Tuesday, July 19, 2005

IN WITH THE OUT CROWD. Michael Totten -- reacting, it would seem, to unkind comments made at this very site about the new centrist enterprise, Donklephant, with which he is involved -- denounces the left as an "exclusive bitchy little high school clique" that imagines itself "surrounded by rightwing boogeymen." Conservatives, on the other hand, are "in general... more comfortable with centrists than are liberals in general." The left, Michael concludes, is plagued by a "loathing of heretics."

Well, all in all it's better than being called Fifth Columnists, as we were in the days when Andrew Sullivan was the internet model of sweet reason. But "clique" is an interesting choice of word. How are my readers any more of a clique than the charming folks who fill Michael's comments with denunciations of evil libruldom?

"When Bush mentions democracy," one such commenter says, "liberals friends of mine just roll their eyes because, I'm sad to say, they have ceased believing in it." Many of us would suggest an alternate reason, of course -- and maybe that feeds the perception of cliquishness: There's a lot of eye-rolling at this site, and some people are not comfortable with that sort of dismissive attitude -- especially if they identify themselves so strongly with democracy, freedom, etc., that when they are mocked they imagine those things are being mocked as well, or perhaps exclusively.

In this sort of dynamic -- for instance, to take Michael's analogy, high school -- non-joiners, however small and powerless a unit they comprise, are imagined to be committing some sort of offense against the joiners. Given the near-universal contempt in which liberals are held these days, I hardly imagine we are the football team or student government of Michael's high school. Buncha losers smoking cigarettes behind the gym, more like.

I expect we will be further marginalized in the days to come, as there is little doubt that centrism is the coming thing. Hugh Hewitt, for example, lays claim to something called the "center-right blogosphere." According to Hewitt, the "left-wing blogosphere" -- including such wild-eyed Jacobins as Kevin Drum -- are incapable of reasonable analysis because they get their information from "old plumbing" (i.e. newspapers, television, and radio) which, being made of "lead," is "poisoning the information they are distributing, and the consequence is the slow poisoning of the Democratic Party," leaving us with "lousy logic and terrible habits of mind."

Center-rightists, on the other hand, have shiny new pipes made of Internet, and because the information going through those pipes stays Springtime-fresh, the center-right is "much, much more fact specific," "much less prone to vulgarity, profanity or the sort of personal attacks that create barriers to new readership," "simply more professional about its reporting, and more vigorous in its reporting," and in general "simply light years ahead of the left." And "funnier," "more skilled with words," etc. No word yet as to whether they would beat us in a softball game, but I'm guessing he thinks so.

One might argue that Hewitt is just a straight-up conservative sticking a centrist label on his stuff. But really, is there any other qualification for membership? Hewitt's just reaching out, hoping to find consensus.

If you want me, I'll be out behind the gym.

UNHYPHENATED CENTRISM UPDATE! Michael links to some guy who became a centrist because his liberal workmates forced him to watch In Living Color and Martin. A commenter concurs: "That was a really weird time in this country. Even though my school was at least 65% white, people tried to identify witht the black culture to the point of being called 'white' was actually an insult." I musta been taking a nap during this Black Supremacist era -- tell me, is that how O.J. got acquitted?

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