Consider Yourself Duly Chastened

I didn’t mean to bump Mac, who has a great jam to kick off your weekend (hopefully manning call centers!), but Sully just posted something that really, really hit me hard.

As some of you may have noticed, I took a little break there for a month or so after Obama clinched the nomination.  I haven’t been forthcoming with the reason why, but one of the things that really bothered me was the netroots themselves.  I have my own ideas on how the left side of the blogosphere could be most effective during an election cycle, and what I was seeing was… well… the very antithesis of that.

Before I go further, this is what Sully posted from his inbox:

I just wanted to say thank you so much for being the onlyblogger (aside from Al Giordano) who  gets it. While the rest of the blogosphere (especially the liberal bloggers) lose their heads you are an island of common sense. Patience and Steel. Yes, yes. yes.

It also occurs to me that in a way McCain and Rove have actually simply taken over the liberal blogosphere in some way. They are being played.

Just a few examples—yesterday Obama gave a fantastic interview at the Service Forum. Did the liberal blogs even cover this? No.

He gave a great speech on the trail. Are his town halls even posted or excerpted? No.

The liberal bloggers have become McCain central. They make people click on his ads, make the world spin around him instead of focusing on our candidate and what he is trying to do. There is ZERO coverage of what Obama is actually doing every day talking tough on the issues. There is ZERO coverage of Biden (who is on the trail but the blogs don’t seem to care or cover him unless he is doing what they think he should be doing. Sadly AFP did cover him this week and people seemed to be too busy saying he was not doing anything to include the link with his forceful comments against McCain. The one time the blogs linked to Biden—when the MSM tried to make a big deal out his answer to a question that made Hillary look bad and he defended her. That was it).

McCain and crew realized early this cycle that they did not have a visible internet presence. So what did they do?  They took over the liberal presence, they are manipulating the leading liberal blogs , just as they manipulate the MSM.  All to their own advantage. And the blogs have all fallen for this hook, line and sinker. Does no one realize this?

They are all being played.

And Obama, god bless him, he gets it. As does his team. while everyone whines he keeps at it every day with much much class and like a laser focused on the issues. The problem is not Obama, is that no one wants to follow his lead. Instead they are following McCain-Rove and they don’t even know it.

I consider myself duly chastened, as should you.  For as much as McCain has made this election about the bad side of Obama (until, that is, he selected Palin as his running mate), the netroots have been engrossed with either how bad Obama is doing, or how well McCain has been doing.

If the concept of the liberal blogosphere is to push back against the Mainstream Media, and much like conservative talk radio, force narratives into the main; we as a whole have embarked upon perhaps the biggest epic fail of the election season.

Instead, we have been little more than spectators with soapboxes, and from these soapboxes we have done little to elect the right candidate to the Oval Office.  Compare this to the conservative side of the blogosphere which engaged in a non stop full frontal assault from day one.  They didn’t even like McCain (and to a degree still don’t), and that didn’t stop them from doing their part; if they didn’t have anything nice to say about McCain, at least they could heap big old buckets of mud onto Obama.

By contrast, we rise and fall with whatever narrative we are being asked to eat, and we do this with unGodly high standards.  For instance, I thought the Democratic Convention was executed to near perfection, but it took much of the blogosphere until Wednesday, and some even Thursday to catch up.  Likewise, the past two weeks that have been largely beneficial for McCain seems to have sucked the life out of the netroots.

A month ago I could have delivered this criticism without directing it upon myself, but since I returned from my little hiatus, I have been as guilty as anyone else; my focal point being to play defense against McCain like everyone else.

But the writer of this argument above is exactly correct.  Obama and Biden have been on the trail on a daily basis, and they have been knocking it out of the park consistently.  Trying to get a liberal blogger to talk about it, though, seems exceedingly difficult; myself included.

This is the imperative; you can’t sit around and whine about narratives or whine about Obama pushing back.  You have to force it to the forefront, otherwise we’re going to spend the next two months playing the same game, and getting knocked around by the McCain campaign.

