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Richard Cohen’s Oh-Lawdy-Miss-Scarlett column excoriating the mannerless brutes of the angry left (how very original) drew down predictable ire today.  As the blogs turn into the Never Back Down wing of the Democratic Party the call to regulate us into oblivion is only equaled by the one that calls for our marginalization.  (This always seems to be triggered by the receipt of a few angry emails.  Jesus Henry Christmas, suck it up you big babies.)

If we needed any more obvious illustration as to why this is happening, I can’t think of a better one than Chris Matthews’ conversation today with Ole 60 Grit O’Beirne about political corruption on Hardball (Crooks & Liars has the clip):

Matthews: Is it partisan?

O’Beirne: Oh, It’s totally bi-partisan.

Matthews: Every time I say on this show that it’s bi-partisan, liberal bloggers and other people say-wait-a-minute. The preponderance of evidence here and I believe it is true. Is that the Republicans have abused power more recently…

Those big choppers damn near fell out of her head at that one.  

Said Digby today:

For the first time, I’m truly feeling the democratizing power of the internet (and I’m realizing why the powers that be are trying to cut off its oxygen.) The beltway courtiers are nibbling idly at their cakes, unnerved by the unruly mob of common men committing drive-by emails and digital lynch mobs and storming the stifling, airless social club that has become the nation’s punditocrisy. They don’t realize yet that this isn’t a fringe group of long haired hippies (not that there’s anything wrong with that) who are going to make the whole country hate us for our unruly ways. It ain’t 1968. There’s a lot of water under that drawbridge.

And Peter Daou:

The ‘angry‘ bloggers, the so-called Bush-haters, have played a pivotal and (dare I say) historic role during the Bush presidency. They’ve fought tooth and nail to protect the Constitution from an unprecedented power grab and they’ve stepped in and spoken the truth while so many in the media and the political establishment have abandoned any semblance of integrity and rolled over for this White House ….

Maintaining a healthy conscience, allowing ourselves to react with appropriate emotion (whether anger or frustration or relief) is an essential trait in the face of the apathy we’ve seen the past six years. With all their dripping disdain for bloggers, folks like Richard Cohen and his ilk owe the netroots a debt of gratitude for helping to preserve some shred of the America we all love — their children and grandchildren will certainly appreciate it. 

Is the same kind of pressure coming from the right wing blogs? I really don’t think so, for several reasons:

1)  They don’t operate in a way that encourages an independent, activist base with an agenda of its own.   They repeat what they’re told.  They’re part of a larger machine that echoes a top-down message; they have no independent voice.

2)  They’re stagnating, we’re growing.

3)  As I’ve said before, they have no accuracy or ability to do real damage, even if they could activate the numbers we do (and so far they’ve demonstrated little ability at being able to do so — it must be hard to move people to action when you never show any particular interest in hearing what they think).  It’s like watching someone with their fists wrapped in huge balls of tape club the table in fury.  They’re probably not going to be so very adept at Akido. 

There’s no reason to cry "victory" yet, and unlike some I have serious worries about the 2006 election.  But the arrows we’re launching are hitting a few targets, and that is extremely encouraging.

(David Goldstein has more on the importance of keeping the pressure on the Net Neutrality issue here.)