May 2, 2005

The business they're in. Kevin Drum is uncharacteristically snarky to a commenter who said uncomplimentary things about his decision to feature Dan "I'll be defending the Bush administration's grand strategy" Drezner on the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog. But honestly, it's hard to see why.

I personally read widely outside of blogs and periodicals whose "line" I agree with. I'm currently a subscriber to the print edition of the Financial Times, for instance. But a large part of the energy of the left side of blogdom is indeed tribal and intolerant of heterodoxy, and that's a good thing. A lot of left-of-center Americans who don't happen to have nice insider gigs working for liberal magazines have spent a bunch of years recently feeling pissed on from a great height, and the recent explosion of impassioned, aggressive, and proud progressive blogs has given them back the confidence they need to mix it up with their dittohead uncles and neighbors and co-workers. As many have observed, it isn't what Rush Limbaugh thinks that matters; it's the way that Rush Limbaugh emboldens millions of people to be louder and more forceful in their hard-assed rightwingery than they would otherwise feel confident in being. Likewise, Atrios and Kos and Digby and, yeah, Kevin Drum are reloaded daily by hundreds of thousands of people who go to them to be braced with sharp, smart progressive talking points, not for a nice broad-minded seminar with defenders of the bad guys.

It's Kevin's blog, and the Washington Monthly's, and they can certainly do what they want with it. There is, in fact, room for courteous argument with political opponents. But bloggers like Kevin (and Matt, and Josh Marshall, and other insiders, whether geographically "inside the beltway" or not) should perhaps be a little less quick to roll their eyes when their hardcore readers are honked off over courtesy being extended to the opposition. The modern American right wing got where it is today by ruthlessly extending no such courtesies. (Find me the right-wing magazine or web site that gives a platform to lefties as frequently as Salon does the reverse.) Most to the point, Kevin and Matt and Josh and their ilk aren't famous because their hundreds of thousands of readers want to read them sipping tea with Dan Drezner. They're famous because their hundreds of thousands of readers come to them for red meat. American progressivism has needed that kind of thing for decades. Of course the readers get angry when they find polite dialogue with Bush-defending bloggers instead. Do what you want, but for cry eye, don't bullshit yourself about the nature of the business you're in, or of the product you're doing a land-office business dispensing. [03:04 PM]