The Daily Kos and Israel
Dean Barnett argues that the diaries and comments on the current conflict in the Middle East at The Daily Kos foreshadow a major problem for the Democratic party:
The Conflagration in Lebanon has provided an example of the people-powered movement’s potential to be a liability for the politicians who have tried to curry favor with it.
Perhaps sensing that this issue could highlight just how far removed the Kos community is from the American mainstream, Moulitsas and his other front-page bloggers have opted to ignore Israel’s war. Combined, the half dozen front-pagers have written exactly one post on the subject. And that post, authored by Moulitsas, simply declared that he wouldn’t write anything further on the subject. So while the most important story of the year develops, the nation’s leading progressive blog has chosen to focus on the Indiana second district House race between Chris Chocola and Joe Donnelly. Nothing wrong with that; it’s their prerogative to blog about whatever they like.
But inside the Kos diaries, it’s been a different story. The conversation in the diaries has been overwhelmingly anti-Israel–and potentially disastrous for the Democratic party.
One diarist labeled Israel “a destabilizing force in the region” and saw “no difference between Iran’s support of Hezbollah and Hamas in the form of finances and even arms and The United States’ financial support of Israel.” Before modifying this diary into a more moderate form, the author opened his essay with the declaration, “Israel is showing the entire world why the Iranian President was absolutely right to suggest that Israel cease being a sovereign state as is.”
I would add that it’s not just at The Daily Kos either. There’s a distinct strain of rabid anti-Israel sentiment that is often found in the comments of major blogs in liberal blogosphere. I hesitate to label all of it as anti-Semitic, however, I have certainly documented examples that can not be labeled any other way.
And looking at the big picture, Ann Althouse thinks this is indicative of a broader problem for Kos: “The readership is gained with sharp opinions. It wants to transform that readership into political power. But the style and extremity of opinion doesn’t suit the people who need to be won over.”
UPDATE (James Joyner): I must say, there’s plenty of nutty things written out in the blogosphere (Left and Right) without looking at the comments sections. Certainly, as Anderson notes in the comments below, there are plenty of rantings and ravings in the comments on popular sites out there, including very civil ones, including OTB’s. I’m not sure that’s an indication of much of anything other than that there are plenty of morons who enjoy having a forum in which to spout off.
The second paragraph of Barnett’s piece, though, alludes to an interesting dichotomy:
On the one hand, one of the most solid blocks of support for the Democratic party is America’s Jewish community. Not only do America’s Jews tend to vote for Democrats, they tend to actively campaign and raise funds for politicians on the left. But for many American Jews, even the most liberal, Israel’s welfare is a going concern. Politicians who enter the Democratic party (and for that matter the Republican party) usually make a conspicuous show of the fact that they are “right on Israel.”
For a variety of reasons, most of the most loyal supporters of Israel in American politics are on the Right and/or members of the Republic Party. Yet, most American Jews, for a variety of reasons, support the Democrats. Presumably, this means that, despite the ravings of Pat Buchanan, most American Jews are driven by issues other than Israel.
UPDATE (James Joyner): Judith Weiss observes that “What’s funny about the Daily Kos diaries is that these guys constantly castigate Charles Johnson for LGF comments, saying he is responsible for them and should be policing his threads, even if he didn’t write them. . . . Now the shoe is on the other foot.” She closes with a question: “So can we agree that if your blog gets hundred of comments a day, you can’t be held responsible for all of them?” Yes, I think we can.
UPDATE: Although I disagree with his reasoning on why Kos refuses to blog about the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, reader Cernig makes an excellent point about Kos’s refusal in general:
Kos says he won’t because he grew up in a war zone and knows that “when two sides are dead set on killing each other, very little can get in the way” – and bloviating pundits aren’t one of those things. He says that he has “no desire to get sucked into that no-win situation”.
Its funny, because he has no problem b[l]ogging about Iraq, or Afghanistan – but those topics are reasonably unproblematic for the Militant Left.