Bill Gentry at the Washington Times has a piece this morning that I agree with more than not, but still find some glaring inaccuracies in. The reason I differ with some of the details is because Gentry is a consevative writer working for a conservative newspaper and, thus, his perspective on the subject matter is a simplified account of a much more complex situation concerning the state of the Democratic party in general and the senate race in Connecticut specifically.
In regards to Connecticut, Gentry writes that the state could be the netroots’ Waterloo. Of this, I don’t disagree nor do I disagree with the reasoning that led him to this conclusion. Depending on your poll of choice, Joe Lieberman leads Ned Lamont by as littke as two or as much as 13 percentage points. In fact, since his loss in the primary, Lieberman has never trailed his opponant in the general election polls. Of course, there is still five or so weeks for Lamont to make up that ground, but the demographics of the race do not favor him. Lieberman has the support of most Independents in a state known for independent voters, most of the Republican vote, and a solid chunk of the Democratic vote.
Gentry continues his piece by observing this race is a make-or-break election for the reputation of the “netroots” – the fired-up, furious far-left bloggers. Again, I don’t disagree. They targeted a centrist Democratic Senator in a solid blue state not only because of his stance on the Iraq war but also because he looked to be the easiest to pick off. You’ll notice other Democrats that have incurred their wrath only had stones cast at them (Hillary Clinton, for example.)
The “netroots,” for those unfamiliar with the term, is defined by Gentry about as well as I’ve seen the term defined:
Almost anyone who bothers to actually read Daily Kos or any of the most prominent liberal “netroots” blogs is taken aback by the vicious tone, use of the f-word more frequently than a comma, insults, scathing all-out hatred of dissent from the party line, conspiracy theories, accusations of the New York Times being a tool of the Republican National Committee. The tone is way out of the American political mainstream, and not what one expects from a political movement serious about persuading voters and winning.
Correct. DailyKOS and other “progressive” blogs do just that. Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News spoke of it as well last summer and reached the conclusion that KOS “has been instrumental in helping thousands of frustrated activists make their voices heard. Being heard, however, is not the same as being taken seriously.”
I do want to dissent from Gentry on a couple of details at this point. While it is true (and I and other have written about it extensively) that KOS and others like him are quite vitriolic when it comes to those who stray from the party line, the “party line” in question is not that of the Democratic party. It may be the party line of some small faction within the party, or of those who mistakenly believe themselves to be Democrats but lack the knowledge of what the designation means, but such a strict adherance to a narrow set of ideals has no seat at the table of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Clinton.
Maybe there is a kid’s table for them off to the side?
The next point I want to make is that such behavior from a party’s red meat craving activist wing isn’t just common to the left. Visit any rightwing blog or message forum like Free Republic and you’ll have a similar experience with the knuckle draggers that inhabit the far right.
Beyond that, though, Gentry is spot on. KOS and the netroots electoral victory record is a generous 4 for 25. (I say generous because they claim credit in a least one race, possibly two, where any scandal-free Democrat would have won.) They have yet to win a single general election.
We all like to think, “boy, if they just listened to me” — we would have our parties winning with 90 percent of the vote. But the reality is that very few of us have the right combination of judgment, intelligence and resources to manage a successful campaign. The world is full of armchair strategists who think they know it all; but in recent years, we’ve seen serious candidates like Mark Warner and Ned Lamont turn to the blogs for actual input on how to run a campaign.
If Mr. Lieberman wins, it will be time to close the book on the hype of the “netroots.” A serious political movement figures out how to win a general election or two in the first 26 tries.
Interesting article at TCSdaily called From Far Left To Libertarian that details the author’s political journey from the far left to his libertarian viewpoints of today. Some of the points raised are universal in any shift in political outlooks, and could have been written by a centrist after a move from either fringe of the political spectrum. Still, I disagree with the piece as a whole because it casts to much of a positive light on a political movement (in this case the far left) that is intolerant to opposing viewpoints and compromise on them.