I’m heading to Austin for Netroots Nation, formerly known as Yearly Kos. The liberal-leaning bloggers consider their annual event something of a family reunion, and have a packed agenda for the weekend.
But unlike last year, no presidential hopefuls will attend. One of the main events will be a panel with Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas squaring off against DLC Chairman Harold Ford.
I have a curtain-raiser to the event, which could be viewed as the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, in today’s paper:
There’s an ongoing battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, and neither side is backing down.
Progressive ideals and centrist governing have clashed during the Democratic presidential race and exposed party rifts when the presumptive nominee, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, joined with Republicans to hand President Bush a legislative victory.
Markos Moulitsas is confident that the soul rests firmly on his side - the “netroots.”
He will make that case Friday when he discusses the party’s future with Democratic Leadership Council Chairman Harold E. Ford Jr.
They will square off at the Netroots Nation conference inspired by Mr. Moulitsas’ Daily Kos blog, carrying out the second part of a pact forged last summer on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
A video promo posted at DailyKos.com depicts the panel discussion as a “Texas Shootout,” though the dialogue was civil when Mr. Moulitsas attended the DLC’s annual meeting last month.
Mr. Ford argues that for Democrats “to win and do well, it will take a merging of both factions, every part of the party.” Mr. Moulitsas, however, insists that Democrats need to hold intraparty primary battles to purge candidates and elect “better” politicians.
The man chosen during the primaries to lead both factions is snubbing them both.
Read my full story here:
One anecdote that didn’t make the story is quite revealing of how the community sees itself as a family:
Some call the Netroots Nation gathering a family reunion — and the activists rallied like one recently when one of their heroes — Washington state candidate Darcy Burner — had an unexpected tragedy.
Her home burned to the ground. The blogging community set a goal of contributing at least $150,000 so she would not have to fundraise while pulling her life back together in the fire’s aftermath. As of Tuesday afternoon she was only a few thousand away from the goal.
“She is truly one of us,” Mr. Moulitsas wrote of Mrs. Burner. “Some politicians can put up a facade or say the right things for the right audience, but there’s no faking it when you’ve just run out of your burning house, seeing all your worldly possessions go up in flames as you frantically try to ensure your family is safe.”
He points to the shirt she was wearing when the early-morning fire broke out — a gray T-shirt with the computing symbol for “End war.”
“She is family,” he wrote.
— Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times
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