Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smears Liberal Blogs

The Hotline is the trade political publication for insider staffers in DC.  It fancies itself the arbiter of conventional wisdom, and has a lot of really good content, as well as quips and useful information.  But like The Note, the Hotline has an institutional tendency to hew to right-wing talking points.  For instance, William Beutler, who writes Hotline's 'Blogometer', has this piece out in the right-wing Washington Examiner.  It's an examination of the liberal blogosphere, or rather, an attack on us with approximately zero reporting thrown in.  Keep in mind that the guy who writes this also writes the Blogometer, which quotes hundreds of blogs a day.  That he includes no quotes and cites no almost blogs should strike you as very weird.

It starts:

A few weeks after the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, the unsuccessful filibuster attempt led by John Kerry is already ancient history in Washington. But for the left-wing bloggers who had strongly urged Democrats to support the filibuster, it remains a singular moment. Many of these Internet grassroots activists -- the "netroots," as they call themselves -- had already supported primary challenges to the Democratic establishment's favored candidates. But in the wake of that loss, there is a renewed determination to oust party moderates, known to many of these bloggers as "Vichy Democrats."

Notice how he doesn't name one single blogger.  It's just 'liberal bloggers'.  There was in fact a fair amount of heterodoxy on Alito, from me to Chris Bowers to Kos to Steve Clemons to Jane Hamsher to John Aravosis to Booman to Effect Measure to etc....  All of us agreed Alito was bad for America, but Chris Bowers, John Aravosis, and I overtly rejected the last-minute filibuster call as cynical pandering.  At no point did 'Vichy Democrats' come up in a serious discussion of the filibuster.  Beutler knows this, he was covering us.

He continues:

A major reason why many Democrats actively court liberal bloggers is their ability to raise money. When a photograph surfaced of conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, getting chummy with President Bush earlier this month, bloggers raised, in less than a week, more than $75,000 for his primary opponent, ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. They are both competing for a safe Democratic district, but a Rodriguez win could be a big boost to bloggers' perceived clout.

Um, a bit more money at this point.  Whatever.  But Beutler is ignoring an important side effect; we unlocked money from Moveon, we piled on with unions, and the League of Conservation Voters endorsed.  We created 'buzz', but we weren't alone.  Lots of Texas Dems and Congressional Dems do not like Cuellar, and know he is a closet Republican.

He continues:

There are existing or likely challenges from the left to Sens. Joe Lieberman, Maria Cantwell and Hillary Clinton, and there are blogger-backed challenges to several of the national party's favored Senate candidates, including Bob Casey (Penn.), Harold Ford (Tenn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and John Morrison (Mont.). And the bloggers are pushing hard even though each of those non-incumbents stands a good chance of wresting a seat from the Republicans.

Once again, this is unsourced and attributed to 'bloggers'.  I'm not backing Tasini in NY, or Pennachio in PA.  I am backing Matt Brown, Tester, and Ned Lamont.  But come on, like Matt Brown was created by the blogs?  The guy is already Secretary of State of RI.  This is bad journalism.  And Beutler knows better.

He continues:

Only a few of the standard-bearers' opponents pose legitimate threats, but a primary defeat is the least of their worries. Online activists such as Markos Moulitsas, founder of the influential Daily Kos Web site, argue that primaries increase name recognition and the blogs will then simply raise more money.

Where does he argue this?  Kos maintains that blogs are not about raising money. And I find it hard to argue with the notion that primaries raise name ID.

He continues:

But primary fights leave bruises, money is stubbornly finite, primary campaigns need time (and more money) to regroup for the general election and the Republicans will be ready to outspend them when they do.

Conventional wisdom, conventional wisdom, conventional wisdom.  Was the long Presidential primary in 2004 bad for the party?  No.  It allowed Dean to figure out the internet, Kerry to refine his message, and four months of national Bush-bashing.  It was good for the party. That's not really the point; Beutler is just echoing things he isn't proving.

He continues:

For months, Moulitsas and others have been calling for the Democratic campaign committees to challenge every Republican-held House and Senate seat. But the money just isn't there. Bloggers could help raise some of the money toward this goal, but they don't trust the party committees, and won't help them do so.
 

Evidence please?

