The party without ideas
While Broder seems to hope that the think tanks can get beyond emotion and insults at this point I see little reason for his optomism. His description of the "nutroots" is pretty accurate. I can always tell when one of them attempts a cmment here. They can not distinguish between insult and argument and they do not get published. I do not mind printing opposing comments, but see no value in getting in swapping insults with anyone.
Judging from the amount of publicity they gleaned, the liberal bloggers who gathered in Las Vegas recently for the first annual YearlyKos convention represent the cutting edge of thinking in the Democratic Party.
But the blogs I have scanned are heavier on vituperation of President Bush and other targets than on creative thought. The candidates who have been adopted as heroes by Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the convention's leader, and his fellow bloggers have mainly imploded in the heat of battle -- as was the case with Howard Dean in 2004 -- or come up short, as happened to the Democratic challengers in special House elections in Ohio and California.
Fortunately, there are others than these "net roots" activists working on the challenge of defining the Democratic message. I do not include the Democratic congressional leadership in the hopeful camp. The new legislative "agenda" that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Co. trotted out last week was as meager as it was unimaginative.
But a covey of relatively new Democratic think tanks in Washington are sponsoring conferences and lectures where more substantial policy ideas are being aired and debated. And this past week two new publications appeared -- one online and the other in print -- that promise to push the thinking of the opposition party even further.