Mega-blogger Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos talking down the blogs' influence on the Connecticut Dem primary? John Fund of the good old Wall Street Journal talking it up?
The odd couple, guests on this evening's Hardball, engaged in some serious media gender-bending. With Mike Barnicle sitting in for host Chris Matthews, Fund went first, and overflowed with praise for the role the blogs have played in the race.
Fund: "I think [the blogs' impact has] been very significant. I offer a tip of the hat to them. They have taken the former vice-presidential candidate and created a single issue around the war, and this is is a man who opposed George Bush on tax cuts, and many things, and they have turned him into the perception as George Bush's lackey, and they are on the verge of knocking off a senator. That's happened only twice before. It's remarkable."
Given Fund's bouquet, you might have expected Kos to take a big bow. He did anything but.
Kos: "I think people want to give us a little bit too much credit. . . The media wants to give us way too much credit."
So what was going on here? What explains Kos' modesty and Fund's fulgent praise for the influence of the left-wing blogs in the CT race? Each had his motives. On the one hand, Fund sought - rightly I would argue - to portray a Democratic party ever more the captive of the far-left netroots. In contrast, Kos had the good sense to bag the curtain call in favor of casting events in CT as the result of broad-based - rather than blog-driven - opposition to Lieberman and by extension to the Iraq war he has supported.
Thus Fund argued that while the blogs had a big impact: "It may not be the impact that they want. If Ned Lamont wins and the Democratic party lurches left, we may look back on this as the functional equivalent of the McGovern wing of the Democratic party taking control again, and I have to tell you that cannot be helpful to them. Lamont moved so far left I think that he is unelectable statewide if Lieberman runs as an independent."
Kos' counter was to assert: "If senators or a congressmen or anybody, if your constituents are happy with the service, there is nothing that anybody can do to change that. We tapped into discontent in Connecticut, and we cannot create, but we can tap into it."
Of course, the left-wing blogosphere had another excellent reason to be modest about its impact on the race: the blackface fiasco that Lamont's house blogger inflicted on her candidate a couple days ago!
Mark Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show 'Right Angle.' Contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org