PRACTICALITY. I...

PRACTICALITY. I recommend that folks read Garance's sharp analysis of Mark Warner's impact at YearlyKos. Most interesting to me was news that the famously pragmatic, nonideological Markos is scornful of a potential meeting with Team Hillary. When a Hillary staffer reached out to him a year ago, Markos ignored the invitation. Indeed, he offers a willingness to take it a step farther, saying that if Clinton requested a meeting today, �I�d probably say no � I don�t think she has anything to say to me.�

Fair enough, though snubbing the party's likely nominee isn't exactly a "pragmatic" move. But neither was it the first time: in 2004, Markos swiftly rebuffed Cam Kerry's efforts at outreach after his brother secured the nomination. At least, it wasn't on first blush. But upon further thought (second blush?), both moves are perfectly, even ruthlessly, pragmatic. Clinton doesn't need Kos -- his netroots won't prove a major force in her fundrasing machine, her victory won't be attributed to his support. A Warner or Feingold triumph, by contrast, would.

When Markos bragged that "popular movements are rarely so practical," it's important to focus in on the word movement because that, it appears, is what Markos is focused on. His pragmatism has mostly been painted as an obsession with winning, and attacks against him tend to focus on his rather poor electoral record. But that's because Markos picks prospects rather than winners, campaigns and candidates who attract little establishment support and whose victory, thus, can be attributed to the netroots. No gambler gains a reputation by betting on 50:1 favorites, but any gambler can make one by putting enough money on a 1:50 longshot.

The "netroots" are, I think, a revolution of tone, not ideology. They've got a few defining characteristics, none of them ideological. A contempt for the establishment is one. An appetite for pugilism is another. Clinton offers neither. In addition, her victory wouldn't enhance the aura of the netroots' one iota. Remaining hostile during the primaries, in fact, forces the sort of electoral frisson the media so loves to cover, thus enhancing the netroots' insurgent reputation. Once the primaries end, as happened in 2004, the netroots can drop in line: one tent, one cause. If Clinton could forgive and welcome the Senate Republicans who destroyed her during the 90's, she'll happily welcome back the netroots. But till then, supporting, or even offering a rapprochment, with Clinton, holds no upside; it's a bet with no payoff. And while popular movements are rarely practical enough to resist the lure of establishment acceptance, the netroots' may be just practical enough.

--Ezra Klein

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