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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Downloading Bloggers

[note: this is the fourth in a series of posts on the YearlyKos conference in Chicago] One of the reasons I was interested in attending YearlyKos was entirely personal: the opportunity to actually meet people whose stuff I’d read for years–and in many cases, people with whom I’d had online exchanges and off-line email discussions for a long time.
Not having worked in the 2004 Dean or Clark campaigns, or lived in Montana, my personal acquaintance with bloggers has been pretty much limited to those in Washington, and even there, given the ever-shrinking amount of time I spend in the Emerald City, there are many I haven’t met.
I struck partial paydirt my first night in Chicago, at a party sponsored by Time Magazine’s Swampland blog at some sushi bar. After a few minutes of random conversation with people who weren’t particularly amused by my ancient and unoriginal joke about southerners inventing sushi (“We called it ‘bait'”), I found myself chit-chatting with a mild-mannered middle-aged guy who turned out to be Duncan Black, better known as the fiery Atrios. Within minutes, I also made the acquaintance of MyDD’s Adam Connor, TAPPED’s Ben Adler, not to mention Joe Trippi and two editors of realclearpolitics.com. Later that night, at an informal gathering at the conference hotel, I met Mark Schmitt of the New America Foundation, a blogger and wonk whose work I have admired for eons. And then I spent some time talking and drinking Jim Beam with a tall young man who finally introduced himself as Bob Brigham, formerly of Swing State Project and now a political consultant in California. Brigham, you see, has probably written more abusive stuff about me than anybody else in the blogosphere. But we wound up trading war stories and even talking about possible projects we could cooperate on in the future.
On Saturday, after the presidential forum, I grabbed a very late lunch at a cookout sponsored by the Teamsters, risking the possibility that the sponsors, offended by my DLC-free-trade associations if not my pink polo shirt, would figure out who I was and beat me up. Instead, I ran into Joan McCarter (better known as the DailyKos front-page blogger McJoan), who was getting well-earned props from everyone there for her role in co-moderating the forum. Joan, whom I’d never met, is far and away the Kossack who’s been friendliest to me (succeeding Armando Llorens as my personal link to KosWorld), and she was generous enough to spend some time introducing me to other Kos front-pagers (e.g., Georgia10, DavidinNYC), not to mention several congressional candidates who were there in hopes of getting endorsed for ’08.
I didn’t have a chance to finally meet Markos Moulitsas himself (with whom I’ve exchanged many an email). Closest I got to him was at the Teamsters event, when he performed the unlikely task of introducing James Hoffa.
None of this personal outreach experience matters much to anyone other than me, but I have to say that all the folks I met at YearlyKos, including the people familiar with my background, were unfailingly polite and often positive about my own work (though sometimes only relatively, as in “Yes, you’re one of the reasonable ones Over There”). It’s often said that the relative anonymity of the blogosphere sharply reduces the perceived need for civility. Whether or not that’s true, “downloading” bloggers into real people can’t hurt.

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