April 1, 2006

"By 2008, the blogs are going to be so institutionalized, it's not going to be funny."

The NYT quotes Markos Moulitsas in an article about how the political parties are trying to figure out and take advantage of blogging. Kos is talking about how the candidates are trying to catch up, and that they might get to the point where they are only cluelessly going, "We're hot and we're hip and we're bloggin'.'" Presumably, they need to hire some real bloggers if they want to get up to speed -- like the way Mark Warner hired Jerome Armstrong.

Anyway, an important aspect of all of this is that blogging is not affecting the two parties in the same way, and Kos has a lot to do with that:
On the left in particular, bloggers have emerged as something of a police force guarding against disloyalty among Democrats, as Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic consultant, learned after he told The Washington Post that bloggers and online donors "are not representative of the majority you need to win elections."

A Daily Kos blogger wrote: "Not one dime, ladies and gentlemen, to anything connected with Steve Elmendorf. Anyone stupid enough to actually give a quote like that deserves to have every single one of his funding sources dry up."...

Bloggers, for all the benefits they might bring to both parties, have proved to be a complicating political influence for Democrats. They have tugged the party consistently to the left, particularly on issues like the war, and have been openly critical of such moderate Democrats as Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut.

Still, Democrats have been particularly enthusiastic about the potential of this technology to get the party back on track, with many Democratic leaders arguing that the Internet is today for Democrats what talk radio was for Republicans 10 years ago. "This new media becomes much more important to us because conservatives have been more dominant in traditional media," said Simon Rosenberg, the president of the centrist New Democratic Network. "This stuff becomes really critical for us."
Hmmm.... But blogging is so different from talk radio. Using blogs to try to produce a radio-like effect could go very wrong, and, indeed, seems already to have gone very wrong. Kos and Armstrong have written their book, but haven't their actual efforts to help Democratic candidates fallen flat? Soon enough, someone will write a book analyzing how their blog hurt the Democratic Party.

You shouldn't want a big, dominant blog pushing your party around. The great thing about blogging is the way individuals can be heard and can spontaneously aggregate and disaggregate as the issues play out. Kos, it seems, is pushing the institutionalization of blogging, and would, perhaps, like to lump those of us who resist that together with lame politicians who think they look "hip" because they're "bloggin'." Get serious, grow up, blog for power!

NO!

As for how Kos treats Lieberman: here he goes again.

51 comments:

yetanotherjohn said...

The democrats and the left tend to have a statist view of political power. That the state, not individuals, is the source and guarantor of what is good. So a Kos statis view of blogging is certainly not out of character.

Gaius Arbo said...

One of the things that I dislike about Kos is the lockstep. That really bugs me.

ALH ipinions said...

Anne

Your skilful puncturing of the Kos political balloon is impressive. I think too many blogs have become nothing more the propaganda tools of the major political parties and their affiliated groups. Indeed, what can be more indicative of selling-out than becoming the thought police for their respective talking points. That’s Kos! And that’s he thinks a thoughtful Democrat like Sen Lieberman is a political traitor.

Of course, the real-world value of what Kos and Armstrong contribute to political debate in this country is reflected in the sales of their book, which, if I’m not mistaken, only 250 of their millions of blog readers bothered to purchase. At least his thought-police counterparts on the right have readers who are prepared to put their money where their idle-minded clicks are; although their sense of blog importance can do with a little puncturing as well….

Steven said...

I love Kos. He's an enemy of the DLC, which means he's an enemy of all electable Democratic presidential candidates (for example, DLCers Bill Clinton and Al Gore). Kos accordingly helps ensure foreign and security policy will not be set even in part by the fans of Nader and Chomsky who would be appointed for party-unity reasons in case of a Democratic presidency.

So, for his work in keeping America safe from his proclaimed ideology, I salute Markos Moulitsas.

DRJ said...

It seems to me that bloggers like Kos are steadily pushing the Democratic Party in the direction of the Green Party. Not ideologically, although there is some overlap, but more as a practical matter. For the Greens, ideology trumps everything, including moderate success and even survival.

I think we will also see Libertarian candidates emerge in those places where Democratic candidates are currently running a distant second. If there are enough of these places, we might even see a successful national Libertarian Party.

