I wasn't going to post this here, but decided what the heck. This afternoon I posted this to the online discussion group I've been a member of for many years:
This is just a gut feeling, and I'm not confident enough of it to put it on my weblog (and if I did who would know, and who would care?), but I have an intuition that this first Yearly Kos convention will some years down the line be seen as the high-water mark of the independent political influence of the blogging world. Whether that's because it's all downhill from here, or because it gets sucked into the maw of politics as usual, I can't quite tell, but I suspect the latter.
I would rather not see it that way, but unfortunately I do, and it's got me somewhat depressed as a result.
As I said this is a gut feeling, an intuition, and not the result of any kind of rigorous analysis. It's one of those predictions (such as my one from last October that Karl Rove wouldn't be indicted*), that I'd be just as happy (in fact, happier) to be proved wrong about, but that's what it looks like to me.
We can see the transition before our eyes of activist commentator-blogger into activist politician-bloggers, we can see the creeping professionalization of the blogger, and the building of mini-conglomerates of blogging (TPM, Kos/MyDD, TAP), as well as the accumulation of blogging power more and more to the A-list blogs and less and less to the B-, C-, and D-list blogs such as this one. Blogging was once a forum for numerous individual voices, and I suppose it is still mostly that, but it's becoming more about professional and semi-professional punditry, with the expression of vox populi relegated to comment threads consisting of hundreds of comments.
All of that is probably inevitable, so it seems also inevitable that blogging will be sucked into the existing structure of punditry and politics, with the blog itself becoming simply another in a menu of media choices. The online world will have become more integrated into the general media world, and less distinct as a source for contrarian and disputatious voices.
There's also my observation from January that we may have seen the high-water mark of the influence of the right-wing, and the liberal blogosphere is, if nothing else, the sworn opponent of the power and influence of the wingnuts and their allies. If they wane, as seems a possibility, there's less reason for even a semi-coherent opposition to them, and the influence of the liberal blogs will wane as well.
And Gandalf said: 'This is your realm, and the heart of the greater realm that shall be. The Third Age of the world is ended, and the new age is begun; and it s your task to order its beginning and to preserve what may be preserved. For though much has been saved, much must now pass away; and the power of the Three Rings also is ended. And all that lands that you see, and those that lie round them, shall be dwellings of Men. For the time comes of the Dominion of Men, and the Elder Kindred shall fade or depart.'
'I know it well, dear friend,' said Aragorn; 'but I would still have your counsel.'
'Not for long now,' said Gandalf. 'The Third Age was my age. I was the Enemy of Sauron; and my work is finished. I shall go soon. The burden must lie now upon you and your kindred.'
J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (1955)
As I said, this all laughable and ludicrous as analysis, it's just a feeling I have: this is it, this is the peak.
* Addenda: Just to be clear, I predicted that Rove wouldn't be indicted, which seems to have turned out to be correct, but my reasons for predicting it have turned out to be pretty wrong.
On the other hand, I didn't predict that multiple White House officials would be "frogmarched" out of their offices as a result of the Fitzgerald investigation. In fact, quite the opposite. (Here too.)
This leaves two possibilities. Fitzgerald may have decided that getting a conviction against Rove was going to be tough -- too tough to justify the investment and the potential negative blowback on the Libby case. Or, Karl may have decided that it's far better to be a rat than an imprisoned ratfucker, and turned state's evidence.
The former would be part of my reasoning in October for saying that Rover wouldn't be indicted, the latter seems to be the choice of the liberalsphere.
For what it's worth, I agree with the numerous bloggers, including those at FDL, who speculate that Rove has probably cut a deal to cooperate with Fitzgerald's investigation in return for not being indicted. This would explain the fact that Luskin (Rove's lawyers) hasn't released the text of the entire letter, just quoted from it.
That fuels speculation about who the ongoing investigation is aimed at. Wishful thinking would say Cheney, but I'll stand by my prediction that that won't happen. It seems more probable that Rove's cooperation is helping to make the case against Libby.
Update: Since I haven't read any mainstream coverage of Yearly Kos (and very little of the coverage on the blogs), I hadn't realized that my thoughts may be echoing theirs (according to Peter Daou), that Yearly Kos is about outsiders becoming establishment insiders. Oh well, at least I came by my concerns honestly.
Daou says the netroots is a new power structure -- could be, but it's still a power structure, with all the pitfalls that entails. Maybe it'll replace the current power structure, maybe it'll be sucked into it (or they'll merge), maybe they'll continue to operate in parallel, I don't know. Maybe my reseponse is just a visceral reaction to too much YK triumphalism, but it's sure hard to shake this feeling that we're at the beginning of the end of what made the blogosphere significant, and different.
Update:Greg Sargent reports that Rove's rep absolutely denies there was any deal to avoid an indictment.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.