Monday, June 1, 2009

That Blog You Like Sucks

The more or less cordial back and forth has continued at Pseudo-Polymath, but I think I've successfully broken the sickly cycle of civility in my response to this from blogger Mark:

In my opinion the best conservative (thoughtful) blog is PJM’s Richard Fernandez. Here’s my query. Read his last 4 or 5 posts in full (or more if you like). What one or two left wing blog do you think best compares to that in content form and style (but of course not message).
To which I replied as follows, more or less:

What stands out for me about the blogger you highlight is the presence of observation and lack of argument. Or to put it less kindly, I note a pronounced lack of point.

Consider, say, the post comparing the murderer of Dr. Tiller with John Brown, "Gory, gory hallelujah" -- sure, I don't have to squint too hard to see the parallels. I'll charitably pretend this is the first time I've heard a "pro-life" person compare the "pro-life" thing with abolition. Still: so? What's he getting at, exactly? He's randy for a civil war? Against one?

Same for the more recent one, "Bookends," quoting:
Yet if one is justified in fingering anti-abortion activists as contributing to the climate which killed Dr. Tiller, what can be said of those who made the acts in Arkansas intellectually attractive to Abulhakin Muhammad, formerly Carlos Bledsoe? One of the dangers of political speech is that listeners might actually take words seriously. “Don’t tell me words don’t matter”, Barack Obama once said. He was right: they do. For that reason the murders of Tiller and Long won’t just be about a criminal tragedy, as if it were some drug-fueled, mindless crime. They will be about words and their consequences.
Um, huh? I don't have any trouble "pointing fingers" at the incendiary rhetoric that helped foment either of these gratuitous killings. Who does? And what, pray tell, does Barack Obama -- either his words as such or his statements concerning the power of words -- have to do with either?

As I read the factoids observed, Obama agrees that words matter. So do I. So does your preferred blogger. And ... ? And therefore ... ? If I'm uncharitable, I have to conclude your preferred blogger is tying something Obama said with the killing of a US soldier in Arkansas by an Islamist extremist. What statement of President Obama's is so implicated, precisely? If not a statement of Obama's, then whose statement(s)? What did these statements say? Who supported these statements? Why is this a matter about which to be coy and insinuating? Why not state the position clearly?

Incidentally, surely this can't be your idea of writing that engages the strongest of the arguments of the other side. Please. Where is the argument in the first place? Or the counterargument? I see lots of names dropped and some dogwhistles blown mightily but I am not seeing points expressed or arguments advanced.

I could go on: the thing about "The perils of Facebook" is, again, a more or less kinda-sorta interesting set of observations that don't particularly go anywhere. Is he trying to be sententious?

As for the one preceding it, "Offstage," trading in a mix of fake outrage and casuistry over Nancy Pelosi's supposed complicity in the Bush-Cheney war crime wave, is just abysmal, and on the same grounds I've mentioned above (and more besides).

To answer your query directly: I'm afraid I can't cite a left-liberal blogger who comes across the same way as that blogger you like; inasmuch as I've found any such, I've long since stopped reading and forgotten the URL. I prefer clarity -- even clarity with which I disagree -- over a retiring, vacuous haze.

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