Peter Daou: ‘Liberal Bloggers to Obama and Dems: We Told You So’

Peter Daou says the Netroots saw tonight coming:

I’d like to suggest an additional explanation for the demise of Democratic fortunes, namely, that two crucial blunders – miscalculations, to be more precise – were committed by Democratic leaders early in 2009. A quick glance at the news a year ago today offers clues. On January 19th, 2009, CBS published the “Obama-Lincoln parallel.” The Washington Post wrote about a “bear market for Republicans leaving the Hill or the administration.” The same day, techPresident discussed “How the Obama Transition is Using Tech to Innovate.” Elsewhere that day, LGBT bloggers were complaining that gay Bishop Gene Robinson’s prayer was left out of HBO’s live broadcast of the inaugural concert.

In that small selection of stories, key themes emerge: a) Obama is the next Lincoln; b) The Obama online revolution continues; c) Republicans are finished; d) a handful of progressives aren’t buying it.

Looking back, it’s not that difficult to see how the seeds of today’s Republican resurgence were planted in those early days:

1. Democratic leaders and strategists, high on victory and awed by the Obama campaign’s online prowess, underestimated the dormant power of the old rightwing message machine.

With a sense of invincibility and of history, and believing that the GOP had been mortally wounded, they engaged and legitimized Rush Limbaugh from the White House podium in the belief that it would further marginalize Republicans. It was a mammoth mistake, since it was Rush, Hannity, Drudge, Fox, rightwing blogs, town hall protesters and old-fashioned chain emails that permanently defined the health care debate. Obama’s vaunted online army was outgunned and outmaneuvered, while a much-ridiculed Tea Party came out of nowhere to transform the political landscape.

2. Democratic leaders and strategists, privately disdainful of the netroots, underestimated the influence of progressive bloggers.

Nothing should have been a bigger red flag to the new administration than the growing complaints by established progressive bloggers that Democrats were veering off track on the stimulus, the health care bill, civil liberties, gay rights, and more. But scoffing at the netroots is second nature in many quarters of the political establishment, even though they laid the groundwork for Obama’s victory. The single biggest reason Obama’s hope bubble burst is because of the unintended convergence of left and right opinion-making. The cauldron of opinion that churns incessantly on blogs, Twitter, social networks, and in the elite media generates the storylines that filter across the national and local press, providing the fodder for public opinion. Stalwarts of the left, dedicated to principles not personalities, hammered the administration; couple that with the partisan criticisms from conservatives and libertarians, and the net effect was to alter conventional wisdom and undercut Obama’s image and message.


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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