The latest dust-up involving Markos Moulitsas of the Great and All Powerful Kos illustrates a few points. Democrats are still, after all these decades of family feuds, more interested in fratricide than in actually winning elections (which, incidentally, is why the Kos Kabal is ramping up against Hillary Clinton: they know that she will mess with their heads just like Bill messed with his far-left gadflies and won two elections). For too many (uh)liberals, principle is not a set of values that form guidelines, but a crutch to explain why they have stayed so long in the wilderness. The rationalization is that they lose, not because their tactics, dogma and platforms are haphazardly formed and incoherent, but because they are somehow more pure than the wicked right and anyone on the left who doesn't toe their own private party line.
This allows people like Kos and his acolytes to claim moral victory while racking up failure after failure. In many ways, the Democrats who may actually have a chance of forming a winning strategy aid and enable this behavior by taking Kos seriously. Jonathon Chait of The New Republic, in responding to Kos' stamping feet, wants to adopt a tone of condescension and ridicule, but swings a little too low to Kos. If anything, Kos is the pet poster boy for a kind of post-Soviet post-modern Democrat who tacitly acknowledges that he's not likely to form a philosophy that will resonate with enough voters to matter, so the option left is to lump anyone, from any slightly or greatly opposing view, as an enemy of His People.
See, Kos and his ilk have no real philosophy beyond adolescent rage. Reading the diaries and the comments on the site is as painful as being shown your sophomore English Composition journal. The arguments are largely childish, pouting rants. Just below the surface is a anger of disbelief that there a millions who will just not acknowledge their brilliance.
Into this frog pond of regressive politics wades Mr Chait. Why, I don't know. It has something to do with a stock-touting scandal by some associate of Kos (which incites the copyrighted Kos edicts) and various other boring details. Kos is convinced that he is the future of the Democratic Party which is convenient, because for at least the time being, he is all potential. Sooner or later, he will be squashed by the pros, but for now there are fools like Howard Dean and Wesley Clarke who will take his semi-seriously.
TNR must be sufficiently convinced to take Kos seriously. Maybe they know more than we do. Maybe Kos does indeed pose the threat that he claims, but so far Kos is 0 forever and has only glommed on to Mark Warner in an effort to notch a "victory." No doubt, if Warner wins his election, Kos will claim that it was all because of his influence. This is nonsense, of course, but TNR seems to think that Kos is important enough to warrant a response. So there will be another day or two for Kos to get mileage out of being the embattled iconoclastic voice of the people. The problem with this formulation is that the only people who seem to be listening to that voice are publications like TNR, which should know better.
We need a strong and innovative Democratic Party. The last few days has been frustrating to watch. Once again, the Democrats have handed a wounded and incompetent GOP victory piled upon victory. The opposition party has not only been too long in exile, it has decided to field dummy losers like John Kerry and take unhinged fringe dwellers like Kos seriously. If this continues, 2006 will be yet another year of failure for the Democratic Party.