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Kerry & Kos:

Final thoughts on Kerry & Kos: I wonder if this gives us a preview of the Kerry '08 campaign strategy? Most would agree that Senator Kerry has one fundamental question to ask himself: "How do I beat Hillary Clinton?" One strategy would be to try to do to the front-runner (Clinton) what Howard Dean almost did to him when he was the front-runner. Call it "Howard Dean without the scream." How does blogging for Kos potentially fit into this strategy?

(1) Portrays Kerry as the outsider/anti-establishment candidate: Obstacle number 1 is the likelihood that the Democratic Party and MSM will annoint Clinton the front-runner early on. One way to contest this is to say he is the anti-establishment candidate and that he doesn't care what the establishment thinks of his chances. Obviously there is some difficulty to this--he seems about as anti-establishment as Bob Dole was in 1996 (and the Switzerland gaffe doesn't help much). Nonetheless, communing with the blogs helps him to cultivate an anti-establishment persona that distinguishes him from the front-runner.

(2) Portrays Kerry as the "fighting principled liberal": From this perspective it makes little difference whether the filibuster succeeds, what matters is his willingness to fight for it. In a year or two he can say that he fought for what was "right" even though it didn't succeed--i.e., he has the courage to be "right" rather than expedient. I suspect that we will be hearing about his leadership on the Alito filibuster effort down the road. Senator Clinton, of course, has been moving toward the center on a variety of issues in anticipation of positioning herself for the general election. This potentially opens up a space for a credible "principled liberal" on her left flank.

(3) Coopt the Kos: As the blogosphere grows, its influence undoubtedly will grow. With that, one can expect an increasing effort by politicians to coopt the blogosphere and even to gain endorsements from blogs. I have noticed, for instance, that a number of conservative blogs have been endorsing one candidate or another in the House Majority Leader's race. I don't recall blogs making these sorts of formal endorsements to the same degree in the past (maybe I just didn't notice). This positions Kerry for a possible Kos endorsement (and maybe other blogs) down the road, with all the PR and Internet fundraising advantages that may give him. At the very least, it makes it less likely that Kos will actively campaign against Kerry.

Obviously this is just speculation on my part, but I think this is really a pretty interesting and entrepreneurial move by Senator Kerry in light of his specific mission of trying to knock off Hillary Clinton. Moreover, it is not obvious to me what other strategy is available to any Democratic candidate seeking to challenge Senator Clinton. It will be interesting to see if this is a harbinger of things to come.

Update:

I see from the trackbacks to my earlier post this morning that Senator Clinton has announced that she too will be joining the filibuster and that Senator Kennedy is now blogging for Kos as well.

Update:

A Commenter points out that Senator Kennedy has posted a few times on Daily Kos in the past prior to the filibuster post.

Bobbie:
It's a bit early to know the front runner for the democratic ticket. Certainly in 2002, few thought John Kerry and Howard Dean would be the front runners for the 2004 nomination. Likewise, in 1990, no one thought Bill Clinton had a realistic chance of securing his party's nomination.

Putting that aside, I can't imagine Kerry or Hillary ever appealing to the Democrat's base. But unlike the Republican party, for better or for worse, you don't need to win over the base to become the Democrat's nominee.
1.28.2006 12:29pm
WB:
Hillary was the single vote against Chertoff's confirmation to the Third Circuit. I don't think it's ever been important to her to have voters approve of her motivations on the issue of judges.
1.28.2006 12:34pm
SteveMG (mail):
It's interesting to note that the most successful Democratic president in the post-war era, Bill Clinton, probably could not get his party's nomination if he were to run today.

At least not get the nomination if the liberal/left blogs had their way.

It is amazing to me that Clinton showed the way for Democrats to win the presidency; and yet the party - well many of the blog activists at least - seem to be tossing away his plan.

SMG
1.28.2006 1:12pm
John (mail):
Todd,

Look at your post. Full of tactics/strategy for getting the vote, full of how to best "appear" and so forth. What is missing here is something--anything--of substance. Anything of actual, heartfelt principle. Only appearances.

That is the problem here, and it goes beyone Kerry. The dems need some one who actually believes something. That is the problem here
1.28.2006 1:14pm
Justin (mail):
Russ Feingold will be the base candidate. Kerry is simply wasting his time.

BTW, I find it obnoxious, simply obnoxious for you to post to a website that calls DailyKos a "cesspool" rather than simply linking directly to your point itself. It not only shows a certain laziness (and, mind if I opine, character flaw that you read Michelle Malkin), but it also shows your true colors in the point of your post.
1.28.2006 1:15pm
Humble Law Student:
John,

The dems have plenty of people who "believe" in certain things. Unfortunately for them, the majority of the Democractic politicians have a hard time putting principle above political expediency. Or at least, they do a miserable job of potraying themselves as principled candidates. Caveat, i'm speaking broadly, there are seveal notable Democractic politicians who do resolutely stick to principle - i'm thinking of poeple like Kucinich, Barney Frank, etc.
1.28.2006 1:23pm
Humble Law Student:
SMG,

They reject Clinton's plan because many of them live in a delusional world where they think if "only they could get their message out" the American people would support them. The KOS kids are emblematic of this.

I give them my full support. I've actually contributed to several of the more far left groups. The louder they are, the more Republicans will win.
1.28.2006 1:25pm
Justin (mail):
http://www.dailykos.com/user/Senator%20Edward%20M%20Kennedy

If you did do your homework (which would have taken 8 seconds, btw) you would have been able to note that Kennedy has posted on Daily Kos several times since June of 2005.
1.28.2006 1:26pm
Humble Law Student:
I'm very interested to see how this convergence of political candidates and their contributions to blogs such as KOS will play out in the elections. Both parties do a remarkable job of implicitly and explicitly taking political candidates, combing their records/statement and trying to find connections between the candidate and some vulgar element of society.

