Politics Harry Reid Closes the YearlyKos Conference
posted by June 10 at 8:55 PMon
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid gave the netroots what they wanted tonight in his keynote address at the first ever YearlyKos conference.
Playing to the concerns and suspicions of the blogger base, he announced new legislation “to ensure that Americans are not misled again about a national security challenge.” Reid’s “Iran Intelligence Oversight Act,” which he said he will introduce next week, would require President Bush to report to Congress on his Iran strategy, and also would require U.S. intelligence services to review any statements that Bush and Cheney are planning to make on Iran, in order to ensure that the president and vice president don’t go beyond the consensus of American intelligence analysts.
“Every thing they say will have to be supported by facts,” Reid told the bloggers and “Kossacks,” to loud cheers. “I have no doubt the White House won’t like this requirement, but after what happened in Iraq, the American people deserve nothing less.”
Reid praised the blogosphere for its history of picking apart untruths perpetuated by the right, for its pushing of the Plamegate story, and for its role in helping Democrats defeat Bush’s proposed Social Security privatization. But Reid echoed other politicians who have suggested the blogosphere could do more, encouraging the netroots to “take real action” in addition to blogging and chatting online.
He offered a three-point plan for the liberal blogosphere leading up to the 2006 Congressional elections: Continue parrying conservative attacks (“When Republicans start their attack machine, we’ll shut it down with the facts”); help spread the Democratic message (“There’s an urban myth in Washington that Democrats don’t stand for anything”); and get out from behind the computers more often (“get out in your communities, talk to your neighbors”).
He also offered this perspective on the rise of the Internet and blogs:
I believe with the Internet and Blogs we are witnessing a revolution in communications—on par with the advent of the printing press in the 15th Century. The printing press wrestled control of information away from a powerful few—namely Kings and the Church. And it is the same with the Internet today. Prior to the explosion of Blogs, our national debate was controlled by a handful of media conglomerates. Like the Kings and the Church of old, these powerful entities controlled what news and information made it into the public square. But not anymore. Not with the Internet. To get heard today, you don’t need money. Just good ideas. For the price of a computer and high-speed Internet, you can have a Printing Press, TV Studio and Radio Tower in one. The Internet has put the power of information in our hands, and now it’s time we use it..
We [Democrats] don’t have a bully-pulpit, but we do have you. We need you to be our megaphone.
Reid’s speech tonight (which I’m recounting here based on his prepared remarks) wasn’t the official end of YearlyKos. That comes tomorrow morning, after the Democratic “multifaith service” and the blogger brunch. But it was the emotional high-point for most of the attendees, and it was the end of the conference for me — I’m heading back to Seattle late tonight.
Thanks for all of the comments on my posts from Las Vegas. Like I said at the beginning, I’ll try to address some of your questions and critiques as I’m writing my feature, which will run in this week’s Stranger.