Tuesday, June 20, 2006

# Posted 10:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

KOS IN VEGAS: So I've made it through all the articles about YearlyKos that I mentioned yesterday. Ryan Lizza's essay [for subscribers] in TNR is superb. Matt Continetti's in the Standard provides some good insight and Matt Labash's is rather amusing. Here is Lizza's sharpest insight:

Th[e] uncertainty over what will happen at the first major convention for liberal bloggers drives Yearly Kos participants into a strange and ritualistic dance. Throughout the four-day convention, bloggers, politicians, and reporters circle one another like a trio of underwater species not quite sure who eats whom anymore.

The bloggers alternatively ridicule and suck up to the reporters. The politicians prostrate themselves before the bloggers one minute and then roll their eyes at them in off-the-record pow-wows with the "mainstream media" the next. The press smile and yuk it up with the bloggers during the day and escape to decadent, MSM-only meals at night

Politicians, journalists and bloggers all derive a very significant measure of credibility from denigrating their counterparts, while at the same time craving their approval. I'd venture that the same holds true on the conservative side of the blogosphere, albeit with somewhat less intensity.

At times, the contradiction between resentment and adulation express itself as a rather surreal sort of hypocrisy. Lizza writes that:

The flesh-and-blood mingling with the reporters [bloggers] excoriate and the politicians they prod is causing some cognitive dissonance. One night, I sit across the dinner table from Christy Hardin-Smith, a former prosecutor who blogs under the name of ReddHedd at firedoglake, the go-to site for all things Valerie Plame. We dine on a five-course meal at a swank trattoria in Mandalay Bay that was paid for by a liberal Washington organization.

The next day, at a panel devoted to political journalism, Hardin-Smith insists that the problem with Washington reporters is they are addicted to the "cocktail weenie" circuit in Washington. The previous night's dinner was off the record, but I can say without breaking any rules that the appetizer was beef carpaccio, not pigs in a blanket, and Hardin-Smith seemed to enjoy every bite.

Well, Mandalay Bay is pretty damn swank, so I might compromise my principles there, too.

Looking forward to 2008, the most interesting aspect of Lizza's article is its portrayal of the inherent tensions in Mark Warner's efforts to court the blogs while protecting his centrist credentials. Warner employs Kos' associate Jerome Armstrong as a consultant and hosted a $50,000 bash for the participants at YearlyKos. Warner also directed some fulsome praise in the participants' direction:
Warner grabs [the musicians'] microphone. "This is the new public square!" he shouts. "This is the new face of democracy and the new face of the Democratic Party!"
Only can only pray it isn't so. And maybe it isn't:

On the blogs, the debate over the [Warner's $50,000] bash turns into an opportunity to attack Warner for his views on Iraq and Iran and his association with the DLC. "[A]ll I saw at the Stratosphere was an old-fashioned politician spending something like $70,000"--the number somehow keeps rising--"on a garish party to soften up a constituency," Micah Sifry writes on Personal Democracy Forum.

"If I'm gonna settle for a DLC, I'm going to settle for Hillary," a Kos commenter spits. (Clinton, who chose not to attend, is no doubt enjoying this effortless measure of success.) Moulitsas tried to suppress the uprising with a front-page defense of Warner that only angered his troops even more.

It's looks like things will only get hotter from here on in.
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