Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Giving South Due, Plus Rants As Usual

Upon closer inspection, the new California Majority Report is an enthusiastic start to what could be a leading website in Democratic politics. With just a handful of posts so far, it's clearly a site on a mission to find a mission beyond establishing itself as a depository for everyone else's talking points. Gary South's post hit the right tone: instructive, opinionated, yet not overly bitter of of bashing toward the establishment. This is a Democratic site, not merely a "progressive" or "liberal" one - and that's what will either set it apart or spell its doom.

Compare South's post (and duh, he's there because "he's that Westly guy who has been all 'Phil sucks'" and stuff") with Gale Kaufman's. Kaufman is Democratic powerhouse for sure and there are few who can boast her gift for simple yet elegant turns of phrase, issue packaging, or sheer spin power. Yet her first foray into blogging gets us only another helping of Democratic kool-aid. It's true, which is what makes it so damn tasty, yet the reader likely won't be able to help questioning whether the product is 100% pure or just more Made From Sacramento Concentrate sweetness meant to maintain morale as the poll numbers continue to slip.

Built on the all-too-common, ever-versatile movie industry metaphor, Kaufman walks us through the highlights reel (see what I did there? eh? eh?) of Schwarzenegger's many missteps and mistakes. But, by titling her post "It's the Voters, Stupid," I can't help but think back to a comment onto which The Roundup latched yesterday: you know a candidate is sunk when he starts saying "'The only poll that counts is the one on [E]lection [D]ay.'" Does hinging your argument on the questionable belief that the voters really know what's up really inspire confidence? Yeah, not so much for me either.

Kaufman may not have placed her entire trust in the CMR's potential either. Her post ends with the line, "Good luck with the blog, boys." I'm wondering if that wasn't a cut & paste error. It certainly doesn't mesh with the rest of her argument. It also implies Kaufman might not be totally on-board with this project - or at the very least, contributors don't post their own content. Maybe this is what the editors get paid to do. Either way, it implies a certain level of detachment from the new site - and that's not good. [Ed's note: Blogger crapped out in attempting to post this article the first time and the recovery tool only brought back this much. I could weep for all the lost brilliance that originally followed. We're going from memory here and the second take is never as good..]

Kaufman is right: it is the voters. But while they were good at recalling Davis, they seem less inclined to recall Schwarzenegger's mistakes so far. So, it seems the only poll that will matter is the one on Election Day. Uh-oh . . . .

Then there's Dario Frommer's entry: a well constructed outline of Democratic values and suggestions for further success. He starts by saying Demo prospects are "glum," yet, if you think about it, the only place they are actually "glum" is in the horseshoe. As far as I know, no one is seriously contemplating a Reep sweep of the Capitol - nor are there enough '94-era indicators to suggest a coming November surprise. Frommer does criticize Angelides's plan to raise taxes, relying in a fiscally irresponsible fashion on the teensy surplus we've accumulated which sounds, dare I say it, Schwarzengger-esque. He calls for Demo leadership on oil independence and affordable housing policies and wraps things up by suggesting Angelides go mano-a-immigrant-personal-background with the Gov. But is there much in this post that sets it apart from a stock Dem-op-ed? I know Frommer has the guns to get scrappy - so what's he waiting for?

Also: John Whitehurst on up-ticket wins and down-ballot losses, including some number fun; Steve Maviglio gives good process story on the media's covering Arnold rather than covering Governor Schwarzenegger; and Jude Barry makes the obligatory Twins reference as he matches Schwarzenegger to Joe Lieberman (and includes a rather oddly placed, Westly-themed nip at Angelides) - without even reading it, you may tie your brain in knots trying to sort the twin-analogy as you categorize Angelides, Schwarzenegger, Lamont, and Lieberman (keeping in mind that this is the Democratic, not the progressive or liberal, website). Have fun with that one.

Plus: Two thumbs up for Alex Clemens's first post from the far off land of San Francisco. He gets the tone spot on. Not that there isn't room for polished pieces (though I'd say Maviglio's polish is more accessible than Kaufman's or Frommer's, but Clemens's is conversational without being rambling, and politely introduces himself and his reasons for being at CMR. Blog readers like that. It's more insightful than the bio-blurb - which in Clemens's case credits him with "inventing the Usual Suspects, San Francisco's political homepage." Inventing? Did he write that? Is that like how Al Gore invents net stuff? Now I'm just nitpicking. Bottom line, good post - others should follow his lead.


Anonymous said...

Where are the words of praise for the outstanding articles on the FlashReport ( today?


Nice to meet you.


Anonymous said...

There's only so much a gal can get to before work, my friend. Patience - your time will come, and soon . . . .