Instead, they back feel-good candidates who will call Republicans "chickenhawks," yet don't have the organizational wherewithal to run effective campaigns. To wit: No candidate supported by Moulitsas has yet won a seat in Congress.

Um, Stephanie Herseth?  Ben Chandler?  This is absurd, and dishonest.  It's also ripped directly from Redstate, which conveniently overlooks those special election victories.

He continues:

What's ironic is that those targeting Cuellar are mimicking the anti-heretic tactics of the Republican-oriented Club for Growth -- which made Cuellar its first Democratic endorsement in late January. If the Club for Growth is the Republican Party's tax-cut enforcer, the liberal netroots are enforcers of a similar kind for the Democrats. Yet it's harder to know what they're enforcing, and woe to the politician who tries to guess the netroots' preferred position on Issue X -- and guesses wrong.

Just because Beutler don't understand what being progressive means doesn't mean that it's some random magical angry beast that slashes out randomly.  Social Security, the war, health care, wiretapping - these kinds of things concern us.  It's not rocket science.

There is another key difference between them: As a well-organized outfit, the Club raises and spends its own money and makes its own mistakes. The loosely confederated netroots mostly direct donations to campaigns. This is an improvement insofar as the candidate knows the district best, but if Rodriguez or other liberal challengers lose and the netroots don't feel responsible, they won't learn from their mistakes. The result could be greater resentment, to say nothing of another revolt in the next campaign cycle.

Let's rephrase this, and replace some key words.

The loosely confederated party insiders mostly direct donations to campaigns. This is an improvement insofar as the candidate knows the district best, but if Brad Carson or other conservative challengers lose and the insiders don't feel responsible, they won't learn from their mistakes.

See how easy it is to create Beltway wisdom?  Beutler continues:

Unsurprisingly, this anti-establishment project is one no national Democratic group has endorsed. Even for a governing party, trying to pick off your own members is a risky strategy. Republicans have seats to lose, albeit fewer than in the past -- and the Club just might help liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., lose his. But if Democrats want to regain control of Congress, there is little margin for error. And if it's the Republicans who pick up seats in November, the Internet battle against the "Vichy Democrats" will share some of the blame.

Yes, we will share some of the blame, because we're Democrats.  All Democrats will share some of the blame.  But if we win, it goes the other way.

Look at the end of the day, this is a smear job masquerading as journalism.  It's the worst sort of grade level college essay that names no specific bloggers, quotes no one, and echoes an easily manipulated conventional wisdom.

And this is who Hotline put in charge of their blog coverage?  Beutler needs to be reprimanded for this fact-free screed in an obscure right-wing rag, and the Blogometer should now be taken with a massive grain of salt.

Tags: Blogosphere, Hotline, Media, William Beutler (all tags)

Comments

27 Comments

Vichy Democrats

Well, I googled that and found this, noting some recent use from a couple front-page bloggers at dKos, including Kos and Georgia10.  So the phrase does see some use, unfortunately.  Maybe we shouldn't use it?  I dunno.  It's an apt phrase, but it also edges too close to Godwin's Law for me.

by auronrenouille 2006-02-18 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Vichy Democrats

The point is that he tied the phrase to the Alito fight as if we all used it all the time, and that wasn't true.

by Matt Stoller 2006-02-18 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Vichy Democrats

Bullshit. It means someone went through and put that tag into some diaries. The word itself doesn't show up in any of our posts, and we've categorically rejected using that word.

For the record, the term "vichy Dem" is like nails on a chalkboard for me. I despise it.

by kos 2006-02-18 01:09PM | 0 recs
We Like The Phrase Just Fine Over At MLW

But this time even Matt missed the real problem with this part of the story:

But in the wake of that loss, there is a renewed determination to oust party moderates, known to many of these bloggers as "Vichy Democrats."
It's not moderates who are called "Vichy Democrats," it's collaborators like Lieberman and Cuellar.

Markos may not like the term, but those of us who do are--for the most part--taking aim at the same folks he sees as directly damaging to the party, not moderates from conservative districts or states who sometimes don't vote the way we'd like, but are proud Democrats none-the-less.

Now, I agree that there are some folks who are letting their frustrations overwhelm their better judgment.  But this is hardly a major sentiment at this point.  Nor is it surprising, given the magnitude of the Alito nomination, and the ineptitude of the Dem response. If Bush's approval rating was in the 60s, we could understand it, but.... But I digress.

