In the angry life of Maryscott O'Connor, the rage begins as soon as she opens her eyes and realizes that her president is still George W. Bush. The sun has yet to rise and her family is asleep, but no matter; as soon as the realization kicks in, O'Connor, 37, is out of bed and heading toward her computer.Okay, does this sound totally rational to you? If you were a moderate and were reading this blogger would you be convinced by the logic and reasonableness of her arguments? Or would you be more likely to agree with Michelle Malkin that these people have become Unhinged?
Out there, awaiting her building fury: the Angry Left, where O'Connor's reputation is as one of the angriest of all. "One long, sustained scream" is how she describes the writing she does for various Web logs, as she wonders what she should scream about this day.
She smokes a cigarette. Should it be about Bush, whom she considers "malevolent," a "sociopath" and "the Antichrist"? She smokes another cigarette. Should it be about Vice President Cheney, whom she thinks of as "Satan," or about Karl Rove, "the devil"? Should it be about the "evil" Republican Party, or the "weaselly, capitulating, self-aggrandizing, self-serving" Democrats, or the Catholic Church, for which she says "I have a special place in my heart . . . a burning, sizzling, putrescent place where the guilty suffer the tortures of the damned"?
I think that this venomous, over-the-top quality of the lefty blogosphere is a bonus for conservatives. They can talk amongst themselves and agree with each other that Bush, Cheney, and Rove are demons coughed up by Satan to torment the world, but they aren't going to win converts to their beliefs with such talk. They'll just reinforce each other in their beliefs and deceive themselves on how widespread the repulsion against this administration is. People might not approve of Bush, but the great majority don't despise him. That's what shocked them when they couldn't defeat this smirking Bushhitler chimp in 2004. And, guess what, he's not on the ticket again.
Hugh Hewitt discusses what an advantage it is for Republicans to have such an unhinged opponent on the other side of the blogosphere in his new book, Painting the Map Red. (A book which I heartily recommend to anyone who is concerned about how the elections will turn out in 2006 and 2008 - he has a lot of good advice for the GOP and for conservatives. I say this totally uninfluenced by the nice things Hugh says about my blog in his book.) Hewitt refers to an article by Dean Barnett in the Weekly Standard from last year about how the rise of the lefty blogosphere has been bad for the Democratic Party. As Barnett wrote,
Where most of the 120 million Americans who voted in the last election bear a benign indifference to political matters, the left half of the blogosphere seethes with hatred for George W. Bush and his supporters. What's more, the blogs take numerous positions that would strike all but the most passionate Democratic partisans as patently preposterous. For example, several of the left-wing blogs recently ran an advertisement that referred to West Virginia Senator and former Ku Klux Klan Kleagle Robert Byrd as an "American Hero."Barnett quotes some of the language he found on a typical day at Daily Kos and then notes all the politicians cozying up to blogosphere by writing entries there.
Also, the level of discourse on the Daily Kos and other prominent liberal blogs is not something that would be attractive to the majority of the American public. The writings are often obscene and usually relentlessly hostile and negative. Crude personal attacks, whether aimed at right-wing bloggers or politicians, are the order of the day.
A Who's Who of top tier Democrats have written "diaries" for the site, including Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and Ted Kennedy. The above listed politicians, and their less mainstream colleagues (think the John Conyers/Louise Slaughter variety), are constantly romancing the Kossacks.This is not a tone that will appeal to the mainstream voter out there. And the more it infects the Democrats and they adopt the venom and anger as their primary voice to the electorate, the more, I believe, it will backfire on them. Howard Dean is the embodiment of much of what they believe, and that is not a promising example for them.
More ominously--and more to the party's detriment--its leaders have adopted the blog's hysterically shrill style as their own.
As Hugh Hewitt writes in his book,
The blogosphere is a vast set of information pipes, like water pipes, providing the stuff information/news junkies find essential. The old plumbing is still out there -- newspapers, television, radio -- but blogs have dramatically increased the volume of the information flow.Don't believe him? Check out the tone in O'Connor's blog and those to whom she links. Then check out the tone on the blogs to which I link. On a day-to-day basis, I would argue that you will find a real difference in how the bloggers write and refer to those with whom they disagree.
What Barnett began to outline last year is that the left side of the blogosphere's pipes have a problem. They are made of lead. They are, in fact, posoning the information they are distributing, and the consequence is the slow poisoning of the Democratic Party.
Barnett correctly notest that the tone on the left side of the blogosphere would repel most Americans who still like even the hottest political arguments delivered within certain rhetorical guidelines. They lefty blogs are training an entire generation of activists to conduct themselves outside those rules, to develop habits that are not only handicaps to persuasion, but are actually almost insurmountable barriers to a huge portion of the independent vote and even a a large slice of Democrats. (pp 141-142)