First of all, there is no 'we' in the netroots. There is no grand council who meets to decide or crown someone. Candidates have to persuade. If they don't they don't get support.
Second of all, it's not clear to me that Obama or Edwards are more or less progressive than Clinton. I get that Edwards is positioning himself that way, and I want to believe it. But I just don't. Clinton was the only candidate at the SEIU forum to attack insurance companies by name. I have no idea what Obama's positioning is, and I don't think he does either.
Third of all, there's no evidence that Obama supporters would be supporting Edwards if Obama weren't in the race, and vice versa. The polling I've seen suggests that Clinton has a lot of 'second choice' support from both Edwards and Obama supporters.
There is a Hillary and not Hillary element to the race, and only one candidate can be the not Hillary. That's what you're trying to say. The problem is that Edwards and Obama must actually work to be the not Hillary. The progressive netroots can't do it for them.
My pet peeve is not when someone unfairly goes after a candidate likes, that's what annoys you. What frustrates me is when someone venerates a candidate above all else and holds the voters or activists responsible for the failures of a candidate. And that's what you're doing here. If you want Obama to be the not-Hillary, then try to persuade him to be the not-Hillary. Passive aggressively hectoring us isn't the way to get there.
I apologize if this seems harsh, it's not meant to. You're very smart and I went through what you're going through now in 2004. The point is that you're operating with the notion that an ideological lens makes sense for the party. I agree with that. But you also assume that either Edwards or Obama sees politics as an ideological contest, and they don't. They should. But like Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Bill Clinton, they don't really believe that ideas have power. And so they are making a mess of things, which is why Clinton is winning.
And until one of them steps up, Clinton will continue to dominate. And nothing the grand council of netroots elders do will make a damn bit of difference.