David Brooks, in his recent column on the Democratic strategy that would best please him, tells us that liberal/progressive bloggers are a mean-spirited bunch and that the Democratic politicians listen to them only at their own peril, and even then most reluctantly:
The fact is, many Democratic politicians privately detest the netroots' self-righteousness and bullying. They also know their party has a historic opportunity to pick up disaffected Republicans and moderates, so long as they don't blow it by drifting into cuckoo land. They also know that a Democratic president is going to face challenges from Iran and elsewhere that are going to require hard-line, hawkish responses.
Ouch. Now my feelings are hurt. So were Glenn Greenwald's, apparently, because he wrote up quite a response to Brooks' column. Greenwald covers most of the factual dispute with Brooks' ideas, which lets me focus on just a few self-righteous musings on the meaning that Brooks assigns to the "netroots".
In Brooks' world the netroots are far left, out of touch with the "average American," and so dangerous that a Democratic politician listening to them will self-destruct. Yet the conclusion of his piece is that the netroots don't really matter at all. He lists four reasons why this must be true, ending with:
Fourth, the netroots are losing the policy battles. As Matt Bai's reporting also suggests, the netroots have not been able to turn their passion and animus into a positive policy agenda. Democratic domestic policy is now being driven by old Clinton hands like Gene Sperling and Bruce Reed.
But if all this is true, why get all upset about the self-righteousness and bullying? Surely it can help Brooks' own party, the Republicans? My guess is that the point of this column is to strengthen the meme of the liberal and progressive blogs as far-left extremist outlets which every careful politician should shun.