The point is, sure there are differences among us. And there are certainly some legitimate criticisms to be made.  But this criticism, like virtually everything else in the article, utterly misses the mark.  And I say that as a practicing journalist myself.  If someone applied for a job at our paper, and included this as one of their sample clips, they wouldn't even get an interview, much less get hired.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-18 10:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

"For months, Moulitsas and others have been calling for the Democratic campaign committees to challenge every Republican-held House and Senate seat. But the money just isn't there. Bloggers could help raise some of the money toward this goal, but they don't trust the party committees, and won't help them do so."

This is obviously true...typing "evidence please?" doesn't really constitute an affirmative defence.

by JCarlFinn5 2006-02-18 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

No, it's not obviously true.  It is one of many narratives Beutler chose to pick.

by Matt Stoller 2006-02-18 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

Matt: it could be argued that this view IS the CW among many Dem staffers. A lot of Dem staffers on the Hill don't like us bloggers because we 'think we know so much' - they think, what can we laptoppy geeks possibly know about politics when we don't work in government?

And I can say for a fact that some of those staffer friends of mine are so busy, so legitimately swamped every day with shit like swelling piles of constituent services replies (due, in some respect to our stoking of the public's fire, no doubt) that they don't feel like getting lectured by an interloper like Markos.

They're so busy that a few even don't feel like we should try to win complete majorities. That "it's almost better to be in the minority" - less responsibility for the cleanup of the epic mess that's unfolded in the last 10 years.

This is the wrong lesson to take from Garret Keizer's great article in the latest Harpers. As Prairie Weather blogged it:

What is happening is inevitable, a serious battle,  a playing out of history -- and I've agreed with [Keizer] on this for years, through all the blog conversations about how to get rid of Bush.
The Republican Party as it now exists is the most progressive of all American political parties in the sense that it is hastening the inevitable showdown that was predestined the moment "workers" and "players" first glimpsed the shores of this country and conceived their separate versions of its promise.  You can see that division running like a faultline through four centuries of our politics and poetry... People who ask "How can we defeat the Republicans in 2008?" are asking a secondary question.  The primary question is whether we ought to try...

My feeling is that if we don't try now and succeed now we might never get another chance, short of secession.

by dereau 2006-02-18 01:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

Dereau -- I stumbled on your reference to Keizer's article just after pulling together two articles, also at my blog,  about the Deaning of Paul Hackett -- Goodman's at Mother Jones and Frank's at Op-Ed News.  

One cannot overlook the damage done to the Democratic Party and its Congressional candidates by its leadership --  its "players," and its money-bags.  Nor can there be a successful reversal of what the Bush administration is doing unless we're prepared to push through real change in the Party and/or abandon the Democrats for a party of the center and left.  

I'd love to see a Democratic win in the House in 2006 if only to watch Bush get the goring he deserves, see the lies exposed.  But I don't think we'd see the reforms most of us want-- or a genuine embrace of the Democratic Party -- unless we also chuck the dirt out of the Democratic Party leadership and their money bags and pull the party back to the center and left-center.  Most of those who could make this possible would be doing  so because they're appalled by Bush, and not because they embrace a party, the Democrats, whose leadership is  indistinguishable from the Republicans when measured in terms of corruption and lock-step right-of-centrism.

Frank and Goodman are quite explicit about who's involved in the corruption of the Party, in case anyone needs a reminder!  They go a long way towards giving a definitive answer as to why there is a shift away (to the left) from the "players" of the Democratic Party and why its "base" may no longer have the strength to sustain a 2006 gain in seats.  Like it or not, there's a significant shift away from identification with the Democratic Party and increasing numbers saying "I'm an independent" or "I'm a progressive."

