Y’Know What the Left Blogosphere Needs? More Mindless Hacks

Via Tom Maguire, we find this Editor & Publisher preview of Michael Crowley’s latest article in the New York TImes Magazine. His thesis is that right-wing blogs are generally more effective than left-wing blogs:

(Crowley) explains that ?Democrats say there?s a key difference between liberals and conservatives online. Liberals use the Web to air ideas and vent grievances with one another, often ripping into Democratic leaders?.Conservatives, by contrast, skillfully use the Web to provide maximum benefit for their issues and candidates.?

In other words, they’re mindless hacks who never criticize their own party. (I should note that this doesn’t apply to conservative blogs like Maguire or John Cole- I’m mostly thinking of our friends at Powerline.)

Crowley then comments that what really makes the conservative blogs allegedly more effective is the infrastructure provided by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and others–“all of which are quick to pass on the latest tidbit from the blogosphere.”

So wingnut hacks in the blogosphere make up a bunch of nonsense and then spread it to the general public via wingnut hacks on radio and cable news.


This circle has gotten so much jerkage that it’s starting to resemble a figure eight.


Comments: 40


yes, but brad, john cole is also a hack. he just looks good because of the likes of powerline. hackishness depends on context. cole types still cant compare to openmindedness and willingness to attack “one’s own side” of the average liberal blogger.


whatever. now that i’ve seen this…


…i don’t have to even consider respecting republicans ever again.


is it toe-ing the line, or tow-ing the line, that we’re not doing?


hatter – it’s toeing the line, but I see no need to make a hue and cry over it.


Ianua is right of course, although at least it is possible to tow a line, it just doesn’t make sense in this sitch.

John Cole is pretty much a douche.


This circle has gotten so much jerkage that it’s starting to resemble a figure eight.

Did I hear my cue? Ahem.
You know, after all this time, you’d think they’d get sore! Even with the introduction of the likes of the Powertools to the li’l il’ Fux/Limburgher/etc. daisy-chain. And very few of their ilk are likely to moisturize their hands, ‘cos that’s gay, so I can only think: chafing.


Or a daisy chain with four on the floor.


I posted a bunch of links to show what a douchebag hack John Cole actually is, but the server thought it was spam, i guess.

Anyway, remember that a lot of lefties used to say the same thing about Tacitus, that he was part of the decent right, and so on. Then came the post about Margaret Cho’s dog.

I really really *really* hate Tacitus.


Tacitus is a douche too. Super douche.


Hi Marq! Hi Pinko! Hi RETARDO (RETARDO? Hmm. based on some of the names I’ve been called below, I think you and I might be related). Since Timmah and Sidhe hadn’t arrived at this thread yet, I thought the atmosphere might be a little friendlier, so I just thought I’d blog on.

“Super douche?” “douchebag hack”
We’re not resorting to ad hominem attacks here, are we?


Unfortunately, the circle jerk, rather than eating itself and disappearing into a singularity, winds up being a giant feedback loop. Which I suppose is Crowley’s point: They feed off each other and the message — the pernicious nonsense of the day — spreads and mutates. While a lot of the infected population is already composed of True Believers, the process tends to suck a lot of innocent people into it as well. Thus is a meme born.

The left could do the same, but since the left tends more toward self-analysis and self-criticism than the right — and since the visible left contains moderates in a way that the visible right seems not to — the process and the message wind up being considerably diluted.


Tow-ing the line always makes me feel like a tugboat.

toot toot!


Cole can be an arrogant jack-ass, but that doesn’t make him a hack. I don’t always agree with him, but I usually feel like he makes sincere arguments.


“I really really *really* hate Tacitus.”

Yeah, that was my favorite part of your wingnut all-star team…


You’re looking for shameless hacks with a lefty perspective? At last, my natural talents are in demand! Reporting as requested, sir!

Also, Dan Someone, please, please don’t type “circle jerk” and “feedback” in the same sentence. Ewww!


Woody- your job is to praise the Democrats, no matter who spineless, stupid and pathetic they become. Think you can handle that?


I never get this line that because democrats critisize each other or don’t “have a unified message” that this is somehow a disadvantage.
As far as I understood it, thats actually the advantage of the democrats, instead of just clapping louder, there is discussion and analysis, and right or wrong, people usually come out of it better for having examined it.
The Bush crowd on the other hand… well I think what they do has been mentioned enough in this post allready.


Timmah: Exactly right. And that’s why Michelle Malkin (in the mold of Brooks) tried to appropriate the idea that that’s what the Right does — self-police and try to free itself of its nuttier elements. David Neiwert’s been ripping her to shreds on that one lately.


I never get this line that because democrats critisize each other or don’t “have a unified message” that this is somehow a disadvantage.

In the world of politics, it’s not an advantage. You gotta remember that the average person doesn’t follow politics as religiously as we do. Effective political communication means having a clear, consistent message that’s easy for voters to understand. Right now, the Democrats have about a billion different messages on Iraq, which makes it easier for the Right to come in and bulldoze us with their “surrender” mantra.


