DATE: 1/19/2005 09:56:00 AM
A Mainstream Blogger - I'm about halfway through Hugh Hewitt's new book, Blog. I was impressed by his use of the Protestant Reformation as an example of how emerging technology can change the course of history. His discussions of the four 'founding myths' of the blogosphere was a good short history of the effect blogs have had on recent events. I started blogging mostly becuase I was bored, and it seemed like a good way to keep writing. My earliest influences were Andrew Sullivan and Instapundit.
Hugh's book is good not just because of its discussions on blog history, but because it gives bloggers like me a chance to see the bigger picture and how blogs are evolving as the new technology drives them forward. Some blogs, that is. One of the bloggers I most admired doesn't seem to understand the blogosphere, or read many blogs:
...But the notion that our debates have to be about whose side are you on in terms of domestic politics strikes me as depressing. I understand that partisanship isn't always bad, and indeed inevitable. But the way in which the blogosphere has become more partisan over the last few years, rather than less, strikes me as a disappointment.
WHAT BLOGS CAN DO: Why? Because part of the point of blogging as a medium is that it empowers the individual. In big media, the pressures of conformity can be as great as they are subtle. At the Boston Globe or the Washington Times, you know what you're getting. How many columnists in the mainstream media can be described as unpredictable in partisan terms? How many "liberal" columnists ever praise the president occasionally? How many conservative ones tear him a new one from time to time? (This is a moment to thank God for Tom Friedman, by the way.) The reason is subtle pressure from suits and colleagues and readers. But the point of blogging is that it can liberate you from such pressures. A political hybrid has a secure outlet at last - his or her own. So why, then, the preponderance of the partisans? I know that's what happens more generally in a polarized polity. But the blogosphere had the potential to be a solvent of this rigidity. Instead, it has become yet another reflection of it (with a few honorable exceptions). Or have I missed some blogs in this regard that deserve more exposure?I think Sullivan's question is rhetorical. Of course he's missed a few blogs. I am a mostly partisan blogger. The behavior of the Democrats over the past few years has made me more partisan. I don't hesitate, however, to criticize social conservatives when I think admonishment is deserved.
If Sullivan were reading a good selection of bloggers, he would have noticed Polipundit criticizing the president's immigration proposal; Hugh Hewitt telling Republicans that the trashing of Arlen Specter was a bad idea; National Review's "Corner" constantly disagreeing with the president on immigration, education and other issues. Ace of Spades, among others, has expressed a wish for a strong Democratic party. Conservative bloggers were stronger critics of Armstrong Williams than liberal bloggers were of Kos. This blog has expressed strong disagreement with the president over the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Sullivan seems to think ideas and partisanship are mutually exclusive. Just because I tend to support one political party over another doesn't necessarily make me a mindless drone controlled by the eeeevil Karl Rove. With his assertions, Sullivan is trying to make himself out as the only true independent voice in the blogsophere. Like William Safire, Sullivan equates independent thought with contrarian leanings. It's no wonder his favorite senator is John McCain, whose political career seems defined by his constant need for positive attention from the media.
With this post, Sullivan hasn't explicitly joined the ranks of those who see a Republican conspiracy behind conservative bloggers, but he's certainly moved one step closer. Once again, Sullivan is showing one of his more disagreeable traits - subtle smearing of those who don't follow what he considers the 'right' way of thinking.
In the end, I think Sullivan has to learn the difference between unity and unanimity. Conservative bloggers are mostly unified in our belief that the war is the right thing to do - but we differ in our specific beliefs about the efficacy of particular policies. If Sullivan doesn't see that, then he's simply not reading enough blogs. Maybe he should start by reading a copy of Hugh's book. Mr. Hewitt, have you sent him a copy yet?