I mean, I enjoy a good fisking (you're welcome, Ron, BTW) as much as the next guy (having indulged myself from time to time), and batshit crazy ideas deserve to get called out as such. But what purpose does such righteous indignation serve? I mean, aside from the personal satisfaction of bashing someone upside the head with your rhetorical boomstick? Of course, some people specialize in slicing and dicing low-hanging fruit, and there's nothing wrong with that - SN and Jesus' General and The Poorman aim to be more humorous than serious. But what of those whose goal is rather more 'substantial?'
By way of explanation, see the comments to this Ezra Klein pointer post to a 'flamethrower' fisking. Specifically:
What is the goal of the blogosphere? We need to provide an attractive alternative to the MSM. Reviews, critiques, and reviews of Broder and Fineman and Bumiller ain't gonna do it, tho it is entertaining for the hardcore blog audience. We need to expand our audience to the crowd that doesn't get excited about beltway competition.Indeed. This is not to say that "reviews, critiques and reviews" lack utility - some of the best written argumenation out there takes the form of articles ostensibly termed "reviews." Additionally, a casual reader might not have internalized the POV's of various commentators - David Broder is obsessed with 'balance'; Krauthammer has a pretty strong neocon agenda; Krugman hates, hates W, etc. For these reasons, it's important to challenge both the assumptions and conclusions of mainstream opinion makers - if they go uncontested they quickly become "conventional wisdom" internalized by the public without any realization of all of the implicit preconceptions they are accepting.
But if these criticisms take the form (if not substance) of a tantrum, what good is served? It should be clear that such intemperance is counterproductive (see, e.g. "Left, Angry" for illustration.) It's not enough to say that "pundits are crap." And the talent to do better is clearly out there - for a perfect example see this discussion of Gregg Easterbrook by Laura at Liberalism Without Cynicism (check her out BTW, she doesn't write often, maybe 3 times a week, but it is generally thoughfully argued and well written. But she is Canadian, we can't all be perfect...)
Like the man said, "substance please."
Update 5/30/06: Digby let's loose on the theme as well:
Here on the blogs we have some masterful voices of ridicule and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are liberal heroes for the same reason. Wr [sic] have tons of biting, dizzyingly precise take-down artists on our side. But none of these themes seem to capture the mainstream media as do the wingnut themes and I have concluded that it is because they are too sophisticated. Just like Goldberg and his frappucino sipping sycophants, we too entertain ourselves with this stuff. But unlike them, we only entertain ourselves. They entertain the press.Triumphalism (and ad hominems) aside, Digby is basically right - we lefties can have our little giggle, but it doesn't go much beyond there. I honestly wonder why this is - I can speculate by saying that from a philosophical perspective those on the left tend to care less about such things as the Clinton's sex life and Nancy Pelosi's hair (or whatever the comparable GOP related narratives would be) so those stories just don't get written, but I really have nothing more than a gut feeling on which to base that.