Gerry said...

Ann,

What you are witnessing is the differentiating of the leftist impulse from the rightist. Erick von K├╝hnelt-Leddihn would have recognized it immediately (he always believed the anarchists belonged on the right, and would be there if it wasn't for their anti-capitalism).

Expect the differences to become quite stark in the next few years.

VICTOR said...

It will be interesting to see the effects on the Lieberman race.

XWL said...

I for one have recently undergone a political transformation (as of just today, actually)

And I have this to say about that same article

"Markos (DailyKos) Moulitsas will purify the Democratic Party with the acid of pure righteousness. Any and all fake Democrats who don't hold positions of pure progressivity will be expurgated, excoriated, and excommunicated from the new and improved idiotlogically pure Democratic Party.

Fake Moderates (really Republicans) like Sen. Lieberman and Prof. Althouse used to give me hope for a reasoned debate in this country, but as of today (and probably for today only)

They make me sick.

Pure Progressivism in Perpetuity!!

PatCA said...

The Kossaks are to the Dems what the Christian Right is to the Reps, a bunch of people they can flatter for their money and their votes and then abandon for the center.

CB said...

I don't know--the talk about blogs these days is starting to sound an awful lot like the talk about e-tailers and dot-coms from about six years ago. Those folks WAY overestimated their importance; I hope bloggers don't do the same.

Maxine Weiss said...

Lieberman is the best thing to ever happen to the Democrats. He's their ticket. Will they realize this in time?

Ann supports Joe Lieberman, certainly above anyone else they've got.

Peace, Maxine

dick said...

strikes me that the best thing the Kossacks could do if they want to get rid of Lieberman is to support him. After all they have never won an election yet. Their candidates always lose.

The other thing that strikes me about them is that they always claim to be progressive. Unfortunately every thing they support is what has proven not to work in the past and yet they are not willing to progress from learning from their mistakes to trying anything else. How they can they call themselves progressive with a straight face?

Elizabeth said...

I read Kos, but not daily. I like that he takes on the Democratic party's weaknesses, but I break with him on particular stances and on tone most of the time. I do agree with him about Lieberman. Holy Joe should just switch parties. The Demos don't need him.

CB said...

steven,
Agreed; I think you were being ironic to a certain extent, but that might be literally true. Nader has made it his mission to inflict as much damage on the Democrats, including running his 2000 presidential campaign to deliberately throw the election to Bush. (The idea was that with a Republican administration, groups like Public Citizen would be more important)

patca,
I don't know; I think that role still belongs to black voters.

maxine,
No, they won't.

downtownlad said...

Why is it only going to hurt the Democratic party? Just take a look at every right-wing blog out there. They are all attacking immigrants and stooping to the lowest form of Xenophobia.

That's going to have a backlash big time amongst the Hispanic vote. And I really don't think it will win them one vote. People who hate immigrants are already voting Republican.

AJ Lynch said...

Has KOS ever had a really good idea for the country? IMHO, Blogs make it way more likely that good ideas and accurate observations from an INDIVIDUAL will be heard by others who embrace the idea and spread it all over the internets. Blogs are the newest populist tool! And that is the exact opposite of what KOS wants to do.

Kos wants to write a doctine, have a select few approve it then use the internets to propogandize it as gospel. The KOS method disdains approval or even an embrace by the blogosphere.

A good example of the blogosphere embracing an idea and causing a movement was when an outcry from websites (i.e ww.pacleansweep.com) forced the Pennsylvania legislature to give back the pay raises it approved for itself in the middle of the night. The denizens of the blogosphere would not stand for the pay grab! And it embarrassed the MSM to campaign via OPED's against the legislature's business as usual mindset. And it worked! I submit a single spontaneous thought by one individual has had a bigger impact than that old, established website called www.dailykos.com

Ann Althouse said...

downtownlad said..."Why is it only going to hurt the Democratic party?"

Who said it was? The point I made -- based on the NYT article -- is that blogging has hurt Democrats more.

AJ Lynch said...