Could a Kerry/Kos connection be used against Kerry in a general election by pointing to some outlandish or offensive comments on the blog? I know Kerry can try to distance himself, but I have quite a bit of faith in the Republican ad machince. They can take even the most tenuous of links and make them appear concrete. Prediction: If Kerry somehow (big if) wins the nomination, this contributions to such blogs will haunt him.

I think a good analogy is a politician going to some group to give a speech. You may not know or agree with everything the group stands for. But if that group has some unpopular position, you can bet your political balls that your opponent will milk it for all its worth.
1.28.2006 1:38pm
Pete Freans (mail):
Blogging on kos may win you support with the younger and angrier elements of the democratic party and to a lesser extent, it will assist you in the primaries. But winning it all in 2008? While it may appear to be a short-term advantage, I believe it will not translate into great political capital in the long term.

I agree with Mr. Zywicki that blogs in time will grow in influence but it begs the question as to whom will it influence? In my opinion, more arcane blogs (such as Volokh) appeal to a certain stratum in society. I may be getting off point but blogging does require critical analysis, time, and patience - attributes that are rare both from candidates and constituents, especially in the marathon that is a presidential campaign. Of course some blogs, like kos or the huffington post, are so erratic at times that I have actually encountered more reasoned and articulate postings on a university corkboard seeking roommates and selling used textbooks.

If Sen. Kerry believes that kos blogging will allow him to connect to, say, the 18-24 crowd, it will most likely not translate into votes. Much like the Second Coming, democrats have been waiting for this university-age insurgency at the polls and they have been disappointed every time (not to mention the false assumption that they are overwhelmingly democrats/liberal).

There is no question that blogging in the short term allows a politician/candidate to express his/her message unadulterated without having it pass through the media's sieve. How widespread that dissemination will be and to what affect it will have on voters when they enter the voting booth remains to be seen.
1.28.2006 1:42pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
As more big-name politicans become affiliated with DailyKos, I wonder if we'll start seeing more public awareness of the content of the site itself. As more people start to see what ideas actually get espoused on Kos, I wonder if politicians will distance themselves from it.

It's interesting that there is such a large community on the internet that non-bloggers have ABSOLUTELY no knowledge of. If CNN mentioned DailyKos, they'd probably still have to explain what a "blog" is.
1.28.2006 1:43pm
Paddy O. (mail):
I wonder how this could turn into a curious election strategy. Kerry posting on Kos legitimizes Kos for a wide audience. A strategist need only start plucking out ripe comments from the various posts, throw them onto commercials, and show what the Kos folks have to say. Republicans helping Kos comments be publicized, getting the Kos message out without toning it down, might be a wonderful tool for getting Republicans elected.

Start painting all Democrat politicians with the Kosian brush, and I would guess said politicians might start distancing themselves, fundraising or not.
1.28.2006 1:46pm
Adam (www):
It's nothing different from what Republicans did with MoveOn in certain districts in 2004, but I think this whole conversation underrates the political sophistication that Markos and many of the posters and readers do have. There was a lot of suspicion about Kerry's motives re: 2008 almost as soon as he posted.
1.28.2006 3:43pm
dafydd (mail):
For what it's worth, I think the Democrats nominating Mrs. Clinton would be the worst possible thing they could do for the 2008 campaign. I don't think the country is even remotely ready to elect a female president. And I say that as someone who would love to see the Republicans out of the White House.
1.28.2006 4:02pm
Wintermute (www):
It's the dialogue, people, that's new and different on places like that and places like this. As I just said on HuffPo, it's like an ongoing virtual New Hampshire. Each year, more people use the Web; and most future increases in communication over it will be by and to young people. Thus, the inertia, filtration, and bias of the highly commercial media will decline in influence relative to this, making highly financed TV smear campaigns less effective. And this past week saw the computer power of the left showing it now knows how to play the game, striking fear into O'Reilly, as I saw him whine, while I was channel surfing, about the power of "smear sites" of the left. If you RSS'ed Democratic sites, you would know Hillary is widely disrespected. Kerry is learning. Feingold may be the most admirable Democrat in high office. Al is the most talented at speechifying.
1.28.2006 4:18pm
SteveMG (mail):
this past week saw the computer power of the left showing it now knows how to play the game, striking fear into O'Reilly,

The digital left may enjoy striking fear in Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh or Chris Matthews or whatever enemy du jour the progressives wish to go after but how instilling fear in perceived enemies helps win electorally mystifies me.

Seems to me that increasingly many on the left wish to tear things down more than they wish to build things up.

Again, that may be an enjoyable exercise in "Bush's America" but try selling that message to independent or undecided voters and see what happens.

Unless one has given up on the American people, that's not a winner.

SMG
1.28.2006 4:52pm
Nigel Kearney (mail) (www):
Surely this is a ploy to make Hillary seem moderate by comparison. The Dems have bad policies but they are not stupid people. The job has fallen to Kerry because his chances of running as a real candidate are non-existent.
1.28.2006 5:07pm
juris imprudent (mail):

They reject Clinton's plan because many of them live in a delusional world where they think if "only they could get their message out" the American people would support them. The KOS kids are emblematic of this.

This is [IMO] the single biggest difference between left-liberals and libertarians. Both are outside of the American mainstream, but only the libertarians seem to realize it. The left really expects everyone else to one day become 'enlightened' like themselves. They never get the inherent contradiction in their beliefs - that the people really want what the left wants and that the people are so easily fooled by those on the right.

Again, that may be an enjoyable exercise in "Bush's America" but try selling that message to independent or undecided voters and see what happens.

