Monday, June 11, 2007

Joe Klein is one smart cookie

As someone who has an almost uncontrollable impulse to keep up with current events and politics, I've gradually descended into the political blog world. There's a few I read, but on the whole most I've found on both sides (okay 3rd parties--all sides) are rarely intelligent, thoughtful or respectful of the other side. Almost all I've read are simply incendiary, knee jerk tripe that rarely bothers to show both sides or acknowledge the other side. After reading Joe Klein's article in Time Magazine, I realized I wasn't the only one who felt the same way. Here's a couple of paragraphs from his column and the link below.

Call me crazy, but I think its possible to be passionate about something, keep your wits about you, and write thoughtful, respectful commentary on issues you feel strongly about. Granted, It's more difficult, and takes more time, but that doesn't mean its impossible to do.

The smart stuff is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the Anyone who doesn't move in lockstep with the most extreme voices is savaged and ridiculed—especially people like me who often agree with the liberal position but sometimes disagree and are therefore considered traitorously unreliable. Some of this is understandable: the left-liberals in the blogosphere are merely aping the odious, disdainful—and politically successful—tone that right-wing radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh pioneered. They are also justifiably furious at a Bush White House that has specialized in big lies and smear tactics.

And that is precisely the danger here. Fury begets fury. Poison from the right-wing talk shows seeped into the Republican Party's bloodstream and sent that party off the deep end. Limbaugh's show—where Dick Cheney frequently expatiates—has become the voice of the Republican establishment. The same could happen to the Democrats. The spitballs aimed at me don't matter much. The spitballs aimed at Harman, Clinton and Obama are another story. Despite their votes, each of those politicians believes the war must be funded. (Obama even said so in his statement explaining his vote.) Each knows, as Senator Jim Webb has said repeatedly, that we must be more careful getting out of Iraq than we were getting in. But they allowed themselves to be bullied into a more simplistic, more extreme position. Why? Partly because they fear the power of the bloggers to set the debate and raise money against them. They may be right—in the short (primary election) term; Harman faced a challenge from the left in 2006. In the long term, however, kowtowing to extremists is exactly the opposite of what this country is looking for after the lethal radicalism of the Bush Administration.,8599,1630004,00.html


amelia said...

thanks for posting this. i get so frustrated with this myself. we've reached a point where very few people involved in politics--either the politicians and their staff themselves or the pundits--engage in what could be called conversation. most of them grandstand, setting up strawmen as opponents. they talk at caricatures of the other side. and doing so is doubly destructive. because it confirms stereotypes of both ends of the spectrum at the same time. those who agree with whatever particular politician is doing it continue to believe their stereotyped understanding of the opposition. and those who agree with the opposition are confirmed in their belief that their opponent is incapable of true thought.

it disgusts me.

Jesse Harris said...

He pretty much hits it right on the head. In Utah, serves as the epitome of the disrespectful partisan tripe that infests and pervades political discourse online. It's a constant flurry of hot-button words, constant swearing and vulgar language and almost zero original thought. While that's certainly an extreme example, most of the other regular Utah bloggers are not too much better. (Just look at how most are handling the voucher issue. I daresay it's nastier than any national issue currently on the radar.)

I don't get why candidates are afraid of these nuts. Bloggers rallied behind Pete Ashdown online but many failed to deliver contributions (in either time or money) when it came down to doing the real work of campaigning. I took them to task on being all bark and no bite. Blogging is useful for politics right now, but only to the extent that it helps form policy at the local and state level. Often it's little more than a self-important echo chamber where zealots can easily find other zealots.