Fat Steve's Blatherings

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Weirdly Interesting


        Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos is profiled by the Washington Monthly.  It leaves me wondering what the point was.

At Length:

        I'm not being in the least snarky or insulting when I ask what the point of the Washington Monthly's story on Moulitsas is.  I genuinely don't get it.  I'm not sure there is a point to get.  And I'm not sure if the pointlessness is Moulitsas's, or the Washington Monthly's.

        Markos Moulitsas Zuniga gets a lot of respect today in the Democratic Party.  Why?  That isn't clear at all.  He does raise a lot of money for Democrats.  He raised half a million in 2004.  And having raised it, he funneled it to thirteen candidates he'd picked himself, every one of which lost.  This is the great Democratic guru who will lead them to a triumph?

        As the story points out:
        There was another reason, though, why hundreds of thousands of liberals around the country found themselves addictively checking and rechecking Daily Kos as the 2004 election approached.  It made them think Democrats were going to win.  Moulitsas wasn't just posting any polls, he was selecting those that suggested Democrats—from John Kerry to congressional candidates—were heading for victory, while downplaying less encouraging signs.  It left liberals trapped in a bubble of reassurance.  Heading into the election, it would have been reasonable to assume from the evidence presented on Daily Kos that Kerry was the clear favorite to beat Bush, and that Democrats were likely to pick up seats in both houses of Congress. . . .

        In November 2002, the Democrats lost seats in the midterm elections. Moulitsas had confidently predicted a big win . . .

        What's really crazy is that this:
        "They want to make me into the latest Jesse Jackson, but I'm not ideological at all," Moulitsas told me, "I'm just all about winning."

        But what have they won?  The article lists some recent Democratic "victories":
        . . . fighting off the White House's Social-Security privatization plan, closing down the Senate to force an investigation into pre-war intelligence, and defeating an attempt by the White House to suspend labor laws in the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.

        Does the phrase 'Pyrrhic victory' ring any bells?  Do you think the Democrats will win a single race in 2006 that they would have lost if they hadn't forced a third investigation into pre-invasion intelligence?  How many races will be won by having prevented any action on Social Security's impending collapse, without proposing a plan to change things?  And the Gulf Coast rebuilding 'victory' is arguably a defeat, long-term.  Making sure that federal labor laws are enforced creates jobs for office workers, who fill out endless forms that said laws require, but they also make rebuilding a lot slower and more expensive, without putting a dime into the pockets of the construction workers.

        Results?  The longer it takes to rebuild New Orleans, the fewer people will move back there.  The New Orleans vote, very heavily Democratic, provided the Party's margin of victory in many statewide races.  "Enforcing the labor laws" helps ensure Louisiana becomes a red state.

        Moulitsas's message seems to be, 'This time for sure!', or so the Washington Monthly story would lead me to believe.  Is this accurate?  I don't know.  But if there's any reason to believe that the Kos approach is going to lead to Democratic election victories, I can't see it in the story.

        And why have Democrats been losing?  The only suggestion in the story is that the Democrats employed the wrong tactics.  If they'd just presented the message differently, they'd have won — or at least, that seems to be what the Monthly thinks that Kos thinks.  Are we supposed to believe that electoral victory has no relationship to message content?

        Most puzzling of all, there's really nothing here about why Kos wants "win."  Moulitsas wants to beat the Republicans, but there's no motivation.  Moulitsas isn't interested in ideology or policy, we're told.  He's depicted as sorta liberal, but not seriously so.  Then why the ambition to put Democrats in office?  What would the candidates he favors do, that isn't being done now?  The question is never really raised.

        Markos Moulitsas Zuniga: he just wants to win, with no goal beyond victory?  Truly, a weird article.  Maybe one of you can explain it to me.

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