Yes, yes, particularly when you also rant about how stupid the American public is. A truly inspired plan to win the support of all those folks - "you are idiots, now vote for me". I don't know, is that unintentional self-parody?
1.28.2006 6:17pm
Adam S (mail) (www):
Most would agree that Senator Kerry has one fundamental question to ask himself: "How do I beat Hillary Clinton?"

Gosh, here I'd think the one fundamental question is "How do I beat the Republican nominee?"
1.28.2006 6:56pm
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):
I think the dems are just trying everything and hoping that something works. But I think it is all doomed to fail until they actually start proving themselves useful to the American people. I hate to sound like Rush, but they really have to start hitting back on the plane of ideas.

If people hear ideas from the right and angry noise from the left, they are going to go to the right. If you have nothing to sell, you shouldnt be taking up a stall at the market. If you have something to sell (and the left does, doesnt it?) then get out there and convince people of the wisdom of your ideas.

If your ideas suck, get new ones and convince people of the wisdom of those ideas. There is plenty of room for improvement on the republican modus operandi, no matter if you are conservative or liberal or libertarian. If they cant come up with a better platform than that, then they arent really trying.
1.28.2006 6:59pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Maybe the Republicans should play along and vote for the filibuster... then leave the nuttier Democrats to have at it until restrained by their more sober fellows....
1.28.2006 8:08pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
This is [IMO] the single biggest difference between left-liberals and libertarians. Both are outside of the American mainstream, but only the libertarians seem to realize it. The left really expects everyone else to one day become 'enlightened' like themselves.
Capital-L Libertarians also seem to think that way, but that pretty much speaks for itself. Lowercase-l libertarians, you're right.
1.28.2006 8:10pm
anonymous coward:
"The left... never get the inherent contradiction in their beliefs - that the people really want what the left wants and that the people are so easily fooled by those on the right."

Really? Actually that "contradiction" is frequently brought up and endlessly (and unproductively--hey, they're liberals) argued over on the left. Idiotic populist posturing is the American way--left, right, or center.

Actually Democrats have a lot of policy ideas (some good, some not); in fact considerably more than Republicans. When I mention this in response to the "Dems have no ideas" conventional wisdom I'm usually informed that public policy may be what the government does, but they aren't "ideas." I suppose they're right; it certainly doesn't get you elected.

If Bush can speak at Bob Jones and still scrape out a victory I think Kerry has an itsy bitsy shot of surviving the dread taint of Kos. Seriously, folks, it's not like the Demo-rats are the only blowhards running for office who have odious supporters.
1.28.2006 8:37pm
Cornellian (mail):
Let's suppose Hillary seeks the 2008 Democratic party nomination (a virtual certainty) and wins it (possible, but hard to say how likely at this early stage). Are there any plausible Republican nominees that Hilary has a good chance of winning against?
1.28.2006 9:01pm
anonymous coward:
I am not long on Hillary's chances in the general election, but a Giuliani vs. Hillary race could be a potential Hillary win (obviously I don't hold the notion that a "centrist" candidate always wins more votes). Not sure he's plausible due to atypical GOP politics and personal issues (the same reasons Hillary could beat him), but Tradesports (ha!) has him at about 13%.
1.28.2006 9:36pm
anonymous coward:
Wrt Hillary, keep in mind that Dem primary voters will not nominate her if they think she can't win--if the polls and media coverage are bad, say. There's a reason Dean collapsed so fast, and it wasn't enthusiasm for Kerry.
1.28.2006 9:41pm
M.A. (mail):
I still think it's mostly conservatives who think Hillary Clinton is the front-runner. Most liberal Democrats seem to think other candidates are better for reasons both ideological and practical, including Wes Clark, Mark Warner, John Edwards, and Al Gore. There's sort of an advantage for Democrats because the Republicans are so busy running against Hillary that they'll be gobsmacked by whoever actually gets nominated.

As for the ideas thing: liberals have ideas. All the best policy-wonk writing takes place on the liberal blogs (TPM Cafe, Ezra Klein, Tapped). Hell, liberals have far more serious ideas about national security than conservatives, who tend to boil everything down to killing as many Muslims as possible.

More than that, liberal ideas are popular. Ideas that are supported on Kos include health care for all, balancing the budget, fighting global warming, raising the minimum wage, and preserving Roe v. Wade. All of these ideas are quite popular. It therefore makes sense for liberal bloggers to berate Democrats for not standing up for these very popular ideas, instead preferring to appear "centrist" and "bipartisan." The problem with the Democrats is not that they have no ideas (it's the Republicans who have no ideas beyond tax cuts) but that the public perceives them as weak and flip-flopping. The liberal blogs are challenging them to appear stronger and challenging the media to stop reinforcing the "Democrats are weak" narrative.

This also points up a difference between liberal and conservative blogs: liberal blogs tend to have a touchy, even adversarial relationship with the Democratic establishment, whereas many high-profile conservative blogs are essentially mouthpieces for the Republican party (Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, and others shamelessly repeat Republican talking points on every issue, and almost never challenge their party to do better). Of course that may change once the balance of power shifts.

Oh, and finally: Kos himself is basically a pragmatic and a moderate. Look at his policy positions. For that matter, look at the policy positions advocated on Kos: they're all basically balanced-budget types, not socialists. The Kos Kulture is about demanding passion and conviction, not ideological lockstep. There are very few "left" blogs that actually advocate hard-left policies.
1.28.2006 11:26pm
therut (mail):
The fact that Kerry would blog on any partisian site makes me realize he has a screw loose. It think it is ill advised for any politician to blog on a partisian web site. And I mean any. And good grief Daily Kos. Give me a break.
1.29.2006 12:32am
Kazinski:
I don't think Kerry posting on DailyKos will come to haunt him because he isn't going to get enough traction in the first place. If he does somehow become a contender it could hurt him bigtime. Not by tying him to some of the commnets or commentators there but by tying him to Kos himself. I can see a commercial now showing the burned and blackened bodies of those contractors on the bridge in Fallujah with a voice over of a commentator reading Kos' "screw them" post. Then asking why Kerry would associate himself with Kos. And it wouldn't be rupublicans that ran the ad, it would be Hillary or Birch Bayh.
1.29.2006 2:20am
ras (mail):
Kerry's ploy puts enormous pressure on his fellow Dem Senators to support a tactic that they know will likely backfire. It is, in effect, a line in the sand drawn by the Kerry/Kennedy/Kos (no insinuation implied by the initials, btw) camp.

