Tuesday, September 25, 2007

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Brooks vs. the netroots, round XVII

David Brooks' column today makes me rethink my truculence about the death of TimesSelect.

Brooks' argument is that the liberal netroots are not meeting expectations in affecting the Democratic Party:

Now it’s evident that if you want to understand the future of the Democratic Party you can learn almost nothing from the bloggers, billionaires and activists on the left who make up the “netroots.” You can learn most of what you need to know by paying attention to two different groups — high school educated women in the Midwest, and the old Clinton establishment in Washington.

In the first place, the netroots candidates are losing. In the various polls on the Daily Kos Web site, John Edwards, Barack Obama and even Al Gore crush Hillary Clinton, who limps in with 2 percent to 10 percent of the vote.

Moguls like David Geffen have fled for Obama. But the party as a whole is going the other way. Hillary Clinton has established a commanding lead.

Second, Clinton is drawing her support from the other demographic end of the party. As the journalist Ron Brownstein and others have noted, Democratic primary contests follow a general pattern. There are a few candidates who represent the affluent, educated intelligentsia (Eugene McCarthy, Bill Bradley) and they usually end up getting beaten by the candidate of the less educated, lower middle class.

That’s what’s happening again.

Read the whole thing... definitely not crap. But I do have a few cavils. Are celebrities mobuls really shying away from Clinton? Wasn't Steven Spielberg's endorsement a signal to other members of the cultural elite to line up behind Hillary? Similarly, hasn't Hillary's supporters been more likely to max out their campaign contributions to date -- suggesting that Obama has done just as well in tapping support from low income households? And would the netroots really be upset by President Hillary? Wasn't there a fair amount of netroots enthusiasm about Hillary's health care plan?

Readers are requested to link to the most hyperbolic netroot response they can find to this column.

posted by Dan on 09.25.07 at 08:35 AM


If I understand Brooks correctly, he is predicting that the "netroots'" bark will end up being worse than their bite, and that as the campaign heads into the homestretch -- in this cycle, the homestretch seems likely to begin sometime around late February -- they will line up obediently behind Sen. Clinton's money and organization.

This strikes me as a sound prediction.

posted by: Zathras on 09.25.07 at 08:35 AM [permalink]

Daniel, I think you got this one wrong. Glenn Greenwald has a very persuasive takedown of this piece at http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/
So does Matt Yglesias at http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/

posted by: Winston on 09.25.07 at 08:35 AM [permalink]

You are partially wrong. If Hillary wins the nomination, most Democrats will vote for her. They will not line up obediently, however. They are only voting for her because she is better than any Republican and she won't nominate any Roberts' or Alito's to the Supreme Court. And they won't go door to door or phone bank for her.

posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on 09.25.07 at 08:35 AM [permalink]

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