Downtown lad:

Come on- you are nuts saying all the right wing websites are attacking immigrants. Why don't you open your eyes? You trot out so many stereotypes in one comment....all the bigots already vote republican, etc. That is bs.

Here is what I say as a conservative- 1- Do you even trust the current elected pols to enforce new immigration laws cause they sure haven't enforced existing laws.
2- I am in favor of immigration. A lotta of immigration. It keeps the economy growing (i.e they buy starter homes right) and if we are going to have a lot immigrants, I'll take Mexicans because they are family-oriented and hard working. And I am not employer - I am sure you thinking I was.
3- After what occurred on 9/11, it is reasonable to require clear identification of everyone who is in this country.
4- I don't worry about the republicans losing its majority cause I know hard-workers (like the Mexicans) will soon be successful and successful, hard-working people trend to vote Republican.
5- I do however have concerns that more states will become like California where more residents are taking from the tax system than are putting into the tax system because that equation does guarantee a democratic majority and is impossible to sustain fiscally over the long term (cause it will go bankrupt).

Next time, please offer some facts not warmed-up talking points.

knoxgirl said...

The democrats haven't benefited from blogs politically because they seem to want to make blogs something they're not.

So many of the high-profile ones, Kos esp., always seem to be so dictatorial: EVERYONE. MUST. GET. ON. BOARD. WITH. THE. PRESCRIBED. AGENDA. DO. NOT. VARY. FROM. THIS. AGENDA. THOSE. WITH. VARYING. IDEAS. WILL. BE. SCORNED.

They don't get that what's so great about blogs--the good ones anyway--is that they resist being assimilated!

Jacob said...

I do agree with him about Lieberman. Holy Joe should just switch parties. The Demos don't need him.
Geez... where to begin. First of all Lieberman is not that conservative. He has a lifetime ADA rating of 76 (where 100 is most liberal) and an ACU rating of 17 (where 100 is most conservative). He's hawkish on National Security, yes but if you're going to tack to the right on any aspect of your party that's a good place to do it.

But even if that weren't true it's an crazy statement. The Dems need every Senator they can if for nothing else that every member is one step closer to control of the Senate and all matter of good things that spring from that (e.g., control of committees = suponea power). When you're the minority party the point is to broaden your tent, not shrink it.

Jacob said...

Here's a good chart that shows this. Lieberman is to the right of the median Democrat (pretty much the same as John Edwards interestingly enough), but definitely well to the left of Republicans.

Ann Althouse said...

To say Lieberman should be a Republican is to say there is no longer a such thing as a Liberal Hawk -- to the great detriment of the Democratic Party. It's as if Republicans were to start to insist that the only proper Republicans are Social Conservatives. What a gaping self-inflicted wound!

Steve Donohue said...

Aren't the institutionalized blogs largely unreadable? There's something so intellectually stultifying about the fact that before I look, I know what Kos and the kids are going to write, and it's going to parrot the party line. It's also true on some right blogs- redstate comes to mind- but I think Kos is way more institutionalized than redstate (maybe I'm wrong).

I just find it hard to believe that EVERYONE can TOTALLY agree ALL THE TIME with the liberal position. And it creates an environment where one would be absolutely unwilling to challenge the swarm in the comments section. That's not a healthy way to conduct politics.

SMGalbraith said...

It's an somewhat interesting exercise to consider that if Kos and the netroots had been around in 1992, would Clinton have gotten the nomination?

At the very least, they would have put up a big fight to prevent his more centrist (or less liberal) program.

Pretty amazing to thing that the most successful Democratic president in the post-war period would likely not have gotten the nomination today.

Sorry Democrats, that's not a good sign for the party or for the country.

SMG

reader_iam said...

To say Lieberman should be a Republican is to say there is no longer a such thing as a Liberal Hawk -- to the great detriment of the Democratic Party. It's as if Republicans were to start to insist that the only proper Republicans are Social Conservatives. What a gaping self-inflicted wound!

BINGO! You can say that again. (And not too often.)

Signed, Registered As Neither Party But Always Votes

Elizabeth said...

I don't agree that Lieberman is the be-all and end-all of what it means to be a liberal hawk, so I don't think supporting his opposition in his current race is tantamount to abandoning national security.

