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Netroots Nation in Las Vegas. Huffington Post coverage

Philip Rucker at WaPo:

For all the talk of a splintered GOP base, with “tea party” conservatives squaring off against establishment Republicans, the Democrats have serious divisions of their own.

Democratic officials were hoping that after 18 months of deep frustration by many in the party’s liberal base over what they believe is President Obama‘s watered-down agenda, the prospect of losing ground in the November midterm elections would be enough to heal wounds. But as Netroots Nation, a conference of 2,100 liberal activists, opened here Thursday, it was clear that anger among some prominent progressives is still raw — and it could imperil some Democrats this fall.

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos blog and an organizer of the first such annual conference five years ago, said he and his followers are disinclined to help Democratic candidates simply to preserve the party’s big majorities.

“There’s a lot of Democrats I’ll be happy to see go,” Moulitsas said in an interview. “I’ll celebrate when Blanche Lincoln is out of the Senate. There is a price to be paid for inaction and incompetence. We’re not getting much done with 59 [Democratic senators], so if we’re down to 54, who cares?”

Moulitsas went on to suggest that a smaller Democratic majority in the House might be better for advancing a more progressive agenda. “If 20 Blue Dogs lost their seats, nobody’s going to care,” he said. “That’s their problem and I’m not going to cry about them. To me, a more cohesive caucus might be a better deal moving forward than one in which the Blue Dogs need to be appeased.”

His bold statement came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) are scheduled to address the convention Saturday and take questions from the audience. Obama is not planning to speak to the conference. The lone administration official dispatched here is Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former congressman and the only Republican in Obama’s Cabinet — a fact that was not lost on attendees.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

WiFi has seemed to come around here in Las Vegas, allowing me to deliver LIVE EXCLUSIVES about the Netroots Nation convention. Actually, I don’t have a whole lot to say. Here are some tidbits:

• Ran into Lt. Dan Choi yesterday, when he learned he was officially discharged. He still hasn’t seen the documents yet, but they are with his family. Choi was in jail a couple days ago for shutting down Las Vegas Boulevard protesting Harry Reid for not bringing ENDA to a vote in the Senate. He said it was odd to not be in his military uniform in jail.

• Bill Halter appeared on the morning panel, and I got to steal a few minutes with him. I asked him about the difficulty running against candidates who “progressive-wash” themselves. Blanche Lincoln came out with this derivatives title that she “wrote” right before the primary, blunting Halter’s message of Lincoln as a Wall Street fighter. Halter said that the complexity of the specific issue made it even harder to counteract the message – it was hard to wrap Arkansans heads around the fact that Lincoln left a big loophole in her Section 716 of the bill, for example, or that she didn’t filibuster the bill when Maria Cantwell was doing so precisely because her derivatives title became unenforceable. This is something that progressives need to figure out, because incumbents have done this over and over again to inoculate themselves from criticism from the left.

• Elaine Marshall’s campaign manager announced that internal polls show her leading by 2 points over Republican Richard Burr. The numbers are 37-35. Marshall, the more progressive candidate in the primary, is winning her general election campaign, or is at least very competitive; Blanche Lincoln, the more corporate candidate, is getting blitzed, even in her own internal polls, in the general election. These are both southern states, so it’s close to an apples-to-apples comparison. Says something about what type of candidates can be more effective. (This is actually a good rundown of the Halter panel, and the progressive determination to force primaries and get better Democrats.)

Philip Klein at The American Spectator:

Van Jones, the former Obama “green jobs czar” who was forced to resign after it was revealed that he signed a petition calling for an investigation into whether the Bush administration deliberately allowed the Sept. 11 attacks to happen, was given a standing ovation by liberal activists here at the Netroots Nation conference.

In a video introduction, former DNC chairman Howard Dean called Jones a “hero.”

During his speech, Jones said that he threw himself a long “pity party” after his exit from the administration, but compared his own struggle to the larger state of the nation. He made the case for investing in new energy technologies, and dismissed concerns about the deficit.

“There’s plenty of money out there, the only question is how to spend it,” Jones said.

In an onstage Q&A following the speech the Nation‘s Ari Melber said that the only reason Jones was targeted was that he was black and progressive.

Melber also told Jones, “You’re popular here because you get stuff done, but also because you’re cool.”

Ari Melber at The Nation:

The fifth annual Netroots Nation kicked off in Las Vegas on Thursday, as liberal bloggers and activists gathered to organize and assess an Obama administration that continues to disappoint key planks of the left. One of the first panels, scheduled months ago, could have been ripped from today’s headlines about Shirley Sherrod: “Fighting the Right Wing with Racial Justice.”

James Rucker, the cofounder of a netroots civil rights organization, told attendees that media personalities like Glenn Beck had to be “undressed” and combated in a platform that they don’t actually control. Rucker lamented that racial provocateurs like Andrew Breitbart, who does submit to interviews with traditional journalists, manage to get free press while escaping factual accountability.

An early, unscientific sampling of liberal conference attendees suggested a sour mood for the politics of the day. Across the hallways of The Rio, a bright, off-strip hotel that is budget but clean, people seemed pretty fed up with the entire Sherrod imbroglio. While the administration’s mistreatment of Sherrod does not meet the scale of foreign policy or financial reform, of course, the rushed, reflexive capitulation to disingenuous opponents dovetails with a caricature of Obama’s governing playbook, at least among some progressives.

Big Tent Democrat at Talk Left:

Here is a chuckle to start your morning:

The panelists gave voice to lingering disappointment over Halter’s failed bid. Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, had particularly harsh words for Bill Clinton, whose full-throated endorsement of Lincoln is credited with helping her win. “It’s tough to see someone you’ve believed in betray you in a big way,” Green said of the former president. “We need to pick our heroes. . . . I think it would be sad if we went through this entire conference without calling out Bill Clinton for what he did.”

(Emphasis supplied.) Heh. Harsh words for Bill Clinton from a blogger? Now that’s never happened. I wonder if Bill Clinton felt like he was being treated as a “hero” when he was called a racist during the 2008 primaries. Oh by the way, President Obama endorsed Lincoln too.

Of course the real problem is having politician “heroes” in the first place. Pols are pols and do what they do.


This, by the way, should be a lesson to the Tea Party folks on why taking over the party from the ground up is important. If you control the state committee, they can’t just ignore you they way they can if you’re solely a bunch of outsiders.

Dan Riehl:

It appears if the progressive-leftist activists of the Netroots have their way, what happens in Vegas is not going to stay in Vegas. They want it to play out at ballot boxes across the country in November, resulting in the Democrats losing seats in Congress. Obama has never been that openly kind to the Lefty bloggers. Rahm being in the WH hasn’t helped. Actually, the Netroots was more powerful in 2007, than it is today. The Democrats can only have one deliverer, after all. And it’s now Obama, not Markos Moulitsas.

Between their loss in stature and various policy riffs, and with Democrats already poised to take a beating, would it empower them to get all fired up for what will likely be big losses in the fall? From the Netroots perspective, the better bet might be to sit this one out so they can say, see we told you so after November. Hmm. Finally, this news alone could hurt Democrat fundraising. Given all that – Go Kos! We got your back, dude. Where would you like us to plant the knife?


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