It scarcely matters what rightwing knee-jerks and diehard Republicans think of the Democratic Party (or of liberal bloggers, for that matter).  Nor does it really matter what exhausted Hill staffers think though I empathize with their frustration.  What matters one helluva lot is what millions of moderate and the left voters think of the Party and whether they're willing to stick with the it.  I think Keizer is helpful in illuminating the relation between Democratic "players" and their constituents' working reality.  

by Bean 2006-02-19 06:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear
We agree. There are good lessons to be learned in Keizer's article.  'Don't try to win' would be a misinterpretation.
Nor can there be a successful reversal of what the Bush administration is doing unless we're prepared to push through real change in the Party and/or abandon the Democrats for a party of the center and left.
We?!
Friend, take over the party. Abandoning the Democrats is not really a feasible option. Be the real change in the Party. Here's how:
Work on a reformer's or a progressive's campaign. Win. Prove you're smart and not a wingnut. Get a task on the transition team of the principal-elect. Prove you're fair and capable. Get a job in the office. And bingo, you're taking over the party. The old machine folks and cronies will come kissing your arse for jobs and favors and then you gently tell them to get bent, that they should retire. After the first 100 days, interview your successor, hire someone like you. Leave the office after a year to work on a reformer's or a progressive's campaign. Repeat.
by dereau 2006-02-19 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

I admire your passion and commitment, Dereau, but I'm old and experienced and "been there, done that."  Like many, I'm committed to being a progressive and not fooling myself anymore that the Democratic party is progessive.  During the past thirty years, the Democrats have moved considerably to the right and towards increased authoritarianism.  Can't go along with it.

by Bean 2006-02-21 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

Most people here support "Vichy Democrats" including me. There is no place for purism in politics. But Cuellar and Chafee are not even Democrats, and Lieberman has hurt the Democratic Party far more than for example the conservative Ben Nelson. The problem with Lieberman is not his votes so much as his constant reinforcing of right wing frames about the Democrats. He must go for the health of the party. This is not about ideology, it's about standing up for the party and helping us to take the power back.

by Populism2008 2006-02-18 07:34AM | 0 recs
You Need To Use DOUBLE Double Quotes

when you say ""Vichy Dems"" and mean it the way that  Beutler defines it.

The problem, of course, is that it's a somewhat loose term, that different people use in somewhat different ways.  But it's virtually universal that it applies to acts of collaboration with the GOP, and not with simply being a moderate Democrat.

I should point out that I am an ultra-lefty.  I did the political compass thing once and scored damn near -10, -10, which I think understates how far left I am.  (It's the old Spinal Tap thing.)  But I have no problem supporting party loyal moderate Democrats.  I will try to persuade them to become more progressive, but I will not question their integrity or attack them simply because I disagree with their positions.  The vast majority of folks who are not as far left as me feel much the same.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-18 10:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

Also, as far as the primary thing is concerned, I'm not exactly sure who is being dishonest...primaries are different for Republicans than for Democrats. Democrats rely on the money they bank in the pre-primary season...Republicans don't. No matter who wins a Republican primary there is a pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. The same is not true for Democrats. Republicans emerge from contested primaries and are showered with money from the much better financed RNC and corporate donors, while Democrats emerge broke and with few prospects for closing the gap. As far as presidential primary campaigns are concerned, that is a seperate matter entirely for both parties.

by JCarlFinn5 2006-02-18 07:39AM | 0 recs
Some professional political writer

To insinuate that there is any sort of serious challenge to Cantwell. I checked her opponent's fundraising-virtually non-existent.

Maybe he'll raise oh, four million first quarter or something. And perhaps his friends from his former political parties the Libertarians and the Greens will help him.

If there were a serious, progressive candidate running against Canwell that would be another matter. But there's not and for anyone to imply that there is a serious challenge coming from the left in Washington state is misleading.

Leaving aside whether there SHOULD be a serious progressive challenge to Cantwell, which is another matter altogether. Just because a few Washington bloggers reflexively decided they would "punish" Canwell by endorsing her primary opponent doesn't make it um, amount to anything.

What a cruddy article.

by jondevore 2006-02-18 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

Please don't hold this against me, but I think that Buetler's article was largely influenced by Little Old Me. Right before the Alito filibuster, I used a site I had just started called Vichy Democrats to marshall resources for people to use when making their phone calls, faxes, and emails. At five days old, the site boomed to 8,500 hits on that filibuster Monday. Buetler noticed, and asked to be added to my mailing list.

(Why did I connect the "Vichy" concept to the Alito fight? Because the Vichys were the ones who would sink a filibuster, and because the votes on the filibuster would, in my mind, be one measure of who was a Vichy and who wasn't.)

