Because I know (from avidly reading his comments on presidential politics and Iraq for quite a while) that Kos is a truly astute political thinker and communicator, the blind spots are that much more visible and distressing.
Instead, there's been a silence on these issues - or, even worse, little tiny snippets that address or try to contain these issues, often in misleading ways.
Meanwhile, the parallel universe on Daily Kos -- the mini-blogs within DKos that form a rolling, ever changing sequence of diaries and comments - bear witness to a truly disintegrated political discourse.
Here's my feeling: if there was a crisis in Dean's campaign, this last month was also a crisis (obviously less important, less dramatic) at, and for, Daily Kos. A crisis, or at least a challenge. And the website hasn't really met this challenge. Instead, Markos has put forth some pretty weak talking points:
1. Accepting Dean's "strategy" of ignoring the Feb 3 primaries. It's as though Dean were deliberately trying to lose states as part of some more compelling master plan - rather than the much more likely scenario, which is that his campaign totally flipped upside down and is unravelling. Thus, Kos's most substantial recent statement reads:
So where do we stand? Kerry is running ads in all the Feb 3 states. He's trying to do what Dean did in Iowa -- empty the bank to deliver the knockout blow. Kerry seems to be making the same gamble, that he can end everything next week. But all Edwards needs to stay in it is a SC victory, and he seems sure to grab it. Clark needs that Oklahoma victory, which he'll get. So he won't go anywhere.
And Dean is marshalling his resources for the Feb 7 and 8 caucuses. And given the Feb 3 spending of the other guys, Dean may very well have the upper hand in those contests. Victories here and there the rest of the month could keep each of the candidates well in the running, with no one near the necessary delegates for victory.
Hard for me not to read this as simply shaping the data in order to give the best possible reading of Dean's chances.
2. Bash Kerry. This point has been powerfully taken up in a posting by Kid Oakland which discusses a moment in Markos's posting that stoops to a real Drudge-like register of smear and innuendo.
Again, this unproven allegation against Kerry wouldn't be so bad if there was any MORE substantial analysis of Kerry that has been offered on the main site. But, in truth, very little of substance has been written on the main web posting on any of these four issues - Dean's collapse, Kerry's strengths, the effects of Dean's collapse on the political landscape, or the significance of our own errors, as a community, on Daily Kos. In fact, in the face of what's happened much of the discourse on Daily Kos, pre-Iowa, now looks a lot more like an echo-chamber than a place of meaningful discussion (only Dean and Clark could possibly win; the question of Dean's "electability" is a forbidden canard, etc.).
But Daily Kos is an amazing, and new, form of political community - with great potential but also potentially serious problems. Here are two meta-issues that I would like to see more visibly registered on both the "central" blogs and the "side" blogs:
1. History can disappear too quickly on this kind of webblog. "Those that forget are doomed to repeat" and the very stream of comments has made it too easy for Markos, and the rest of us, not to address (in any detail) the past mistakes and errors that informed the hidden boundaries of discourse on DKos.
2. Those hidden boundaries. It's of course the case that diarists are free to post whatever they like on the side. There IS no explicit party line on DKos. But, at the same time, I think it's clearly the case that implicit lines and boundaries of discourse did emerge pre-Iowa, and that these lines were nurtured by Kos's own postings. I'm not saying this is unfair or anything, but it's damn interesting and I'd like to see more scrutiny about how this process works - how decentered is DKos? What were, what now are, and what should be (in the face of Kerry's rise and Dean's collapse) our shared, and often implicit, party lines? How do these get formulated? At the end of the day, was DKos operating, essentially, as a kind of parallel Blog for America? If so, what now?
3. ABK - I'm distressed to see how much this has become a major theme of Daily Kos. I'd like a much more forceful grappling with this on the "center" diaries. Because I think the ABK sentiment has been fueled by the very expectations and confidence that DKOS helped nurture pre-Iowa and pre-NH, rather than simply reflecting the natural political instincts of a segment of the left. In other words, I think the discussions of ABK that we're seeing on Daily Kos isn't something that just exists "out there," but that has been generated, in large part, "in here" - in the very dynamics of how political analysis and expectation has unfolded at this website for a long time.