The Electoral-Based Community
Why the rise of the left-wing blogosphere has been bad for the Democratic party.
12:00 AM, Jul 15, 2005 • By DEAN BARNETT
THIS SEEMS LIKE A MAJOR MISCALCULATION, because the politics of the left-wing blogs are far out of the American mainstream. Where most of the 120 million Americans who voted in the last election bear a benign indifference to political matters, the left half of the blogosphere seethes with hatred for George W. Bush and his supporters. What's more, the blogs take numerous positions that would strike all but the most passionate Democratic partisans as patently preposterous. For example, several of the left-wing blogs recently ran an advertisement that referred to West Virginia Senator and former Ku Klux Klan Kleagle Robert Byrd as an "American Hero."
Also, the level of discourse on the Daily Kos and other prominent liberal blogs is not something that would be attractive to the majority of the American public. The writings are often obscene and usually relentlessly hostile and negative. Crude personal attacks, whether aimed at right-wing bloggers or politicians, are the order of the day.
A typical example came on July 4 in response to a humorous piece by the internet satirist "Iowahawk", which purported to be written by Abu Masab Al- Zarqawi and was titled, "Stop Questioning My Patriotism." This relatively benign and (and extremely funny) essay elicited the following response from regular Kos contributor "Armando:" "Fucking pricks. You goosestepping McCarthyites. Now go cry to momma. You yellow-bellied elephants."
And yet mainstream Democratic politicians are desperately trying to ingratiate themselves with Kos and his audience. A Who's Who of top tier Democrats have written "diaries" for the site, including Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and Ted Kennedy. The above listed politicians, and their less mainstream colleagues (think the John Conyers/Louise Slaughter variety), are constantly romancing the Kossacks.
More ominously--and more to the party's detriment--its leaders have adopted the blog's hysterically shrill style as their own. For instance, Ted Kennedy's diary for the Daily Kos adamantly demanded "accountability" for Iraq. When you've entered a realm where Ted Kennedy is a straight-faced champion of accountability, you know for sure you're in "a different world."
Perhaps most pathetically, these politicians' earnest efforts to win Moulitsas's affections often fall flat. On the Daily Kos, the "front page" gets the heaviest traffic; a typical diary languishes in obscurity, one of dozens of similar efforts offered each day by the community unless Moulitsas plucks it from relative anonymity and promotes it to the front page. The vast majority of diaries written by politicians for the site do not get promoted to the front page. Moulitsas didn't even deem Ted Kennedy's screed worthy of special note.
Yet the kowtowing continues. What makes the endeavor ridiculous is that Moulitsas and other left-wing bloggers want substance: They don't want their rhetorical style aped--they want a politician to champion their far-left views. And yet the Democratic party has adopted the juvenile patois of the left-wing blogs without any corresponding shift in position, so they continue to pitch their woo in vain. These stylistic makeovers are transparent and therefore unsuccessful; the left-wing blog readers presumably see as clearly as anyone else that Harry Reid is an unconvincing firebrand, Ted Kennedy is not a credible champion of accountability, and Robert Byrd is a preposterous nominee for American hero.
THE DICK DURBIN FIASCO of a few weeks ago provides a wonderful case in point. As is well known, on June 14 Senator Durbin compared the conditions at the Guantanamo detention center to what one could have seen in Nazi Germany or a Stalin-run gulag or while receiving the tender mercies of Pol Pot.
Durbin's comments made him an instant hero in the left-wing blogosphere where hyperbolic Bush-bashing is always received warmly. Steve Gilliard, a Daily Kos alumnus, penned a lengthy defense of Durbin in which he reminded the senator's critics that climate control was the preferred interrogation technique for the Luftwaffe. Moulitsas called the ensuing controversy a "moronic Right Wing smear attack" and proclaimed, "I stand with Durbin. Proudly."