Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

No, it's not Howard Dean. It's Cindy Sheehan! Remember her? Maybe this will jog your memory:

George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self[sic] from power.

It is clear from the above statement that Sheehan is not just anti-war, she is anti-military. No matter where you stand on the Iraq war, to make an analogy to placing troops in New Orleans to placing them in Iraq is sheer lunacy. If the MSM were really impartial, they would have given this pronouncement of Sheehan at least one tenth the ink that they gave to some of her other statements. But don't hold your breath waiting. The MSM and their Democratic allies have a vested interest in maintaining the fiction that Sheehan is politically moderate.

In an earlier post, I made the erroneous assumption that Cindy Sheehan's 15 minutes of fame were up. But no less a personage than Howard Fineman of Newsweek has set me straight in his article Beltway vs. Blogosphere. The growing influence - actually, stranglehold - of the 527 groups like on the Democratic Party has been well documented on talk radio and the right-wing blogs during last year's election. But the astute Mr. Fineman has just gotten wind of it via a tip from a friend:

If I am hearing Simon Rosenberg right (and he is worth listening to), a nasty civil war is brewing within the Democratic Party, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton—the party’s presumptive 2008 nominee—needs to avoid getting caught in the middle of it.

“It’s not a fight between liberals and conservatives,” Rosenberg told me the other day. “It’s between our ‘governing class’ here and activists everywhere else.”

In other words, it’s the Beltway versus the Blogosphere.

According to Rosenberg, the Beltway Democrats are too accomodating of Republican excesses, and don't have the stomach to take them head on. An example of this was rejecting the presidential bid of Howard Dean in favor of that of Beltway insider John Kerry. Where does Cindy Sheehan fit in to this mishmash? Right here:

The first sign of its re-emergence was Cindy Sheehan (remember her?) on the national stage. Beltway Democrats avoided her like the plague; the Blogosphere embraced her as a heroine of the grass roots. It wasn’t so much the content of what she said; she was, after all, claiming mostly to be asking questions. It was the WAY she came to prominence—quickly, virally, seemingly from out of nowhere—and her stubbornly confrontational tone.

In truth, Sheehan didn't just "come from nowhere", but instead had considerable support:

Sheehan's message hasn't changed since she got here, but the support staff interested in getting that message out to the world has grown considerably.

Organizers are set up in a house trailer. Their meetings closed to reporters.

Leading the group is Fenton Communications employee, Michele Mulkey, based in San Francisco. Fenton specializes in public relations for liberal non-profits.

Their bills are being paid for by True Majority, a non-profit set up by Ben Cohen -- of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream fame.

Ben Cohen, True Majority: "People are willing to listen to her and we want to do as much as we can to make her voice heard."

Cohen's group has teamed up with Berkeley based, an anti-Bush group co-founded by Joan Blades.

Earlier this month, MoveOn helped organize anti-war vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan.

Current Democratic National Party Chair Howard Dean's organization Democracy for America is also involved, as is the more radical anti-war group Code Pink organized by San Francisco's Medea Benjamin.

Money donated through these groups and others is helping to pay for Gold Star families whose children have been killed in Iraq to attend anti-Bush protests.

There is nothing wrong with any of this, but the information should be made public. But going back to Fineman, I like the advice that his buddy Rosenberg is giving to the Democrats:

In Rosenberg’s view, that’s the tone Democrats need to adopt now, especially after Hurricane Katrina. Too many “governing” Democrats, he says, wrongly assume that their party’s traditional vision of “competent, benevolent government” has been rejected by the voters. It hasn’t, he says.

There is no need, Rosenberg says, to wander in the desert in search of a new theoretical synthesis, the way conservatives did a generation ago. What the Democrats need, he says, is an unforgiving toughness and a mastery of new means of communications—and all of this is more likely to be accomplished in the Blogosphere than inside the Beltway.

Emphasis mine.

Anyone who has ever slogged through the comments of blogs like Daily Kos, Atrios or - in particular - Democratic Underground know that the readers of these blogs are nowhere near the political mainstream. If the Democrats adopt the shrill, over-the-top rhetoric of these blogs, their slide into irrelevance will continue. But based on recent comments by Sheehan and Howard Dean, the Democrats are taking Rosenberg's advive to heart. It's all a plot by Karl Rove!


UPDATE #1: Rush Limbaugh covered the Fineman article on his radio show yesterday.

UPDATE #2: DJ Drummond of PoliPundit weighs in on the Fineman article here.

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