Fast forward to Feb. 8. I started making noises about mounting a similar phone-calling campaign on the NSA question. Buetler -- who, again, had asked to be on my mailing list and gets daily updates on what's posted -- highlighted that in Blogometer:

EAVESDROPPING: Are There Second Acts In American Political Movements?

Attention has temporarily swung away from the NSA wiretap debate (just as Plamegate fell off the radar yesterday) but Vichy Democrats -- launched in the wake [sic] of the failed filibuster of Samuel Alito -- is contemplating another campaign, this one aimed at getting Dems to put the screws to the Bush admin. Quoting a report from the conservative Insight, Vichy Democrats states that Rove "already is afraid that the Congressional investigations may ultimately result in impeachment proceedings, and is putting tremendous political pressure on Republicans to support the President no matter what, saying that any R Senator who deems warrantless wiretaps unlawful will be 'blacklisted' in the next elections." Another letter-writing/fax-faxing campaign is proposed: "So I'm considering launching a new Game Plan to encourage people to harangue the Dem members of Judiciary and Intelligence, the Dem Senate Leadership, and the more moderate or liberty-loving Republicans on the Committee, insisting that the Dems show a unified front if the hearings continue to show that crimes were committed, and that the Republicans place principle above politics, and honor their oaths of office, by calling a crime a crime."

The positions he's ascribing to "liberal bloggers" basically are positions I'm taking on VichyDems: pro-Lamont, pro-Ciro, pro-Pennacchio, critical of the Dem establishment's early blessing on centrist Dems, etc.

Your response to the above may be to publicize the obvious fact that my one blog doesn't speak for the whole community -- minimizing or even ridiculing it. I hope you don't. VichyDems isn't dangerous. I'm not a wild-eyed radical without political common sense. I want to regain the majority and am selective (and fairly democratic) about who I label a Vichy. My general thesis is that losing 2, 3 or 4 Vichy seats while re-asserting the Party's progressive message and infusing it with new blood will ultimately result in electoral gains that far outstrip those losses. That's not a dogmatic approach, but a practical one, even if it also is idealistic.

So I hope no one takes the anger at Beutler, or their own preference for a more centrist approach than mine, and uses it to smack my site down. I'm one of the good guys, I have the strong support of Glenn Greenwald and others, I seem to be doing some good in terms of galvanizing DIRECT grassroots advocacy (as distinguished from the organizational grassroots like MoveOn) -- and I'm just starting to get the site off the ground. If my little blog is having a disproportionate impact, then I'd love to do some aikido -- working constructively with the larger blogs to take the access to Beutler that I seem to have stumbled upon accidentally, and using it to advance the whole movement.

Now, I'm all ears.

Thersites of VichyDems

by Thersites2 2006-02-18 08:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

Your response to the above may be to publicize the obvious fact that my one blog doesn't speak for the whole community -- minimizing or even ridiculing it. I hope you don't. VichyDems isn't dangerous.

So I should write misleading things about the blogs for you?  I mean, that is what you're asking for, and in return you're implicitly promising to get me in good with Bill Beutler.  You seem like a nice and smart fellow, but I don't believe that's a sustainable way to build a political movement, on deception and pandering to the press.

As for the filibuster, when it mattered, months before when the Democrats were on Christmas break, you weren't around.  It was Leahy and the groups who screwed this up by not preparing a strategy, not Senators who cast cloture votes one way or the other after the game was over.  I'm glad you're around now, and I support holding the party accountable.

I also support holding journalists accountable, like Beutler, for their work, both when it's good and when it's bad.

by Matt Stoller 2006-02-18 08:43AM | 0 recs
This Just Doesn't Wash

On two levels.

First, Beutler is writing as if he's talking about the liberal blogosphere in general, not just one site.

Second, what he wrote is not even true about your site, as you've explained it.  You aren't targetting people because they're moderates, and this is what Beutler claimed.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-18 10:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Beutler Dissembles and Smears Liberal Blogs

Besides the lack of any kind of evidence or attribution, Beutler's article displays a stunning lack of understanding of the netroots movement. We are not a monolith and anyone who has been paying attention would know that.

I think the tendency to view us as a monolith is primarily psychological. We are a threat to the elite party insiders, which triggers their "us against them" reflex.

In fact, the real problem is that the Democratic party has stopped being representative of Democrats, or of anyone else but the party insiders for that matter. They ignore our voices at their peril.

