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“I would want to include conservative blogs because if they have to adhere to the journalistic standards the union sets…” the moderator began.
“… they’ll go out of business!” a woman finished. Cue predictably spontaneous applause.
THE LARGE ROOM WAS ABUZZ with the collective murmur of dozens of men and women repeating well-worn phrases like broad scientific consensus and the debate is over, varying only in tone, tempo, and timing. These buzzing worker bees had arrived at the “Online Messaging: What Works and What Doesn’t Fly Online” workshop and, after a short PowerPoint presentation, had been split into groups to compose an Action Alert based on the lessons Jeff Lucas and Dean Nielsen of Progressive Majority had just imparted. A few examples: “Personalization is key.” “It’s really important to pick a fight.” “It’s always good to have an enemy.” “There’s something to be said for fear.” And most improbably, considering the convention host: “It’s fairly difficult to go too far online.”
There’s something delicious about these two liberals speaking unabashedly in public the way the left always warns us Karl Rove does in private. Especially at a conference where erstwhile TAS scribe David Brock had earlier gushed, “It’s great to be here this morning with you all, no longer blinded by the right, but surrounded by all this light and energy as a proud progressive,” and condemning, to raucous cheers, the right-wing “cult” that had wickedly used “emotional vulnerability and fear” to draw him in. The left must be using the good kind of fear, choosing the right enemies.
At any rate, our charge was to stir up protest via e-mail against a school district’s decision to place a moratorium on the screening of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth in the classroom. The Kossacks tore into the assignment with relish. “Do You Support Banning Books?” the subject line of one potential e-mail read, comparing An Inconvenient Truth to Huckleberry Finn and Catcher in the Rye. “School Board Pollutes Classroom With Censorship!” screamed another headline. “Stop the Attack on Critical Thinking in Our Schools!” Then there was the content. “Every day in my classroom 30 students sit down and expect to hear the truth, but now the school board is telling me I cannot provide it to them,” a young lady read aloud to the groups.
Evangelical parents could make the same argument for screenings of The Silent Scream in every biology class in America, which would probably have Kossacks begging Buddhist monks to self-immolate on the Capitol steps. What’s good for the liberal goose, however, isn’t good for the conservative gander in this corner of the political world.
“We cannot allow the next generation to be denied their basic right to education!”
And on it goes.
MANY KOSSACKS NOW SEEM TO BE asking, as Robert Redford’s Bill McKay did at the end of The Candidate, “What do we do now?” At the “Holding Congress Accountable for a Progressive Agenda,” one confused soul asked, “If we’re going to hold Congress accountable to a progressive agenda, how do we define progressive?”
“At this point it’s 180 degrees from what we’ve had the last six years,” panelist Pam Spaulding answered. “That’s pretty broad,” someone in the audience shot back.
“Yeah, it is pretty broad,” Spaulding admitted. “There are all kinds of issues. Um… living wage, health care, getting out of Iraq… energy, the environment. Just about anything that has been put on hold, stomped on… I mean, saving our Constitution. Just the basics at this point.”
The default position for Kossacks who in victory can no longer define their own purpose is to return to the ramparts. In part, this means putting the enemies they just celebrated vanquishing on life support. To wit: A roundtable led by Chip Berlet, Frederick Clarkson, Susan Thistlethwaite entitled, “Is the Religious Right Really Dead?” set to discuss “the current status of the religious right” began at 1:30 p.m. An hour-and-a-half later, a few doors down, the same exact panelists promised to offer advice on “What to Do About the Religious Right.” The program synopsis intones, “Let’s get over it. The Religious Right will be around for a long, long time.” Let’s get over it? The panelists themselves weren’t over it two hours ago! This is how forward-thinking the netroots are: They can divine the ultimate answers to their questions before they even ask them, and then magnanimously go ahead and ask them anyway, no doubt to rebuild public faith, take back our country, save our democracy, and feed poor, starving kids.
Yet the furnaces fueling those fights seem to have gone cold. Sure, there were booths at YearlyKos where near-manic middle-aged women would try their damnedest to sell Articles of Impeachment Against George Bush or “Goodbye, George!” wall calendars. It wasn’t as if Dubya were suddenly popular or inconsequential. The preoccupation writ large, however, was with left-wing loyalty. During “Framing the Debate,” a panelist implored progressives to remember, “FDR wasn’t FDR when he was elected. They had to keep pushing him further and further and further and further.” Whom to push was not always so clear. “I look around this room and I kind of think what my friends of color say all the time, which is, ‘When did the progressive movement become so white?’” a former organizer of Puff Daddy’s Vote or Die campaign sniffed, as if broad appeal were somehow nefarious.
Meanwhile, the strong independent ladies of “Blogging While Female” heaped accusations of misogyny on not only the progressive blogosphere in general, but DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas as well for suggesting in online posts, sans any consideration of the patriarchal hegemony, that women who couldn’t “handle a little heat in their e-mail inbox” should “try another line of work”-gasp!-as well as criticizing what he termed, “a small, extremist set looking for signs of female subjugation under every rock” after complaints appeared on DailyKos about ads for the reality show The Real Gilligan’s Island that depicted a bikini pie fight. Double gasp!
“When we blog we also bring some things from our personal life into it,” YearlyKos organizer/DailyKos personality Gina Cooper lamely argued on behalf of her boss. “And so you have to look at him not only as a political leader but as a human being. When he wrote that particular blog post he had just had a baby girl. He hadn’t slept in two days. His in-laws were there…” We know how frequently DailyKos has looked at, say, George W. Bush as not only a political leader but a human being as well.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online