Friday, June 23, 2006

Lefty Blogs and the Vilification of The New Republic

Jonathan Chait takes a rather light-hearted look at Kos's rabid anti-TNR campaign. Of course it's not just Kos...Atrios likes to take periodic (and laughably inept) shots at them, too. Chait's main serious points are that (a) the leftosphere isn't really that far left, they just seem that way because (b) they are so doctrinaire and rabid.

The rantings of the anti-TNRistas frequently remind me of something I once saw in a publication of the American Atheists society. Now, I'm an atheist myself, but only because that's where the available evidence has led me. I'm willing to drop that position in light of new evidence. Atheists like me were called by the publication in question (and this is a quote) "philosophical atheists--the worst kind." Such is the way of extremists. They don't want to hear the facts, they brook no dissent. In politics, folks like that are usually found on the extreme ends of the spectrum. A big chunk of lefty bloggers (and let's not even talk about the right here) have the rabidity down alright, but they may not actually be as "progressive" as they think. (Oh, and, um, whatever happened to 'liberal', anyway? I, for one, am still a liberal, though others seem to have fled from the label because conservatives turned it into a curse word.)

TNR has screwed up big time over the last several years, e.g. allowing Sullivan to stay on even after it became clear that he was incapable of thinking objectively about Bill Clinton. Their most harmful mistake was endorsing the invasion of Iraq, though they did so for good (though perhaps not optimal) reasons. Their subscription rate is way down, and now they've got the leftosphere against them. But they're still the most reasonable voice in the leftish popular press, and they will, of course, long outlast Kos and Atrios.


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

"...[E]stablishment Democrats have three choices. One, they can join us, and a lot of people have, people like Simon Rosenberg. They can get out of the way. Or we're going to roll them. Because quite frankly we're tired of losing, and we're not going to do that anymore."---Kos

"[L]iberals hunt down heretics ... conservatives happily chase converts."---Michael Kinsley

I think the only questions now are how many Democrats will follow Kos off the cliff, and whether they'll take the whole party with them.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, I'm not sure about that part about conservatives...if anything, they've spent the last 25 years irrevocably alienating folks like me. But maybe.

As for the part about liberals...well, that's traditionally been true of the serious lefties...but Chait's point is that the same attitude is being brought into the mainstream by the 'net lefties.

If so, we're doomed. We could end up with two extremist parties instead of one.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, once upon a time there was a liberalism that was quite in harmony with my own worldview. FDR, the Catholic Worker movement. Even Martin Sheen's affection for the Berrigan Brothers, which is kind of a leftover of that.

I don't find that brand of liberalism extreme at all. I could vote for it on a good day. (Or a very bad one.)

I do my best to disassociate myself when I feel that someone on the right is condemning and not attempting to convince, reveling in their rectitude. I do a lot of tongue-biting here myself, if you haven't noticed. Eye for an eye, let alone righteous escalation, is the antithesis of statesmanship.

Pat Buchanan's speech at the 1992 GOP convention (rightfully) scared the bejesus out of centrist America and helped Bill Clinton to the presidency. And when Buchanan won the 1996 New Hampshire primary, the party rallied behind obvious cannon fodder Bob Dole to head Buchanan off from leading the party off the cliff.

In their defense, I think the Democrats did the same with the equally impotent and uninspiring Kerry over the wack Howard Dean. The mainstream Democrats were probably happier about The Scream than the GOP.

The dogs of the right feasted on it, but the wiser Democrats simply sat back and let them do the dirty work.

I cannot recall a prominent Democrat coming to Dean's defense.

Me, I might have voted for Dick Gephardt in 2004. He had a chance for my vote, an old-line liberal and Democrat. I had no great ideological problem with him. He did not scare the bejesus out of me.

Liberalism and leftism are two different things.

I dunno what y'all will do in 2008. Evan Bayh looks OK, and I suppose Mark Warner is a proper space-filler. But if the Democratic Party is now synonymous with the Kososphere, Russ Feingold's your man, and can pass any ideological test. Plus, he's not a condescending jerk, unlike most of the Kososphere.

But if so, and you let your freak flag fly, look for losing 48 states. It's McGovern time.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of vitriol:

Good to know that the sane folks at TNR would never stoop to the fiendish level of the blogosphere.

3:16 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I'm sympathetic with you on this one, Tom. If the Kososphere starts steering the party, the Dems are doomed.

A minor qibble, though...Dean isn't really much of a lefty. I have to admit that I don't really have much of a read on that guy. It was really the strange following that coalesced around him that I found kind of alarming. Anyway, Dean is a bit weird, I'll grant you that, and I've never had the urge to vote for him...but he's just not very lefty. He's...something else.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


Didn't say 'never,' didn't say they were perfect. They're wrong lots of the time. That Siegel blurb is a stinker. How'd fascism get into it? Note the comments section...he really gets blasted.

There IS a point buried in there, though, about frivolity and lack of attention. But it's crap, I'll grant you that.

Though it is a one-paragraph blurb in the "culture" section...and by a guy I never read, incidentally.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I don't know what Dean is either, except wack.

The act that can make you the leader of the opposition is just what disqualifies you from leading a majority. Newt Gingrich fell down the same hole.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I think you got that one right, bro.

8:12 PM  

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