I was tempted to title this Kos is Dean, because that’s my point: both Markos and Howard are passionate, partisan Democrats who sometimes engage their mouths (or their fingers) before their brains are fully in gear.
Not that I view this as a completely negative thing. It’s that rough-edged, essentially unfiltered view that makes listening to either compelling. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have been lined up at the first Dean house party if it wasn’t for the visceral — even red-faced — approach he took in his early speeches. And I wouldn’t have signed onto kos in the very early days if I didn’t see it as a place where people never hesitated to speak their minds.
The rawness is part of what makes them both attractive to Democrats and, I suspect, part of what makes Markos so enthusiastic about the doctor.
This doesn’t mean that what kos said in his post (either the original or the update) was a good thing. Hell, if I’m going to talk about being honest, here’s what I honestly think of what he said. I think it was stupid. I think it was childish. I think it was uncalled for, sophomoric and rude. That’s what I think. And I think that he really meant to apologize, he could have done so in a way that looked to contain at least a modicum of sincerity without even changing that many words. What if kos, in his update, had said:
I apologize for what I wrote earlier. It was late, I was tired, and I said something very foolish. It doesn’t really represent how I feel about women in general, and especially about the large number of women across the Democratic spectrum who have contributed so much to this site.
It’s my belief that a statement like that, given at the time, would have snapped off this debate in an instant. But instead kos clammed up. True or not, he gave the impression that he was digging his heels.
Dr. Dean has sometimes done the same. There have been some occasions when he (or at least, the PR machine around his campaign) was no better in forming their response. You can go from the recent flap over lazy Republicans back to the rebel flag fiasco. In each case, Dean was saying something essentially correct, but he did so in a way that gave more ammunition to critics than friends. Those of us who pull for the guy have supported him through these conflicts and rightly pointed out both the good intent of the statements and their unimportance in the scheme of things. That doesn’t mean Dean has escaped without some bruises.
Similarly, Kos’s “screw them” statement was his raw expression of personal feelings. A year later, the site is bigger than ever — but the community (and kos’s reputation) would be better off if those words had never been spoken. Now we have the “women’s studies” comment, which took a small dispute and elevated it to a community crisis. Markos will live. DailyKos will live. I’ll bet you if you check in there in summer 2006, you’ll find even more folks than today. That doesn’t make this any less of a black eye.
I’ll continue to support both Dean and kos, because we need them both. Both men have been singularly effective in their abilities to raise interest, issues, and almighty dollars (hey grammarians, can two people be singularly effective? ) They’re both smart guys, and vigorous defenders of the Democratic Party. We’d be in worse shape without either of them around.
Part of what draws us to them is the occasional thin spot in the filters between their minds and their tongues. Now, the trick will really be to see if they, Dean and kos, can learn to strike the right balance between honesty and thoughtfulness. Personally, I believe Dean has already made great strides along this route. He’s gone from being a smart doctor with good ideas and a great interest in politics to a good politician. He’s not yet a great politician, but he’s working on it.
Kos… eh, not so much. My impression is that, well kos doesn’t care what my impression is. He would tell you that he’s not running for office. Fair enough. But he does need to realize that when you’ve fired the first shot in the ol’ Democratic circular firing squad (or at the very least, raised the caliber) the best thing a good partisan Democrat can do is to try and stop the fight. When you really care about the team, every now and then you need to take one for the team.