Christmas came early to the Sheppard residence this year. A Daily Kos diarist wrote a blog post on the day before Thanksgiving about some articles I penned over the summer. This precipitated a flood of glorious tidings to my inbox from strangers across the fruited plain the entire holiday weekend.
We Diss You a Merry Christmas
Certainly, one of the greatest honors bestowed upon a writer is to be recognized by a colleague, especially one from the opposite side of the political aisle. This is even more fulfilling when the articles being discussed are not recently published, as it indicates one’s work is surviving in perpetuity.
The outpouring of love and affection that this diarist’s review spawned was quite humbling, especially as the sentiments came from people of a different political persuasion. This was made even more fabulous given the recent drubbing such folks gave to Republicans in the midterm elections.
The absence of gloating, vulgarity, and animus present in the blog piece and all the e-mail messages evoked by it was a fine example of how our nation comes together during the holidays; for this, we should all be profoundly grateful.
With that in mind, thanks go out to “Bill in Portland Maine” for writing the piece in question, and Markos Moulitsas, the proprietor of Daily Kos, for alerting me to its existence. This made for a truly marvelous Thanksgiving weekend, and got the holiday season off to a ringing start.
Jingle Bell Crock
For some background, on June 5, the American Thinker published an article entitled “Deriding Ms. Pelosi to Republican Victory in November.” Its point was to counter all the negativity being regularly espoused by the press at that time concerning the GOP’s seemingly poor chances in the midterm elections.
As it was fully five months before Election Day, it was clear that the drive-by media were doing their typical job of trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy by calling victors before the votes had been cast; we’d seen this happen in every election cycle for years. As such, the piece: carefully documented some of the differences between this period and 1994 when the Republicans took over Congress; analyzed some of the polling data that wasn’t being fully conveyed, and; offered a campaign strategy to turn things around.
Unfortunately, despite the article’s noble intentions, the GOP lost on Election Day, and lost big. Shortly after the votes were counted, the American Thinker published another piece, “Republicans Squander Historic Mandate,” outlining what conceivably went wrong. Frankly, it was a shame Bill didn’t review this article as well, for it would have given him and his readers an even greater appreciation for “Deriding”.
I Saw Three Slips
With astounding reverence and grace, Bill correctly pointed out in his blog posting on November 22 that the campaign strategy posed in “Deriding” was unsuccessful, and without acrimony, he suggested that such an error reflected negatively on the author’s forecasting skills. Constructive criticism like this is always welcomed, especially when expressed with such courtesy and respect.
Without looking a gift-horse in the mouth, his feedback might have been more valuable if it had come in a timely fashion instead of five months post facto. After all, the blogosphere is filled with errant predictions by writers from all walks of life, and the existence of search engines makes finding them as easy as turning on your computer.
As such, Bill missed a wonderful opportunity to share some of his own experiences with inaccurate prognostications, and what he had learned from them. For instance, on the Friday before Election Day 2004, Bill wrote the following:
Wednesday: Our first ever Kerry Victory C&J. You got that in writing, Bub.
For those that haven’t had the pleasure of reading Bill’s diaries, “C&J” is short for a fabulous ongoing feature he does for his readers called “Cheers and Jeers.” That said, it would have been beneficial for all writers if Bill would have imparted in this review how he handled his own errant forecasts. Good managers and coaches would tell Bill that personal experience imparted to one in need of improvement goes much further than a simple smack on the wrist.
Astray and Estranger
The same could be said of the proprietor of Daily Kos, for the following was Markos’ forecast on November 1, 2004:
My election-eve predictions are 311 EVs for Kerry (all Gore states plus OH, FL and NH), a +1 gain in the Senate, and a +7 gain in the House.