Those who oppose it will be lined up against a small but energetic group who cannot swing general elections but might very well tip a number of primaries. It's a credible threat: with Dean now in charge, he may well be able to do to others what was done to him. These are people who know how to carry a grudge for a long time.

The whole thing's very much a battle to drive out, or subjugate, the last vestiges of moderation in the Dem party, and thereby complete a process that's been underway for a generation or more.

Kerry may have initially intended it as no more than a way for a personally ambitious pol to ingratiate himself with a constituency, but it's much more than that already.
1.29.2006 5:26am
Federal Dog:
M.A.--

If your assertions are correct, and Democrats not only have ideas, but popular ones to boot, why they just don't state them to the electorate and get back into power? The problem with Democrats is that they do not stand *for* anything. They only stand *against* Bush. Given the wild flailing that Democrats have been doing for years now, either they have no popular ideas (contrary to your assertions) or they are too lacking in intelligence to state those popular ideas and actually garner a majority vote.


I see no evidence supporting the conclusion that Democrats have popular ideas and are simply refusing to state them and regain power. That makes no sense whatsoever.


As for Markos being a "moderate"-- DOH! Say what??
1.29.2006 8:00am
M.A. (mail):
Given the wild flailing that Democrats have been doing for years now, either they have no popular ideas (contrary to your assertions) or they are too lacking in intelligence to state those popular ideas and actually garner a majority vote.


The latter is correct. The Democrats have been cowed by their advisers into appearing "centrist" and "moderate," which creates the impression that they are no different from the Republicans except for being wimpier. The reality is that ideas like health care for all, environmentalism and Iraq-was-a-mistake are the sensible center.

As for Markos being a "moderate"-- DOH! Say what??


Markos used to be a Reagan Republican. He's pushing for Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. The policies he advocates are all sensible-center policies, maybe even to the right of the sensible-center. The guy is a moderate liberal in everything except rhetoric.

And if prominent Republicans can go on Rush Limbaugh, or talk to James Dobson, then no Democratic politician has anything to be ashamed of in associating themselves with Kos, whose site is considerably less vile and vicious than any fifteen minutes of Limbaugh. Kos's site mostly bashes conservative politicians and pundits. Limbaugh and Coulter and Malkin and other "mainstream" conservative pundits use eliminationist rhetoric about liberals -- not just liberal politicians, but liberals -- encouraging people to hate their friends and neighbors just for being liberal. It is the right that is unhinged today, not the left.
1.29.2006 9:26am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I fall somewhere between Federal Dog and MA. I do know that some Democrats / liberals have been thinking and coming up with potentially good ideas. But MA is giving no indication as yet that very many of the ideas being generated by liberal think tanks, etc., meet the test of the real world.

And, then MA goes on and reinforces this by listing a litany of liberal wishful thinking. Yes, everyone would love universal health care, a guaranteed living wage, elimination of global warming (and global cooling too), etc. Yes, these are all very popular. But one reason that the Democrats are currently out of power is that their candidates are too dumb to realize that putting wishful thinking into law effectively is extremely difficult, if not impossible, or they are cynical, and believe that their constituants are that dumb. The problem is that they were in power for a long, long, time, and as a result, we ended up with a lot of disfunctional programs, such as the War on Poverty. Their latest foray, HillaryCare could arguably be described as wishful thinking and idealism implemented at the point of a gun whenever market forces or human nature get in the way.

MA suggests that "Ideas that are supported on Kos include health care for all, balancing the budget, fighting global warming, raising the minimum wage, and preserving Roe v. Wade." For the most part, I don't see these as viable policies, but rather, wishful thinking that can be pawned off on a gullible electorate. When Democrats start developing a lot of these to the point where they pass the Freakonomics and Friedman tests, then they can expect to truly get back into power.

As for foreign policy, I see something similar. I hear, let's tweak this, tweak that, talk here, talk there, pressure this party to pressure that party, etc. That, to me, is foreign policy as it has been practiced for most of my life time, with the exception of during the presidencies of Reagan and GWB (out of I think 11 presidents). That is, essentially, the Foggy Bottom solution, which, IMHO, has gotten us to where we are right now.

And, again, until the Democrats can convince us that they really do have better ideas on maintaining security, they are likely to continue losing. John Kerry's argument that he would have managed better at the micro level, been able to tweak here and tweak there, just doesn't fly. Why should the American people believe that someone who, with 20/20 hindsight can second guess the administration, can better defend us in the murky future? Esp. since Bill Clinton, with an IQ probably at least 50 points above his couldn't, but rather inadvertantly planted or nurtured many of the seeds for 9/11 during his presidency?

That said, the Republicans are arguably falling into the trap the Democrats were in for some 60 years - corruption. Not really Abramoff, because everyone in Congress was taking that money (unless you try to argue that taking large amounts of Indian casino money directly is much better than taking it indirectly). The Republicans, who got into power through trying to clean up Washington, have, to a very large extent, sold out, just as the Democrats have. The massive pork in the ear-marks is bipartisan. Yes, the Republicans get a bit more, because they are the majority party. But both parties in Congress are heavily involved.

