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Status Report: Netroots Nation vs. Wingnut Wanking

conservacrowd.thumbnail.JPGSo I decided to go pay a visit to the "Texas Summit" of right-wing bloggers (officially titled "Defending the American Dream" ) being held here in Austin as an ostensible counter to the Netroots Nation gathering. If they want the public to do a comparison and contrast, I thought I’d help them out.

I was only able to watch for a little while — heard Erik Erickson of Red State and Michael Steele talk, and watched the nostalgic Ronald Reagan videos they ran in between segments to help boost what clearly were some flagging spirits — before they realized I didn’t have the requisite green tag and booted me out.

I was polite and well-behaved (I even opened the doors for a handicapped woman who was having trouble pushing through as all the young conservative men stood and watched her struggle) but, well, they clearly did not want interlopers. I was hoping to have been in there long enough to hear Michelle Malkin, but the Unhinged One was late arriving and they kept finding ways to stall the crowd, and soon enough my time ran out.

But there were some notable differences with Netroots Nation:

— I stood out like a sore thumb because I was wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, fairly typical NN/DFH wear. All the male Pubbies, young and old, were neatly dressed out either in chinos and golf shirts or suits and ties.

— It was very, very, very white there.

— There were only speakers; no question-and-answer periods. Everybody seemed happy to just be talked to, not to talk back.

— The speakers were uniformly, uh, subdued about their prospects for the 2008 elections. I think a hari-kiri booth in the exhibit area would have been popular.

— And there were, well, a lot fewer people. A LOT. You can see the crowd shot above, as it were. I guesstimated (generously) the crowd to be between 200 and 300 people. Below, just for the sake of comparison, is a typical NN crowd — where the numbers are upwards of 3,000.

nn-crowd.thumbnail.JPGThat says all I think you need to say about the state of the conservative movement vs. the state of the progressive movement.

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David Neiwert

David Neiwert

David Neiwert is the managing editor of Firedoglake. He's a freelance journalist based in Seattle and the author/editor of the blog Orcinus. He also is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press). His reportage for on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000.