The YearlyKos Convention - a compilation Posted by: McQ
on Friday, August 03, 2007
Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post pretty much nails it on the head when talking about YearlyKos and the Democratic presidential candidates choosing to attend. Noting that Hillary Clinton only managed 9% of the vote on a Kos on-line straw poll, he says:
But as the who's who of the progressive blogosphere — the "Net roots" — gather in Chicago for the YearlyKos convention, which started yesterday, Clinton will be there. Her attendance underscores two seemingly contradictory realities: blogs' growing influence as powerful backroom players in Democratic circles and the fact that they don't reflect the views of most Democrats, much less the general public.
An interesting and important point. What they do represent are the political activists who are most likely to vote in the primaries. And you can't get to the big show without winning the primaries. That goes back to the point about skipping the more main-stream Democratic Leadership Conference in favor of YearlyKos ... at least this year. As noted by Marc Dunkelman of the DLC this is a normal occurrence with the candidates always showing up at the convention during the election year ... when the primaries are pretty much over and the candidate is all but determined. It is then they begin to court the more moderate, centerist and indpendent voters.
This is YearlyKos, one of the more colorful – and politically powerful – conventions to make its way to Chicago.
And anyone who doubts blogger clout should consider this: seven presidential candidates, the two top congressional leaders and the Democratic Party's chairman will all stop by to pay their respects.
Naturally the servings of political red-meat are plentiful and predictable:
"What you have done ... is to set this country on the path of restoring the democracy that George Bush and the Republicans have tried to undermine," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told the convention Thursday evening, as he pitched a new voting integrity project.
Democratic leaders and candidates aren't the only one's present. The media too has turned out in force:
The convention, sold out with more than 1,500 registered attendees and 250 credentialed media, is version 2.0. The first was held last year in Las Vegas.
This is as grassroots as it gets, however, it is also a special kind of group and one that is demanding and politically aware. One of the highlights of the convention will be a 90 minute session with the candidates followed by a 40 minute individual breakout session with each candidate where they will be asked to answer specific questions. And they will be very specific and pointed questions. So much so, that it has been announced, per Katharine Q. Seelye of the New York Times, that a certain someone has decided not to play:
While they are all still coming for the main show, it turns out that Senator Clinton is not attending the break-out session. Her campaign says it told the Kos organizers a week ago that she would not be attending the individual session, but the organizers did not announce it until tonight, at the opening dinner. The announcement drew big boos from the audience.
I imagine, given how well she is liked on Kos, Hillary probably made a wise choice. But it also points to something for which she's constantly criticized, and I think properly so - if she can't control or isn't in control of the event, she wants no part of it. She's always done things which are carefully scripted, and the breakout session would be anything but that. In fact, my guess is it would be downright hostile. I wonder, given the fact that it is now known that she's not going to participate in the individual sessions, how she'll be treated in the general session?
Amy Schatz of the Wall Street Journal brings a dose of reality back to the hoopla, but also notes the real worth of the Netroots to candidates:
Having bloggers on your side hardly guarantees electoral victory. Four years ago, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was a blogger favorite, but his presidential campaign flamed out in Iowa. Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman remains widely despised among many netroots — the grass roots of the Internet — bloggers for his vote for the Iraq war, and they helped lead to his defeat in the state's Democratic primary to businessman Ned Lamont. But Mr. Lieberman easily won re-election in 2006 running as an independent.
Yet for less-known Democratic candidates, including some hopefuls who are heading here this weekend, liberal bloggers have proved to be an effective grass-roots army for raising money and creating excitement among the liberal base. Progressive bloggers have raised more than $25 million since 2005 through ActBlue, a political action committee funded by online donations from bloggers and their readers. It helps funnel small donations to campaigns.