The only real suggestions I have seen from the Democrats for balancing the budget are to cut military spending (by, of course, pulling out of Iraq and Afganistan) and raising taxes (on the "rich", of course, who made, but didn't inheret or marry their money). They forget that a major part of the reason that Clinton was able to balance the budget (besides having a Republican Congress) is the "Peace Dividend", which meant to a great extent, slashing our active military to such an extent that we are having somewhat of a problem maintaining troop levels in those two countries. (if the Army hadn't lost somewhere around half its active divisions during Clinton, all those active duty troops would be available for deployment right now).

As far as I can see, the best solution to our budget problems is, again, being pushed by Republicans, notably the proposal by Rep. Flake and Senators Coburn and McCain to require that ear-marks be included in actual bills, and not slipped in in the middle of the night by conference committees, giving Congress the ability to vote on them, up or down, one by one. (A challenge for MA - describe the Democratic proposals for balancing the budget in one or two sentences).
1.29.2006 10:24am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I find MA's suggestion that Rush is vile interesting. My suspicion is that he rarely, if ever, listens to Limbaugh. I find Rush one of the least vile talk show hosts on radio. He is much more considerate than almost any others with liberals who come on his show. Rather, I think that MA, and a lot of other liberals, go on the liberal depiction of Limbaugh, instead of the reality of listening to him somewhat regularly.

Yes, there are plenty of much more agressive conservative talk show hosts who categorize liberals as somewhere between venal, vile, and stupid. They do it for the ratings. But Rush almost always treats his liberal call in guests with respect. They need to be to the right of him, and much more agressive, in order to get any market share.

Of course, he does poke fun at national politicians - for example, his rendition of "I am a philanderer" sung to the obvious music (with, of course, a Boston accent), in reference to Sen. Kennedy. etc. And he does have his pet names for major Democratic politicians ("Puff"
Daschele, "Dingy Harry" Reid, etc.) But overall, IMHO, not that bad, nothing compared to the chimpybushhitlerhalliburtonetc that I see on the left.
1.29.2006 10:50am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
And if prominent Republicans can go on Rush Limbaugh, or talk to James Dobson, then no Democratic politician has anything to be ashamed of in associating themselves with Kos, whose site is considerably less vile and vicious than any fifteen minutes of Limbaugh.
Each to his own. I disagree with your characterization of both Rush and Kos.
Kos's site mostly bashes conservative politicians and pundits. Limbaugh and Coulter and Malkin and other "mainstream" conservative pundits use eliminationist rhetoric about liberals -- not just liberal politicians, but liberals -- encouraging people to hate their friends and neighbors just for being liberal. It is the right that is unhinged today, not the left.
In my previous post, I suggested that many pundits on the right are more vicious about the left than Rush is. I think it a big mistake grouping Coulter and Limbaugh together. While I love her wit and verbal sparring ability, I agree that Ann does go overboard - a lot. That is part of her attraction to many on the right. But it is disingenuous to throw her in with Rush, and then argue that this group is vicious, when one or two of the three are, while the one with the largest talk show audience in the country (by far) isn't, but is tarred by association.

I think that Rush and Ann see liberals very differently. He treats them as misguided, but, except maybe for some few at the highest levels of politics, not the least bit venal or vile. Just misguided, and in need of further education, which he is more than willing to provide. Ann, on the other hand, seems some times to almost view liberals as actively vile. Just look at the names of her books: "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)" and "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right", as opposed to Rush's: "The Way Things Ought to Be" and "SEE, I TOLD YOU SO" (and that was 11 years ago, when he was probably more confrontational).
1.29.2006 11:07am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I think the real test of vileness is whether someone would say "screw them" and "I feel nothing" upon hearing that four of his fellow citizens have been murdered, and had their corpses burned and dragged through the street.

I doubt that Rush has ever said anything like that.
1.29.2006 11:53am
M.A. (mail):
I think the real test of vileness is whether someone would say "screw them" and "I feel nothing" upon hearing that four of his fellow citizens have been murdered, and had their corpses burned and dragged through the street.


Markos grew up in El Salvador, where mercenaries were common and caused all sorts of pain and suffering. He considers contractors in Iraq to be mercenaries, trying to make a buck off war -- and there's some justification for believing that. I'm not saying that what he said (in a comment, not a formal post) was right, but it's hardly the same thing as talking about the death of a soldier or an innocent bystander.

And Limbaugh's vileness has been well-documented, but the one Digby refers to is a good example, talking about Tom Daschle:

You now position yourself, Senator Daschle, to exploit future terrorist attacks for political gain. You are worse, sir, than the ambulance-chasing tort lawyers that make up your chief contributors. You, sir, are a disgrace.... What more do you want to do to destroy this country than what you've already tried? [pounding table] It is unconscionable what this man has done! This stuff gets broadcast around the world, Senator. What do you want your nickname to be? Hanoi Tom? Tokyo Tom? You name it, you can have it apparently. You sit there and pontificate on the fact that we're not winning the war on terrorism when you and your party have done nothing but try to sabotage it, which you are continuing to do. This little speech of yours yesterday, and this appearance of yours on television last night, let's call it what it is. It's nothing more than an attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism for your own personal and your party's political gain. This is cheap. And it's beneath even you. And that's pretty low.


And of course, when Daschle responded to this crap by pointing out that Limbaugh was inciting hatred against him, it was Daschle who got bashed by the Liberal Media, not that vile creep Limbaugh, encouraging hatred of his fellow Americans.
1.29.2006 12:09pm
Justin (mail):
MA,

What's wrong with saying that the Democrats are traitors? They ARE traitors. Look at the definition of traitor. Someone who actively opposes their country? Whose the head of the country? George Bush. Are you trying to say the Democrats are not actively trying to remove George Bush? Heck, even though they couldn't do treason-by-election in nominating the traitor Kerry to oppose him, they are now considering using impeachment to destroy the country from within. This, of course, will only help the Eastasian terrorists win.

