The first impression is that it is very orange. The borders are orange. The hyperlinks are orange. Below the MSNBC banner ad, the masthead carries an all-orange picture of what appears to be a newsie raising old glory in a vaguely socialist-realist pose, the sort of thing you'd expect on a playbill for a revival of Waiting for Lefty. There's an ad exhorting purchase of the paperback Crashing the Gates, which "is one of the two best books I've read in years about the Democratic Party, its myriad problems and challenges," a blurb that implies more time--years!--spent pursuing explications of the most self-evident phenomena in American politics than anyone should spend. Below that this morning is an open thread dedicated to a YouTube video "of Ned Lamont walking to the debate site." Perhaps that sounds oddly prosaic for its own video feature. I assure you, it is not.
It begins with bagpipes and bagpipers in full kilt regalia. A crowd follows with signs, clapping and cheering. At 0:19 seconds, what appears to be a large crucifix passes, carried by someone in the crowd. Then a chanting crowd: "WE WANT NED!" Then a pickup truck with its flashers on, driving very slowly, with some sort of papier-mâché model in the bed, though it never gets close enough to make out. The effect is of the local lodge of Scotch Rite Freemasons taking a group of Democratic supporters through the Stations of the Cross. The header text crows, "Lieberman can only dream of generating this much attention and excitement over anything he did." If I were to dream such a parade, meanwhile, I'd seriously consider cutting back on the spicy food before bed. But it impressed the Kossites. "I can't believe that Lieberman is winning," seems to be the common thread in the thread, and this from a site that frontpages poll numbers all day. ("I don't believe the polls." "Wait till the real poll--the election!" That sort of thing.)
I followed a link to a recommended "diary" entry titled "Gullible Kossacks make asses of themselves." This sounds promising, I thought. It begins: "The TANG scandal should have taught us that we should not read stuff into stories that simply are not there." Not promising. I followed another link to something in the more panegyrical vein, which is the more common and accepted form of self-expression on DailyKos. "Thank You, Markos." "Forgive the title," writes nyceve, "it's what I feel. And if you don't like it, just imagine life without Daily Kos. Too awful to contemplate, right?" It's Heaven's Gate territory, and it degernerates:
For some time, I've wanted to write a diary, simply to thank Markos for all he has done to change the course of history. Make no mistake, history is being shaped here, every single day.A lifeline, a megaphone, and a platform. A bowl of shells, a spoonful of pudding, a pizza oven. A rocketship, and iceberg, a pine tree. It ends beatifically:
Daily Kos is a lifeline, a megaphone, a platform to press for deeply necessary change in the United States. Use it well, because millions of Americans are hurting.
I suppose I'm also saying for example to anyone who has a problem with say, the banner, forget about it. If Markos needs twelve banners so our voices will be heard, then let's have twelve banners
And lest I sound too emotional, I recognize as Markos says, DKos is not about him--he's correct. But though Daily Kos has his brilliant imprimatur stamped all over it, his voice, his megaphone is but one of many.
This leads to the next point. Are they listening? They damn well better, because we mean business.
Thank you again Markos, for giving us the opportunity to take back our country.That one was admirably covered by Michael J. Smith of Stop Me Before I Vote Again:
I. Lost EdenSmith doesn't come right out and say it, but there's a name for a political ideology based on a projected, utopian past that can only be reacquired through political acts whereby the cultural radicals are ousted and an imaginary old order restored: conservative.
Howard Dean may not be the very worst way to start your day, but anything worse would have to involve physical injury. His speech -- greeted with great enthusiasm, of course -- was interesting chiefly as a little tour through the alternative thought universe inhabited by liberal Democrats. Howard kept talking about "taking back" the country, "taking back" the party, "taking us back" to the high ideals -- of John F. Kennedy, forsooth. He must have used this phrase "take back" a hundred times. He even said the upheavals of the 1960s were an exercise in "taking back" America. He said we want open and honest government --or no, he said we want it "back."
Now this is very bizarre, when you think about it. When did "we" ever have the Democratic Party, or the country? When did they get taken away? By whom? How did that happen? Open and honest government -- when did we ever have that? Never, you say? Then how can we get it "back"? When did we live in this Eden that Howard wants to restore?
If God did not exist, Candide observes, man would have to invent him. This imaginary former state of grace is a necessary invention too. The Kosniks know that sometime in the last half-century, the Republicans acquired a decisive upper hand, and they know the country is going to hell in a handbasket. So far so good; but then they make a false step. They start with a conclusion -- restoring the Democrats to power would make things better -- and for there they reason backwards to the necessary premise, namely that we once enjoyed all these things they quite rightly want, and we lost them when the Republicans took over.
That's how it works for the audience, I think. But it doesn't seem likely that Howard Dean himself, or his colleagues in the Party apparatus, are subtle enough to have crafted such an appeal on the basis of their deep psychological insight. No, this "take back" mantra, for them, is simply a kind of Freudian slip. The takeback they have in mind is simply to take back a place at the trough for their office-seeking snouts. So the wish-fulfilment dream of the troops, and the unconscious self-revelation of the pols, dovetail in one of those beautiful, overdetermined conjunctures that nobody could ever have designed.
Kos and his followers imagine themselves bolsheviks of Democratic liberalism, but their political ideology, such as it is, is deeply conservative. It serves up a unidentifiable, unspecified time of general well-being and social harmony, a status quo in which the only change that occured was "progress" in an exceedingly vague sense of a general improvement to the social and economic wellbeing of the society as a whole. It locates the rupture with that vision in certain political triumphs of its opponents, whom it accuses of revolutionarism. It dedicates its political actions to the recapture of such a past, which was taken away, and which must now be taken back. Things were better before, and once we go back, they'll be better in the future again.
In that confusion of verb tenses you find the abject failure of the dreaming insurgents of the Democratic party.