Thursday, September 25, 2003

Rush Limbaughtomy/Liberal Blogs: Let's see, Halliburton conspiracy theorist? Check. Wesley Clark resume humping? Check. Swooning over the returning soldier who thinks the war is a fraud, even if his criticisms are rather more libertarian than anything else and don't account for the great Democratic push to involve us in Kosovo, despite no apparent threat requiring us (in his words) "to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States"? Check. Quote from Robert Fisk, a pundit so discredited his name is an internet synonym for punishing mindless drivel? Check. Standard chickenhawk line about Bush's military service? Check. Implication that anyone who disagrees with the site's content has been "brainwashed," is nursing "extreme anger," or is in "psychological distress"? Check.

I think you foreshadowed this last week when you posted about bloggers having to toe the conservative-leaning-libertarian line, but I still don't see what you see. TNR is smart and incisive every day. Josh Marshall is not only a liberal blogger but also a good reporter. Protoblogger Kaus is unsparing, even if he has become a wholly owned subsidiary (and wouldn't we all sell out like that!). Easterbrook is a great snarky-but-fair liberal.

I don't have much use for this Limbaughtomy crap; honestly, it's just a mirror image of Limbaugh himself -- lots of cutesy name-calling and little actual thinking. It's boilerplate, like reading Atrios. I don't doubt that there are true-believing Democrats out there; that's dandy. But if I want to be fed the party line, I'll go to the DNC website. In fact, few things make a blogger more interesting than a little hand biting. Kaus, on the left, and Sullivan, on the right, are good examples: Happy to trumpet their agreement with their party, but merciless in excoriating the hacks and hangers-on. (In fact, Kaus seems to have an affirmative-action program for beating up on hacks: those in his own party go to the top of the list.)

I dunno. Maybe I'm just getting grumpy. It's like the Hannity thing. One of the radio shows I like gets bumped for Hannity occasionally. Now, the usual host is certainly conservative. But he's an interesting conservative, not some bland white guy soft-soaping family values or similar pabulum. When Hannity is on, I'm just not learning anything, not hearing anything new. The same thing happens when I read Ann Coulter. She gets off a good zinger now and again, but there really isn't any substance there.

I'm certainly not opposed to the rough and tumble of partisan discourse. I like hearing a liar called a liar, a bum being called a bum. But the "Bush lied, people died" formulation (like the Clinton-killed-Vince-Foster stuff) is so old and intellectually unhelpful (and widespread) as to be media white noise.

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