BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, August 19 2009
Miss Netroots Nation this year? Perhaps the next best thing to being there, Slate's intrepid Christopher Beam somehow managed to drag himself nearly every single session at the fourth annual assemblage of left-leaning bloggers, held in Pittsburgh last week. Though he did draw the line at "the fifth event on 'messaging.'" That kind of coverage seems nearly impossible, but perhaps Beam walks really, really fast. I'm thinking there was copious Red Bull involved. Anyway, Beam hunted around for a central theme, and came up with this: How does the netroots hold President Barack Obama accountable to the progressive vision he ran on, without providing ammunition and momentum to the other side?
The ever-insightful Digby, reported Beam, cited FDR: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." In other words, goes the thinking, there is much that liberal bloggers and Obama agree on. Where they can serve is by creating the political momentum to make that change possible. It was the same point that NN '09 keynoter Bill Clinton made when he angrily told a heckler in the audience that the reason his Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy on gay servicemembers fell short because activists on the left failed, not him. The extra-governmental left failed to create the political will in Congress for a smarter and more resilient policy on gay folks in the military, said Clinton. And so, when DADT went out into the world, it got warped and queered into an unworkable approach. Clinton's message to netrooters: Keep Obama in check, for sure. But focus the bulk of your energies on pushing for the change you both want.
In other Netroots Nation news, its been announced that the 2010 gathering will be held July 22-25 in that land of Elvis impersonators and chocolate fountains known as Las Vegas. (Photo credit: Matt Ortega)