19 months ago Stu Rothenberg cited this challenge in a well-reasoned tutorial rant, noting two bloggers in particular for their "clueless" political naivete. [Subscription-only Roll Call; link is to RedState, and let any copyright grief be on their heads.]
This month Markos has taken to citing Rothenberg
over as ironic evidence that the DC establishment is clueless. Does Kos's evidence support Kos's claim? Or just the opposite? Take a closer look.
Did these conditions exist when Bowers framed his challenge? No. Was it predictable that they would? No. Are they likely to recur? Yes -- about twice a lifetime, but not cycle after cycle.
Did bloggers create them? Bowers seems to think so, as if we created Katrina ... Dubai Ports ... gas prices ... Abu Ghraib ... NSA eavesdropping ... Korean nukes ... or Mark Foley. As if.
Collectively, we've inspired volunteers, brought along a couple viable candidates, and -- pertinent to the 80-district challenge -- we've raised about enough cash to fuel one major House race, or a couple of lower-profile, cheaper media market contests. (We can't tell how much of this money would have found its way to the campaigns without us.)
We hope Bowers has acquired a clue or two since he wrote what he wrote. Developments in the interim neither prove not disprove his case. But Rothenberg was informed, insightful ... even prescient! In an impressive display of situational awareness, he writes (same piece):
... there have been cycles ... where the DCCC showered money on second- and third-tier contests that it hoped would develop during a political wave ... DCCC would be thrilled to come up with 80 competitive races for 2006 ... if Democrats get the political version of a tsunami ... I'm sure they will.
Exactly as it has happened.
As to clueless bloggers, Rothenberg reminds us of 2004 results for dailyKos funding favorites ("Newberry drew 28 percent ... Seeman hauled in 33 ... Konop topped the trio, taking 41") and full-frontal, funded races in districts targeted by Bowers ("Don Barbieri got hammered by almost 20 points in an open-seat contest. ... Neugebauer smashed [our best] by 18 ... Garrett [won] by more than 16").
Is Rothenberg right that "Democrats would not hold even a single additional seat had they put a name on the ballot in every district during the past two cycles"? So it seems. No cluelessness there.
Mercifully, he refrains from mention of the Ginny Schrader debacle. Lightning did strike in 2004. We suddenly faced an open seat in a swing district, and DCCC wanted a few days to recruit a viable standard-bearer. Certain bloggers worked themselves into a collective hissy-fit, asserting squatters rights for a "people powered" disaster of a candidate. We threw away a pick-up opportunity, and now we're struggling to oust a settled incumbent. (Inexplicably, some still celebrate the anniversary of this pyhrric victory as "Blogosphere Day".)
Clueless? Not Rothenberg, who saw and described the possible futures. He described precisely how we could and would and in fact DID respond to one of them.
Bowers posed a fixed strategy for variable circumstances, and hadn't even worked out the implications of that one. As progenitor of the Contest Every District movement, I have mixed sympathies and not a little embarrassment.
And Markos repeatedly cites an instance that refutes his claim, confident no readers will click enough links to find him out. That may be worse than clueless.