Thersites said...

The typical whine that "Kos's candidates always lose" is silly. First, Herseth -- who is no liberal posterchild.

Second, the point was always more to make otherwise hopeless races at least competitive. You all are looking at straight losses; what you miss is that there are relatively few races left that have not been gerrymandered and otherwise leveraged to overwhelmingly benefit the incumbent.

Kos demonstrated that targeting a few races nationally with motivated, ordinary-person donors giving relatively small amounts can affect House and Senate races, even if by a few percentage points. It is a small thing -- to start.

But then, encouraging ordinary people to engage with the political process is icky. And Kos is a big meanie. And Althouse is too cool to do anything so gross as what Kos does, to get people to become politically active, shudder, how unbecoming.

downtownlad said...

It's as if Republicans were to start to insist that the only proper Republicans are Social Conservatives. What a gaping self-inflicted wound!

But they do Ann. They already call Republicans like Arlen Specter and Olympio Snowe RINO's (Republican in Name Only). All of the right-wing bloggers favored Specter's defeat in the primary. They are trying to get Lincoln Chafee kicked out in the primaries. Can you name me one right-wing blog that doesn't support these efforts?

They even attack John McCain, making up lies about him having a black child (they used the N word though) in order to stop him. (He has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh).

Of course Republicans insist that they all have to be social conservatives. That's why I'm constantly called a liberal, even though I'm pro-life, for tax cuts, for cuts in government spending, favored the Iraq war (at least until messed it up), favor eliminating welfare, privatizing social security, etc. But I happen to be gay, so that automatically makes me a liberal, regardless of the fact that I've never voted for a Democrat at the federal or congressional level in my life.

Please name me one conservative blog that doesn't believe Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter aren't traitors to the Republican party. Just one. You can't do it.

Aspasia M. said...

Second, the point was always more to make otherwise hopeless races at least competitive. You all are looking at straight losses; what you miss is that there are relatively few races left that have not been gerrymandered and otherwise leveraged to overwhelmingly benefit the incumbent.

Yes.

I'm very glad Kos is working on this. He's a strategy person, not a policy wonk. And the Democrats desperately need strategy people who will try to make all districts competative.

For example - the Paul Hackett House special election race in Ohio. If more races are competative, then the RNC needs to spend more money defending previously "safe" races.

Kos is stereotyped as a fire-breathing liberal. That's not accurate. For example, he enlisted and served in the military and as a young man was a Reagan Republican.

downtownlad said...

Come on- you are nuts saying all the right wing websites are attacking immigrants. - AJ Lynch.

OK - Which right wing blog is NOT attacking immigrants? Michelle Malkin is attacking them every five seconds, saying that we should arrest them and deport them. If that's not attacking immigrants, then I don't know what is.

Yes - there are some Republicans that are not attacking immigrants. Namely President Bush for one, who has put forward an excellent immigration reform proposal. Another is the Wall Street Journal.

But blogs? Give me a break. Name one. They are all atacking Bush on this issue.

downtownlad said...

Left-wing blogs are very supportive of Casey, who is pro-life.

I think this proves that this whole hypothesis is flawed.

chuck b. said...

"It's not going to be funny"?

It's not going to be funny!

You're not going to laugh! Because it will be institutionalized and it won't be funny! Laugh now, while you can. Because it won't be funny anymore in 2008. When it's institutionalized.

downtownlad said...

Here's another example. Find me one conservative blog that had kind words to say for Sandra Day O'Connor when she resigned.

Find me one conservative blog that is pro-choice.

Find me one conservative blog that thinks gay marriage should be legal.

Find me one conservative blog that has actually criticized the torture at Abu Ghraib.

Find me one conservative blog that has criticized Bush in his conduct in the Iraq war.

There is way more of a mob mentality in the conservative blogs than there is in the liberal blogs.

Jacob said...

*Shakes head* Oh, downtownlad you're making it too easy by saying "name one blog".

For example: Hugh Hewitt has been very supportive of Specter (and supported him during the primaries)

Steve Bainbridge is very supportive of immigration.

