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PART I The Attack of the Fiddling Kleagle
Here's a far-fetched idea for your consideration. Democrats are hoping beyond hope to find some angle to take Dubya down one or two notches in the polls. Never relying on instinct or leadership ability when in unknown situations, they've always checked poll results before taking any action whatsoever.
Now, we know the Dems are fully aware of the Blogosphere (Republicans, too)
I've even seen Capitol Hill servers on my hit lists, and don't even get me started on Scott Ott's Axis of Weasels thing (but do go check the dance mix)
Is it beyond the realm of possibility that Terry McAuliffe and his gang now cruise a few Blogs before taking bold decisive action?
Note this timeline:
May 1: President Bush (Commander in Chief) lands on USS Lincoln, Carrier returning from deployment during war.
May 1-5: Almost immediately, some right-leaning Blogs begin expressing doubts as to the wisdom of this event. And they raise very valid points, absolutely worthy of discussion. That discussion rages for several days through several comment sections of several very well-read Blogs. The lefty anti-Bush commenters have obvious responses deserving of immediate dismissal. But several pro-Bush types still express displeasure. Ignoring the envy-fueled hate posts from the left, the debate is actually one of the finest I've seen in the Blogosphere.
One week later: After consulting with polls and spin doctors, the Democrats boldly and decisively weigh in on the issue. Byrd and Waxman eventually receive a level of scorn rarely seen on the political stage. Bloggers take them to task. Having once again thoroughly miscalculated the mood of America, they rather quickly shut up and go away.
Byrd, it would seem, is the new sacrificial lamb of the Democratic Party. He can be portrayed as the "fiery old warrior going forth to battle the forces of evil" in the mainstream press. They can be counted on to enthusiastically endorse any Democratic Party idea, regardless of how utterly void of common sense or careful forethought. So Byrd gets to be the attack dog. If, as Standard bearer for the assault on George Bush, his championed cause gains the Democrats ground, then Hooray for good old Bob! He's our boy! If , however, he's shot down in a flame of public opinion, then, well, you know, he's actually kind of an out of touch old geezer anyhow, and definitely not-the-future-of-the-party, right?
Really, we're talking about the fiddling kleagle here; a man who's ready to don his drool bucket. A man who must be checked daily by his handlers to ensure he didn't put his depends on over his pants. At least the Dems can be assured of his vote. Even as he drifts into senility he'll be casting votes against Republicans, convinced they are trying to rob him of his non-existent social security benefits. And of course, once he's too enfeebled to make it to the polls he'll have lots of folks willing to vote in his name. I'm sure, long after his death Byrd will be a frequent voter for the democratic cause.
But for now, he's merely the living trial balloon. The expendable one, and as a bonus he's from a state that will not likely vote a Republican into anything for quite some time. So back to my crackpot theory; bear with me.
Suppose the Democrats, in checking public opinion in order to develop dynamic leadership strategy, note the minor ripple in the Blog world and wonder if they've found some chink in the armor?
"Hey," says Terry McAuliffe, "lets get 'em!"
"Hold on Terry, " says a less bold James Carville, "we can't risk ourselves. We're too important to the cause. We need a sacrificial lamb"
"You mean a sacrificial Byrd!" Terry fires back with a gleam in his eye. And the rest is history.
All this is imaginary, of course. But the subsequent history is not. Byrd did his best to stir the pot, but no one cares. The Dems have doubly miscalculated.
One: Byrd is intensely despised across America; with no redeeming qualities his outcries garner sympathy only for his opponents. This will not change. It's of great benefit to Republicans that he wasn't forced out as a consequence of his racist statements; now every time he approaches a microphone decent people can cry "Look, a racist! What will it say? Let's listen so that we may gain a better understanding of wrong-headed thinking."
Two: The carrier landing was appreciated by the military and the public. And no one was overly concerned that it cost money for the commander to visit the troops. Even the moderate lefties could grasp this. "Find a real cause, please? You're embarrassing us." The sacrificial Byrd part could kick in if the backlash is strong enough, but it's not, and the issue fades.
Recently there's been a bit of chest thumping in the Blog community regarding the idea that "Blogs brought down Trent Lott" - I would hesitate to go that far. But is it at all possible that Blogs are looked at by policy makers, as another entry point into the American mind? I submit this for consideration: that said evaluators of the collective psyche would be remiss not to look at Blogs for this purpose. Certainly not as a final solution, but as I said, another reference point. And, perhaps, one that is growing in importance.
Consider the Blogosphere as comparable, perhaps, to talk radio of the 1980's - a presence on the political landscape, looked at as not too stable just yet. The difference, of course, is that talk radio of the '80s was very few (1?) people, while the Blogosphere is a modern day Wild Wild West of disparate ideas.
TO BE CONTINUED: Part Two: The most Dangerous Place on Earth?