Did Filson Freep Daily Kos?
For the last post of the year, I think it’s important to look at a recent development that caught my eye and has the potential to shape the race in the coming year. On December 21, Steve Filson posted a diary without much fanfare on Daily Kos. The diary itself was solid if not exceptional, but I don’t really want to talk about it. What really interests me more is the process of Filson posting on Daily Kos, especially in terms of what happened in the comment section.
You can read the diary here. Regardless of the content of the post, there are a couple of things about how Filson posted the diary that virtually doomed it to obscurity. First, Filson posted using the user name Fido Dem, which does not obviously label him a congressional candidate. Second, Filson titled his diary “Steve Filson for Congress,” which leaves out the state (California), the district (CA-11), and the opponent (Richard Pombo). If he had created a user name like FilsonforCongress and titled the diary “Why I’m Taking on Richard Pombo (CA-11),” I’m sure more people would have read it. Lastly, Filson tagged the diary poorly (something I have since tried to correct). For example, instead of tagging the diary with CA-11, which is the usual way on Daily Kos to abbreviate the district, Filson tagged the diary “CA-06” presumably meaning California 2006 election. I suspect that this tag will result in a number of people coming to the diary expecting to see Filson announcing his entry into the contested primary between Lynn Woolsey and Joe Nation. Still, more than anything, Filson’s missteps suggest to me that Filson is incredibly unfamiliar with the cultural norms of Daily Kos, which makes sense give his recent User ID (73385).
In some ways, it’s almost a good thing that his diary did not get noticed because Filson failed to do the one cardinal thing politicians must do on blogs like Daily Kos: respond to comments. Blogs allow for two-way communication, so it’s considered rude for politicians come to blogs, post something, and disappear without engaging in any sort of conversation. On the other hand, I suspect that Filson encouraged at least a couple of his supporters to comment on the diary after a couple of McNerney supporters left pro-McNerney comments. Although I do not have conclusive proof, it very much looked like Filson had some of his supporters freep the diary. And seeing this kind of irritated me.
If you look at the comments to Filson's diary, you see two pro-Filson comments left long after the diary was posted. First, at approximately 12:20 AM on 12/23, Buffyfan (User ID 74466) said:
I am not from California but any American who cares about the environment or ethics should be watching this race. I am looking forward to seeing you unseat Pombo.Next, at approximately 4:30 PM on 12/23, Jbmendel (User ID 74461) posted the following comment (responding to what Filson wrote in his diary about trust):
I'll trust you, Mr. Filson. We need more strong candidates like yourself in California and across the country. I'm very excited about your candidacy.
All respect for Mr. McNerney, the "but we were here first!" mentality evinced by his supporters is frankly very unbecoming. In a hard district like yours, there's only one relevant question: "Can you win?"
I trust that you can.
Color me skeptical, but it seems incredibly unlikely that two new users (with User IDs five numbers apart no less) would find this one diary, and only this one diary, to comment on. The sheer number of intervening diaries (approximately three and five hundred respectively) between when the diary was posted and when they commented on it virtually ensures that they did not just happen upon the diary. Furthermore, it seems odd to me that these two users commented only on the one diary “Steve Filson for Congress” and no other. Even now there has been no other activity from Buffyfan or Jbmendel outside of the this diary. And look at how Jbmendel responded to me when I replied to his initial comment:
Your half right (none / 0)
You're right that "we were here first" is not a good argument. What you miss is that "we were here first" is not what McNerney supporters are saying.
Every single McNerney supporter I have spoken to believes that Jerry McNerney demonstrated significant moral courage by running against Pombo in 2004. He ran without any significant support from the Democratic Party establishment. He paid $10,000 out of his own pocket (a significant sum for a man of his means) for a recount just to get on the ballot. And he did so because he took a principled stand against giving Richard Pombo a free pass.
Moreover, Jerry McNerney did this in a district that had been thirsting for a committed, passionate Democrat who wasn't afraid to stand up and fight for Democratic beliefs.
Regardless of whether you find this motivating or not, you need to understand that the loyal cadre of McNerney supporters back McNerney so strongly because they absolutely believe in his character. He championed them when nobody else would. This is much different than "we were here first."
Where Democrats Agree (none / 0)
We agree on more than we disagree. My remark was in response to the previous comments and some of the other blogs out there which have pre-emptively begun disparaging Mr. Filson. That's not the way Democrats should do things.
I've read all about Mr. McNerney's run in 2004, and really do have great respect for the man. The numbers don't lie, though. He has a small group of very dedicated supporters, and none of the widespread support needed to win in a hard district.
I'm also familiar with Mr. Filson. He's an Eagle Scout, a former Naval pilot, and an inspiring Democrat. In just a few months he has won incredible amounts of support from both inside and outside the district. He has the people, he has the funding, and he has the saavy he needs to win in November.
We can all agree on the need for a lively primary. We can agree that beating Pombo is going to take everything we've got. And we can agree that come election day, taking back the House is the only yardstick for success.
I'm proud to support Steve Filson.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a bit dubious that Filson just happened to have such an articulate supporter who just stumbled onto his diary and left a bunch of brute assertions about Filson and the race without bothering to back any of them up with--you know--facts, hyperlinks, quotes, or other things of the sort. I’m also particularly skeptical about Jbmendel describing Filson as “inspiring,” especially since Filson’s message up to this point has basically been “Vote for me because I can raise more money and am more electable than the other guy.” Maybe I’m just too dyspeptic to be easily inspired by such talk.
In any event, not content to stop at this diary, Jbmendel then went over to OurCongress.org to write another (and I would say, somewhat disingenuous) pro-Filson piece. Incidentally, a user named CAL11 Voter (User ID 72950) also posted pro-Filson comments in the same places as Jbmendel, although it’s possible that CAL11 Voter simply googled “jbmendel” after reading the comments on dkos and found the Our Congress entry that way.
On one level, I think it’s smart for Filson to get his supporters to provide him some cover when he posted on Daily Kos. But on another level, I’m disappointed that it looks like he got people to sign up on Daily Kos specifically to provide him that cover. These are not genuine members of the community. And the fact that it looks so transparently like he did this makes me feel like he’s being overly manipulative, which is ironic since Filson’s diary includes a bit about how we ought to trust him. Furthermore, almost everything of substance that was said about Filson could have been said more credibly by Filson himself.
Maybe I’m being too sensitive to this (or maybe too paranoid). What do you guys think?