Andrew Sullivan pretty much fits everything in your last catagory (except maybe for the pro-choice thing, I'll throw in Glenn Reynolds on that one).

This is top of my head stuff of course, if I wanted to look I could find oodles who line up on any of them.

downtownlad said...

Jacob,

I forgot about Hugh Hewitt. But his blog is unreadable (trust me I've tried) so he's easy to forget. But he's essentially a Bush clone. I can't recall any incident where he has actually disagreed with the President on an issue. He even supported Harriet Miers. Enough said.

Stephen Bainbridge and Andrew Sullivan are considered conservative bloggers????? By who exactly? Not by the conservative bloggers!!!

When I say conservative bloggers, everyone knows what I'm talking about. Powerline, Little Green Footballs, Free Republic, Michelle Malkin, etc. They are clones of each other.

The only conservative blog that I have any respect for is The Corner. At least there, you will get some actual debate on the issues. But not much.

I like dailykos. I disagree with 80% of what he says, but I don't consider him an ideologue, and once in a while he has interesting things to say.

downtownlad said...

Glenn Reynolds is not conservative either. He is a right of center, but not by much. I mean, he supports gay marriage. That instantly disqualifies him from being a conservative.

Jacob said...

If supporting gay marriage disqualifies one from being a conservative than it's going to be very hard for me to find a conservative who supports it (by, um, defintion).

Both Sullivan and Bainbridge identify themselves as conservatives and Reynolds is frequently called one. I guess what you're talking about is the Redstates and the LGFs of the right blogistan, which isn't all of it.

I honestly couldn't tell you what they think because I don't read those blogs (Free Republic, LGF, Powerline etc). But rightwing shills are only part of the conservative blogosphere. Just like for every Kos there's a Yglesias for every Johnson there's a Volokh.

I believe Hewitt did split with Bush over Dubai (remember reading that somewhere) but for the most part he does just parrot the President's line

Steve Donohue said...

Here's another example. Find me one conservative blog that had kind words to say for Sandra Day O'Connor when she resigned.

Eugene Volokh and Orin Kerr

Find me one conservative blog that is pro-choice.

James Taranto, who writes the Opinion Journal, is pro-choice, although highly critical of Roe v. Wade

Find me one conservative blog that thinks gay marriage should be legal.

Patterico

Find me one conservative blog that has actually criticized the torture at Abu Ghraib.

Andrew Sullivan

Find me one conservative blog that has criticized Bush in his conduct in the Iraq war.

Prof. Bainbridge

I played your game- now its your turn. Name one liberal blogger who:

Had kind words to say about O'Connor circa December 2000

Is pro-life

Is supportive of anti-gay the marriage amendment

Has remained supportive of the War in Iraq

Glenn Reynolds is not conservative either. He is a right of center, but not by much. I mean, he supports gay marriage. That instantly disqualifies him from being a conservative.

So the hub of right-of-center thought in the blogosphere is instantly dismissed because he's not lock-step enough with the conservative movement? It seems you've just proved my point.

Wickedpinto said...

Before the NYT quotes KOS, they should quote Allah.

Allahpundit wrote the BOOK on blogger prognostication.

knoxgirl said...

Downtownlad,

you're demanding examples of conservative blogs who vary from the conservative agenda... then you claim that alll the ones Jacob cites don't count! Andrew Sullivan/Glenn Reynolds are "right of center" yet not...right...of...center....????

You're betraying the very attitude that causes the dailykos to be viewed as "institutionalized"-- a zero-tolerance attitude for anyone who doesn't fit your requirements.

Ann Althouse said...

Thersites: "And Kos is a big meanie."

When did I ever say anything like that? I have nothing against Kos himself. I think he's terrific. I just worry about the dominance of his blog for Democrats. And I don't like his vision of where blogging will go.

Downtownlad: See what happens when you make strong assertions?

Knoxgirl: "You're betraying the very attitude that causes the dailykos to be viewed as "institutionalized"-- a zero-tolerance attitude for anyone who doesn't fit your requirements." -- Perfect!

knoxgirl said...

not to mention "I was for the war before I was against it"

Abraham said...

If supporting gay marriage disqualifies one from being a conservative than it's going to be very hard for me to find a conservative who supports it (by, um, defintion).

