Meet the New Kos, Not the Same as the Old Kos

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The Republican National Committee's "research briefing" on Markos "Daily Kos" Moulitsas has been roundly mocked around the blogs, and with reason. The idea that the embattled GOP can transform a famous-in-DC blogger into a swing-voter-poisoning Goldstein is absolutely insane—one of the best reflections I've seen of how the post-1994 GOP has become as myopic and beltway-bound as the Great Society Democrats ever were.

The RNC's briefing reminded me, though, of how much blogs have changed since their liftoff in 2001 and 2002. Kos started off a pro-Democrat blogger who engaged in tense-but-civil discussions with the right-wing and pro-GOP sides of the blogosphere. (I touched on this in a July Reason story about the mainstreaming of blogs.) The first Daily Kos post, archived here, now read like the musings of a Democratic activist calmed beyond reason by a combination of Quaaludes and Republicans holding his family hostage.

From November 5, 2002:

While the Dems will have lots of new governorships to celebrate, the
night belonged to the GOP. I sincerely congratulate them—they
clearly waged a better campaign than anything the Dems were able to put
together.

From November 8, 2002:

Georgia's Zell Miller has reiterated that he will not be abandoning the Democratic Party.
That's good—I do believe that the Dems have an interest in
ideological diversity. Otherwise, I'd be a Green. And I actually
genuinely like Zell, even if I don't care much for his politics.

But Kos isn't the only blogger who's hardened his views in the last few years. Quick: Who said this on September 12, 2001, when a shattered nation was coming together to battle the Islamo-fascist etc etc?

Bush's speech last night was just pathetic. Obviously rehearsed, not a
word unscripted, totally devoid of anything real or spontaneous. Very
disappointing. I really hope he can find it in himself to rise to the
challenge and act courageously, for once in his spoiled rich party boy
life.

That's right—it was Charles Johnson on Little Green Footballs. Like another unhinged-by-the-war-on-terror pundit mused: My, what we've lost.

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  1. The crazier Kos became the more famous and important he became. I kind of think of him as sort of a Marilyn Manson of the blogshere. I have a friend who grew up Manson. Manson started out as a pretty straightforward NIN type act and went nowhere. The weirder he got the more people came to his shows and eventually the more people bought his records. It is the same way with KOS. I don’t think many people had ever heard of KOS until he made the infamous, “they got what they deserved” statement about the contractors who were hung in Faluja. If you could ever see into the core of what he believes, I a not sure you would find much beyond self promotion.

  2. I don’t think many people had ever heard of KOS until he made the infamous, “they got what they deserved” statement about the contractors who were hung in Faluja.

    I’ve heard of Kos, but I’ve never heard that statement attributed to him. If true, I’m impressed.

  3. Actually, I always figured that Kos figured out early on that he had a good shot at making some money by being a whore for the Democratic party. Johnson appears to have done the same thing (with PajamasMedia), but give credit to Kos for getting there first.

    What I don’t get is why Kos is considered to be any sort of force at all in politics, since the people who are actually influenced by him represent maybe .0001% of the electorate. He’s about as important to American politics (and Johnson as well) as Pets.com was to the internet economy.

  4. “Let the people see what war is like. This isn?t an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush?s folly. That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren?t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them. [10]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daily_Kos

    There you go observer. The wonder of wikipedia. That statement was made in April of 2004 which well after Dean had flamed out. I thought it was earlier. I have to take that back. A lot of people had heard of him before that statement. That said, I don’t think that statement hurt him much with his core crowd. He groveled about it to the MSM, but I don’t think many of his readers objected much and it certainly got him more readers.

  5. He groveled about it to the MSM,

    Thank you for the link. And if he apologized for it, I take back my previous statement about being impressed.

  6. Observer,

    Thanks for proving my point about his readers not having much of a problem with it.

  7. Thanks for proving my point about his readers not having much of a problem with it.

    I rarely read Kos, so I’m not the best sample.

  8. True enough, Observer.

  9. “Actually, I always figured that Kos figured out early on that he had a good shot at making some money by being a whore for the Democratic party.”

    In what will clearly come as a shock, what you’ve “always figured” about the Democrats is not, actually, true.

    Kos has made his name attacking the Democratic establishment, and urging a change of course. For this, he has been hammered by the Beltway Dems – the ones who actually have the money – for years.

  10. In Kos’ case I’m not sure his resentment of mercenaries stems from being liberal. It’s probably more driven by the fact that he’s a veteran. Lots of enlisted guys resent mercenaries.

  11. “I don’t think many people had ever heard of KOS until he made the infamous, “they got what they deserved” statement about the contractors who were hung in Faluja. If you could ever see into the core of what he believes, I a not sure you would find much beyond self promotion.”