And don't say anything about the 1980s, I'm tired of hearing how we suppoedly supported the Eastasian terrorists Bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein to help fight the Eurasian Communists. Russia, the head of Eurasia, has *ALWAYS* been our ally. The terrorists of Eastasia have *ALWAYS* been our enemy.

God, don't you people GET IT?
1.29.2006 12:41pm
juris imprudent (mail):
Well, speak of the delusional and they appear...

Hell, liberals have far more serious ideas about national security than conservatives, who tend to boil everything down to killing as many Muslims as possible.

More than that, liberal ideas are popular. Ideas that are supported on Kos include health care for all, balancing the budget, fighting global warming, raising the minimum wage, and preserving Roe v. Wade. All of these ideas are quite popular.

The reality is that ideas like health care for all, environmentalism and Iraq-was-a-mistake are the sensible center.

M.A.

First, you caricature the position of "conservatives" without contrasting it with anything but some hand-waving.

Second, you initially claim that you have "liberal" ideas/positions and then quickly assert that these are really "centrist". That is precisely my point about the delusion. If these are centrist/popular positions, why do we have a [nominally] conservative Congress and President? That they are not is the plain and simple answer, though of course you will no doubt argue it is all because the people have been fooled by the evil right-wing. And thus the contradiction - that the people know what they want but are continually duped by clever right-wing political rhetoric. Tom Frank wrote a whole book about how he couldn't figure this out. It is cognitive dissonance on such a scale that you wonder why heads aren't exploding.

This is why the left is doing more damage to the Demo party then the right could ever hope to do. Much as actually governing is destroying the Repub party.
1.29.2006 1:04pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Markos grew up in El Salvador, where mercenaries were common and caused all sorts of pain and suffering. He considers contractors in Iraq to be mercenaries, trying to make a buck off war -- and there's some justification for believing that. I'm not saying that what he said (in a comment, not a formal post) was right, but it's hardly the same thing as talking about the death of a soldier or an innocent bystander.


Thank you for proving my point. We had an informal bet as to whether you would just suck it up and acknowledge that Kos' comments were utterly inexcusable or come up with some half-assed attempt to rationalize them away.

Here's a clue for you next time: when four American citizens are murdered by terrorists and have their desecrated bodies dragged through the street, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference to normal people whether they were bystanders, soldiers, or contractors.

Kos and his apologists forgot that a long time ago.
1.29.2006 1:39pm
M.A. (mail):
Second, you initially claim that you have "liberal" ideas/positions and then quickly assert that these are really "centrist". That is precisely my point about the delusion. If these are centrist/popular positions, why do we have a [nominally] conservative Congress and President?


Well, malapportionment is part of it (remember, Bush won even though his opponent in 2000 was more popular, and the Democrats in the Senate represent the same number of people as the Republicans). The other part of it is that the Democrats do not openly push these "centrist" ideas, for fear of looking extreme-left -- which creates the impression that there is no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, in turn leading voters to cast their votes on other issues on which the Republican position is more popular (being against gay marriage is definitely popular). This is why it makes sense for the Democrats to distinguish themselves from Republicans by, for example, pushing for a national health-care system. (A recent poll showed that a majority of Americans think that we'd be better off if Hillary Clinton's health-care plan had been adopted. And that plan sucked. Think of how popular a candidate would be who advocated a good, sensible, continental-style national health-insurance system.)
1.29.2006 1:42pm
Justin (mail):
Thorley,

Thank you for proving my point. We had an informal bet as to whether you would just suck it up and acknowledge that Bush's actions were utterly inexcusable or come up with some half-assed attempt to rationalize them away.
1.29.2006 1:44pm
M.A. (mail):
Thank you for proving my point. We had an informal bet as to whether you would just suck it up and acknowledge that Kos' comments were utterly inexcusable or come up with some half-assed attempt to rationalize them away.


I don't know that I did rationalize them away (I did say that "I'm not saying what he said was right"), but even taking it as a given that they are inexcusable comments, it hardly puts Kos in a class of viciousness or hatred with Rush Limbaugh, who says worse things on a daily basis about half his fellow citizens.


Here's a clue for you next time: when four American citizens are murdered by terrorists and have their desecrated bodies dragged through the street, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference to normal people whether they were bystanders, soldiers, or contractors.


On the kidnapping of peace activists in Iraq: "There's a part of me that likes this... And some of you might say, 'Rush, that's horrible. Peace activists taken hostage.' Well, here's why I like it. I like any time a bunch of leftist feel-good hand-wringers are shown reality."
-- Rush Limbaugh.
1.29.2006 1:49pm
Truth Seeker:
First, what is so vile about Limbaugh pointing out, correctly, that politicians like Daschel hurt our war effort and embolden the terrorists by publicly criticizing the war? It's the simple truth. The terorists cannot win militarily, so their only hope is to wear down our will until the leftists get enough votes to force a pullout. So every comment by Daschle, Dean, Kerry, Murtha, et al that suggests we will or should leave before we completely defeat the Islamofascists is hurting our troops and our country and causing more deaths and more terrorist attacks likely.

And saying that the kidnapping of terrorist supporters by terrorists is poetic justice is not equal to celebrating the murder and dragging through the streets of American workers. There was still a likelihood that the terrorist supporters would be released. How can anyone think there is a similarity? Rush would not celebrate their deaths like Kos did.