I believe we just witnessed a delightfully named logical fallacy known as the "No True Scotsman" argument.

downtownlad said...

If supporting gay marriage disqualifies one from being a conservative than it's going to be very hard for me to find a conservative who supports it (by, um, defintion).

Exactly. I don't make up these stupid rules. The conservative bloggers do. Again, I've been told by over 1000 commenters that I can't be 1) gay and 2) conservative.

So I'm taking them at their word.

I agree it is insane! But why don't you start condemning the conservative bloggers who make up these silly rules. The same bloggers that ban gay people from commenting on their sites.

Here's a challenge for you. Go to Free Republic and make one positive statement about gay people. I guarantee you that you will be banned from that site within 24 hours. Most likely it will be minutes. I've had over a dozen people try that, and they were all banned.

All I am saying is that the same mob mentality and supression of real debate exists on conservative blogs just as it does on liberal blogs.

Conservative blogs are somewhat more tolerant of centrist blogs, as long as they vote for Bush. If they don't - they will resort to the most obscene forms of attacks. Just look at all of the gay bashing against Sullivan, constantly calling him "hysterical" and accusing him of having "AIDS Dementia", which is an underhanded attack on his sexuality. And that is from legitimate bloggers no less.

downtownlad said...

I still stand by my statements.

Volokh, Kerr, and Reynolds are clearly libertarians. That's not conservative. (I consider myself to be libertarian myself now - since I was officially banned from being a conservative.).

Taranto doesn't have a blog. I already said that the Wall Street Journal, and even President Bush himself, do NOT toe the conservative line all the time. And they are lambasted by conservative blogs when they do so (i.e. immigration).

Conservative bloggers might tolerate these people, but they don't consider them one of their own.

The only credible example so far has been Hugh Hewitt. But as I said before, he's unreadable. Worst writing style. Ever!

Geitner said...

Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, met with the editorial writers staff at my newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald, last month. I asked Mehlman about how much attention he pays to blogs. He said he regards blogs as an integral tool for communicating his party's message and to gleaning feedback and information from the grassroots. He said he meets with bloggers regularly.

I am the editorial page editor at the Omaha World-Herald.

-- Geitner Simmons

Townleybomb said...

Interesting that downtownlad sees Freep as the biggest righty blog. I would simply never consider that a blog-- more a community site like Fark or Portal of Evil News.

Perhaps the big divide here is between more individualistic blogs (Reynolds, Althouse, Sullivan) and the ones that are more community-oriented, and thus more likely to be hijacked by dillholes. Not quite a right-left divide, but maybe not all that far aslant from one. I have to say that any candidate catering to my hemi-blogoshpere would have a pretty chance of seeing some chunky black action from me, if you're catchin' what I'm throwin'.

BTW Geitner, any ideas which blogs Mehlman reads?

Ann Althouse said...

Mehlman does conference calls where bloggers are emailed on how they can join. You're given a time to call in and hear a statement and then as questions, essentially like a press conference. I get those emails -- or did during the Supreme Court confirmations.

Ann Althouse said...

That is: ask questions....

I don't think Mehlman sitting around reading the blogs for advice. Rather, he's keeping track of which blogs have a valuable audience and then he targets those bloggers as press outlets for his message.

Thorley Winston said...

Find me one conservative blog that has actually criticized the torture at Abu Ghraib.

Pretty much all of them supported the administration who began investigating and prosecuting those crimes before they ever hit the news.

Now how many leftist blogs had the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that what happened at Abu-Gharib was the work of a few people over one evening rather than try to spin this as if it were our nation’s “policy”?

downtownlad said...

Perhaps the big divide here is between more individualistic blogs (Reynolds, Althouse, Sullivan) and the ones that are more community-oriented, and thus more likely to be hijacked by dillholes.

Exactly. That's why I read those blogs. I actually might learn something new from them, and I don't necessarilly know how they're going to feel about a certain issue.

But the conservative blogs (Malkin, Little Green Footballs, Powerline, etc.), they HAVE to toe the conservative line. My goodness - don't these people ever have one independent thought of their own?