Their track record on getting their candidates elected isn't particularly stellar, but when it all comes down to it, the reason a Hillary Clinton is going to endure something like YearlyKos is found in the bucks and the exposure. Money is power in the political system we have and the reason to woo these folks who really don't represent the main-stream of Democrats is to get a portion of the monetary pie. Another, of course, is that in this closely divided and highly partisan country, elections can be decided on the slimmest of margins. So even though most of the attendees come from the margin, they are still important votes. And she knows, no matter how distasteful a duty, if she doesn't show up and pay homage, she'll be lambasted on-line from now until November of '08. The trick for her and others is to attract them to their side without seeming to really side with them. It is a fairly tricky business and something to monitor during YearlyKos.
Finally, EJ Dionne, has a word on what YearlyKos is all about in his opinion. His take on it involves a need and desire by Democratic operatives to push back against the likes of Rush Limbaugh (and the bete noire of the left, Bill O'Reilly) and his influence.
Despite that bit of flummery I think Dionne gets it pretty much right:
Daily Kos is often described as liberal, but it is, more than anything, partisan. Its core assumption is that ideological conservatives made the Republican Party their vehicle and rallied in lock step against Democrats. The party of FDR and JFK needed to find the same discipline. The key litmus tests for Kos and his many allies in the blogosphere involve not long lists of issues developed by the American Civil Liberties Union or the AFL-CIO, but loyalty in standing up against Bush and doing what's necessary to build a Democratic majority.
No matter what you think about the DailyKos, the fact remains that they have forced their way to the political table and have made "progressive" politicians pay attention. Good, bad, or indifferent, it is reality, and I admire their ability to make this happen. That said, I'm not sure it really is a good thing for "progressive" politicians ... that, frankly, remains to be seen. But what doesn't remain to be seen is that Kos and his Kossacks are players. And I think that's pretty cool.
They many be strong now, but when there is no President Bush to kick around, where will they go. Push for the Fairness Doctrine’s return? That just might inflame a lot of people against them, especially if the discourse on the Left remains as vile as it usually is. It won’t have the draw for them that the Iraq situation does.
Listening to Kos talking about "cleansing" and "purging" the Dems who aren’t sufficiently "Democrat enough" is real creepy. I get the sense he’s one of those guys who’d happily ship his enemies off to reeducation camps, mainly because he doesn’t want to waste bullets.
Confused people using the vast resources of the internet to make-up urban legends that they live by.
I actually saw that Kos character himself for the first time last night, in an interview with Brian Lamb from 2005. If you took Michael Kinsley and Andrew Sullivan and combined them and then subtracted their manly attributes, you have yourself a Kos.
Please print out all these articles and save them. Ten years from now, people will all be saying "Daily...what?"
These people have a forum, but are really nothing more than an angry mob. Sorry for them, in democracies angry mobs either disperse or start revolutions. I don’t see a revolution coming, do you?
Also, we should keep in mind that the average voter has no idea who Kos is and has never visited the site. Political junkies and reporters read it, and of course eagerly quote the Bush-bashers who frequent it, but it is but a flyspeck across the larger electorate.
Once again, fawning media coverage evidences liberal projection, where the fondest hopes of the far-left reporters all come true thanks to a bunch of kids on computers. Yes, the left wing will have significant control over the primaries, but it should be evident to Democrats that this is not a good thing. Unintended consequences will bite them in the ass...again.
This is American democracy in action and a good thing.
The problem is the biased coverage that this event will receive from the MSM. To cite a negative example, look at the story of the 175 folks who cancelled their subscriptions to the WSJ. Now, news-wise, that was newsworthy only as a small sign that the WSJ subscribers did not give a damn who owned the paper. Observe the spin that the liberal-biased editor had the writer put on the story and consider how his "news judgment" erred on determining whether or not it was “newsworthy”. This same judgment will be brought to bear in Chicago. Because O’reilly must be caricatured to satisfy the needs of the LN, the actual nature of DailyKos will be obscured and the public will come away with a friendly, helpful vision of sane Democrats working within the system, just in a new media, to elect their chosen candidates. The MSM has a duty to depict DailyKos accurately, warts and all. Watch how they are derelict in this duty.