Saturday, October 29, 2005

Why I bother

The vast majority of Americans are too busy living their lives to waste time on political blogs. Maybe they've never cared about politics, or maybe they've given up because it's hopeless, or maybe they're working far more effectively than we at change in some direct way, or maybe they think we're just delusional and should get a life. In short, most people I know wouldn't spend a minute doing what I do. But here's why I bother:

Sen. Kennedy,

I find your dKos diary -- "This Indictment Is Not the End" -- truly disheartening. Your unwillingness to honestly name that which has ripped apart our country since 2001, reads more like the reflexive equivocation of a career politician, than the call from a champion of the people.

You sir, more than anyone here and perhaps the majority of your colleagues, know well that the premise of "failed intelligence" is a disception. And by promoting the image that this administration was incompetent, and not willful, you are doing your country a grave disservice.

In truth, the Bush adminstration's "intelligence" was a ringing success, accomplishing exactly that which they sought, before crumbling into dust: Saddam Hussein has been removed and we have an occupying force in the heart of the Middle East. ...

[Emphasis added.] This is the intro to a long letter to Sen. Edward Kennedy posted this evening on DailyKos by Todd Johnston. Mr. Johnston is nobody famous as far as I know. He's just a thoughtful working adult with no special access to any persons of power. He doesn't spell or punctuate especially well. And yet I know his letter will be carefully read by a Kennedy staffer. It will be certainly be brought to the senator's attention. Sen. Kennedy may even read the letter himself, and he will most definitely be involved in crafting a reply. He might even sit down and type it himself.

Why? Because Daily Kos is the largest political blog on earth. It averages 2 million page views per week and rising. Its audience is educated, affluent, overwhelmingly Democratic, and activist - 63% have donated money to political causes. According to a recent study, it outranks the top five GOP blogs combined. And if Mr. Johnson's letter reached the top of the Kos recommended list (which it did), then it will be read by all those activists along with every other legislator in DC on both sides of the aisle, all of the strategists and most of the media. You can bet Sen. Kennedy will pay attention.

Daily Kos got where it is through a combination of luck, timing, and smarts. Media windbags may have painted the site as hard left, excitable, dismissible... but those who visit on a regular basis understand that its population is diverse and generally thoughtful, with writers from the far corners of law, politics, business, academia, media, and even some of those continents way over there in Europe. The main thing Kos readers have in common is that they are SERIOUSLY pissed off. That doesn't mean they're foolish or naive.

I don't write much on that site. But it's the daily visits of people like me - asking questions, commenting, pushing up the stats, sending more people to the site, responding to calls for action, sending money - that have built the first stirrings of a left wing echo chamber. People are hearing us, and it is starting to make a difference.

Citizen Johnston puts some excellent questions to Sen. Kennedy about Iraq, intelligence, weapons, and the runup to the war. Imagine the senator reading this section knowing that a million people of influence are looking over his shoulder:

[W]here were you in 2003? In his State of the Union address, President Bush lied to the American people, citing debunked and forged intelligence. The president directly contradicted the Oct. 1, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate to state as fact that which George Tenet had called "weak" and "not particularly significant" four months earlier.

You and your colleagues allowed this campaign of fear to continue without significant challenge, as our soldiers were used like chess pieces and poker chips. And you were not hoodwinked by misrepresentations and hidden documents, because as we now know, in 2002 the CIA told Congress "that the Africa story [was] overblown" and that Iraq's reported attempt to purchase uranium was "one of the two issues where [the CIA] differed with the British." (SSCI report on the IC's Prewar Intelliegence Assessment). ...

or this one:

So why, Sen. Kennedy, is there such a deficit of courage and leadership that our country's best hope for redemption sits on the shoulders of a former U.S. ambassador?

The ending's pretty good, too:

Forgive me if am I not compelled, Senator Kennedy, to step forward at your call to arms, the timing of which, quite frankly, feels a little like opportunism. To be clear, no one wants this adminstration held accountable more than I, but during this current dearth of leadership, I've been learning to do it myself.

So, I am instead compelled to ask "where were you, Sen. Kennedy, when your country needed you most," because the indictment of I. Lewis Libby did not result from the "Kennedy Investigation."

Senator Kennedy is friend not foe, but friends need to be held accountable when it's a matter of importance. This is such a matter. And while he may not give us satisfactory answers, he will at least think about the questions. In my tiny way I helped make this possible. And that's why I bother.


leolabeth said...

Thanks Kate.
I've been buried in a long piece due Thursday and I'd missed this on dkos.

janinsanfran said...

Keep bothering. Aside from the fact there is nothing else to do, we are clearly making inroads.

Alna Dem said...

Thanks, friends. Good to hear from you.