They say that the great leaders are gone and politics has become the realm of the small-minded. But in the land of the Lilliputians, the Keyboard Kingpin must be accorded full respect.
The Keyboard Kingpin, a k a Markos Moulitsas ZÃºniga, sits at his computer, fires up his Web site, Daily Kos, and commands his followers, who come across like squadrons of rabid lambs, to unleash their venom on those who stand in the way. And in this way the Kingpin has made himself a mighty force in his own mind, and every knee shall bow.
The Kingpin’s first enemy was the Democratic Party establishment, and it pleased him to see Howard Dean take it on. When the Dean campaign hired the Kingpin and his co-author and onetime business partner Jerome Armstrong as paid campaign consultants, this was an appropriate sign of respect, and the Kingpin did lay his hand of blog approval upon the Dean campaign (while disclosing the connection).
When Sherrod Brown, the Democratic Senate candidate in Ohio, hired Armstrong last year to help with his campaign, this was also a sign of respect. The Kingpin had instructed his Kossack cultists to support Brown’s Democratic primary rival, Paul Hackett. But the Kingpin switched sides and backed Brown over his former anointee.
The Kingpin often directs his wrath at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. But the centrist Democrat Mark Warner has also hired Armstrong as a consultant, and the Kingpin has graciously exempted Warner from the seventh circle of Kos hell. Warner is frequently celebrated on Daily Kos as something akin to the second coming of F.D.R.
And so it is in the realm of the Kingpin. Those who offer respect get respected.
But lo, there are doubters. Chris Suellentrop, who writes the Opinionator column on TimesSelect, posted an item on June 16 noting the strange correlation between Armstrong contracts and Kos endorsements. He further reported that the S.E.C. has filed court documents alleging that in 2000 Armstrong touted a dubious software stock on a Web site in exchange for secret payments. Armstrong was accused of building Internet buzz to make money for himself.
The Keyboard Kingpin was displeased by this publicity.
But the Sachem of the Blogosphere restrained his mighty wrath and responded with the cleverness for which he is so justly self-adored. In a private letter to hundreds of his fellow progressive bloggers, the Kingpin declared he would “go on the offensive” in a “couple of months,” but in the meantime, a code of omertÃ was in order. “It would make my life easier if we can confine the story,” he wrote. “If any of us blog on this right now, we fuel the story. Let’s starve it of oxygen.”
But alas! There was a Judas on the listserve, who leaked the Kingpin’s missive to Jason Zengerle, who promptly posted a report on The New Republic Web site.
The Kingpin waxed Cheneyesque on the evils of leaking, and this time the squeaking fury of the Kossacks could be heard (to those capable of discerning high frequencies) far and wide. The Kingpin excommunicated The New Republic from the community of the saved. “If you still hold a subscription to that magazine, it really is time to call it quits. If you see it in a magazine rack, you might as well move it behind the National Review,” he wrote on Daily Kos.
“The New Republic betrayed, once again, that it seeks to destroy the new people-powered movement for the sake of its Lieberman-worshiping neocon owners,” the Kingpin charged. And so the magazine of Walter Lippmann was expunged from the community of the righteous, and its writers cast into the shadow of oblivion.
The Kingpin is not surprised by such betrayals. Sounding like Tom DeLay â who is his moral doppelgÃ¤nger â Kos says that those who crash the gates and take on the establishment are bound to be attacked.
But the truth is that the new boss is little different from the old boss â only smaller. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and many other Democrats bow and scrape. He has managed to spread the gospel of Kossism far and wide, which is not really about ideas and philosophy. “I’m just all about winning,” he has said.
And so the Kingpin has his relationships and his understandings and his networks and his compromises. In just a few short years he has achieved a level of self-importance it took those in the pre-blog political class decades to acquire.
He has challenged his enemy and become it.
Really, the most interesting part of this column (I have no idea what the deal is with this Armstrong/stock business, nor do I care) is in Brooks’s second-to-last paragraph: the “level of self-importance it took those in the pre-blog political class decades to acquire.” Good to know that Brooks has been in that self-important “class” long enough to come right out and admit it.