Saturday, January 28, 2006

Blogs Attack From Left as Democrats Reach for Center

WaPo reports Democrats are getting an early glimpse of an intraparty rift that could complicate efforts to win back the White House: fiery liberals raising their voices on Web sites and in interest groups vs. elected officials trying to appeal to a much broader audience.
That is the problem with the Angry Left. They will attack their own for not being extreme enough, just as they attack the Right. And I like that just fine, because it means that the liberals can't pretend to be moderates to attract the independents, and if someone from the Democratic Party comments that so and so really does not mean what they are saying, it is just to attract the moderates, some conservative will find it and trumpet how dishonest the left is being.
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.
That is because he is smart, and he knows most in the center and on the right are religious to one extent or another, and they want their leaders to support the military.
Many Web commentators wanted Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a leading critic of the Iraq war who advocates a speedy withdrawal, to be the opposition voice on the State of the Union night. Most Democratic lawmakers have distanced themselves from the Murtha position. "What the hell are they thinking?" was the title of liberal blogger Arianna Huffington's column blasting the Kaine selection.

CQ blogged Kerry has decided that the blogs and the leftist activists that control them own the Democratic Party future and has aligned himself with them for better or worse. Kerry's actions this week are all about positioning himself as the anti-Establishment candidate for 2008, the Eugene McCarthy of the next presidential election cycle. Just as he stole a march on Howard Dean after the Vermont governor stumbled in Iowa, Kerry plans to manipulate the left-wing elements of the base to carry him through the primaries against the party Establishment's choice, Hillary Clinton. If that means civil war in the Democratic Party, then Kerry appears happy to foment it.

Betsy blogged I'm sure comments like those from Mr. Elmendorf, indicating that Democrats want the bloggers' money, influence, and energy to help Democratic candidates without giving in to what these leftists are really upset about will not endear him to those bloggers. The only way to make good use of that energy is to channel it into a negative campaign against Republicans in the way that these liberal activists were able to unite in their hatred of Bush and help John Kerry, a man for whom they had no real affection. So, expect to see more and more demonization because that will be the only common ground between the more pragmatic Democratic politicians and their extreme supporters. As someone who has long tired of such internal battles among conservatives, I will be happy to enjoy watching this intra-party squabble among liberals.

Byron York blogged Left-wing bloggers -- "netroots" activists -- are feeling their oats these days. This morning, the biggest of them all, Markos Moulitsas of the DailyKos, comments on a Washington Post story which contains the following quote:
"The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left."
That might seem a sensible strategy for a candidate seeking election in all but the bluest areas, but by saying it, Elmendorf unwittingly set himself up as the newest target of "netroots" rage -- and revenge. Moulitsas writes:
Mr. Elmendorf almost got it right. The trick, in reality, is to stop appearing like our Democrats are held captive to sleazebag amoral lobbyists. Here's notice, any Democrat associated with Elmendorf will be outed. The netroots can then decide for itself whether it wants to provide some of that energy and money to that candidate. There's nothing "extreme left" with demanding Democrats act like Democrats, no matter how much these out-of-touch and self-important beltway insiders think it is.
For an example, susanhu blogged Fight a GOOD FIGHT ... That's all we want right now. We know only too well we're in the minority. We see evidence every damn day. We simply want all Democrats to ACT LIKE you've got some guts, some nerve, some fight in you. That's why I've totally kissed and made up with John Kerry after his actions this week (I even signed up again for his newsletter after quitting in disgust last November).
If the Left is kissing and making up with Kerry just because he proposed a filibuster which does not stand a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding, we should be able to play them off against and Dem that reaches for the center.
And Hillary is getting the spanking she deserves. (Besides the Iraq issue, that flag burning pandering bullshit amendment did it for me.)

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