Sunday, July 17, 2005

Not Being Part of the Solution

Rogers Cadenhead links to a Weekly Standard column about "why the rise of the left-wing blogosphere has been bad for the Democratic Party." Here's why:

Also, the level of discourse on the Daily Kos and other prominent liberal blogs is not something that would be attractive to the majority of the American public. The writings are often obscene and usually relentlessly hostile and negative. Crude personal attacks, whether aimed at right-wing bloggers or politicians, are the order of the day.

A typical example came on July 4 in response to a humorous piece by the internet satirist "Iowahawk", which purported to be written by Abu Masab Al- Zarqawi and was titled, "Stop Questioning My Patriotism." This relatively benign and (and extremely funny) essay elicited the following response from regular Kos contributor "Armando:" "F*cking pricks. You goosestepping McCarthyites. Now go cry to momma. You yellow-bellied elephants."

Unfortunately for the Democratic party, its members don't get that even a blog as popular as the Daily Kos doesn't reach enough people to constitute a major constituency. For example:

THE DICK DURBIN FIASCO of a few weeks ago provides a wonderful case in point. As is well known, on June 14 Senator Durbin compared the conditions at the Guantanamo detention center to what one could have seen in Nazi Germany or a Stalin-run gulag or while receiving the tender mercies of Pol Pot.

Durbin's comments made him an instant hero in the left-wing blogosphere where hyperbolic Bush-bashing is always received warmly. Steve Gilliard, a Daily Kos alumnus, penned a lengthy defense of Durbin in which he reminded the senator's critics that climate control was the preferred interrogation technique for the Luftwaffe. Moulitsas called the ensuing controversy a "moronic Right Wing smear attack" and proclaimed, "I stand with Durbin. Proudly."

Durbin's attempt to curry favor with the left-wing worked. Temporarily, at least. But one shouldn't require the counsel of David Gergen or Michael Barone to realize that outside the alternative worlds of the blogs, comparing America's military to Nazis, Stalin, and the Khmer Rouge is a political loser.

After some attempts to include lefty bloggers in the damage control process, Durbin's people finally realized that the support of Daily Kos readers isn't enough to make up for alienating the rest of the American people:

Yet later that day, Durbin offered an overwrought apology from the Senate floor, his commitment to his former POW constituent having apparently evanesced with remarkable rapidity. Shortly thereafter, Durbin learned that the left-wing blogosphere was not won over by his charm offensive and that liberal bloggers far prefer substance (in this case, determined and unflinching opposition to the Bush war effort) to touching the hem of a senator's garment.

For many of the bloggers who had supported Durbin through his ordeal, his apology occasioned a spasm of characteristically potty-mouthed outrage. Steve Gilliard suggested that Durbin "go f*ck himself"; on the Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas concurred, observing that he agreed with Gilliard and added that "Durbin f*cked up."

Rogers disagrees with the column, but I don't. Viewing those who disagree with you politically as evil or stupid is no way to convince them you're right. And taking it personally that you're in the minority is the road to fanaticism.

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