I have experience in enough fields (evolution, genetics, climate) to know that when a reporter writes about more or less anything other than reporting he will inevitably get some important things wrong. Learning the business of journalism is hard enough without also having to memorize economics, statistics, genetics, evolutionary biology and the fine details of the Thai textile business. Beat reporters eventually pick up fundamentals through experience and long contact with people who do know things, but more often reporting is a business of passing information from non-specialist writers to readers who know even less.
When blogging comes up the problem usually usually goes from bad to weird. Reporters and bloggers, especially leftwing bloggers, have a certain cat-and-dog relationship (the deal with rightwing bloggers often seems like something more like codependence) so it can be hard to distinguish lack of knowledge and personal agenda. Joe Lieberman, for example, brought out the worst in them. Via Thers, here’s your example of the day:
But notwithstanding this stunning success, this week’s withdrawal by John Edwards, coming a week after the departure of Dennis Kucinich, means that both of the preferred presidential candidates of the liberal blogosphere are now out of the race.
Which liberal blogospere supported Kucinich? Kos and most of the Kossacks despised him. The rest of us mostly dismissed him as a quirky nonentity. If the nomination race was a movie Kucinich would be Steve Buscemi.
It gets easier to connect dots into a handy trendline when you get to make some of them up.
As to the larger point, arguing against the influence of the liberal blogosphere by now is so much pissing in the wind. The liberal blogosphere has been crucial to everything from killing Social Security privatization and kicking Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic party to ’06 netroots candidates like Jon Tester and Jim Webb. We haven’t won yet on telcom immunity but the issue wouldn’t even be an issue anymore if the liberal netroots hadn’t given Chris Dodd the support he needed. There is no question that blogosphere left has dragged the Democratic leadership in all kinds of directions that it clearly didn’t want to go.
It isn’t out of weakness. As a party we’re winning, and unless bin Laden knocks both coasts into the sea along with most of the mountain west the massacre in November will be almost painful to watch*. The Democratic leadership is listening to us because they have to. They hate it, especially Harry Reid, but they don’t have much choice.
For a fun time consider how the article would read if you swapped in ‘left’ for ‘right.’ How did the rightroots candidates do this cycle? Depending on the rightwing blog you have Rudy Giuliani, at $50 million for one delegate the most embarrassing failure in presidential politics history. Mitt Romney, still hanging on by the skin of his vast fortune. Fred Thompson, saviour, slept through the race and pulled out by email. Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul all had significant backing from different constituencies on the right. Lumped together they had traction like a Yugo on ice.
The rightroots obviously didn’t just fail to influence the presidential election. They have collectively failed to make any meaningful impact on Republican politics at all. I can’t think of a single major issue where they forced the GOP to move its agenda towards something that the leadership didn’t want to do anyway. But hell, don’t listen me. Let’s hear what TownHall has to say.
Even some conservative bloggers object to the new blog activism.
“If you look at the top tier of right-wing bloggers, they’re almost unfailingly civil,” wrote Dean Barnett for the opinion Web site Townhall.com.
He charged that Erickson was trying to turn right-wing Web sites into “the kingmakers that the left-wing blogs are.”
That word, I do not think it means what you think it means.
Anyhow, kudos to Ron Klain for writing an insightful article with only a few words misplaced.
(*) No it won’t. It will be fucking hilarious, and I hereby promise to get roaring drunk and liveblog it.