Peter Daou is one of the most astute and aggressive bloggers in the country. Senator Hillary Clinton is the poster child for equivocation and triangulation. So, it was interesting news when we found out that Senator Clinton has hired Peter Daou to be her web consultant. Hillary hiring Peter Daou is a little like Nixon going to China.
I know Peter and consider him a friend. I know for a fact that he understands the problems with the Democratic establishment and what needs to be done to fix it. And as much as anyone, Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party establishment.
So, that sets up an interesting question. Will Mohammed go to the mountain or will the mountain come to Mohammed?
There are three possibilities:
1. Hillary will actually listen to what Peter has to say and adjust her views and actions.
2. They will not be able to see eye to eye and Peter will be ignored and then will eventually leave the job.
3. Peter will become an apologist for Hillary's current stances on things like Iraq, which are hideous and morally repugnant.
I would be really disappointed if option number two were to happen. I would be crushed if option three did. I was thinking of talking to Peter before writing this, but decided it would be better just to write it because I would feel bad even writing option number three down after I talked to him personally.
But that possibility must be mentioned because it is a critical question that is likely to face a lot of the prominent bloggers soon - how much do you accommodate the establishment without being co-opted by them?
There will be a struggle. The establishment won't simply lay down their arms and run into the waiting arms of the netroots and ask for forgiveness. It is hard to get people out of a pattern they're used to. On the other hand, there will be a lot of pressure on the bloggers hired by campaigns to serve their new employers faithfully.
It's an interesting tightrope. I think it's a phenomenon that should be tracked. Will the bloggers be co-opted or will the establishment finally see the light? Who doesn't love a fun drama like that?
So, I propose The Daou Index. The scale of the index will be 0-100. 100 is when the Democratic Establishment understands the concerns of the netroots perfectly and does their best to faithfully address them. 0 is what we had when the Kerry campaign sat Peter Daou in a corner and didn't listen to a word he said during 2004.
I believe the index has already risen from that 0 point in 2004. Presidential candidates came to Yearly Kos (the first bloggers convention held earlier this month) in droves. John Kerry and Russ Feingold frequently go out of their way to meet with bloggers now. Mark Warner is famously courting Jerome Armstrong of MyDD and Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos. And now Hillary has hired Daou.
So, by my estimation, we're at about a 10 out of a 100 right now.
Of course, the score can also go down if there are signs that bloggers turned consultants have been co-opted or Democrats backtrack on the issues. Another confirmation proceeding like Sam Alito's or General Hayden's can bring the score back down to zero. Issues and action matter most.
Hiring bloggers as consultants isn't a panacea that automatically boosts your score. That's not the end of the job, that's the beginning.
Remember, bloggers aren't the netroots, they're the rough representatives of the netroots. The netroots are actual people all across America that are sick of the way the Democratic Party has been handling itself over the last five years.
But talking to people who talk to the netroots every day is a positive first step. The next step would be to listen to them.
If you listen to them you could understand what their real concerns are. A good starting point is to stop buying into the hype that people who are active on the blogs want Democrats to be more leftist. Understand that their primary concern is that you learn to stand up and fight. And fighting doesn't mean pounding your chest over how many wars you supported. It means standing up for principles you and your voters believe in.
No one understands this better than Peter Daou. If you asked me to pick one person to send into the teeth of the Democratic establishment to deliver this message, I couldn't name anyone better than Peter. If Hillary doesn't listen to him, then there's no hope for her and no chance for reconciliation.
We're not looking for a pat on the head or an acknowledgment of our relevance. We are looking for actual action. We know the job is done when Democrats start fighting for what's right rather than calculating what is expedient (and often grossly miscalculating it at that).
That would be when The Daou Index hits a 100. But we have long way to go to get there. But to her credit, Hillary's taken the first step.