The NY Times Sunday Styles section takes a loving look at Robert Kennedy, environmental activist turned election fraud expert.
Dead Tree readers will see that the Times is hyping Kennedy's recent Rolling Stone article accusing the Evil Republicans of election fraud in 2004. That comes through less strongly in the web presentation, but a bit of the flavor is here; I don't see the Dead Tree photo of the Rolling Stone article anywhere on the web.
Despite the hype, the Times seems to have brought up the Rolling Stone article mainly to mock the lefty blogs. Let me excerpt their coverage:
Recently, much of Mr. Kennedy's public focus has been on democracy, and he has taken increasingly audacious leaps into political swamps that transcend the environment. He roiled the blogosphere and cable news shows this month after declaring — in an article he wrote in Rolling Stone — that Republicans stole the 2004 presidential election through a series of voting frauds. "I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004," Mr. Kennedy wrote in the exhaustive, strenuously footnoted article, which relied heavily on the published research of others.
He has repeated the accusation on Air America, the liberal radio network on which he is co-host of a program, and on a procession of television talk-'n'-shout fests (with Stephen Colbert, Wolf Blitzer, Tucker Carlson, Chris Matthews). Mr. Kennedy is hitching his iconic name to a cause that has largely been consigned so far to liberal bloggers and which nearly all Democratic leaders and major news media outlets have ignored and which, unsurprisingly, Bush supporters have ridiculed. Tracy Schmitt, the Republican National Committee press secretary, accused Mr. Kennedy of "peddling a conspiracy theory that was thoroughly debunked nearly two years ago."
Farhad Manjoo, of Salon.com, wrote: "If you do read the Kennedy article, be prepared to machete your way through numerous errors of interpretation and his deliberate omission of key bits of data."
It is impossible to read the Rolling Stone article without wondering how Mr. Kennedy's audacious accusations might relate to his philosophical evolution or even affect his political viability. Naturally he is asked all the time what he envisions next for himself, specifically, what he plans to run for.
And we segue to a discussion of his political future. We are brought back to Ohio at the end of the article:
Mr. Kennedy said that he had "continually expanded my realm of interest." His recent focus on the 2004 election exists on that continuum, he added.
He had heard low-grade rumblings about alleged abuses in Ohio, faulty voting machines and minority voters waiting hours in line at the polls. But he remained skeptical, or complacent. "I kept the same kind of deliberate blinders on that much of the media did," he said, bemoaning the news media's relative preoccupation with "Brad and Angelina and the Duke lacrosse team."
THEN Mr. Kennedy spent Christmas skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho, at the home of Ms. David and her husband, Larry David, the "Seinfeld" creator and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" protagonist. Mr. David urged him to read a book on the 2004 election by the news media critic Mark Crispin Miller.
Mr. Kennedy did, and a few days later he was skiing with the Rolling Stone publisher, Jann S. Wenner, an old friend and Sun Valley homeowner. Mr. Kennedy suggested that Mr. Wenner commission a story on the "stolen election." Mr. Wenner said he would, provided Mr. Kennedy wrote it. He had written a much-discussed and much-challenged story for Rolling Stone last year linking childhood vaccines and a rise in autism.
After some hesitation, Mr. Kennedy said, he agreed to write the election article. Since it was posted on Rolling Stone's Web site on June 1, the Web has been ablog with a split between those who believe this is the biggest unreported story ever and those who think it's old news, discredited long ago. Mr. Kennedy said it's hard to prove that any election had been "stolen."
"If you're looking for proof and certitude, you're not going to find it," he said. Either way, Mr. Kennedy said he is committed to stoking the outrage of 2004, wherever it leads. "This is going to remain one of my central concerns for a while," he said, adding, "America should be indignant." But is it, beyond certain liberal airwaves and blogs? Congress has not exactly been rocked with speeches on the matter or with calls for investigations.
In a phone interview, Mr. Wenner said that John Kerry, the big loser in 2004, "does not question the validity of the piece," hardly a signal of outrage.
Senator Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat and a longtime advocate of electoral reform, called the article "tremendously compelling." But not compelling enough to talk about it: Mr. Dodd's comments were relayed in a statement from his office.
Mr. Kennedy called the silence of leading Democrats "a great disappointment," but declared himself undeterred. If anything, he said, the experience has left him more likely to run for office than before.
"It's all in God's hands," he said on Wednesday night at Treasure Island, a lemony sun setting over the Golden Gate Bridge. He was surrounded by environmentalists swapping stories about protecting the planet's liquid resources (and imbibing other liquid resources).
"I can only control my own conduct," Mr. Kennedy said, shrugging. "And I plan to go down fighting."
We shall not let the NY Times paint with too broad a brush - although I am sure there were plenty of lefty blogs that rallied to Kennedy's fantasy, plenty of other top lefties stayed away (Odd how the Times missed that in describing Kennedy's critics - one might almost think they would like to discredit the lefty blogs as a class in order to preserve their own ascendancy in the liberal pantheon). I will toss in this link as evidence, cite Democratic Mystery Pollster Mark Blumenthal, and move on. Dot org.
Markos Moulitsas Zuniga is sitting on his back porch in Berkeley, Calif., listening to the hummingbirds and explaining his plans to seize control of the Democratic Party.
Oh, his voices hum to him while he fantasizes of global domination. Breaking news. More psy-ops here:
When The New Republic's Web site published an e-mail from Moulitsas to a group of friendly activists urging them not to talk about Kosola and thus "starve it of oxygen," Moulitsas went berserk in a blog posting, accusing the venerable liberal journal of treason.
"Berserk"? Troubling. But they stay with the madness metaphor:
By the weekend, Moulitsas's allies were sending each other e-mails infected with the paranoia of revolutionaries who've gained power too fast: How should they deal with traitors? How much openness could they handle? Which fellow travelers could they really trust?
The best balm for his new headaches, of course, is victory.
It hurts, it hurts!
Finally, on page three:
The pressure on Moulitsas—to be consistent, to be pragmatic, to win—will only grow as the fall elections approach. Already, the strain of the spotlight is beginning to show in his growing belligerence and paranoia. When Kosola broke, Moulitsas e-mailed fellow progressive activists, wondering who might be shopping the story. "I've gotten reliable tips that Hillary's operation has been digging around my past (something I confronted them about, btw, and never got a denial), and you know the Lieberman/DLC/TNR camp is digging as well," he wrote, referring to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council and The New Republic. (Aides to Senators Clinton and Lieberman deny the allegations in the e-mails.)
Belligerence and paranoia! I don't think the MSM loves him.
MORE: But we love this bit of Kos hagiography:
It was the Iraq war that got Moulitsas to log on in the first place. He started blogging in 2002, largely out of frustration at how little the mainstream media were criticizing the Bush administration's apparent rush to invade Iraq. "It was a time that was very stifling for liberal voices in the American landscape," he remembers. "No one could criticize the president because it was considered treasonous to criticize the president in time of war." But as an Army veteran who served in artillery logistics in the first gulf war, he felt he could question the rush to combat with impunity. "I vowed my life for the right to criticize our leaders. Nobody was going to tell me I could or could not criticize anybody."
Emphasis added. We respect everyone who volunteers, and soldiers go where they are ordered. However, Kos was ordered to Germany during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, a point not made clear in what is otherwise a hit piece.
STILL MORE: Kevin Drum also sees a Big Media pile-on on the liberal blogs.