe Lieberman, and is given another opportunity to do so without contradiction.

Of course, this is total bullshit.

So let me explain my thinking.

First, you toss off the $100K raised by John Aravosis, like it was no big deal. The collective right blogosphere says they raised $250K. Total. That is a phenominal sum, and other sites raised even more.

But you miss the single largest acomplishment of the campaign, Chris Bowers and Move On's campaign to raise millions from Democrats in safe seats, something never even thought of before in electoral politics. Yet, within days, they had raised millions for the party. That's the kind of things bloggers did.

The Lamont primary victory was critical, but then, the campaign didn't finish the job. They made a lot of cute commercials, but they didn't tie Lieberman to Bush like an anvil. That's how Bob Menendez kept his seat. Every day, he linked Tom Kean, Jr. to Bush, without pause. If they had done that, Lieberman would have been of even more use to us than he was. More on that later.

And Ari, how could you miss the Webb campaign. Allen was simply undermined by the blogs at every turn. From Macaca to beating up Mike Stark, Allen was hounded by the blogs, and bought time for Webb's underfunded and lackluster campaign to gain sea legs. It wasn't anyone or anything else.

In the smaller races, bloggers funneled money to people who could not have won otherwise, like Kirsten Gillibrand.

But, I think, you, like a lot of people, think blogs are supposed to win elections on their own.

And that is a wildly mistaken assumption.

Blogs are force multipliers. All they can do is harrass and confound.

Let me explain.

As an adjunct to the D-Day landings, the Allies trained three man teams called Jedburghs to work with guerilla units across France. They would help with radio communications and training and resupplying guerrilla units. In exchange, the Allies could send them to interrupt German movements and report on them.

It is believed that the guerrillas and Jed teams slowed the movement of German armored divisions by weeks.

They couldn't fight them one to one, but they could do the things possible to make their efforts more complicated and time consuming. Every time a Jed team slowed down the Germans, that was one more unit not fighting the Allies in Normandy.

Blogs can supply money and information to campaigns, they cannot wage them. No matter how much bloggers wanted Lamont to win, they didn't run the campaign. Blogs are not in the business of picking winners, they are in the business of making the GOP run for every seat in every district. To force them to spend time and money in races where they were supposed to be safe.

When the DCCC backed Tammy Duckworth, got her media attention, they couldn't buy a victory. Not with 3m extra.

Yet, when Sue Kelly and John Sweeney got in trouble, blogs and the money which they raised, made a massive difference, because they could make things worse for already troubled candidates. They don't win campaigns, but they can help a campaign win.

Ask Jim Webb about that. He's now Senator-elect Webb because people helped his campaign from the blogs. Not in total, but without focusing and revealing Allen's horrifically racist past, he would not have won.

posted by Steve @ 12:55:00 AM

12:55:00 AM

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