    To this day, I can’t get over the right?s framing of mercenaries as “CONTRACTORS just doing an honest days work” in a Iraqi war zone. What?s so honest about grand theft of other peoples resources (property) via invasion/occupation? If you?re doing business in a war zone, and your business is to kill anyone who approaches your “client?s” building, it seems realistic that the odds of death via brutality would be high. Lets get Reasonable (ha ha ha I made a funny!), THOSE “CONTRACTORS” WERE FUCKING MERCENARIES YOU FOOL!!!

    Oh yea, isn’t “self promotion” the epicenter of Libertarian philosophy? Yea, it is.

    Look in the mirror people…

  12. In what will clearly come as a shock, what you’ve “always figured” about the Democrats is not, actually, true.

    I never made any characterization of Democrats.

    As far as Kos “attacking the Democratic establishment,” that may have once been true, but no longer. I doubt you can get more “Democratic establishment” than DNC Chair Howard Dean and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, both of whom were honored guests at YearlyKos 2006.

    And let’s not forget this little tidbit, from 2003:

    The optimist in me hopes that this “establishment” will realize the power of what Dean (and SEIU in the union world) is building and embrace it, whether Dean wins the nomination or otherwise. There is no mystery as to why Dean (and Clark, to a lesser degree) have captured the fervent support of so many people, while their opponents struggle to make an impact. The establishment throws away that kind of success at its own peril.

    Winning is the key, not who holds the levers of power at the DNC, DSCC, DCCC and other Democratic Party institutions. No one should lose sight of that goal.

    Must be only my eyes that see someone more concerned with Democratic Party power than any type of principles or political philosophy.

  13. I don’t think many people had ever heard of KOS until he made the infamous, “they got what they deserved” statement about the contractors who were hung in Faluja

    Mercenaries and hired guns are not “contractors” John, not matter how much you keep repeating it.

    If you are getting paid huge sums of money to be a member of a private army who isn’t accountable to anyone (as most of the mercinaries in Iraq are), then you are getting what you deserve if you happened to get killed doing it. People who sign up to be a mercinary in a war zone for war profiteers aren’t really entitled to sympathy when they get killed.

    I have seen you attack Kos many times and every single time you continue to bring up this same example from years ago. It has already been debunked and really isn’t that offensive.

    Give it up John, until you can come up with something better.

  14. Instapundit made a similar transition to reliable buttbuddy, Republican Division. Makes sense in that reliable partisans get more hits and can sell more ads.

    Turning an obscure blogger into this month’s Goldstein does seem a little odd, given that only a fraction of a fraction of the nerds who read blogs have ever heard of him. But we did have to spend two or three years talking about Ward Churchill so they can get a lot of mileage out of unpromising targets. (I always figured Ward was like Ann Coulter. Makes the most sense as a performance artist of some sort).

  15. vanya,

    As Kos explained at the time, his antipathy towards mercenaries stems from his experience growing up in El Salvador during the 70s and 80s, when American-funded mercenaries were massacring villages as part of an “anti-insurgency” program.

  16. “I doubt you can get more “Democratic establishment” than DNC Chair Howard Dean and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, both of whom were honored guests at YearlyKos 2006.”

    The Kossacks’ victory certain did come quickly. When he began, Howard Dean was a looney punching bag for the DLC types who controlled the party.

    Thank you for the quote, as it demonstrates the above point nicely – Kos backed anti-establishemnt candidates, the establishment fought back, and the insurgents won.

    “Instapundit made a similar transition to reliable buttbuddy, Republican Division.” The difference is that Reynolds changed his tune to bring it more in line with the sitting GOP establishment, while Kos remained consistent in his beliefs and message, and the Democratic establishment changes their tune to be closer to his message.

  17. A mercenary, by definition, is neither a national of a party to the conflict nor is a resident of territory controlled by a party to the conflict. Therefore, given that the Blackwater employees were American, and America is a party to the conflict, the use of Blackwater Inc. is a contractual relationship, hence they were contractors. To be considered mercenaries, Blackwater would have to be, say for example, a Canadian firm with Canadian employees. Therefore, each side to the conflict would have an equal chance of acquiring the firms services (in theory at least).

    I’m normally not this much of a stickler, but since some of you seem to think someone else’s fool quotient is directly dependent upon knowledge of such things, I thought it might be pertinent.

  18. Okay, okay, the ‘contractors’ were not mercenaries strictu sensu, they were illegal combatants.

  19. Well jacob, strictly speaking, they were not illegal combatants. You see, the definition of combatant, especially when qualified by the word ?illegal? is traditionally thought of as …aw fuck it…nobody gives a damn anyway.

  20. Give it up Cab. There is no reasoning with anyone who thinks that people kinapped by fanatical killers and hung from a bridge got what they deserved. They are just trolls and there is no point in responding to them.

  21. Kos had his first job sucking farts out of subway seats in New York.

  22. TWC, that was very funny!

  23. Personally I saw nothing wrong with Kos’ comment about those contractors/mercenaries/whatever at the time & still don’t. You know the risks when you take that kind of position, it is not somehow “anti-american” to not cry about it.

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