Markos Moulitsas (Kos) in the middle, Nate Silver (Poblano) of 538 on your right, and Al Giordano (The Field)
Mike Allen (Politico):
AUSTIN, Texas — Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the Daily Kos political blog, told a huge annual gathering of online activists that they have shown their power and must continue pushing Democratic politicians to remain progressive.
"We’re not still at capacity — we’re not at our peak,” Moulitsas said to applause from the crowd of just over 2,000 at the Austin Convention Center. “We’re the mainstream. … What we really don’t like are Democrats who are afraid to be Democrats.”
Moulitsas said he disagrees with the many reporters who have called him for stories about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) moving to the center in his presidential campaign.
“I swear, what I say — [in] one ear, out the other,” he said. “They’ve got their narrative set, and it doesn’t matter. Here’s what I said: There may have been some grumbling, … but they were really muted — there wasn’t mass discontent.”
The annual convention, "Netroots Nation: Changing the face of progressive politics,” began as Yearly Kos, drawing 1,500 people to Las Vegas two years ago and 2,200 to Chicago last summer.
The gathering was renamed Netroots Nation in an effort to be more inclusive, because it has grown beyond the Daily Kos community and now is one of the most important annual gatherings of the American left.
But the event remains very much Moulitsas’ crowd. Two prime tables down front were reserved for “SF Kossacks — San Francisco Bay Readers of the Daily Kos.”
Moulitsas appeared on a luncheon keynote panel with Harold Ford Jr., the former congressman from Tennessee and chairman of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, recreating a legendary debate they held on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last August.
Ford drew applause from the skeptical crowd when he declared that “whatever differences may be, and I think the differences are … overstated, … I don’t think they have any comparison to magnitude, caliber, character at all, to the differences we may have if Barack Obama’s opponent in this presidential race wins.”
“Sen. Obama is probably going to attract a lot of Republicans — the people who voted for George Bush twice,” Ford continued. “As a matter of fact, if that does not happen, Barack won’t win.
“But he’s going to have to find people who are Republicans, who probably won’t … proclaim themselves as proud Democrats, but will proudly vote for Sen. Obama. So the real challenge is actually to develop an agenda that mirrors the passion, excitement and the desires of people across the country.”
Moulitsas told the enthusiastic crowd — many typing away on laptops — that it “never ceases to amaze me what we’ve been able to accomplish in so little time.”
“It’s been about four years — but in blog years, it’s like three millennia,” he said. “Remember, when I started Daily Kos, and when so many of you were starting your blogs and looking for information, about 2002, there was no strong, unapologetic, muscular, progressive voices in the media landscape. …
“God knows, if you’re a conservative, you’ve got a whole buffet to choose from. But if you were a strong progressive, you had nothing. So I started Daily Kos not because I had a grand vision, but because I was frustrated with the way my politics were going. And I found out very, very quickly that there was a lot of people like me — all over the country, also frustrated.
“And I know conservatives hate to hear this, but when people ask why Daily Kos was successful and why the blogosphere has grown the way it is, it is because there’s a market niche.”
Moulitsas said the progressives are “going to win again in 2008.”
“We’re not looking for ideological purity,” he continued. “Whether they’re opportunity or they’re investing in our country — whatever those values are, those are American values. They’re not left, right, center — they’re American values. And we’ve abandoned them out of fear, and we’ve got to stop doing that.”
Moulitsas drew hearty applause when he warned: “In 2010, we’re going to have some Democrats we’re going to pay some visits to in some primaries. … Too many Democrats in D.C. have lost touch. ...
“They still think this is a conservative country. And therefore, we’re going to have to remind them. And this is very helpful for them — we’re doing it for their own good. They’re going to realize that they can actually be who they want to be, because the people are ready for a progressive America.”