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Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
Fiddling With the Netroots

Peter Beinart says that Carville and Begala are trying to subvert Kos and Company with a new book, but doubts it will work:

Carville and Begala, by contrast, while flaying a mythic party elite, don't want to turn power over to the activists. How could they? While the Deaniacs loathe political consultants, the authors are political consultants. "No one pines for the days of amateur attorneys or amateur doctors," they argue. But today, many grassroots Democrats do pine for the days of amateur politics. In Take It Back , Carville and Begala are trying to pull a bait and switch -- hijacking the Deaniacs' outsider rhetoric while retaining the insider structure that the Deaniacs revile.

In their hearts, Carville and Begala are Clintonites: They think liberal activists are valuable but only if harnessed by political professionals with a keen eye for the swing-voting center. The best thing about Take It Back is its smart tips for how to update the strategy they employed so winningly in 1992 for 2008 and beyond. But the most telling thing about Take It Back is its unwillingness to argue frankly for such a strategy -- because doing so would lead them into conflict with the increasingly powerful party activists who see the Clinton model as obsolete or worse. Carville and Begala may think they are the ones doing the co-opting, but the truth may be closer to the reverse.

Now, there are several interesting things about this article. First, Beinart himself has called for purging the Democrats of some of their more outrageous elements: Michael Moore and MoveOn.org. So it would seem likely that he would be on Carville and Begala's side: Co-opt the power of the "netroots" and harness it into something useful. I can only assume that there's some bad blood between Beinart and the dynamic duo.

In addition, it's at least questionable whether Beinart's message will be applauded by the Kossacks, given that he's the editor of the New Republic, which many Democrat activist excoriate as being the flagship magazine of Democratic moderates.
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