We are the tip of the iceberg. None of my friends who are core Democrats blog, comment on blogs, or even read blogs. And yet their desires and frustrations mirror those of the lefty blogosphere.

It is time for the Vichy Dems to wake and remember who the hell they represent.

by shargash 2006-02-18 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

So I should write misleading things about the blogs for you?  I mean, that is what you're asking for, and in return you're implicitly promising to get me in good with Bill Beutler.  You seem like a nice and smart fellow, but I don't believe that's a sustainable way to build a political movement, on deception and pandering to the press.

Matt: Wow. I must not have expressed myself very clearly, and for that I apologize.

I'm not proposing deception or pandering, and I'm definitely not promising to give you access to anyone. I am not dishonest in that way; Beutler isn't that naive; and I don't have any special access anyway.  

The only reason I wrote to you at all is that I read your post as basically asking, "who the hell is Beutler talking about? I never said that stuff!", and since I believe VichyDems is at least part of the answer, I thought it was fair to tell you. And the only reason I mentioned that Beutler reads my blog is that if he didn't, there'd be no reason to think VichyDems played any role at all in his article. Since he does read it sometimes, it's reasonable to think that it may have played a part in the things you wrote about, and so I told you about it. That's it, nothing more.

What you interpreted as a request that you lie or pander to the media was really just a request that, in your anger, you not write something like, "Beutler has it wrong. VichyDems is a tiny misled extremist useless irrelevant little piece of crap that Beutler is mistaking as something influential. No real bloggers feel that way." First, because it wouldn't be true -- VichyDems is neither as influential as Kos nor completely irrelevant, but somewhere in the middle -- and second, because it's not constructive. If an influential journalist (whatever his political stripe) is paying attention to what I'm writing, then my inclination -- as yours would be -- is to be glad for the attention and try to use the venue responsibly. That's not pandering; that's just building an audience, and trying to do it in a way that's transparent, honest and effective. If I had dishonest intent, I wouldn't have even posted a comment here about the issue, since Beutler obviously will be reading this.

So ultimately, I was writing for two reasons: (1) to give you info you didn't have, and (2) to ask you not to make the mistake of blasting my site on your way to blasting Beutler, both because that wouldn't be fair and because, if he's reading and publicizing the progressive viewpoints and calls-to-arms on my site, then I'm glad for the broader audience and would hope to use it in a responsible way. Nothing nefarious, nothing dishonest, and there's no reason for you to lash out and accuse me of wrongdoing.

As to VichyDems not being around when the real decisions about the filibuster were being made: you're right. I was writing about the issue on a different, even less prominent blog at the time (NeoProgBlog). I'm as angry as anyone that our leaders didn't get their acts together in time to actually stop Alito, and I blame Reid, in particular, for calling the Alito vote, and the cloture vote, as "conscience votes" instead of exercising party discipline. But that doesn't make my work on the Alito filibuster irrelevant or harmful; in any case, my larger goal in boosting the Alito filibuster was to take that energy, help people use it constructively, then try to sustain and develop it to help ignite the grassroots in general -- something that indeed is starting to happen and that, regardless of what some people think, it a good development.  

Anyway, we really are both on the same team, and I posted here in the first place not for self-aggrandizement or publicity or to manipulate anyone, but just to share information in a friendly way. If you'd like to continue the discussion less publicly, there's an email link on my front page.

Are we good?

by Thersites2 2006-02-18 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

Quote #1: "If my little blog is having a disproportionate impact, then I'd love to do some aikido -- working constructively with the larger blogs to take the access to Beutler that I seem to have stumbled upon accidentally, and using it to advance the whole movement."

Quote #2: "Beutler isn't that naive; and I don't have any special access anyway. "

Which is it?  

by Matt Stoller 2006-02-18 09:53AM | 0 recs
Matt, I Think Your On The Wrong Foot Here

The problem isn't what Thersites2 is doing with the VichyDems site.  It's the way that Beutler is misrepresenting it.  And the reference to Aikido is perfectly apt, IMHO.  He's not the enemy here.

I think it's perfectly fine for you to attack Beutler no holds barred, and I agree with almost every point you make. (I've already said that I think you missed the mark a bit about precisely why he was so wrong re the Vichy Dems.)  I also think it's perfectly fine for Thersites2 to take a different approach, if that has the potential to do some good.

