No one, John Edwards included, grovels to the fightin’ nutroots as heroically as Dirty Harry. He flies under the radar because he’s soft-spoken and genteel, two qualities not typically associated with them, but he was there at Yearly Kos, he was there on Election Day, and the last time they tried to intimidate someone into pushing their agenda, he was right there, too. The question is why. He doesn’t need their votes: he won his last race by 26 points and isn’t up for reelection until 2010, so he should give less than a shinola what his personal dKos approval rating is right now. Maybe he figures he can’t do much to make happen the things they really want to happen, like ending the war, so he figures he’ll throw them a bone periodically by helping out with some comparatively harmless, characteristically petulant pet cause. That keeps their small stream of fundraising dollars coming and gets them off the party’s back for awhile.

In which case, here’s baby getting its bottle.

In a 20-minute conference call, a group of bloggers told Reid an uprising was brewing over the decision by the Nevada State Democratic Party to partner with Fox for the August debate in Reno. Among the bloggers, some were national — Matt Stoller of MyDD, Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of DailyKos — and some were local — Hugh Jackson of the Las Vegas Gleaner.

In the call, Reid explained that he had been focused on the Iraq war debate the past few weeks and didn’t seem to have closely followed the controversy over the Fox sponsorship. (When the debate was announced last month, Reid called it “great news for Nevada” and declared himself “happy.”)

Stoller said the bloggers told Reid that the issue was spoiling his popularity with the party’s Netroots: his DailyKos straw poll approval rating, they told him, had gone from the mid-80s to around 40 percent recently.

Reid backed off of his support of the debate, contending that he had had nothing to do with the decision, adding, “I don’t like Fox News.”

Another “top Democratic official” credits the nutroots with having played a “significant role” but insists the decision was about Fox’s attacks on Obama and (non-)threats against Edwards. Unlikely: Obama laughed off Ailes’s joke and, as Brit Hume conceded yesterday, Edwards is the one with all the leverage vis-a-vis Fox. Clearly this was done to appease the nutroots. But why? Ponder that while you digest our quote of the day:

MoveOn is now doing victory laps. “We hope that this sends a clear message to states like Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and presidential contenders that Fox is a right-wing mouthpiece. We hope the result is that Fox is permanently chilled within Democratic circles from being considered a neutral news source worth legitimizing,” said MoveOn organizer Adam Green.

“Permanently chilled.” He chose those words knowing they’d end up in a news article.

I won’t quote anymore because I want you to read the whole thing, especially the part at the end about how the wstate Democrats were sandbagged on this. 21 of them signed a letter supporting the debate that was published on the state party website on March 8. Now it’s gone, disappeared down the memory hole with several letters from state party chair Tom Collins in a sort of coup de grace for this whole Orwellian caper. Here’s the Google cache version.

Exit question: Does Reid really care what these slackjaws think or is he just humoring them?