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12/07/2005

What's the point?

Ezra Klein asks some important questions about political blogging:
Can someone explain to me why folks think Townhall.com is important enough to read? I mean, I realize there's a humor element there, but reading every column they publish in a day in order to make a couple jokes is really giving them way exposure and power than they deserve. Townhall, after all, isn't reading Feministe or Pandagon and summarizing their points each evening.

I always fear, particularly in the blogosphere (and this goes not only for both sides, but for me)*, that the incentives are all aimed at mercilessly mocking the most pathetic arguments to emerge across the aisle. Tearing them apart is funny, safe, and a sure way to attract some hits. But, in the end, all we engage with is idiocy from from maniacs, and all our readers end up seeing are quotations from morons that get shredded moments later.

What's missing there is actual engagement with the good, or at least sound, arguments that pop up across the aisle. That's not to say George Will, or QandO, (or, if you're a Republican, Kevin Drum and EJ Dionne) or any of the more reasonable folks are right or convincing, but that the ideology they express isn't a caricature...

...a bit more engagement with stronger arguments from the other side would be a good thing. There's no balance. I just don't see the good pieces from the right getting mentioned.
I haven't had a chance to think about this much, but here's the response I left at Ezra's (warning: it's about as predictable as the Nick and Jessica divorce):
The problem is that at this point, there are no 'serious thinkers' who are still defending the administration. I don't read Townhall, but can it be that much more stupid than what's coming from Instapundit or Power Line? (Or Will or Hitchens, etc.?)

I try to ignore the wingnut-o-sphere as much as possible. Only the die-hard true believers are left, and they have nothing else to say.

All the questions are settled. The invasion was wrong; the occupation is wrong. The tax cuts were wrong. The judicial nominations were wrong. Etc. etc. on just about anything you can think of.

Politics just isn't as complicated as we sometimes make it out, or perhaps not enough to sustain a daily blog when it's not election season. Bush and co. are intent on doing things that we know are foolish and immoral. A few 'dead-enders' (to borrow a phrase) are still fighting the not-so-good fight, and I don't know that there's much to be gained from engaging them.

But we have blogs that must be fed. So we mock. Because at this point, what else is there to do?
But like I said, that's my first, knee-jerk response. There's an important (well, kind of important) question at issue here: what's the point of progressive political blogs? To shoot the fish in a barrel on the right? To hunt for good arguments to refute? To organize? To console one another? To stave off insanity?

I don't know. I'll be thinking about it, though.

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