Monday, March 27, 2006

Total (Blog)War

Ron notices that there must be something in the water right now. The spark appears to be the Domenech fiasco, but it's safe to say that there have been tensions simmering for a while.

Unfortunately, I managed to get myself caught up in the Hamsher vs. Cole undercard. Not my best moments (aside from snark, but I was always world class in that area, he says modestly.)
I won't comment further other than to say that Jane's retort is incredibly unfair and all too self-congratulatory - it's unfair because anyone who says this
Cole pissed me off because he's got nothing in the tank except a bunch of right-wing talking points -— that liberals hate America, hate the military -— and he doesn'’t care if he has to invent facts out of whole cloth to make them fit the contours of his inchoate rage.
just isn't paying attention, and I'm very disappointed and surprised in Glenn Greenwald* (though not either WRT Hamsher) for buying into that line. Here is John, last Thursday:
In the new Republican era, only fetuses , tax shelters, and ‘traditional’ marriage deserve protection. According to the actions of the current Republican party, the rest of us need to be wiretapped, monitored, have our homes inspected for whatever reason without warrants, and are incapable of making decisions on our own. My 20 year affair with the Republican party is coming to an end. I am not voting for any Republican in 2006 at any level, and I will be hard pressed to vote for this party in 2008- unless, of course, Cindy Sheehan is the Democratic candidate. These ‘conservatives’ need abut 10-15 years in the wilderness.
Hardly "right-wing talking points", aside from the Sheehan dig, which is something of a semi-serious running joke-not-really for Cole.

And secondly, It's self-congratulatory, because much like the Howell/Brady WaPo flap, the story becamunnecessarilycesarily personal invective rather than about the merits if the argument. When your first contribution is this
You better be able to back that up because I will be over here every f****** day until you do (and you canÂ’t, because I never wrote about white phosphorous weapons even once).

Do we understand each other?
it's hasurprisedsurpirsed if the response is more than slightly defensive. So, now that you've changed the discussion from "Is Howell a crappy ombudsman" or "Is Domenech a racist?" to "No, f*** YOU!" it's churlish to argue that someone is unable to engage you on the merits - you have gone a long way towards making them unwilling to do so.

To close, I think this comment probably got lost amongst the hubbub, and is worth bearing in mind for all involved:
Does anyone remember when you could say some[t]hing about someone, and if it was wrong, you were called “wrong” and not “a lying sack of shit?”
I think all parties are guilty as to the last point. Whether equally so is largely immaterial. "Let he who is without sin" and all that...And everyone grow up.

* Update: Glenn has clarified his position.
Allow me to just say here that my e-mail to Jane was not about John Cole specifically. I consider John to be one of the more level-headed and reasonable bloggers around. I thought he was unfair to Jane in his post, but not in a way that fundamentally impugns his character or anything - it was just a garden-variety unfairness of which we are all sometimes guilty.

My point to Jane was that her spat with John was worth talking about only in terms of the trend which it seemed to illustrate to me. A lot of the ranting about the crazed and irresponsible "Lefty bloggers" -- a theme that did appear in John's post, appended to Jane -- is often grounded in resentment at being held accountable. Tenacious pursuit of the truth of the type Jane displays (not just in her spat with John, but with Jim Brady and in so many other places) gets distorted by the target of the tenacity into some sort of crazed zeal, because that's probably what it feels like to the person who is targeted by it. It can be annoying to the person who is being held accountable, causing them to lash out. I thought John was guilty of that in his exchange with Jane, but more importantly, I think that's the source of a lot of the attacks on the "Left Blogosphere"generally.
Good enough, though I still think it's unfair to use John as the avatar for that particular failing.


ImJohnGalt said...

Amen, Pooh.

Mr Furious said...

Nicely done. I'm not even going to stick my toe in that thread...

Fletch said...

The beauty of the internet is it's car wreck aspects. A (somewhat) intelligent debate can instantly digress into name calling and offensive tangents because on the internet, we are all strawmen. Since no one ever has enough space in comments (or posts for that matter) to fully flesh out their positions on complicated issues, they throw up hollow shells of arguments to be torn apart by the next contestant.

Luckily, it is much easier to tear down someone's positions on the web than it is to create meaningful, cohesive frameworks.

That and every dumbass statement you make is there for people to turn against you.

Anonymous said...

I was reading along quietly, absorbing, thinking, then you posted "this is not going to end happily" and I had to tell you how hard I laughed. If not for ego, how much easier we could all communicate - discuss ideas on their merits, find common ground, maybe solve a problem! and move on to enjoy all that life has to offer.

rilkefan said...

Good stuff.

reader_iam said...

Sometimes, when I lose the battle against thinking about blog wars/flame wars etc., I can't stop the following from lodging in my mind:

"So much bad faith, so little time."

Makes me want to run back to my book stacks and forget the whole "interactive" new media thing.

Ahistoricality said...

I find myself so much less involved in these things since I made the conscious decision to ignore almost any blogger popular enough to attract regular MSM attention.

I think the internet is actually a fantastic place to have debates because it allows time for thought, it permits editing, it self-archives, and it rewards brevity and clarity (not always the same thing). But the comments sections of high-traffic political blogs is pretty much a snakepit no matter where you go.

nyrev said...

But does this make John Cole one of the John Coles of the Right or not?

(Sorry. Couldn't help myself.)

Very insightful post, Pooh.