Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Blogosphere Ennui: Sullivan has called it quits.

He says he's burnt out, and who am I to doubt him? They guy has probably averaged 5-7 posts a day on a wide range of political and social issues. Plus, he gets regular gigs in TIME, the NY Times, etc. He has reason to be tired.

However, I have a different theory. I think he's a changed man, and he knows it. Back when, starting all of five years ago, he used to be the darling of the Conservative Movement: "A gay British man who hates Clinton - we must embrace him (in a manly, Christian way, of course)!" And Sullivan reveled in the attention; using that notoriety to build up his "dish".

But slowly and surely, Sullivan had to start distancing himself from W and hence from his perceived image. See, it's easy to be a conservative when the bad liberals are in full swing (and especially when their own Dear Leader is such a psychopath). However, when your own side is running things, starting wars, and trying to tell you who you can or cannot marry, it gets harder to be the standard-bearer. You're a small government guy who just wants to be left alone, except your President is expanding the government at an unprecedented pace and trying his hardest to govern your every action, or at least condemn it.

More and more of your time is spent justifying your card-carrying bona fides. More time is spent defending your positions; reasonable though they might be. Suddenly you're being called a flip-flopper, or worse, a liberal in wolf's clothing. The acclaim is replaced by scorn, and your audience starts moving on to a more palatable source.

Balko thinks it's a bad play, only because Sullivan has taken in so much lucre over the years in his fund-raising drives. The presumption is that if you gave recently, you'd feel burned. Well, them's the breaks - he never promised you anything for your money.

But, what is really at issue is that the Blogs are victims of their own perceived success. No longer can you just throw the stuff out there. You're now going to get parsed and picked apart. Even Balko has shut off his comments, and is pretty much narrowed down to his few pet policy issues (remember the days of music, travel and photography?).

The innocence, the hey-it's-just-you-and-me attitude is gone. Bloggers are brands now; hey have to promote that brand or they whither. Sullivan just couldn't drink anymore of his own kool-aid any more.

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