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Aiming for the Netroots While Holding Up the Centrist Argument

by Pamela Leavey

In his column today, David Brooks aims for the netroots while holding up the argument that the voters who fall in more of a centrist position hold the key to the ’08 election. Among Brook’s claims is this one which is sure to piss off the netroots:

The fact is, many Democratic politicians privately detest the netroots’ self-righteousness and bullying. They also know their party has a historic opportunity to pick up disaffected Republicans and moderates, so long as they don’t blow it by drifting into cuckoo land. They also know that a Democratic president is going to face challenges from Iran and elsewhere that are going to require hard-line, hawkish responses.

Finally, these Democrats understand their victory formula is not brain surgery. You have to be moderate on social issues, activist but not statist on domestic issues and hawkish on foreign policy. This time they’re not going to self-destructively deviate from that.

Both liberals and Republicans have an interest in exaggerating the netroots’ influence, but in reality that influence is surprisingly marginal, even among candidates for whom you’d think it would be strong.

Personally, while I may be passionate about the many issues that the netroots are outspoken on, I understand the need for courting the center. Kerry courted the center in ’04 and the netroots decried the move. The Democratic candidates have the opportunity to pick up perhaps even more “disaffected Republicans and moderates” then in the ’04 election. The candidates understand that. I think what Brooks misses in his claims about the “netroots’ influence” is that this group of outspoken bloggers and activists have helped in some ways to propel many “disaffected Republicans and moderates” towards the truth. The Bush Administration has made a mess of our country, the Iraq War is among it’s greatest mistakes and the outcry from the netroots has indeed woken up America to that reality.

I’m not one to take the time to decipher a David Brooks column, but Brooks is wrong about the netroots influence. Centrist voters have always and will always play a big role in every election, but clearly it does not take a rocket scientist to see that the netroots have as I said, helped to wake up America.

There’s discussions in the blogosphere at The Carpetbagger Report; Shakespeare’s Sister; Buzz Machine; TalkLeft; Matthew Yglesias and Swampland.

3 Responses to “Aiming for the Netroots While Holding Up the Centrist Argument”

  1. Pamela,
    We have to remember that words like “grassroots” and “netroots” typically used as metaphors for ideological, passionate people. Literally, grassroots is a method of political activity, not a state of mind. I read and write on blogs, and I’m involved in the ground, but I’m more Clintonian in my approach to achieving outcomes.
    Secondly, remember that in both parties, the ideological base is not that big on election Day. Their influence comes from the ability to change the narrative in the MSM.

  2. We need a President who is focused on being hardline hawkish? And what’s the alternative, a President who, when someone says boo runs a white flag up at the Whitehouse?

    I think that what we need is a President who throws threats and troops around on a whim and gets us entangled in disputes requiring the maintaining of several million combat soldiers on foreign soil. We don’t have several million available, but why should that stop us.

    When Reagan got elected, it took a Reagan Republican to get elected. Clinton, on the other hand, was not one and still did okay. And now the middle has moved even further left than in 1992, and Brooks wants the Dem to run as Bush lite.

    You know, I hope that he’s as far out of touch as I believe he is.

  3. Excuse me, but since WHEN is a Republican columnist writing about the Democratic party to BENEFIT the Democratic party?

    Brooks is pushing the GOP’s only hole card: divide and conquer. By ginning up the myth that the “netroots” is TOTALLY OUT OF STEP with and AN EMBARRASSMENT to the “mainstream” (spineless) Democratic establishment, he reiterates the GOP talking point of the last two weeks’ MoveOn attack.

    Brooks has slightly less credibility than Saddam Hussein had.

    “… many Democratic politicians privately detest the netroots’ self-righteousness and bullying”

    Sounds more like projection to me.