The reason Rush is so popular (I've honestly only heard his show a few times) is that he speaks the truth and he says what a lot of people feel but are afraid to say. The first time I heard his show accidentally I thought, wow, that guy is right, why hasn't anyone else said that?
1.29.2006 2:15pm
WB:
I don't know if you guys are the same people or not, but assuming that you disapprove of the "guilt-by-association" tactic used to smear Judge Alito over the CAP thing, it would be hypocritical to smear John Kerry by linking him with Kos's occasional over-the-top rhetoric and with the things that his commenters say.

John Kerry is blogging on Kos presumably because it's a forum that fits his interests. It's a blog with a wide readership made up largely of people who share his politics. Politicians write op-eds in mainstream newspapers all of the time. While they are probably grateful to the newspaper for giving them a forum, I doubt that it's a fair criticism to attribute the institutional views of the newspaper to the guest op-ed writer.

I would also analogize Kerry's guest-blogging to making an appearance on someone's talk show, visiting an institution like Bob Jones University or the ACLU, or speaking at an academic symposium. In all cases, you are looking for a forum and an audience to express your own views. You're not necessarily buying into the views of your host.

On that basis, I'd say that the stupidity or moral depravity of Kos, Limbaugh or their audiences is largely irrelevant.
1.29.2006 2:29pm
WB:
The real "fighting, principled liberal" is Barack Obama.
1.29.2006 2:30pm
Adam (www):
Look at the definition of traitor. Someone who actively opposes their country?

There's a difference between opposing a country's present government and supporting the country's enemies.
1.29.2006 3:14pm
Justin (mail):
"There's a difference between opposing a country's present government and supporting the country's enemies."

Adam, stop being an apologist for the Democrats. Eastasia knows that a Democratic victory would have meant the war against Eastasia would have been prosecuted less effectively. Thus, opposing Bush WAS supporting the country's enemies.
1.29.2006 5:33pm
juris imprudent (mail):
M.A.

Bush won even though his opponent in 2000 was more popular, and the Democrats in the Senate represent the same number of people as the Republicans

A double non-sequitir! Wonderful. Is there a liberal [Constitutional] proposal to do away with the Senate and to make the election of the President by national popular vote? Odd that that hasn't made the news.

The other part of it is that the Democrats do not openly push these "centrist" ideas, for fear of looking extreme-left

Well, what can I possibly say to that.

Think of how popular a candidate would be who advocated a good, sensible, continental-style national health-insurance system.

Does the name Howard Dean ring any bells?
1.29.2006 10:24pm
therut (mail):
Yes, I have Tom Franks book and I think I am less than 10 pages in and have already been called a hick. The liberals really do not get it. Plus he has already derided gun owners, people aganist abortion etc. That is just the first 10 pages.
1.30.2006 12:30am
Zywicki (mail):
Justin:
As my post states, I found the information in the updates through the "trackbacks to my earlier post this morning," which I then proceeded to link to.
1.30.2006 6:46am
Justin (mail):
Professor Zywicki,

And yet Michelle Malkin's post isn't tracked back from yours. If you had the capacity to see a trackback and then hit the link to Michelle Malkin, you could have gone the extra step and hit the link to Kos.
1.30.2006 10:40am
Neal Lang (mail):
It is amazing to me that Clinton showed the way for Democrats to win the presidency; and yet the party - well many of the blog activists at least - seem to be tossing away his plan.

The problem for the Democarts is they can't get a 3rd Party Candidate to run that will draw more vots from the Republican then from them. Clinton got less votes than either Kerry or Gore in his two races, and only won because Pernot draw more Republican votes than Democrats. In a head-to-head race, Clinton loses - twice. Perhaps this time Hillary! will benefit from a McCain run as an independent, financed by George Soros.
1.30.2006 12:26pm
Neal Lang (mail):
More than that, liberal ideas are popular. Ideas that are supported on Kos include health care for all, balancing the budget, fighting global warming, raising the minimum wage, and preserving Roe v. Wade. All of these ideas are quite popular.

A free lunch is quite popular, as well - until the time comes to actually pay for it.

Of course, if "fighting global warming, raising the minimum wage, and preserving Roe v. Wade" were all that popular explain how George W. Bush won by proposing contrary policies. As for "balancing the budget", the last Democrat President had to be taken there, "kicking and screaming" all the way, by the first Rebublican Congress in 40 years. If the Democrats are really for "balancing the budget" I would be interested in their proposal on how to get there from here, beyond cutting the militay and pulling out of Iraq.

Finally, the Democrats couldn't get "Hillary! Care" with majorities in both Houses and the Presidency in 1993 and 94. How could that be so if it is as popular as you claim. If I am not mistaken, the Congressional Democrats were wiped out in the following Mid-term.
1.30.2006 12:47pm
Neal Lang (mail):
For what it's worth, I think the Democrats nominating Mrs. Clinton would be the worst possible thing they could do for the 2008 campaign. I don't think the country is even remotely ready to elect a female president. And I say that as someone who would love to see the Republicans out of the White House.

That is, unless the female presidential candidate has been both National Security Director and Secretary of State during one of the most trying times for America in the areas offoreign relations and National Security.
1.30.2006 12:56pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Seems to me that increasingly many on the left wish to tear things down more than they wish to build things up.

Again, that may be an enjoyable exercise in "Bush's America" but try selling that message to independent or undecided voters and see what happens.

Unless one has given up on the American people, that's not a winner.

The American people are basically optimistic, despite the "Doom and Gloom" drumbeat of the MSM.

