The Blogfather

Interesting article in Salon about Jerome Armstrong, the founder of MyDD who is now a consultant for Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who hasn’t announced that he will be running for president in 2008, but will. It addresses some of the familiar issues about the connections between forged between the blogosphere and the Dem establishment, and also touches on the relationship between Armstrong and his Crashing the Gate co-author Kos, who launched his blogging career until Armstrong’s mentorship at MyDD.

It was the latter bit I found most interesting, particularly the sudden turn on Paul Hackett, which I had no idea was influenced by Armstrong’s employment by Sherrod Brown, whose candidacy pushed Hackett out of Ohio’s senate race.

Armstrong, who had been working as a consultant for Brown, encouraged an online rebellion against Hackett. Before long, Moulitsas and other bloggers had abandoned their once-favorite son, arguing, along with Democratic Party leaders, that Brown was more electable. In one post, on Oct. 6, Moulitsas wrote, "It might be a good idea for Hackett to stand down." This shocked many readers who had cheered another Kos post just two days earlier, in which Moulitsas seemed to endorse Hackett in a race against Brown. "Give me an Iraq vet over a career politician," he wrote.

"It looked like Jerome and Markos were using their big-box blogs to steamroll into Ohio," said Russell Hughlock, aka Pounder, an electrical engineer who runs the BuckeyeStateBlog. "A lot of people left Kos ... because they got pissed."

Moulitsas told me that both of his posts were, in fact, consistent, and that he had never changed his mind. "One of them spoke from the heart. The other spoke from the brain," he said, explaining that he, reluctantly, concluded Hackett couldn't win the Senate seat. "I would rather have Paul Hackett in the Senate."
It also details Kos’ retreat from his battle against the DLC; Armstrong’s employer Warner is a DLC-aligned candidate.

"We need to make the DLC radioactive," Kos wrote in August 2005. "No calls for a truce will be brooked."

…As for the lack of recent rants against the organization, he says he no longer rails against the DLC because he does not want to raise its profile. "I realized that the more I talked about them the more relevant they became," he said. "That was my realization last summer." As for his friendship with Armstrong, Moulitsas makes no apologies. "There is no doubt that Jerome impacts my thinking and my thinking impacts his," he said. "The fact is that Jerome and I talk a lot."
I certainly take no issue with either of them parlaying their success as bloggers into careers as consultants, nor in their decision to use their blogs to support any consultancy endeavors on behalf of the people for whom either of them work. Everyone blogs for a different reason and with different goals in mind.

I’m just curious as to whether they’ve crashed through the gates in a way that will ultimately benefit anyone other than themselves and their employers. The idea is (or was), I think, that the blogosphere could influence change within the Democratic establishment, but it seems to me that as big bloggers are being absorbed into the establishment in some way, the bloggers are being influenced more than they are being influential.

Perhaps that is, in reality, the only (or best) option for bloggers who want to forge a career in politics. Short of the left producing its own Richard Scaife who’s willing to fund independent bloggers, it’s going to be very difficult to sustain autonomy from the Dem establishment. When our best resource is the one organization we most need to change, I fear there’s little hope for effecting that change.


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