It’s simple, really.  We’re running around like we have no choice, but in truth, we do.  If the media isn’t giving enough attention to the positive things that Obama is discussing on the trail, we give him the attention until they are forced to.

I’m going to leave you folks this weekend with some thoughts from my friend Terry over at Positively Barack:

I don’t know how many emails I’ve gotten over the last week telling me what Obama must do. He needs to be more passionate, his answers need to be shorter, he needs to attack, he needs to smile less, smile more, etc., etc.

Barack Obama has consistently said that this campaign is not just about him, it’s about all of us. So if we want change, we need to make it happen too. Barack Obama is doing his part. YOU need to do your part.

So instead of writing angry emails, start fighting back yourselves

6 Responses to “Consider Yourself Duly Chastened”

  1. Dan Collins says:

    You might think about loaning some of those brain cells to Andrew. God knows, he needs them.

  2. terry says:

    I actually had someone write that Obama needs to “Take a cue from People Magazine” meaning he has to shorten his answers and make them simpler for the “average person in this country”.

    So Obama needs to “dumb it down” for the American people? How about we Americans “smarten up” a little.

    Why don’t we try that for a change 🙂

  3. DrGail says:

    Amen Kyle. Thanks for the reality (and sanity) check.

    Your post put a new spin on what my husband and I experienced (and participated in) at a training and signup session regarding canvassing for Obama (in Wisconsin). The folks running the session were very clear that our contacts with potential voters should focus solely on the positives about Obama and that we should resist all temptations to say negative things about McCain and/or Palin.

    And yet, in the chit-chat surrounding the meeting itself, members of the audience (including us) were making fun of McCain/Palin.

    Message received. . .

  4. Kathy says:

    I’m going to be the dissenter, here. I get the point about being proactive and assertive rather than reactive and defensive, but I think we’ve been doing that for the most part. And I don’t see how it’s possible to ignore lies and distortions from the McCain campaign when they are as egregious as they have been from that side. If we just keep playing up the wonderful things about Obama and ignore the terrible things about McCain — as well as the way McCain is distorting Obama’s positions — I don’t see how that’s going to help us.

    There is a larger point here, too. With respect, I think that many of us tend to become “chastened” too easily. And by using Kyle’s word, I don’t mean to imply it’s only Kyle; I just mean that word is very telling of a particular attitude on our side. When was the last time bloggers or pundits on the right became or felt “chastened” by criticisms regarding their electoral strategy? Bottom line, the biggest problem with our side, bar none is our constant second-guessing of our own activism. Someone in the media or blogosphere or wherever tells us we’re doing it the wrong way? Oh my god, we are felled! We take “you’re doing it wrong” far too seriously. We lack confidence in our own abilities to promote our candidates, our positions, our worldview. As a result, every time a strong wind blows (like this excerpt Andrew Sullivan posted — which he didn’t even express his own thoughts on, so how do we know what he thinks?) we are knocked to the ground, and by the time we get up and start moving in the opposite direction, some other strong wind knocks us to the ground again, and on and on.

    My personal view is that the old saw “moderation in all things” is a wise one in this instance. We can’t and shouldn’t respond in anger and defensiveness every time McCain or his people tell a lie (we’d be doing nothing else), and we do have to positively focus on Obama’s strengths and the rightness of his positions, but we cannot do either one to the exclusion of the other. And we have to recognize that Republicans and right-wingers are *always* going to be doing *something* smarmy, deceptive, dishonest, corrupt that seems to be working. We can’t let it throw us. We have the better candidate. Indeed, we have the only sane and qualified candidate from any and every perspective that matters. Let’s have some faith in that, and in ourselves.

  5. Actually, Kathy, to clarify, I think moderation in all things is solid. I’m not saying lay off Palin, or go after McCain, or lay off McCain, or do more advocacy of Obama, or any number of those things. I think the principle concept here is that the liberal blogosphere needs to stop letting itself get led around by the nose.

  6. Kathy says:

    I think the principle concept here is that the liberal blogosphere needs to stop letting itself get led around by the nose.

    Well, that I definitely agree with.

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