This optimism shows up at the polls as the election of Republicans. In order to beat an incumbent Republican, either the he has to do something stupid, like causing a major segment of the GOP base to take a hike (as did Bush I in 1992 by thumbing his nose at pro-2nd Amendment voters), or the Democrats getting the incumbent Republican to do something stupid (like Bush raising tax, going into a recession, on forlorn promises from the Democrat Congress to cut spending). Even with these advantages, Clinton needed Ross Perrot in the race in order to knock-off a Republican incumbent. Despite having a lock on the approval of the MSM, since Truman (1948), the only Democrat to be re-elected was Clinton, and he required a strong 3rd Party candidate to make it happen.
1.30.2006 1:13pm
M.A. (mail):
Neal Lang: The electoral strength of Republicans is overrated, at least for now. 2000 was basically the Democrats' year: they won the popular vote in the Presidential election (and only lost the electoral college because of a Perot-style third-party run) and gained seats in the Congress. Prior to that, they'd won the Presidency in 1996 and picked up seats in 1998. Taking it all together, the Democrats have won the popular vote in three out of the last four presidential elections, hardly a sign of an un-electable party.

The equation was changed by 9/11, or more specifically the Bush administration's shameful exploitation of 9/11 for partisan political gain. As a result of that, the Republicans gained seats in 2002 and held onto the Presidency (in a close election) in 2004. None of this is a sign of a permanent majority, and if the exploitation of 9/11 has lost some of its power to sway voters (which is slowly but surely happening), the Democrats should get back to more or less where they were in 2000. That might not be enough to get them back the majority this year (they lost too much ground in 2002 and with the Southern Senate retirements in 2004), but the much-maligned Howard Dean is doing a good job of helping to rebuild the party at the state level, and by 2008 the Democrats could well be on the road to majority status -- which is more or less where they were in 2000.
1.31.2006 6:34pm
juris imprudent (mail):
MA

I just can't resist bursting your bubble...

Taking it all together, the Democrats have won the popular vote in three out of the last four presidential elections, hardly a sign of an un-electable party.

Actually, no Democratic candidate for President has won a majority of the popular vote since 1976. So if we're going to do this by popular vote, surely you would agree that we need a run-off system to prevent a winner with a mere plurality. That would hardly be more legitimate then the electoral college.

Interesting to see you hedging against this year's election. I would think this is a very opportune year for the Dems, but only if they produce a message other than how much they hate Bush. You only have a bit more then a year to play that game then all attention will be fixed on Nov 08.
1.31.2006 9:13pm
M.A. (mail):
Actually, no Democratic candidate for President has won a majority of the popular vote since 1976. So if we're going to do this by popular vote, surely you would agree that we need a run-off system to prevent a winner with a mere plurality. That would hardly be more legitimate then the electoral college.


I'm neither strongly for nor strongly against the electoral college; I'm just pointing out the obvious: that the 2000 results aren't proof that the Democrats are un-electable.

Interesting to see you hedging against this year's election. I would think this is a very opportune year for the Dems, but only if they produce a message other than how much they hate Bush.


Well, they have a lot more than that (again, the Democrats have more serious ideas than the Republicans, who have no ideas beyond tax cuts), but even hating Bush is a fairly good strategy at this point, given his unpopularity. Still, I think it's just very hard to take back a majority at this point, because of gerrymandering and so forth. Tom DeLay worked to gerrymander as many Republican seats as possible and to turn K Street into a fundraising arm of the Republicans; his downfall will help to end these trends, but they won't end overnight, and the result is that the Republicans realistically look like they will retain (reduced) majorities. I'd be happy to be wrong. However, I do think that over time the Democrats will get back to where they were in 2000 -- the emerging majority party.
1.31.2006 9:48pm
juris imprudent (mail):
MA

However, I do think that over time the Democrats will get back to where they were in 2000 -- the emerging majority party.

Aw c'mon, it isn't 2000 that you're pining for - it's the 60s, 70s and 80s. Back when Dems dominated Congress, even though they didn't break even on the Presidency (and at that only one New Deal style liberal of the 3).

The problem, for you, is that even if Dems do ascend to a majority, it just isn't going to be a liberal majority (despite all efforts to purge the party of it's moderate base).
2.1.2006 11:42am
M.A. (mail):
Aw c'mon, it isn't 2000 that you're pining for - it's the 60s, 70s and 80s. Back when Dems dominated Congress, even though they didn't break even on the Presidency (and at that only one New Deal style liberal of the 3).


Not necessarily. It's not like the Democratic Congress was able to push through much progressive legislation after the '60s (with Johnson) and possibly the early '70s (with Nixon). I would prefer a system where control of the House and Senate changed hands often -- I liked the way control of the Senate kept flipping back between R's and D's in the '80s. It's not good for one party to have a permanent hold on control of Congress, and that applies to Democrats as well as Republicans. That's why I'm more interested in ending gerrymandering and creating more competitive seats, not so much in creating a "permanent" Democratic majority.


The problem, for you, is that even if Dems do ascend to a majority, it just isn't going to be a liberal majority (despite all efforts to purge the party of it's moderate base).


I don't think a "liberal majority" is possible, any more than a truly "conservative majority" (the congressional Republicans certainly don't have a track record of principled conservatism or reducing the size of government). I do think a Democratic majority will be better than the Delay-ified, Ambramoff-ized Republican majority, which essentially turned itself into an arm of the Republican White House (hence the unwillingness to stand up to the Bush administration on almost any issue).

I also think you're overestimating the extent to which we want to "purge the moderate base." If you look at the actual policies that we net-lefties advocate, we're mostly pretty moderate. What we feel is that the Republican majority is corrupt and that Democrats need to fight back, hard -- the way Gingrich fought back hard when he was in the minority -- but that doesn't say much about whether we're open to moderates or not. Bill Clinton, uber-moderate triangulator, is still pretty popular among liberals, after all.
2.1.2006 2:36pm
farmer56 (mail):
M.A.

Get over it. More Americans have voted for republicans than democrats.

That is proved by the majority of the house and senate and president are republicans. It is a fact. you can call the majority of the electorate a fool. You just can not deny that the American people, after a long period of time have determined the best path to take.
2.1.2006 3:33pm