The Corner

Re: A Kindler, Gentler Blogosphere

You know, Jim does make a good case and I hope he’s right. I think about this a lot. I get a lot of grief from longtime readers about how I’ve “matured” or “grown up.” And the truth is I have. Though I still think there’s a lot of room left for humor (and once the book’s done and put to bed, I’ll bring back some pull-my-finger G-Filing), I’m basically burnt out on the smash-mouth stuff. When I criticize younger lefty bloggers for their excesses, I get a lot of “Hello Mr. Kettle, pot’s calling on line one” grief. That’s all fair to a point. But the basic fact is I don’t do that stuff very much any more because it’s cliched and boring to me (in much the same way I dropped most of the Simpsons and French-bashing stuff the moment it threatened to become a catch-phrasey schtick). I did that back when the blogosphere was brand new, I was young, and the Rolling Stones were only on their 33rd comeback tour.

Simply as a writer, when I see the nasty stuff now, on both the left and the right, my first reaction is to think how easy — and therefore uninteresting — it is. The Edwards bloggers’ anti-Catholic diatribes bore me more than they offend me because they are precisely the sort of thing you’d expect to hear from a living cliche who can’t imagine the other side might be worth listening too. That’s why I harp so much lately on the issue of good faith in writers (See my recent bloggingheads appearance for example) and why I like debating Peter Beinart so much. I’m more interested in arguments than posturing for your own side. Liberal bloggers like Kevin Drum actually hold open the possibility that the opposition might have a point. The Pandagon crowd is all about cheerleading. Cheerleading has its place, but it’s only of use to those who already agree with the cheerleaders. That’s why I’ll read Drum, but I ignore most of the lefty bloggers. Who has the time to waste on what amount to tasteless joke contests about the “enemy” when you’re the enemy and, in my case, you’re the butt of the jokes? I have a similar attitude toward the highchair pounders on our side like, say, Michael Savage (assuming he’s still alive).

Ramesh once said to me that he wants to grapple with the left’s best ideas, not their worst. And while I think it’s important to point out how bad the really bad ideas are (and have fun doing it), I think he has the right idea. If the human sacrifice of these bloggers helps move the blogosphere in that direction, it’ll be a win for the Republic.

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