The presidential race isn’t going well for left-wing bloggers. Their preferred candidate, John Edwards, continues to run a distant third in the polls. The candidate they love to dislike, Hillary Clinton, is the clear front-runner and seems to be gaining ground. The candidate who came from nowhere, Barack Obama, accomplished this without the help of the blogosphere. Obama did it the old-fashioned way — he gave a great convention speech, he appeared on the front cover of news magazines and (most quaint of all) he wrote books.
Lefty blogger Jerome Armstrong isn’t taking it well. He writes:
[Obama’s] campaign really doesn’t know what a movement is made up of and are fumbling in the dark amidst their media-created momentum (which is getting primed to turn on its creation). And who’s got Obama’s back when the media does turns on its creation? The netroots doesn’t; he’s never aligned with the existing movement that began with Dean in ’02, swelled for Wesley Clark in ’03, led Dean to the DNC Chair and propelled the Hackett and Lamont candidacies, leading to the surge of activists voting for Democrats in ’06…
…[Obama’s campaign] looks like a better-than-ordinary campaign for a candidate that’s personally compelling, and not much more. It is not a movement, but a candidate. It’s about Obama, and nothing more. He’s got numbers in the same way that Coke or Pepsi have consumers; supporters in the same way that Bono and the Dixie Chicks have fans. But this is partisan politics, and Obama will not survive the rightwing machine’s onslaught without a strategy that includes internet partisanship…
Edwards could still win the nomination, but it looks like a real longshot now, and the fading in the polls nationally is not a good omen. He needed to run a perfect campaign, with no self-induced mistakes, and it’s not been that way at all. The haircut, hedgefund, and house as a trifecta of rightwing ammo has hurt his credibility on the signature issue of poverty.
Notice how Armstrong blames Edwards’ failure (at least to-date) on his having supplied the “right wing” with “ammo.” This, of course, is ludicrous. Conservatives exert essentially zero influence in the Democratic party. Edwards isn’t at 13 percent (or thereabouts) in Democratic polls because of “right wing ammo.” He’s at 13 percent because he’s a lightweight and because left-wing bloggers (like conservative bloggers) aren’t very influential when it comes to presidential politics.
Armstrong exhibits a similar combination of narcissism and paranoia when he discusses Obama. The Senator’s failure to embrace the hard-left agenda pushed by bloggers like Armstrong supposedly leaves him “vulnerable to rightwing machines assault.” Only an alliance with Armstrong and crew could protect him from that.
But what both Obama and Clinton have figured out is that the best way to protect themselves from Republican criticism (aka “rightwing ammo”) in the general election is by not allowing their positions and their persona to be shaped by the hard left. If Obama is nominated, the left-wing bloggers will do their bit by urging leftists (the only group whose voting pattern they even arguably can influence) to vote for him. And, having kept his distance from these bloggers, Obama will be in a good position to compete for independent and centrist voters.
The same situation will obtain if, as seems likely, Hillary is the nominee.
To comment on this post, go here.