Unfortunately, the circle jerk, rather than eating itself

No, no, the extent of their circle jerk’s coverage is far too wide.


Discussion and analysis and weeding out the good ideas from the bad… those are all great. In theory. But in terms of marketing, they don’t work as well as paring down to a single, unified message. And if you’re not particular about the accuracy or utility of the message, if your only concern is that it be monolithic and pervasive, then you can move a lot faster and more efficiently/effectively to get it out there and keep it out there. You get the advantage of having your message in front of everybody’s eyes all the time, and not confusing or “diluting” the message with alternative viewpoints. You may be selling fried shit on a stick, but people will eat it up — and bypass the tasty and nutritious, but confusingly marketed, stuff the other guys have — as long as you sell it right.


I think a large part of the problem is that we try to be homogenous. To me, it would be much more effective if all the disparite groups within the progressive sphere maintained their separate identities but cooperated on important issues.

Right now, the Right paints the progressives, liberal, and Democrats a single, fringe entity: “The Move-on crowd” or “Michael Moore” or “Goerge Soros” (pick your demon du jour).

At the same time, you hear the Right-wing spokespeople say things like, “I’m an independent, but George Bush is god!” or “I’m a jewish libertarian, but I can see how the liberals are persecuting Christians.” This give their message an third-party objectivity halo that they strip from Democrats by reducing the disparate voice of the party to “You just hate Bush and love Gays (pun intended)! Note how Republicans tout themselves as the “big tent” party and bristle when anyone points out the white-straight-rich-Christian-male hegemony that controls the party. They see our “big tent” strength, claim it for themselvess, and berate us for not having it. Standard Rovian psychology.

So if I were in charge (scary thought!), I would encourage unity of message on only a single issue: unions against the war, veterans against the war, parents against the war, students against the war, Christians against the war, etc. Pick two or three issues at a time and encourage all our disparate groups to come together on those issues only. In a perfect world, we can pick issues that clearly benefit all groups even if they don’t address a group’s “top issue”. We pledge to support other issues where possible, and most importantly, to NOT BETRAY the other groups’ issues, even if we can’t actively promote them right now. (e.g., I will block any attempt to restrict women’s rights if you help me get out of Iraq. Once we’re out of Iraq, then we’ll turn our attention to women’s rights.)

What issues? There are three obvious ones, to me:
1) Iraq. It’s a money pit, a blood pit, and a reputation pit. The message should be, to me, something like: 1) We must make it clear to the Iraqis and the other nations in the area that we are not staying, perhaps by setting a series of conditions that trigger our departure when met; we must stop construction on the 14 permanent bases; we must reign in out of control contractors and hold all US personnel accountable for their actions; we should ask the UN to help stabilize the country–ideally, we should try to replace contractors with UN troops; we must demand close accounting of the corruption and fraud in Iraq reconstruction; we must turn over the majority of reconstruction projects to Iraqis. And, most of all, we make it clear that these are our best suggestions considering that we are not in possession of all the “classified” information. Exact details on how best to implement these plans cannot be provided under those circumstances.

2) Corruption, cronyism, and incompetance. Why do we not have have job descriptions and minimum requirements for every appointee in the government? What kind of “CEO president” is this, that runs the largest organization in the world without a Human Resources department? The realtionship between lawmakers and lobbyists needs to be reviewed, particularly Delay’s entire K Street Project. The GAO should be expanded and strengthened. There should be a law that Congress must address all reports of illegal or unethical activity that comes out of the GAO.

3) National health care. This helps businesses, labor unions, and average workers who are all struggling with rising health care costs. It increases productivity and reduces lost wages due to unpaid sick leave. It helps doctors, pharmacies, and hospitals by reducing administrative overhead. It helps the very old and the very young. It empowers women (in my personal experience, gynocological procedures have the least support from insurance companies), and it will enable many women who feel economically forced to choose abortion to have more options open to them.

Progressivism is about the most good for the most people. That should be the unified message.


You may be selling fried shit on a stick, but people will eat it up — and bypass the tasty and nutritious, but confusingly marketed, stuff the other guys have — as long as you sell it right.

And that’s why most people have abandoned the political process and are getting fat on fried shit.

It’ll all end in tears, eventually.


Oh, crap, that way longer than I realized. Sorry!


Don’t apologize, Dorothy. Much food for thought. I think you’re right, too. But I also think Dan and Brad are right that we’re outmarketed. A good idea can die if a bad idea is sold in shinier wrapping. And my goodness, aren’t the GOP good at convincing people of stuff–even against their best interests.
In 2000, polls showed that people firmly supported a ban on land mines, and voted for Dubya anyway because they thought he did too.
He didn’t, but, hell, nobody told them that, and they didn’t go looking for the info, they were busy.
This happens again and again. People will vote for someone because they *think* he agrees with him, so if you can market your guy as ambiguously as possible, you can get folks on *both* sides of the issue to vote for him.
Dishonest? Damned straight. But classic GOP.

