They used to wear they pro-markets, pro free trade color proudly, but would separate facts from editorial comment clearly, and had no problem recognising when they were wrong or when facts did not go their way. It's no longer the case today, with partisanship taking over and being all the more vicious that it's still somewhat discreet and hard to see if you don't have the underlying facts at hand.
But what interests me today is that, in this context, DailyKos has become one of their favorite targets for ridicule or contempt. And that's good news for us.
Santa is on his way (Oct. 20, 2005)
READERS of the Daily Kos, a left-wing blog, are so excited about the fact that Patrick Fitzgerald is about to wrap up his two-year inquiry into the Bush administration's alleged outing of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame, that they are swapping tips on how to keep calm. Give up the coffee; resist the urge to check the Drudge Report every minute; and when what they call "Fitzmas" finally comes, enjoy the moment. Take a deep breath and witness a great wrong being righted.
At last, something for the Democrats to cheer about (Nov. 10, 2005)
Before the results were known, Mr Kaine said the Virginia race would be decided on state, not national issues. But he added that Mr Bush's problems--the president's approval ratings are below 40%--would probably help him. Other Democrats were more blunt. Mr Corzine taunted his Republican opponent, Douglas Forrester, as "George Bush's choice for governor". The Daily Kos, a liberal blog, suggested that Democrats should pay Mr Bush's travel expenses in the run-up to next year's mid-term elections, since the president "clearly help[s] us more than [his] own guys".
These above are from the news sections, and are still relatively neutral. Newt we get to the Lexington column, which is supposed to be a dispassionate comment on the big picture of US politics, and which has been completely taken over by Bush fan(s).
Hold the champagne (Oct. 6, 2005)
The Democrats cannot rely on the Republicans' current woes to deliver victories in 2006 and 2008
The reason for this is as simple as it is potentially lethal: the Democrats are split down the middle on everything from Iraq to gay marriage. Centrists believe in working with business, protecting family values and fighting terrorism. "We believe that the September 11th attacks changed America for ever," says the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), "and defeating terrorism is the supreme military and moral mission of our time." Liberal activists believe the opposite: that corporations are bad, family values are hogwash, and the war on terror a delusion.
Worse still, the wrong side is getting the upper hand. A new generation of angry young activists have used their mastery of the internet to tilt the party to the left. Groups such as Moveon.org (which claims 3.3m members) and blogs such as the Daily Kos (which has thousands of partisans venting daily) now colour the whole tone of the political debate on the left.
The teenage scribblers of the left seem to be turning the Democrats into a deranged version of Pavlov's dog--reacting to every stimulus from Professor Rove's laboratory rather than thinking ahead.
Guns to the left, guns to the right (Jan 12, 2006)
The Clinton restoration project is under fire from both sides
Mrs Clinton may have the traditional feminist and labour groups in her pocket, but the internet is devolving power from client groups to local activists. The internet left is in open revolt against the Washington establishment, and it looks back on the Clinton presidency not as a triumph that should be repeated but as an error that should be avoided--a time when the party gave in on welfare and public spending and lost control of Congress.
Mrs Clinton will probably face a much more formidable field of competitors than Mr Bush did in 2000 (when John McCain was pretty much it). Her repositioning has already opened up space to her left which is being filled by Russ Feingold and John Edwards. As Ronald Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times argues, the former may become the Howard Dean of the 2008 campaign. The senator for Wisconsin has been a consistent critic of both the Iraq war and Mr Bush's war powers; he was the first senator to endorse a time-line for withdrawing and the only one to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001. He has also assiduously cultivated the netroots (he is a regular blogger on the Daily Kos).
The losers (Feb. 2, 2006)
Last week, [John Kerry] not only made the mistake of calling for a filibuster of Samuel Alito that had no chance of succeeding (to have any chance of making this archaic senatorial device work with a Supreme Court nominee, you first need to have demonised your victim); he also made the mistake of making that call from Davos.
