Piece by Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News
School’s out for summer, and all the wayward children who received detention for shooting spit wads and carving naughty words into their desks are evidently attending the Kos Camp for Splenetic Activism.
The camp’s proprietor is Markos “Kos” Moulitsas, founder of the influential DailyKos blog and a nominal leader of the Angry Left. “Crashing the Gate,” a book Moulitsas co-authored with political consultant and penny stock touter Jerome Armstrong, is the playbook for progressive political activism and the “Net roots,” a synthesis of traditional, progressive politics and the power of the Internet. And there’s no doubting the contribution Moulitsas has made to advance what he calls people-powered politics.
Unfortunately for the people who take their politics seriously, Moulitsas himself and many of his paste-eating charges at Camp Kos seem more committed to acts of adolescent political vandalism, as the title of his book implies, than to the intellectual maturity of political leadership.
The Kos kids and their counselor got all worked up recently about a column in which I criticized their penchant for savaging Democrats who stray from their ideological agenda, their intolerance for dissent and their bullying tactics.
But what really set Moulitsas’ marshmallow aflame, I suspect, was an affront to his vanity. I quoted his risible comment following the Texas primaries in March that his Net-roots effort had given Rep. Henry Cuellar “an ass whooping” in an election that Cuellar comfortably won.
“Another idiot columnist tries to peddle the ‘scary Daily Kos is trying to liquidate moderate Democrats’ bull—-,” Moulitsas wrote on his blog. And his little band of Net hooligans set out to demonstrate just how tolerant and non-bullying they really aren’t.
“I would love to purge this party of these DLC Centrist type Dems who think they can ride the middle to get votes from both sides of the fence,” wrote one Kossack.
“Basically, you are full of —-. As a nurse, I can say that word, it is a medical term when someone spews idiotic statements and shows their stupidity,” wrote another. Other Kos campers evidently drank from the same batch of Kool-Aid. Their topic headlines read, “Gurwitz tries to peddle BS” and “Bull—- article.”
One generously expressed his hope that someday I “gain at least some self-respect back. You, as all humans, deserve it.” Another burnished his progressive merit badge by simply writing, “The test came back positive. Start AZT as soon as you can.”
Back at Camp Kos, there was even a plea for civility of sorts. “E-mail the idiot columnist,” wrote one reader at DailyKos. But, he suggested, “be nice and don’t give him a chance to write the ‘angry lefties sent me nasty e-mail’ column.”
Sorry to disappoint, but no one should expect followers of a profanity-spewing pied piper not to be nasty. Moulitsas, who is currently venting his rage at liberal journalists who refuse to keep silent about pay-for-play political allegations against him and Armstrong, makes Ann Coulter seem downright charming by comparison.
In 2004, when four Americans working for a military contractor were murdered and their bodies mutilated in Fallujah, Moulitsas commented: “I feel nothing over the death of mercenaries. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.”
One of Moulitsas’ colleagues in the Net-roots community wrote to me apologetically, the Kos reputation for vulgarity being well-known. “You are probably getting more than your share of uncivil responses from frustrated activists who believe their voices don’t count as much as others. This will not be one of them.”
And, indeed, what followed was strong yet sensible and civil criticism. That’s an art Moulitsas and his followers haven’t even attempted to master, preferring instead the rhetorical equivalent of gang graffiti.
Moulitsas has been instrumental in helping thousands of frustrated activists make their voices heard.
Being heard, however, is not the same as being taken seriously.