Logrolling, Blogrolling and Other Bad Habits
In December 2005, I engaged in an interesting discussion with Dan Solove of the very good law blog Concurring Opinions on the nature of the blogosphere Left and Right. I took issue with this assertion from Solove:
. . . [T]he conservative blogosphere is much better integrated in its intellectual and activist dimensions. For example, the conservative political blogosphere seems much more deeply connected to the legal blogosphere, where political bloggers seem to more routinely tap into the expertise of law professors about various legal issues. Indeed, many of the prominent political bloggers in the conservative blogosphere are academics; fewer of the liberals are. This strikes me as representative of a larger difference between the Left and Right. The Left must better connect its intellectual and activist sides.
This struck me, and still does, as extremely naive about the nature of the so called "intellectual" side of the Right, which is nothing if not activist and highly partisan. Solove fundamentally failed to grasp this basic point at first, though he came to concede a fair bit of it in comments.
I responded to Solove as follows:
"A politically saavy wonkishness." Do you consider this blog politically savvy?
. . . I submit that the fact that Wingnut blogs link to you consistently and the fact that your blog has had only negative things to say about daily kos sort of explains why we may not be paying that much attention to you.
. . . You write:
"As a result, we're read and listened to by many libertarians and conservatives . . . and sometimes we may be convincing or find points of agreement. I think that this is a very good thing. Before recent politics, liberals and conservatives could find some agreement on certain issues. Many issues can be discussed in an intelligent non-partisan manner."
The key phrase is "[b]efore recent politics."
After Bush, politics, AND wonkery, is not the same. That is atrios' premise, and one I fully adhere to.
If you believe you are engaged in honest discourse with Powerline, more power to you. I would find that view naive in the extreme.Posted by: Armando at December 28, 2005 09:32 AM
A similar issue is discussed by Scott Lemieux:
To no one's surprise, Project Runway can't find herself getting worked up about the firings of US Attorneys, yet she does acknowledge, with her usual contrarian disdain for actual thought, that "the sheer intensity of the effort to make this the big story of the week is bringing out the resistance in me."
The thing is I believe Professor Althouse is not that interested in issues. She has a quasi-Kausian mentality, as she has admitted, a real disdain for the Left and that is how her blogging reads. Certainly her right. What was more surprising to me was the post by Orin Kerr that Professor Althouse linked to:
I haven't written about the U.S. Attorney's story because I'm having a hard time figuring out just how big a deal it is. Parts of it are obviously very troubling: I was very disturbed to learn of the Domenici calls, for example. More broadly, I have longrunning objections to the extent to which DOJ is under White House control, objections that this story helps bring to the fore (although my objections are based on my views of sound policy, not on law).
Coming from Kerr, whose intellectual skills and integrity I greatly respect, this is disappointing. I think the reason for the concern - the big deal - is pretty darn patent. But it points to a larger concern I am having, about the Left blogs and their unwillingess to disagree with other Lefties and the Dems in Congress. And yes, Iraq and the Spending issue is what has heightened this concern for me. During an election, I certainly go into full partisan mode, writing with an eye for political advantage for my side. But it is March 2007, a time for governance. More importantly, it is a time for concentrating on ending the Iraq Debacle.
As folks who have been reading me have seen, I have been quite critical of House Dems AND Left blogs regarding their attitudes and prescriptions for Iraq. My views have almost universally been ignored by all, except for the occasional patronizing riposte that does not engage at all my arguments.
Why is this so? Are discussions of how to end the Debacle in Iraq that are not exclusively critical of the GOP and Bush not worth notice?
It is ironic to me, as perhaps daily kos' most staunch defender on questions of ethics and conflicts of interest, to have to ask this question, but I have to ask it - what is behind this?
Are there professional relationships, existing or potential, that stand in the way of honest critiques of Democrats? I know for a fact that the two biggest Left bloggers have no such issues - Atrios and Markos have no political contracts or relationships - they make money from ads, which are based on traffic.
But what of the rest of us? This site is written by practicing lawyers with no political income. But this is not universally true. Some bloggers are political consultants. Is this affecting their blogging? I know it can not be affecting it CONSCIOUSLY. I know some of these folks and they just are not like that.
As for the rest of the Left blogs, is it the home team mentality? Perhaps. I know, as I said, come election time, I go completely into partisan mode. I think I can and do adjust in non-election times. Are blogs incapable of switching gears?
At this point, I must say the answer appears to be yes.
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