Monday, August 14, 2006


The Kossacks True Inspiration?

In Sunday's New York Times Week In Review, Sam Tanenhaus compares the Daily Kos blog to the early National Review:

Like the current Democratic insurgency, the conservative movement was driven by activists who combined journalism with partisanship. Just as today’s insurgents often post their analyses and self-described “rants” on Web sites like Daily Kos, so the conservative rebels of an earlier day poured forth their opinions in the National Review, the biweekly magazine founded in 1955 by the 29-year-old William F. Buckley Jr.

Today, of course, National Review is widely read as a journal of the Republican establishment. But in its infancy it was regarded as extreme — far more radical than the bloggers most influential in the Lieberman defeat. (This wasn’t surprising since Mr. Buckley and another editor, L. Brent Bozell, were co-authors of a book that championed Senator Joseph McCarthy, and the pair had orchestrated a hard-hitting advertising campaign in, as it happened, Connecticut against the Democratic senator, William Benton, whom the pair accused of obstructing the government’s investigation of Communists.)

But National Review’s biggest targets were the moderates in their party, in this case East Coast Republicans who had tapped the non-ideological war hero, Dwight Eisenhower, for the Republican nomination in 1952 over the conservative Senator Robert Taft.
Not surprisingly, the current holders of Buckley's legacy disagree:

The Buckley Project — for want of a more catholic label — was not merely to transform the GOP. It was to construct an entire competing ideology to liberalism. As a thousand bloggers have discussed already, the animal spirits on the left these days have absolutely no interest in constructing such a formidible intellectual edifice.
John is partly correct: The Kossacks are not first and foremost an intellectually-driven force. The irony of this realization though is that it underscores the point that the Kossacks themselves make -- they are not purely a far-left ideological movement akin to the McGoverniks. Rather, they are more motivated to create energy and a party-building structure rather than an intellectual governing framework for liberalism.

Curiously, if anything, the Kos people resemble the insurgent alternative Republican structure that Newt Gingrich started building in the 1980s.

Now, Newt was and remains quite the intellectual, but his GOPAC was focused on creating sharp differences between Republicans and Democrats -- even to the point of demonizing Democrats. It was focused on raising money and training candidates to run for office -- and using as many alternative media as possible to get the message out, including audio and video tapes and (for the legislative arm) spreading the word through extended after-hours discourse on the House floor that would be distrubted by C-SPAN.

Gingrich & Co. used this aggressive and creative approach to help build what became the Republican Revolution in 1994 -- but the seeds were planted nearly 15 years before when Gingrich first arrived in the House in 1979. Even though the revolution's cresting created a much more conservative House Republican caucus, and Republicans took over the House,

And it would seem that Newt's considerable achievements have not been forgotten by
significant elements of the GOP base.

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