In an interesting slam against the Left-Wing Blogosphere, one time Clinton man, now Time Magazine writer, Joe Klein, hits 'em hard. Left-Wing Bloggers are vile. Left-Wing Bloggers are mean. Left-Wing Bloggers are disloyal. Left-Wing Bloggers jump to wild, unsupported conclusions... So says Klein in a June 6th piece titled "Beware the Bloggers' Bile." But, don't get your hopes up because, while everything he says about the nut-roots is dead on, it all ends up being Bush's and Radio icon Rush Limbaugh's fault, instead of the left's fault -- it's not as if the left could ever imagine anything is ever their fault, I suppose.
Still, for most of the piece, Klein slams his nut-roots followers in just about every which way you can imagine but calling them ugly and having bad B.O. and it's fun to read.
At issue was Klein's blog report that Dem. Congresswoman Jane Harman of California had told him on the record that she couldn't vote against the last military budget because she couldn't vote to deprive the troops of the needed funds.
"Look, I would love to have cast a vote against Bush on this," she told me. "We need a new strategy, and I hope we can force one in September. But I flew into Baghdad [with 150 young soldiers recently]. To vote against this bill was to vote against giving them the equipment... they need. I couldn't do that." I posted what Harman said on Swampland, the political blog at Time.com, along with my opinion that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had changed their positions and voted against the funding for the worst possible reason: presidential politics.
No sooner had Klein posted this on his blog then Harman changed her mind and ended up voting against the bill anyway. As it turns out, Harman really did change her mind. Her original quote to Klein was fully admitted to and Harman apologized to Klein for the fact that she flipped on the issue, a flip-flop that perhaps made his quoting her look misinformed on his part.
But, as Klein reports, that didn't stop the nut-roots from turning on him as if he was part of the great Right-Wing conspiracy.
I was blasted by a number of left-wing bloggers: Klein screwed up! I had quoted Harman in the past tense--common usage for politicians who know their words will appear after a vote takes place. That was sloppy and... suspicious! Proof that you just can't trust the mainstream media. On Eschaton, a blog that specializes in media bashing, I was given the coveted "Wanker of the Day" award.
Even after Klein told the nut-roots that his quote was perfectly legitimate, they pummeled him.
Eventually, Harman got wind of this and called, unbidden, to apologize for misleading me, saying I had quoted her correctly but she had changed her mind to reflect the sentiments of her constituents. I published her statement and still got hammered by bloggers and Swampland commenters for "stalking" Harman into an apology, for not checking her vote in the Congressional Record, for being a "water boy for the right wing" and many other riffs unfit to print.
Ain't it horrible when the monster made turns around to maul its creator? And Klein admits it has happened before to himself as well as other lefty "news" commentators. "This is not the first time this kind of free-range lunacy has been visited upon me", he laments.
I'm SHOCKED that the nut-roots would so horribly attack their pal, Klein.
Well, OK... maybe I'm not so much.
Klein pleads with his readers to have pity on him because, after all, he really is tough on Bush and stuff. And, after all, isn't that the real goal, anyway? Klein seems to be asking the Left-Wing Bloggers why they can't all destroy Bush and the Republicans together without all that turning on each other business?
The last two paragraphs are pretty good in two ways. 1) in it's lament on how bad the Lefty Blogs can be and 2) in the typical inability of the left to take responsibility for their own actions.
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. The spitballs aimed at me don't matter much. The spitballs aimed at Harman, Clinton and Obama are another story....
Yes, the Lefty Nut-roots are uncivil, cretins... but it's really Rush Limbaugh's and Bush's fault!
A typical conclusion unmoored from any morally compelling reasoning.
So, THEY are mean and wild-eyed because they perceive their enemies to be mean and wild-eyed. Remember what your parents used to say when you were caught among your schoolyard pals doing something wrong? You would say that little Johnny did it too and they used to reply, "If they all jumped off a bridge, would YOU do that too?"
(Moral of that quip for any morally confused lefties reading this: Just because others do it, does not mean it is right for YOU to do it too!)
Additionally, this is a perfect example of a complete lack of historical perspective on the part of another ill informed Media type. This new arena of the Blogoshpere as a place for vicious attack is only new in its location. In the past the Newspapers served this purpose. As did political tract printing and the plain old town Pub where people got together to yell, scream, carp and complain about government. The Blogosphere is NOT different than any other era in its intense partisanship. It's just a new place to do it in.
But, Klein ends his piece with some good points in the last half of the paragraph I excerpted above. Those points have to be disentangled from his raw, partisanship, of course, but they are points worthy of consideration.
...Despite their votes, each of those politicians believes the war must be funded. (Obama even said so in his statement explaining his vote.) ... But they allowed themselves to be bullied into a more simplistic, more extreme position. Why? Partly because they fear the power of the bloggers to set the debate and raise money against them. They may be right--in the short (primary election) term; Harman faced a challenge from the left in 2006. In the long term, however, kowtowing to extremists is exactly the opposite of what this country is looking for after the lethal radicalism of the Bush Administration.
Now, I won't speak to Klein's claim that the weak on defense Obama and Clinton really do want to fund the troops (as I seriously doubt he is right on his assumption), but the question of just how much weight our Congressmen should give the vocal Blogosphere remains a valid point to ponder. Not just for the Europeanesque type of far Left, anti-Constitution politicians Klein wants to sponsor, but for elected officials of all stripes.
We have yet to realize what final role the Blogosphere will play in our political process. So far, we have seen wild swings from both sides to mollify the Internet, but neither side of the aisle has been able to determine what real, solid meaning there is in the wrath of the Blogosphere. In that, we really are seeing something new.
In any case, it was quite hilarious to see Klein whining about his pals in the nutroots about how vicious they are -- as all the while he was viciously attacking Bush's "lethal radicalism" -- and so darn typical to see him blame it on everyone but his own side. Would it be too much to ask for just a tiny bit of introspection from our pal Joey?
Sadly, it seems to be too much to ask of him or his nut-roots compatriots.
(Hattip to Dervish)