Do I hear the lush arpeggio of the crying violins? Are those the dulcet tones of the waahmbulance? Could it be that Joe Klein got his feelings hurt by the meanie leftie bloggers?
First, let me say that I really enjoy blogging. It’s a brilliant format for keeping readers up to date on the things I care about—and for exchanging information with them. I recently asked Swampland readers with military experience to comment on whether it was General David Petraeus’ “duty” to tell the unvarnished truth about Iraq when he testifies on Capitol Hill in September. About a dozen readers responded with links to treatises about “duty” in various military journals. Furthermore, I’ve found that some great reporting takes place in the blogosphere: Juan Cole’s Iraq updates are invaluable, Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo did serious muckraking about the U.S. attorneys scandal, and Ezra Klein (no relation) is excellent on health care. I love linking to smart work by others, something you just can’t do in a print column.
But the smart stuff is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere. Anyone who doesn’t move in lockstep with the most extreme voices is savaged and ridiculed—especially people like me who often agree with the liberal position but sometimes disagree and are therefore considered traitorously unreliable. Some of this is understandable: the left-liberals in the blogosphere are merely aping the odious, disdainful—and politically successful—tone that right-wing radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh pioneered. They are also justifiably furious at a Bush White House that has specialized in big lies and smear tactics.
And that is precisely the danger here. Fury begets fury. Poison from the right-wing talk shows seeped into the Republican Party’s bloodstream and sent that party off the deep end. Limbaugh’s show—where Dick Cheney frequently expatiates—has become the voice of the Republican establishment. The same could happen to the Democrats.
He’s kidding, right? “Fury begets fury”? He’s never read Little Green Footballs, Free Republic, or Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter is just a little over expressive, huh? Has he read the accusations of treason that come tumbling out whenever someone dares to contradict their Dear Leader? Those nutballs play for keeps, Joe. We may be snarky, but they’re dangerous. Given the experiences of a number of leftie bloggers who have been stalked, verbally attacked, threatened with physical harm, had their personal information posted on the web, had their livelihood put in jeopardy and, in one case I’m intimately familiar with, forced off a server because of a DNS storm; being called a wanker by Atrios doesn’t really cut it as far as being furious is concerned — unless, of course, you really are a wanker.
Comparing the blogosphere to talk-radio is a bit of a stretch, even if Mr. Klein wishes to make it the great metaphorical equalizer: the liberals have control of one form of the media while the conservatives have another. (Oh, wait… I forgot: the liberal media controls everything.) Aside from the obvious fact that not a whole lot of people blog while sitting in drive-time traffic, radio stations and their networks are controlled by a proportionally small number of people who determine what gets on the air. The blogosphere is open to anyone with a computer, and the alliances formed by the lefties have grown not out of some organized conspiracy, owing to the simple fact that “organized lefties” is an oxymoron.
If Mr. Klein feels so put upon by the lefties, perhaps it’s because he’s used to the Democrats being so easily rolled by the bullies of the right — a tradition that seemed to be demonstrated by the Democrats in Congress yet again with the Iraq funding bill. He seems genuinely surprised that some of us are — OMG! — angry with what the loyal Bushies have done to our country. But the question shouldn’t be why are we angry; it should be with all that’s happened in the last six years, why the hell aren’t you?