So I went to the Capital City Brewery last night to hear Howard Dean after RSVP-ing to the Democracy For America website, along with about 1200 other people. I don't know how many people were actually there, but both levels of the place were filled to standing room only, and later on I realized there was a substantial crowd standing outside as well, to which Dean afterward went out to provide a second speech. Yeah, I know, this is DC, land of policy wonks, government workers, and political staff, not the revered "heartland" of conservative Republican lore where things like this transpire, but I digress...now back to our regularly scheduled programming...
Other than the substance and passion typical for Dean, and the surprise accompaniment of fellow Vermonter, Senator Jim Jeffords, who joined him on stage, two things stood out for me. One, I have a hard time imagining someone like Tim Roemer, or Donnie Fowler, or, heaven forbid, Martin Frost, generating this kind of turnout or enthusiasm. In fact, I have a hard time imagining any Democrat besides the Clintons getting this kind of reaction.
Two, while I don't want to overstate the importance of Saturday's upcoming DNC election and Dean's likely victory in it, for its ability to dramatically change the political landscape (a point Dean underscored last night), it is clear that at a minimum, a different wind is blowing in Democratic politics. Whatever else happens, business as usual in the Democratic Party is over. The blogosphere and emerging grassroots progressive movement typified by Dean has changed how the party responds to its constituency, current events, and selects its leadership. While the change in party head may take time to produce tangible benefits, the change in process and selection this time indicates a new, more ground-up era, where we have a voice in shaping the party's and country's destiny.
The other seemingly unrelated event concerns the de-talonization of "Talon News" and its Bushie devotie and propogandist, "Jeff Gannon" masquerading as a "journalist" with press credentials and White House briefing room access. Although the Howard Kurtz piece in today's Post credits Kos, Atrios, and World O' Crap with the "outing", David Brock and Media Matters for America got the ball rolling.
And here's a memo to the wingnuts (and Reynolds, this means you) who are now crying foul: If you want to be the Administration's waterboy, at least use your own damn real name. And if you now think it's A-OK for journalists and their employers to be biased, than shut y're trap about "media bias". If you don't care that this guy was a partisan shill, than your whole bogus haranging of The Liberal Media is a sham.
Anyway, so what's the connection? The connection is that despite November's losses, there are signs of life that a new progressive movement is beginning to gel and have focus. The Democratic Party and the conservative establishment have been put on notice. We're paying attention.