Jim VandeHei of the WaPo puts his head in the lion's mouth:
Blogs Attack From Left as Democrats Reach for Center
By Jim VandeHeiWashington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 28, 2006; Page A06
Democrats are getting an early glimpse of an intraparty rift that could complicate efforts to win back the White House: fiery liberals raising their voices on Web sites and in interest groups vs. elected officials trying to appeal to a much broader audience.
These activists -- spearheaded by battle-ready bloggers and making their influence felt through relentless e-mail campaigns -- have denounced what they regard as a flaccid Democratic response to the Supreme Court fight, President Bush's upcoming State of the Union address and the Iraq war. In every case, they have portrayed party leaders as gutless sellouts
..."The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left."
Steve Elmendorf has been marked for doom by the Kos himself. Continuing:
The blogs-vs.-establishment fight represents the latest version of a familiar Democratic dispute. It boils down to how much national candidates should compromise on what are considered core Democratic values -- such as abortion rights, gun control and opposition to conservative judges -- to win national elections.
Well, yes - the DLC was formed twenty years ago in an attempt to drag the party to the center. How's it going? I would guess that blogs and the internet have made the unelectable left even better organized and harder to work around; the days when a candidate could tell Barbra Streisand what she wanted to hear, pocket her check, then tell the public something that made sense are long over.
(That said, that is an odd list of "core values" for the Democrats; Peter Beinart dropped gun control and added gay marriage in one essay noted by Mickey Kaus.)
Mr. Beinart also waxed eloquent about the Democratic base in another essay, "A Fighting Faith", which was written after the election of 2004:
Kerry was a flawed candidate, but he was not the fundamental problem.The fundamental problem was the party's liberal base, which would have refused to nominate anyone who proposed redefining the Democratic Party in the way the ADA did in 1947. The challenge for Democrats today is not to find a different kind of presidential candidate. It is to transform the party at its grassroots so that a different kind of presidential candidate can emerge. That means abandoning the unity-at-all-costs ethos that governed American liberalism in 2004. And it requires a sustained battle to wrest the Democratic Party from the heirs of Henry Wallace. In the party today, two such heirs loom largest: Michael Moore and MoveOn.
Well, the few remaining moderate Dems have their hands full.
This next bit from VandeHei looks like an extended typo (when I do this, I use the word "braino"):
Many Democrats say the only way to win nationally is for the party to become stronger on the economy and promote a centrist image on cultural values, as Kaine did in Virginia and as Bill Clinton did in two successful presidential campaigns.
Stronger on the economy? It's not the economy, stupid - after eight years of Clinton and eight years of Bush, I don't think the Dems are at a disadvantage there (although a platform of tax hikes now, tax hikes tomorrow, tax hikes forever may not be a winner). For my money that sentence ought to read, "...the only way to win nationally is for the party to become stronger on national security...".
Peter Daou, who did blog outreach in the 2004 Kerry campaign, had thoughts last September about the power of blogs, and what lefty blogs ought to be thinking about. And here is an update. I think these are most interesting to readers with a particular world
fantasy view, but there they are.