Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lanny Davis: Missing the Boat

There's an atrocious editorial by Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, in today's Wall St. Journal. Writing under the title "Liberal McCarthyism", Davis takes on what he calls "the hate and vitriol of bloggers on the liberal side of the aisle," which he experienced during his stint stumping for Joe Lieberman in Connecticut.

I'm blissfully unaware!

As the title makes obvious, Davis compares liberal bloggers to Senator Joseph McCarthy. That's Senator Joseph McCarthy. It beggars belief that there could be any apt comparison between the actions of a very powerful man near the top of electoral politics in this country and a blogger (liberal or otherwise). Perhaps bloggers should take this vast overestimation of their power as a compliment. The only problem? Davis isn't really talking about bloggers. Read on:
The far right does not have a monopoly on bigotry and hatred and sanctimony. Here are just a few examples (there are many, many more anyone with a search engine can find) of the type of thing the liberal blog sites have been posting about Joe Lieberman:
  • "Ned Lamont and his supporters need to [g]et real busy. Ned needs to beat Lieberman to a pulp in the debate and define what it means to be an AMerican who is NOT beholden to the Israeli Lobby" (by "rim," posted on Huffington Post, July 6, 2006).
  • "Joe's on the Senate floor now and he's growing a beard. He has about a weeks growth on his face.... I hope he dyes his beard Blood red. It would be so appropriate" (by "ctkeith," posted on Daily Kos, July 11 and 12, 2005).
  • On "Lieberman vs. Murtha": "as everybody knows, jews ONLY care about the welfare of other jews; thanks ever so much for reminding everyone of this most salient fact, so that we might better ignore all that jewish propaganda [by Lieberman] about participating in the civil rights movement of the 60s and so on" (by "tomjones," posted on Daily Kos, Dec. 7, 2005).
  • "Good men, Daniel Webster and Faust would attest, sell their souls to the Devil. Is selling your soul to a god any worse? Leiberman cannot escape the religious bond he represents. Hell, his wife's name is Haggadah or Muffeletta or Diaspora or something you eat at Passover" (by "gerrylong," posted on the Huffington Post, July 8, 2006).
  • "Joe Lieberman is a racist and a religious bigot" (by "greenskeeper," posted on Daily Kos, Dec. 7, 2005).
Certainly these are odious quotes. There's no disputing that. But Davis is trying to pull a fast one here. He attributes each quote to an author and a prominent liberal blog (HuffPo or Kos, in this case), but this editorial is misleading because it asks the reader to assume that the authors are bloggers for HuffPo and Kos. They aren't. Davis has taken quotes from the wingnut gallery—the comments section.

These are comments made by readers of these blogs, not the actual blog posts themselves. That makes a huge difference. For example, I'm a coherent, level-headed guy and, as such, I rarely write anything too outrageous. That doesn't mean that some jackass can't come on to my blog and write a stupid comment. Just last week I was called a "fickin liberal jew" by an idiotic commenter who likes Mel Gibson and obviously failed to glance at my last name. I left it up there because I made fun of the person for his/her stupidity and nothing makes you look smarter faster than winning an argument with a moron.

Sure, I could have deleted the comment, but I choose to let most everything stand. Now, Kos and Huffington get thousands of comments a day. There's no way for them to effectively weed out every jackass and miscreant who comes on there to hurl feces at the wall.

The issue I have with Davis' editorial is that it's either woefully ignorant or deliberately misleading. He writes about "emotional outbursts by these usually anonymous bloggers", but he never tells us that he's not actually talking about the bloggers in question. Does he even know that? The only blogs he mentions are not at all run by anonymous writers. In fact, both blogs take their titles from the actual names of the site owners (Arianna Huffington and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga).

Just to hammer in the fact that Davis has no idea what he's talking about, here's his hard-hitting closing paragraph:
Mr. Lamont and all other liberal Democrats should remember the McCarthy era and not fall into the trap of the hypocrisy of the double standard—that it's not OK when Ann Coulter dispenses her venomous hatred, but it is OK when our side's versions of Ann Coulter do.
All true, of course, but totally beside the point. While it might inflate the egos of "rim" and "gerrylong" and "greeskeeper" to hear it, they are not the left's versions of Ann Coulter. They're vile and idiotic, but they're only commenters on popular blogs. They're probably 13.

A useful piece on the disease of anti-Semitism on the left could (and should) be written. This isn't it. Mr. Davis should remember the Technology era and not fall into the trap of building his lofty argument on a gigabyte of nothing.
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