I think we’ve historically shunned marketing because it feels deceptive and manipulative to have to lead people into voting for their interests–we like to think that if we explain to them why something’s a good idea, they’ll get it.
And heaven knows, it’s not so. Some people are too busy to get it, some too dumb, and some determined not to.
I think more are too busy, and that’s probably where marketing ideas comes in.

Heh, this is overlong, too, now. Oh well.


Dorothy- that’s terrific stuff. You’ve managed to actually write something thoughtful in a S,N! thread- that must be a first 😉


I understand the marketing side of things, but what i’m wondering is, why can’t the breadth and the depth of the debate be the message?
Just look at the neocons, it’s a contrary postion, they don’t listen to anyone but the voices in their heads and the great leader, dems on the other hand, speak the voice of the people, which is the main reason there are so many different messages coming from dems.
I think they should start selling the “Be heard” idea, because if the polls show anything, the public is tired of the status quo in Washington.


Tim- the neocons don’t handle campaigning, though- that’s Karl Rove’s job. In fact, the only really prominent neocons who get lots of airtime are… well, Bill Kristol and Hitchens.


Well I’m painting with a broad brush here, I mean republicans in general.
Rove talks a good game, but ask those conservatives what they really got out of the bush presidency, no cheap oil, no constitutional amendment ot ban gay marraige, no illegal abortion. Hell it looks like if we can just fool the religious right into thinking we’ll listen to their batshit insanity we’d have it all wrapped up.


Tim- I honestly think Republican success can be summed up by three factors:

1.) The growth of wingnuttery in the South and Midwest

2.) Bush using 9/11 to scare the shit out of people (and indicentally, I think the growth of wingnuttery is directly related to 9/11- look what happened to poor Chazmo).

3.) Failure of the Democrats to campaign effectively with a clear, concise message. The Dems are divided sharply between the Dean wing and the Clinton wing, and the in-fighting between the two factions has yet to result in any kind of consensus message.


Well I’m certainly not trying to say that they have been putting out a clear message as of yet, it just seems that with so many voices represented, it would be tough to unify that message.
I really like Jillian’s take and think that if we could indeed agree to focus on 3 or 4 issues at a time it would indeed be effective. How could we even begin to organize that?


I dunno, Timmah. Seems like a pipe dream. Organizing liberal activists? Isn’t that like herding cats?

I suspect part of the problem is, actually, that when liberal groups get money, they tend to spend it on their cause, homelessness, available reproductive care, immigrant kids, land preservation, puppies, whatever. It never really seems to go to things like PR firms and marketing studies.
Which is a distinct disadvantage since there’s less money going to them to begin with.
But the thing is, that’s kind of one of the things I like about us.
It takes a particularly cold pragmatism to stand there as a group dedicated to battered women and children, and to spend money not on getting the women and kids to safe places but on lobbyists or PR firms or researches to tell you how to get your message across better.

I know it helps more people in the long run, but I’ve always seen the liberal position as one where you know that politics isn’t a game of strategy, it’s real lives of real people who need food and heat and jobs *today*.
And how do you walk past them and say, “Well, it won’t do a damned bit of good for you, but maybe for your kids…”

Republicans seem to be perfectly willing to sacrifice people in the name of their larger goal. And for some reason, the pawns seem happy enough with the arrangement.


Jeepers, I don’t want to take credit for Dorothy’s ideas, Timmah. And I’m neither a liberal nor a democrat, so I wouldn’t want people to think my ideas are somehow representative of the Democratic party.

And the reason, I think, that the Democrats don’t have a clear message is because they’ve turned their backs on the historical parts of their platform that provided a clear message. Nationalized health care, a REAL minimum wage, and a strong social safety net are clear message programs. But when’s the last time you heard a Democrat talk about those things? Unless, of course, it was Clinton’s promise to “end welfare as we know it”.

And we live in a nation full of people who think that the man who committed himself to ending the program that fed hungry poor kids was slightly to the left of Lenin. Is it any wonder I’m ready to wash my hands of this whole mess?


The Left is all right! If you’re not with us, you’re, uh, with somebody else. Of course, we respectfully value your right to disagree…

Help! This is harder than it looks.


Hmmmm…after you spend some time getting your ass ripped in the comments section of a blog by “fellow” liberals who brand you a traitor for not supporting the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, you begin to think that maybe conservatives are on to something. But at the same time, better 20 ideas of varying quality then 1 stupid idea handed down in a talking points memo.


“…you begin to think that maybe conservatives are on to something…”

Boy, you can say that again…and again, and again. Remember everybody, it’s never to late to come to your senses and unite with the right! That comment nearly motivated me to do a remake of that song by The Guess Who, featuring the late Wolfman Jack, “Clap for Wolfman” (in this case, “Clap for the Wolfe Man.”)


Yes, I do think that conservatives are on something.


Well, Baffled, I can’t speak for all conservatives, but I do know that I am on something: a heavy dose of common sense.


It’s pretty good stuff, this common sense of mine. You ought to try it sometime, BAFFLED. How about it, would you like a hit?


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