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Our man in Kos-itania, Chapter I

By Michael J. Smith on Friday June 9, 2006 12:08 PM

Late at night, Thursday, June 8

It's amazing what weird situations an excess of curiosity will land you in. Here I am, for example, wearing female clothing and a false beard, impersonating a Democrat at the yearly convention of Daily Kos (www.dailykos.com), which is being held in Las Vegas, of all places.

I had kind of hoped to get through life without ever being in Las Vegas. But it's not what I expected. On the flight out here, that line of Tacitus kept running through my head -- urbs quo cuncta undique atrocia confluunt, a city where all evils, from everywhere else, come and gather. But it isn't like that at all. It's oddly innocent and childlike, a kids' playground writ large. It's plastered all over with various insignia of naughtiness but it's really quite orderly and safe, and to tell the truth, it's a little bland. So it really is the perfect place for Yearly Kos, a gathering of insurgents demanding re-admittance to the sheepfold.

The other thing I had expected was that the Kosniks themselves would provide abundant material for ridicule. But they don't. They're much more engaging than their posts on the Daily Kos web site would lead you to expect -- and this really should have come as no surprise, since people notoriously show their worst side online.

No, the Kosniks are mostly not only sane, but obviously intelligent. A lot of them have pretty good haircuts. They're personable, kind, witty, self-deprecating, thoughtful, earnest, and generally likable.

Oh, there are a few exceptions -- a 300-pound doctor, who enjoyed telling us the witty things she says to her patients, and just would not shut up; a staffer from the Drum Major Institute (http://www.drummajorinstitute.org) in pink fishnet stockings and bat-wing spectacles who looked like an extra from Hairspray and thought term limits were a Really Good Thing; and a hyperkinetic "trainer" from Democracy For America (www.democracyforamerica.com) who had the stage manner of a contestant on American Idol, and would probably have won. He certainly had energy enough; he talked and gesticulated and paced for seven hours almost non-stop -- I checked in every half-hour or so -- and he was still enjoying the sound of his own voice when he practically had to be dragged out of the meeting room so the next scheduled event could begin.

Other not-entirely-attractive Kosniks included a staff guy fresh from beautiful defeat in Marcy Winograd's primary challenge to bloody-fanged War Democrat Jane Harman; this chap was treated with the tender deference due to a veteran with a war wound. And there was a ringlet-haired Democratic Party op from Gainesville, Florida, who apologized for his state's votes for Nader in 2000, and repeatedly referred to people like himself as "touchy-feely white guys." This phrase got a modest laugh the first time he said it. These two, interestingly, were among the most strident in insisting that the one goal of political activity is to win elections.

But most of the Kosniks weren't like that. Most of them seemed to be honest, sincere, good-hearted people, baffled and dismayed by what their country has become. What, I wondered, are nice folks like this doing in a cult like Daily Kos? So I was quite curious to see the cult leader, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, in action.

I'll pass along my impressions of Kos in a later post.

Comments (2)

I think the allure of dailykos.com is the illusion of participation and insider status. I wonder how many Kossacks, if approached face-to-face in a friendly way, would agree to out now as the proper position on the Iraq war, support single-payer, etc. A lot of them may be stuck in the "we're going to take back the party" mindset and may harbor hopes that once the Dems take back the House (and maybe the Senate) later this year, they'll be some changes made....

I think those hopes are misplaced, and I think Kos himself is as big a triangular as the DLC gang. Where Kos differs from the DLC is on fundraising models and "branding," product identity for Dems.

Tracy McLellan:

"There was a ringlet-haired Democratic Party op from Gainesville, Florida, who apologized for his state's votes for Nader in 2000."

Did he also apologize for Pat Buchanan's 17,000? What about Harry Browne's 16,000? The "others" 6,000? What about the 13% of Democrats that crossed over to vote for Bush? Did he also apoligize for Gore rolling over like a dead dog and not fighting for the presidency he won? While he was at it, did he happen to apologize for Gore flying around in his private jet to promote his "An Inconvenient Truth" movie? Was the issue posed to the contrite one, inconvenient for whom? It's astonishing to the point of monstrous contempt and necessity for an anti-emetic, that he with the greater, if not the most, honesty and integrity is blamed for the corrupted result of the 2000 election and the vile state of US politics.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Friday June 9, 2006 12:08 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Now THIS is a party.

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