Hey, it worked for Ned Lamont, right? Stoller was last seen clapping Pete Stark on the back after he publicly commended MoveOn for that “Betray Us” ad America loves so much; Bowers is the one responsible for the immortal, oblivious, comically self-important summation of the nutroots oeuvre, the important action alert and the pretty vicious rant. Richardson needs them because he can’t get the kind of traction on the left that Silky and Obama have notwithstanding his chopper-off-the-embassy-roof “everybody out” plan for Iraq, which logically should have made him a darling of liberals eager to see a truly catastrophic Teachable Moment happen inside the country.

If Kosistan represents the new Democratic majority, why isn’t Richardson doing better and Hillary, the Democrats’ most hawkish candidate, much worse? Read David Brooks’s op-ed in the Times today for a possible answer to that. He thinks the nutroots phenomenon is hugely overblown and that the Glacier’s lead proves that conclusively. I don’t think so; he’s using the Clintons as a generic stand-in for centrist Democrats but there’s simply nothing generic about Bill. The goodwill he enjoys among rank and file Dems, the symbolic value he holds as a memory of pre-9/11 politics, and his amazing fundraising ability amount to an enormous advantage for Hillary. It’s hard to imagine her leading Obama and Edwards, at least by the margin she now holds, if she were simply Sen. Rodham from Illinois. The true test of nutroots influence will come in the congressional races, not defeating Hillary. That’s asking a lot of a nascent movement. Maybe in 2012.

Which isn’t to say Hillary can afford to ignore the left altogether. If she could, she wouldn’t have voted against the senate resolution condemning the MoveOn ad. And then Mike Huckabee wouldn’t have had the chance to accuse her of chapping her lips on George Soros’s rear end.