Saturday, April 19, 2008


Kevin Drum defends himself against one of the most terrible charges possible in this election cycle: failure to denounce Hillary:

You can read her comment here. Basically, I don't think it's a big deal. The activist base of the party has opposed Clinton, so it's no big surprise that she's not very happy with them. And although it's not true that MoveOn opposed the Afghanistan war, it's such a close call that this hardly rates higher than a 1.5 on the Misrepresentation Richter Scale. Like just about everything that's happened over the past month or two, this is much ado about nothing.

But that said, I support Obama, not Hillary, and I think she's doing a lot of damage to the party by continuing her quixotic bid for the nomination instead of stepping aside and supporting the man who's now virtually certain to win. What's more, she's done a lot of stuff to piss me off lately, and the fact that I think she's endured a lot of unfairness during the campaign only goes so far. Bottom line: I've got better things to spend my energy on than defending her on this. She's got plenty of partisans of her own who can do that.

Assuming Obama wins the primary, the "netroots" will consider it a great triumph for themselves. They've hated Hillary for years, and only the fact that he won -- twice -- prevents them from publicly proclaiming their hatred of Bill -- at least sometimes it does. But it isn't much of a victory from my vantage point. First of all, on the positions (remember those quaint things?) Obama is more centrist and cautious than Hillary -- and it's her, and her husband's, very centrism and caution that so arouses the hatred of the liberal "netroots". So in order to beat a cautious centrist, the netroots threw their weight behind an even more cautious and centrist candidate. The logic escapes me, although looking at it with emotions, you can easily see how people who hate candidate A will project whatever qualities they like on Candidate B, as long as B can beat A.

But the second failure -- and it is huge -- with the netroots in this cycle can be seen in Drum's post. They've turned into an electronic Lynch mob, viciously attacking people, not just for opposing their candidate, but for failing to denounce his opponents enough. It reminds me of a story I read in, I think, Gulag, where Solzhenitsyn tells of someone who was arrested for only clapping five minutes for Stalin ("Never be the first to stop clapping" the police said to the man as they led him away). The vast majority of the netroots hates Hillary, and a blogger trying to build his or her career has got to be aware of that fact, and consider how it will impact their all-important clickstats if they aren't seen as in tune with the masses -- if they stop clapping first. And that's a problem. Because with the press corps that we have, which is beholden to plutocratic owners and editors, and terrified of being attacked as part of the "liberal media" by the Limbaughesque Right,if the blogosphere is beholden to an over-impassioned, out-of-touch-with-reality mob (the kind of people who convince themselves that the more centrist candidate is actually the more liberal), the whole system remains warped, and easily manipulated by the Charles Gibsons and Brian Williamses.