From the perspective of Davos Man, this was doubtless an impressively global stunt (how Ms Jolie must have purred on the chairlift). But in the real world of American politics, it was disastrous. Scott McClellan, George Bush's normally lacklustre press secretary, joked about it being "pretty serious yodelling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps". The Wall Street Journal sniped that Mr Kerry had been "communing with his political base" in Davos. Democrats were furious. They saw it as a transparent play for support from the party's over-excited activists, the insider turned calculating insurgent (Mr Kerry even wrote about the filibuster on a left-wing blog).
Thisweek, we are mentioned in the obituary of one of the big names of the RWNM:
Michael Joyce - The architect (March 2, 2006)
A conservative every Democrat should study carefully
Mr Joyce had an uncanny ability to back ideas that seemed wacky at the time, but have since passed into the mainstream. He provided cash for writers such as Allan Bloom ("The Closing of the American Mind") and Charles Murray ("Losing Ground"). He was the eminence grise behind both Milwaukee's school-voucher programme and welfare reform in Wisconsin. And he was an early supporter of providing welfare services through "faith-based organisations", which became the kernel of "compassionate conservatism".
Conservatives naturally revered Mr Joyce--not just for changing the intellectual climate but for keeping many of them out of penury (just check the prefaces of many conservative books). Arguably, though, the people who should study him most nowadays are on the left. Liberal America does not lack cash; nor does it lack people who are prepared to be unpleasant, as a glance at websites like the Daily Kos will show. But it has nobody with Mr Joyce's ability to spot unconventional big ideas.
The mentions are altogether too frequent to be innocuous.
They are a good thing in that they reflect the growing impact of DailyKos on the political scene in the USA - so much so that the website is now featured regularly in descriptions of what the debates are.
They are a good thing in that DailyKos is now identified as a big enough danger that it cannot safely be ignored and must be demonised, as the above extracts show. The intent is very transparently to paint this site, and the rest of the netroots as extremist and juvenile, nasty and ineffective, and to taint all the political figures that dare associate themselves with us. This makes sense only as a attempt to negate the very real impact of the site.
So kudos to georgia10 for "Fitzmas" to have been acknowledged so publicly, and kudos to Markos and to all the kossacks to have made this place audible, but we should not be complacent.
I've been reading the Economist for 15 years, and their systematic, if often subtle, French-bashing is a feature I've learnt to discount and read around. Same thing here, it's easy for me to detect the partisan stuff and analyse it like I'm doing here. But for most casual readers, this is probably the first time they are hearing about DailyKos, and the only thing they'll hear about it. It's good that they do hear about it, as the readership of the Economist is highly influential (in business, politics, academia, and increasingly in the US than in Europe), but it's not so good that they see the site as an extremist place.
Just as most people now spontaneously associate France with protectionism, rigidity, stagnation, chaos, anti-semitism, unemployment (which, if you read the European Tribune enough, will know is pretty far from the truth), there is an obvious - to me - attempt to similarly taint the netroots: these early stains, repeated enough as "fact" and not as opinion, spread discreetly from influential places like the Economist to "common wisdom": DailyKos is nasty, noisy, overexcited, clueless, and, eventually, irrelevant. That's just the way it is.
Of course, that may simply be wishful thinking on the side of increasingly embattled commentators - or denial of the reality, but we try to avoid both of these pitfalls over here, so we should at least be aware of these whispering campaigns, and do our best to prove them wrong, by continuing to push great research, fact finding and checking, information clearing and debate rather than conspiracy theories or unsubstantiated stories.
Community choices (by rating and recommending) is our chance for all to speak up, it is our strength and it is our responsibility to use it for the best purpose, and first of all against the lies of the right.
But make no mistake, they are fighting us back very directly, in the ways they best know, by manipulating public perceptions.
Update [2006-3-6 13:50:38 by Jerome a Paris]:
As the point has been raised a couple of times already, let me comment on their endorsement of Kerry in 2004. It is true that they ended up choosing Kerry over Bush, but it was extremely lukewarm, and more of a statement against Bush's incompetence and against torture, as they were very negative on Kerry.
Just like Andrew Sullivan, they still shouted "we won" when Bush won, it was very strange.
Their articles have been consistently anti-Democrats. They fully agree with Bush on the "big picture", and think they can get away with the "poor execution" criticism alone.
Do note as well that there are factions within the paper. When yo uread it enough, you can tell if it's a wingnut or an old-school journalist writing.