As it turned out, Kerry only got 252 electoral votes while losing Ohio and Florida, and the Republicans gained four seats in each Congressional chamber. From this, we should all be reminded of the axiom “nobody’s perfect.” Markos himself was at one time quite cognizant of this postulate, for in this same post, he informed his readers of his track record concerning calling elections, and what he thinks of predictions:
I blew 2002, so don't look for a record of great prognostication. I am clearly a much better observer than predictor. I mean, predictions are really just educated guesses, and could bite any of us in the ass. [emphasis added]
So true. Yet, much like Bill before him, rather than share his past experience and wisdom when addressing another writer’s similar failings in this regard two years later, Kos instead introduced Bill’s blog posting on Wednesday thusly:
From the diaries because it's fun whenever dumbass conservatives are exposed for their dumbassery – kos [emphasis added]
God Bless Ye Wary Gentlemen
But, that’s not the only feedback Bill had. His real concern dealt with a July 11, 2006, op-ed originally titled “Netroots Civil War: Is the Bloom off the Kos?” which somewhere along the publishing line was changed to “Is the [sic] Daily Kos About to Implode?”
Bill’s ultimate worry regarding this piece was that Daily Kos has continued to grow its membership since the article was published, and that no such implosion has yet transpired. This is an extremely valid point, except that the op-ed in question didn’t prognosticate imminent doom for his blog of choice. That’s why there was a question mark in the title.
Instead, the piece chronicled issues occurring at Daily Kos that were “threatening an implosion.” Certainly, this couldn’t possibly have been a novel concept for Bill given the number of major media sources that had been addressing similar concerns regarding the progressive blog including Newsweek, the New York Times, The New Republic, and New York magazine.
Furthermore, and with all due respect to my esteemed colleague on the opposite side of the aisle, despite him having first seen this article when he referred to it four months ago on July 13, it seems in his zeal to refute the implosion concept, he missed the point of the piece entirely:
Of course, it is also possible that Kos – who is clearly no dummy – is starting to recognize this same inconvenient truth, and is indeed letting youthful idealism be replaced with a more ripened pragmatism: if the real goal is to get out of Iraq at all costs, some compromise on other issues might be appropriate in the grand scheme of things.
Respectfully, as the article moved to a conclusion, it seems clear that the moral of the story was that Markos, like anyone who enjoys a level of success, was going to need to evolve with his growing popularity:
Unfortunately, even Kos must understand that practicality and the desire to win at all costs are not strong traits amongst people with extreme political viewpoints, who obviously represent the bulk of his followers. As a result, this could leave him in the unenviable position of having to choose between his successful career as a blogger, or actually having a serious impact on politics, for it doesn't seem likely that he can achieve both... at least, not with his current clientele.
Angles We Preferred And Why
(Please be advised that the following paragraphs include a number of questions that are not meant as predictions, but, instead, to raise conceivably interesting possibilities for the reader to ponder. You will easily be able to recognize these, for they are followed by question marks which look like this “?”.)
In reality, given the results of the midterm elections, and the apparent bait and switch scheme employed by Democrats who made promises to the electorate that were never meant to be kept, isn’t it possible that “Netroots Civil War” was quite prescient despite Kos and Bill’s concerns?
For instance, what happens to the Netroots and the Kossacks if the new Democrat majority they worked so hard to get into office doesn’t:
- Immediately withdraw troops from Iraq
- Reverse the Bush tax cuts
- Enact serious investigations into the Bush administration conceivably leading to impeachment proceedings
- End corruption in Washington?
Put more simply, what happens when the bait and switch becomes apparent to all those who bought into it? Will they recognize at that point they were used by politicians they currently revere? Or, will the Netroots leadership be shunned when their devotees realize they were part of the scheme?
After all, if the Democrats don’t do what they promised the electorate during the campaign – and the actions by the leadership in the past three weeks certainly indicates such – doesn’t this mean that the Netroots chieftains were either part of the scam, or just as gullible as the millions taken in by it?
Either way, wouldn’t it be interesting to know if Kos and his diarists have considered this possibility yet, and how they’re going to respond if it indeed happens?
*****Update: As Markos had the decency of giving me a heads-up concerning Bill's post, I have reciprocated. In my reply, I offered to debate him about such issues either in public (we live about 20 miles apart from one another), on radio, or in writing. Stay tuned.