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Bloggers Storm the Senatorial Gates

In the latest sign of the growing strength of the liberal "net roots" community, Senate Democrats have invited a trio of prominent bloggers into one of their formal, inside-the-Capitol luncheons for the first time.

On Thursday, John Aravosis of AMERICAblog, David Waldman, a contributing editor at Daily Kos, and Duncan Black of Eschaton are slated to brief the Senate Democratic Policy Committee luncheon.

That's a weekly gathering of the Democratic caucus, led by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), and held inside the stately Lyndon Baines Johnson room just off the Senate floor. This particular meeting is always a bit less formal than the Tuesday caucus luncheons, where group policy decisions are hashed out. Instead, the Dorgan meetings are meant to stir discussion and long-term thinking about issues.

In an interview with Capitol Briefing today, Dorgan acknowledged this was a big step for the group, actually inviting the progressive supporters (and sometimes agitators) into their meetings. "It's a new world out there," Dorgan said. "The Internet is changing everything."

Dorgan declined to elaborate on what he expected from Aravosis, Waldman and Black, whether they would be specifically asked to stick to talking about technology or whether they would also be advising the caucus on tactics. But he said he's particularly interested in learning more about what the Internet has done to transform public discourse on issues and politics.

"How are these [technological] changes affecting the public dialogue?" he asked.
Normal attendees to Dorgan's luncheon are establishment liberal-to-moderate activists, authors and former officials. In recent years that's included figures such as New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman, Democratic strategists James Carville and Paul Begala, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A few years back, when Dorgan really wanted to stir the pot, he invited Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp. and the head of FOX News, into the Democratic lion's den.

Senate Democrats have grown closer to the net roots crowd in the last two years, including moves by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), to hire a staffer more than two years ago whose sole job was to work with progressive bloggers.

But the blogosphere has never before been invited into the Capitol to address the Democratic caucus, according to Dorgan. The closest it has come was two years ago at an informal policy retreat the caucus held across the street in a meeting room of the Library of Congress.

Considering the distinguished tenures and ages of some members of the caucus -- Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), 89; Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), 75, just to name two -- how much will they be able to follow along with the high-tech dialogue on Thursday?

"Every member of our caucus is sharp as a tack, up to date and Internet savvy," Dorgan said, pausing for effect. "That's our position and we're sticking to it."

By Paul Kane  |  March 20, 2007; 4:55 PM ET
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Someone should tell Senator Dorgan that it's not a "new world," it's a modern world.

Posted by: David All | March 20, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I doubt that they are going there to talk about the "technology." The bloggers probably don't know much more than the average Senator about how blog technology works (unless that Senator is Ted "Tubes" Stevens.)

Posted by: Alvord | March 20, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

perhaps instead of modern world the term modem world is more accurate today.

Posted by: domga | March 20, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

If Dorgan's interested in hearing "what the Internet has done to transform public discourse on issues and politics" he might just ask Chris Dodd to talk about recent CT politics. Better yet, bring in Jane Hamsher of, and have her explain.

On the other hand, asking Joe Lieberman to talk about it would probably be a bad idea. I'm guessing he's still not terribly happy about the effects of the Internet on his political life.

Posted by: Peterr | March 21, 2007 12:30 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if the Democratic Senators are paying the bloggers. Hillary is paying them $20,000 a week and getting results on Daily Kos:

Posted by: William | March 21, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

The Americam conservative Christians will be totally turned off with the legalpursuit forced on the President . Why- There is total impas in the Senate - %)-%0- So a politacal diversion will only detract from help by the Senate in resolving the war.

Posted by: jambok | March 21, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Uh, do we really have to keep the meme that older people are idiots who just marvel at that "kids" invention, the internet? I imagine your average 65 year old can handle a channel changer, maybe turn on a cuisenart, and actually might have gotten onto the internet. I know, amazing, when really all they know how to do is drool, eh?

Actually, the meme about how only kids understand the internet is itself dated about 1997. Kane should wake up.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Interesting and a bit odd that Josh Marshall was not on the list, considering that a large part of the news of the day is due to his hard work. I guess we can assume that when it comes to blogging, these guys wouldn't know the difference between sh*t and shinola.

Posted by: Mark F. | March 22, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Great article. Indeed, a sign of the times. The blogosphere is an excellent voice and guide for current political opinions.

LOL reading the comment above "I wonder if the Democratic Senators are paying the bloggers."

A question to be asked of the Repbulicans as well.

Posted by: Candace | March 23, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that Josh Marshall wouldn't accept an invitation, but that's not to be taken the wrong way. Not all liberal bloggers do the same thing, and Dorgan's chosen the ones who do opinion, strategy and media-critique rather than journalism.

As for Mr 'paying-the-bloggers', he seems to forget the under-the-table payments offered to two bloggers by the Thune (R) campaign in South Dakota in 2004.

Posted by: Nick S | March 23, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Bloggers Storm the Senatorial Gates--
That's the headline. Then this is printed:
In the latest sign of the growing strength of the liberal "net roots" community, Senate Democrats have invited a trio of prominent bloggers into one of their formal, inside-the-Capitol luncheons for the first time.

Invited and stormed have two different meanings!

Posted by: Claire | March 23, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I fully support the House and Senate standing firm against the bullying and monarchial behavior of Blush. The President can veto the compromise bill. I wonder if just arriving at a compromise will take more time than is predicted.
The Congressional Research Service has clearly laid out that the Pentagon can run the war into July by "juggling" and "transferring" funds within their Budget. After that, if I were John Murtha or Steny Hoyer, or Senator Reid, I demand that the Pentagon go through their future projects with a ruthless ... absolutely ruthless comb. Every esoteric program should be scrutinized. If the Pentagon wants to ensure that the troops on the ground in Iraq have adequate funding, they can trim and pare. The Navy and Air Farce should come ahead of those measures, though. They're not on the front lines.
If that doesn't settle well for them, then they can send some Shore Police units, and fund them from their own pockets, to fill in some gaps, one of which will be from the British draw down.
After that, perhaps then the President will compromise.
Bush is adamant, and, a jackoff.
Let him play tough all he wants. Frankly, this is all our war, and because of that, the President needs to remember that this is not just him out there ... it's all of us. And we spoke in 2006.
I would hope that every single person who voted for a change, hangs tough, supports our congressional leaders, and demand that the Pentagon focus it's budget on what needs to be done on a priority basis.
We all do it when we have a large unexpected bill and that's what this President must do, too, if he wants to ever move forward.
WE, THE PEOPLE, have spoken.

Posted by: ramparts | April 3, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

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