Monday, August 06, 2007

Mojo and I attended YearlyKos in Chicago over the weekend. And if there's one thing I learned, its that opinions are like blogs - everyone has one (or in most cases, several). Seeing as such, here are some of my impressions.

YearlyKos is the second gathering of liberal bloggers, all rallying around the website It was in McCormick place, which is a big monstrosity of a building - fitting for Chicago, since we don't do anything small here. Mojo and I bounced around from room to room, popping in on various panel discussions. Some were very interesting - like Anthony Romero, the head of the ACLU. I'm on their email list, so it was good to see a face and hear his stories behind the mail blasts. I wish his letters were as interesting as he was in person. I learned that the assault on our civil liberties are further reaching than anyone of us care to imagine, and that 90% of the people who went to that talk were old, which someone in the audience pointed out as being strange, and Anthony laughed it off - but, to be fair, the entire convention was skewed that way. Another of my favorite panels debated the role between old media and new media (aka print vs. online only bloggers). It was funny because even the panel seemed to physically distance themselves - Sidney Blumenthal and another middle aged woman who wrote for a respectable Colarado online newspaper on one side and then Abdi Aynte and Ezra Klein, two young guys big in the blogosphere. I'll just say it is a rich subject, and too much ground was covered to adequately sum up in a few sentences. Some panels, on the other hand, felt like a college lecture at 8am, and I had a hard time keeping my mind in it.

Otherwise, we had some fun doing spotting notables in the mix. Wesley Clark, Ned Lamont, John Dean, Sam (?) from air america, etc. Mojo was more on it than I was. I was ready to tackle Maureen Dowd if she showed on the scene, but she was nowhere to be found. We spent a lot of time just wandering around, gathering freebies, etc. It was a longggg two days, sun up to sun down, with a group of people who looked like they don't spend too much time outside of the glow of their labtop. It was political saturation, and as much as I can foam at the mouth for that game, these are people who analyze every move to the nth degree. I guess its good someone does.

The highlight, by far, was the presidential forum. They were giving out wristbands for the one on one sessions with the candidates, and by the time we got there, Edwards and Obama were gone. No matter, because I wanted to see Hillary anyway. And everyone was bitching and moaning about her potentially cancelling, and then confirming but having to show up earlier than scheduled. Get over it people - this is a first lady, and not someone with a schedule like the rest of us, where some days the only task reads "grocery store." Anyway, she came, and she was awesome. She looked really good. She was so quick witted, and self-effacing at times. She answered every question without batting an eye. Her answers were honest and nuanced and really revealed she knew both the ideals of what could happen, but the reality of what it takes to play ball in Washington. Mojo and I left her one on one room smiling, newly minted Hillary converts.

The big debate was fun too. It was Obama's birthday and the crowd sang. The moderator said something to the effect of - "normally in debates, we ask you to hold all applause till the end. But of course, that's not going to happen with this crowd! So just keep in mind we are on a time limit, so keep your reactions to a minimum so we can keep things moving." And there were big applauses, and then the occasional "hssssssssss." But in short summary - Edwards: is a pandering political robot and if he gets the nomination I will freak. He just says some canned response to every question about - we need change! blahblahblah, when the question was just something like, do you want ketchup with that. In fact, Bill Richardson had to answer the questions that Edwards spaced on twice. He doesn't listen. Change, my ass. The guilty dog barks loudest, you ex-ambulance chaser, coiffed play-boy. Ahhhhh. I had to get that off my chest.... Obama: he's a nice guy, but with a lot to learn. I mean, he didn't even know to look into the camera when he answered. Everything he said sounds real nice, but what's going to happen if he gets in and has to play down in the mud with the rest of them? For example, he was asked if he was willing to retain a deficit in order to fund all the programs he's promised. Stuff like that, you realize its an unfortunate give and take that he'd have to learn the hard way. Speaking of, you had old Denny Kucinich there - he's our uncompromising idealogue, and in a perfect world, we'd have a vegan president. But, alas, its not. On the otherside, you have straight up realists like Bill Richardson and Mike Gravel. They both came off as hardened politicos who knew straight up how the deals go down, and spoke with a great bit of directness that was refreshing. God, these guys are hard working too. I saw Richardson's one on one after the debate, and he talked for well over an hour, at least. He even told his campaign manager at one point - "look, I'm at 12%, i'm gonna answer some more questions!" - as he was trying to butt-in and end the session. Both Richardson and Gravel were the only ones who stuck around for the Teamster picnic out on the patio. It felt like politics of yore to see these gruffy guys getting up on the riser set up in front of a semi, yelling to the heavens of change! and helping the average joe! How they keep that energy up, I'll never know.

And who does that lead us back to? Good ol' hillary. The perfect middle ground in my book. Big ideals, but enough experience to know what jives with reality. I'm sure all the blogs will talk about how she wouldn't promise to refuse lobbyist money like robo-Edwards did. I loved it. She didn't pander to us just for applause. She knows. What, all these saintly democrats won't take a dime, meanwhile Guiliani is making backroom deals with Murdoch, et al? Were in it to win, my friends, and she'll need every dime she can get. And she's right when she said - look at my record. I've believed in the same things for 25 years - money hasn't affected my decisions in the past, and it won't in the future. And I believe her.

All in all, it was fun to be around passionate people. But I'm also a bit of a cynic, and got fed up with everyone being so quick to pat their own backs, or being just as susceptible to group think as the right are. Also, this is the last year of it being a "yearlykos." Its now Netroots Nation, or something like that. And what a big mistake, in my book. It takes that element of being underground and a club that is open but you just got to know where to find it, and changes it into some big official entity that'll have bumper stickers and t-shirts to jam down your throat. And there's certainly enough of that in the world.

So there's my two cents. Thanks Kosssacks for coming to my city and bringing your enthusiasm. Keep fighting the good fight!

1 comment:

  1. Markos said it best: “Alone, we were nobody. But together we are somebody. A very important somebody...none of us can win on our own and we don’t have to. We have each other.”
    This group of people were responsible for Joe Liebermann being kicked out of the democratic party and recruiting and electing Jim Webb as Senator.
    To think that 7 of the 8 democratic candidates would spend an afternoon with roughly 1400 conventioneers (yeah - that's what we were Kelly -ha!) is mind blowing. Especially since last year (the first year) we were more ridiculed than revered.
    Hillary did wow us - Barack, not so much. I can understand why her polls numbers are rising because she had us when the microphone didn't work and she muttered "vast right wing conspiracy" under her breath as a joke at the beginning of our one-on-one session with her.