This is not about who's right.  It's about working on more than one front, which is almost always more effective than a one-front attack.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-18 10:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

Which is it?

Sigh. This shouldn't have to be so hard.

Maybe the problem is that when I say Aikido, I really mean Aikido -- the martial art and its philosophy, which I've trained in. I don't mean "sneakiness" or "deception", I mean Aikido, i.e., refusing to label anyone as an "enemy" and instead finding ways to work within any situation to create a positive outcome.

You're unhappy that a journalist you consider conservative is communicating the wrong things to the general public. Your solution is to blast the journalist. My solution is to find a way to work with him, and with anyone else who's affected, like you and other bloggers who aren't happy with what he wrote, to find a constructive solution.  

Do you think that what I'm writing on VichyDems, and Mr. Beutler apparently is repeating, is incorrect or harmful to the progressive movement? Then educate me, and I will seriously consider taking a different tack. And IF Mr. Beutler is actually reading and repeating what I'm writing, then you will, by doing so, have changed what he's reading and writing about it. That's it.

I'm not offering to tell lies on my blog in hopes that Blogometer or someone will fall into a trap by repeating them. I'm not willing to pretend to take positions I don't actually hold. I am willing to reconsider my views, recognize that what I write has a broader impact, and collaborate with other bloggers. I'm glad whenever my blog gets read, and gladder when it gets amplified by something like the Blogometer. And if something I write causes harmful, unintended consequences -- as your original post suggests -- then I'm happy to reconsider my approach, and take a new tack. That's open, not dishonest.

I'm about as straightforward and honest a man, and a blogger, as you'll meet. You never even knew I existed until today, you certainly haven't read my whole body of work, and you haven't met me. I stuck my nose out to give you information I thought you'd like to have. I was, and am, a little embarassed about the whole thing. And I'm really starting to regret going out on that limb if this is how you treat people here. Get your head pointed in the right direction, man. I'm not your enemy, I'm trying to be your friend.

by Thersites2 2006-02-18 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: William Beutler Dissembles and Smears

Matt,

Ah, stop picking on the guy. You're coming on a little heavy handed with the smackdown, from my reading.

I think, from your description of the article, Beutler would be more than happy to see such intra-blogger smackdowns as fallout.

And I commend Theresites for coming forward to cop to his role, innocent enough as it is. I suspect Beutler picked on it to advance his own insider narrative in the first place.

And Thersites, I think you imagined that you might be able to get Beutler's attention again to get some kind of correction or addendum. I think that's probably a naive view as he seems to want to hype blogger/party divisions.

by DrLaniac 2006-02-18 11:09AM | 0 recs
Perhaps you've missed it

But there is at least one blog out there using the term Vichy Democrats and running a Tasini ad.

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by Maryscott OConnor 2006-02-18 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

And Thersites, I think you imagined that you might be able to get Beutler's attention again to get some kind of correction or addendum. I think that's probably a naive view as he seems to want to hype blogger/party divisions.

Dr. Laniac: Thanks for the support.

FWIW, I never thought Beutler would change anything he wrote; and yes, Blogometer does seem to thrive on differences, not just within parties but in general, left vs right, left left vs center left, etc. That's journamalism, I guess.

Rereading what Matt wrote about me, I see that his question seems to be on my use of the word "access." I didn't use it skilfully. I don't think I have "special access" to Buetler or the Blogometer. I do think he has paid more attention to VichyDems than he probably would to most other similarly-sized, similarly-new blogs. I take that as a compliment, and a blessing. And all I was suggesting with my "aikido" comment is that, if he's reading and reporting on things I'm saying, then I'm open to considering input from other bloggers -- like Matt, who seems to disagree with me on some things -- to make sure that what I'm writing, and Beutler is (only rarely, to be honest) reporting, is as effective and constructive as possible.

I hope that helps.

by Thersites2 2006-02-18 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

we've categorically rejected using that word. For the record, the term "vichy Dem" is like nails on a chalkboard for me. I despise it.

Kos: why?

by Thersites2 2006-02-18 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Hotline's William Beutler Dissembles and Smear

Perhaps you could state why you think referring to them as "Vichy Democrats" is a good idea.

by Epitome23 2006-02-18 08:55PM | 0 recs

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