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Comments by YACCS
Saturday, January 28, 2006

What a crock o' shite

Oh, Lordy, we can't fight back. If
we do, the WaPo won't like us,
especially when their wives
worked for Tom DeLay

Washington Post On The Attack

Jim VandeHei of The Washington Post, whose wife Hanna used to work for Tom DeLay and whose house is reportedly adorned in wingnut finery, has an article in this morning's paper that amounts to nothing but a hit piece on the progressive blogosphere. It seems that the netroots campaign to hold the Post accountable is freaking them out.

The article, titled "Blogs Attack From Left as Democrats Reach for Center," tries to set up a false premise that progressive bloggers are lefties foaming at the mouth over the fact that the Democratic Party wants to be a more moderate party. As "evidence," VandeHei points solely to bloggers and posters at The Huffington Post. Their crime was complaining about the choice of newly elected Democratic Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia over Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha to deliver the rebuttal to the State of the Union address. Now, I don't know what planet VandeHei lives on (I think it's called Cocktail Party, and I'm pretty sure it's in the Beltway system), but here on Earth, the progressive netroots hasn't been vigorously attacking Governor Kaine and Rep. Murtha is not a flaming lefty.

Here's how VandeHei characterizes the Democratic netroots/establishment war that he wants so badly to exist.

These activists -- spearheaded by battle-ready bloggers and making their influence felt through relentless e-mail campaigns -- have denounced what they regard as a flaccid Democratic response to the Supreme Court fight, President Bush's upcoming State of the Union address and the Iraq war. In every case, they have portrayed party leaders as gutless sellouts.

First, liberal Web logs went after Democrats for selecting Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to deliver the response to Bush's speech next Tuesday. Kaine's political sins: He was too willing to drape his candidacy in references to religion and too unwilling to speak out aggressively against Bush on the Iraq war. Kaine has been lauded by party officials for finding a victory formula in Bush country by running on faith, values and fiscal discipline....

The blogs-vs.-establishment fight represents the latest version of a familiar Democratic dispute. It boils down to how much national candidates should compromise on what are considered core Democratic values -- such as abortion rights, gun control and opposition to conservative judges -- to win national elections.

Many Democrats say the only way to win nationally is for the party to become stronger on the economy and promote a centrist image on cultural values, as Kaine did in Virginia and as Bill Clinton did in two successful presidential campaigns.

VandeHei conveniently conflates The Huffington Post with the entire progressive blogosphere to make his point. But if he actually looked around, he'd see a wide diversity of opinion within the netroots. How can he claim that bloggers have "in every case... portrayed party leaders as gutless sellouts"? That's demonstrably false. And remember, we're the ones who work without editors.

To be fair, there is some tension between the Democratic Party and the progressive blogosphere. Unlike the rightist blogosphere, we tend to be a bit more independent and suspicious of power. But to pretend that we're in an all-out war is silly. If that were the case, I doubt the majority of us would still consider ourselves Democrats. Some of our favorite Democrats are people like Jack Murtha, the pro-life Harry Reid, and Russ Feingold, who voted to confirm Chief Justice Roberts. As Markos has pointed out time and again, the tension doesn't stem from ideology. It's all about entrenched power and reform.

The reason The Washington Post is on the attack is that they see their influence waning and are desperate to tear down the credibility of the blogosphere. This is a campaign of marginalization. And it's not coming from a political party. It's coming from a newspaper, a traditional media outlet that is charged with reporting facts and news. Instead, they've decided to use their pages to mount a political campaign against progressive bloggers, who they've apparently decided are their sworn enemy. It's absolutely paranoid and ridiculous.

UPDATE: It seems I'm in the minority pursuing the netroots v. traditional media angle on this story. That's fine by me. But it's worth noting that the dominant narrative seems to be netroots v. Dem lobbyists. Markos has a post up along those lines. Ultimately, I think that both conflicts exist and both are worth examining.

Now back to reality.

First, the bloggers are NOT demanding some ideological purity, that's what the right does. They merely want their elective representatives to act as an opposition party. Many of us supported people like Ben Nelson, Ken Salaazar and now Bob Casey, who have stands which are to the right of most of the people on this site. Why? Because we want Democrats who win. Paul Hackett is hardly anyone's stereotypical lefty, but he got massive support from people who disagree with him on any number of issues, because he could win.

It is the DLC and friends who sandbag Democratic candidates and follow Republican talking points. Not the bloggers.

We support Dems who fight, simple as that. Jack Murtha, Russ Feingold, doesn't matter. The only litmus test is a willingness to defend principles.

Second: the moderate "values" campaign is the last gasp of a series of losing campaigns by the DLC. Clinton is retired, his wife sits in a safe seat. Those politics do not work.

If you owned a football team and the coach didn't change his gameplan after several losing seasons would you not fire him?

Compromise drove the Dems into the minority, despite having more registered voters. It caused many liberals to register as independents. Compromise with reactionaries DOES NOT WORK.

Speaking of Tim Kaine, he won by a fairly wide margin over a wingnut running a dirty campaign. No one cares about his religion as long as he doesn't impose it on anyone else. Also, many Dems from across the country, driven by the blogs, supported Kaine and financed his campaign. So how are we calling people gutless.

People does not mean Joe Lieberman and Joe Biden. They have repeatedly chosen to represent themselves over the party, repeatedly criticising other Dems, including party head Howard Dean. In short, they want to have the support of the party but not to support the party.

However, to people who think it's all an echo chamber, I think this article disproves this.

posted by Steve @ 6:14:00 PM

6:14:00 PM

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