Dean Barnett wrote in Weekly Standard Why the rise of the left-wing blogosphere has been bad for the Democratic party. A few months ago, Markos Moulitsas, proprietor and founder of the left-wing blog Daily Kos, penned a brief but extremely insightful posting. Under the heading, "Evidence that we live in a different world," Moulitsas pointed to a recent Time magazine poll that showed 79 percent of the American public had never heard of (or didn't have an opinion of) Ann Coulter. Moulitsas wrote, "I'd venture to say that 100 percent of this site's readers know who Anthrax is."
I have not the slightest idea, but I do know who Ann Coulter is. She sometimes gets a little shril for my tastes, but I certainly know who she is, and I frequently read what she writes.Indeed, there is little doubt that the habitués of the Daily Kos, like their hated cousins who read popular conservative blogs such as Power Line and Little Green Footballs, live in very different worlds than their friends and neighbors. Blog readers are typically voracious gatherers of news. They not only simply know who people such as Ann Coulter are, they usually have strong opinions about these minor public figures, too. This is an unusual trait. After all, while Ann Coulter may be a polarizing firebrand beloved by her supporters and loathed by her detractors, when it comes to fame she's hardly Madonna.
For students of the blogosphere, it came as little surprise when the popularity of politically oriented blogs began to tumble in the wake of the presidential election this past November. But something funny has happened since then. While the traffic numbers of conservative blogs have remained at roughly the same levels following their post election slide, the left-wing blogosphere--and especially the Daily Kos--have almost fully rebounded. While Glenn Reynold's Instapundit, the most popular conservative blog, averages in the neighborhood of 150,000 page views a day, the Daily Kos now averages over 550,000; the sites were almost equally trafficked just last fall. Theories abound for why the Daily Kos has left the right-wing blogosphere so far in the dust. One plausible explanation is that the Daily Kos has engendered a tremendous sense of community amongst it audience/contributors. While conservative blogs remain for the most part virtual op-ed columns (with the notable exception of Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs), the Daily Kos has become a virtual family which allows readers to write their own blogs-within-the-blog (called diaries) and to engage in limitless amounts of commenting. Whatever the reason, there is nothing like the Daily Kos on the web--it is a phenomenon and the unquestioned leader of the blogs.
I disagree. Daily Kos is a leader of the bloggers who like to be controlled by a higher authority, in fact his graphic makes me think of living in the Soviet Union.In theory, this should be a positive development for Democrats. The Daily Kos should provide the party's most devoted adherents with a constructive outlet for their energy; indeed it does. The site has raised bundles of money for Democratic politicians and its patrons certainly have a surfeit of passion that they're willing to bring to any political conversation. The problem for the Democratic party is that, like much of the country, it has a dim understanding of the blogosphere. The party is not alone in its denseness here. Much of America's existing power structure still has no idea what to make of blogs. This trait was recently put on embarrassing public display in an obtuse Doonesbury strip. In the piece at issue, Garry Trudeau suggested that bloggers were "angry, semi-employed losers" who survived on a diet of cat food. Contra Trudeau, most accomplished bloggers are highly educated--a great many of them are lawyers and college professors--and have been successful in other fields of endeavor. Typical bloggers include law professors like Hugh Hewitt and the contributors at the Volokh Conspiracy, as well as the Academy Award nominated (and Ivy League educated) Roger L. Simon.
While bloggers on the right are independent thinkers, and have their own blogs from many different sources. There is a community among them as well, with blogrolls and cross linking, but it is not controled by any one person
And the reason the right hand side of the blogosphere is helping the Republican Party, while the left hand side of the blogosphere is hurting the Democratic Party, is that there is a much wider range of bloggers to choose between, from the extreme right, to the moderate right, and all areas in between. Some are fiscallly conserviative, some are socailly conservative, some are very religious, and some are very secular. Whatever you want, you can find a blogger that you will like, and he will likely have similar blogs in his blogroll.The Democratic party, on the other hand, errs in precisely the opposite fashion as Trudeau. While Moulitsas recognizes that the left-wing blogosphere is a world unto itself, if establishment Democrats have any awareness of that fact they have yet to betray it. Where Trudeau feels bloggers are a bunch of shut-in half-wits, the Democratic party seems to be under the impression that bloggers are an enormous, important constituency--and that it must go to whatever lengths necessary to win the hearts and minds of this virtual community. 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.
The reason the left wing blogs encourage so much hate is is stokes their base, but it prevents the sort or reasoned discussion that might persuade the middle. They know in their hearts that people like Rush Limbaugh are responsible for them loosing power (which they hate), and they think he was popular because he was bashing the left, but what they dont realize is that with the MSM in the left's pocket, conservatives only had a few places to go to hear their side of issues, and that was Rush Limbaugh.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.