Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fred Barnes examines Colorado's new left-wing thinktanks

Fred Barnes has written a passable report in the Weekly Standard on the progress of left-leaning think tanks in Colorado. Barnes repeats the accusation that the prominent blog suckles at the Democratic teat, an accusation which the blog owners have repeatedly denied.

However, he voices some plausible comments on the synergy created between like-minded partisan groups who can create an echo-chamber in the news:
It works quite simply. The investigative arm uncovers some alleged wrongdoing by a Republican candidate or official or plays up what someone else has claimed. Then Ethics Watch steps in and demands an official investigation, and jumps on the story. This is synergy at work. It spurs political chatter. Finally, the mainstream media are forced to report on it.

His examination of wealthy homosexual Democrats' targeting of social conservatives also lines up with other reports.

Barnes rightly notes that the flood of money offers an excuse for Republicans' "tailspin," but also suggests social conservative concerns face enemies within their own party:
Absent the Democratic headwind, [Senate candidate Bob] Schaffer would have a reasonable chance of winning. But his prospects could be further hampered by an antiabortion referendum on the ballot this November declaring that life begins at conception. If abortion becomes a major issue, Schaffer, who is pro-life, might lose the votes of suburban Republican women.

While an out-of-state pundit's insight into Colorado affairs is questionable, it is significant that Schaffer himself has backed away from Proposition 48, an idealistic but premature endeavor whose collection of over 100,000 signatures was a surprise to many.

Missing from Barnes' analysis is consideration of the factions involved in local politics and whether these well-funded think tanks do more than provide commercial spam and employment opportunities for college-educated partisans.

Ethics Watch, for instance, looks to be targeting intra-party enemies of a certain set of Democratic leaders to provide a facade of even-handedness to its vendettas. It is doubtful Denver City Auditor Dennis Gallagher would have appeared on their "rogues' gallery" of allegedly most corrupt public officials had the trustworthy Gallagher not made enemies among the Denver establishment during his tenure as a Denver city councilman. Gallagher's enemies only increased when he exposed the patronage jobs of Mayor Wellington Webb's administration.

Perhaps Barnes' largest flaw, however, rests in his obliviousness to Colorado's demographic change. He writes as though he believes well-funded scribbling can win elections.

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