Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Greetings from Lieber-land

I am spending the closing days of the Lieberman-Lamont primary race volunteering for my old boss at the Lieberman campaign headquarters in lovely Rocky Hill, Connecticut. So ends my tenure as a contributor to the pro-Joe Lieberman blog Lieberdem, which is independent of the campaign. But when I have a free moment in between the madness over the next eight days, I do intend to post some news and observations on the Lieberman-Lamont race here.

One quick item I wanted to share relates to my experience with Lieberdem, which is quite revealing about the state of discourse in the blogosphere.

Matt Smith, the founder and operator of Lieberdem, decided early on that he was going to allow Lieberman critics and Lamont supporters to comment freely on the site, and many of the commenters have been nasty and juvenile. But over time, some voices of reason emerged and there was actually some healthy, substantive debate within the comments thread (in stark contrast to the echo-chamber conversations on most of the big sites in the Democratic blog-world).

One of those voices of reason was a Lamont supporter and blogger named Sundog. Recently Sundog made the mistake of discussing his positive experience on Lieberdem -- and daring to suggest that Joe Lieberman is not the personification of evil -- on Atrios, one of the more influential Democratic blogsites. For that, Sundog was attacked with the same venom the Lieberman-haters usually reserve for my old boss.

Below is Sundog's account of this episode, which aptly sums up the blogosphere's credibility problems.

Sundog's Blog
Concern Troll
By Sundog | bio

I am concerned about the rhetorical tone in the lefty blogosphere.

Oh, sorry; that makes me a "concern troll." You are now free to ignore anything I say.

Let me tell you about my week online last week. I spent a good deal of it over at LieberDem, trying to defend Kos and the rest of the lefty blogosphere against the charge that we're all wild-eyed crazies. Pretty much alone, I might add, and pretty much successfully for the most part - Lieberdem himself thanked me for bringing reaonable discourse to the process, and admitted I made some good points. I suppose to some, that means I slept with the enemy. But at any rate, I had great discussions and turned some trolls into participants in the conversation. A very satisfying experience. I felt like maybe I made just a little bit of a difference. Then...

...fast forward to today, when Atrios posts a comment about "What exactly is there to like about Joe Lieberman?" Rather exasperated. I foolishly jumped into the comments and said, prominently identifying myself as a Lamont supporter, come on, he's been a solid Democrat most of his life; it's just his choices over the last few years are wrong in my book.

Ever see a pack of dogs go after red meat?

The irony and the unfairness of the situation are still with me. First of all is the fact that over the last week I probably had far more positive effect on the Lamont campaign than the people who were busily banging their keyboards at me, and then the fact that I busted my b*lls trying to defend the excesses of the blogosphere, only to fall a victim to those very same people, who treated me with the same jump 'em and dump 'em tactics thay use on any Republican insane enough to post there.

My eyes are opened. You know what? When one can get a better conversation going on a Lieberman blog as a Lamont supporter than on Atrios's blog as a Lamont supporter, something is clearly wrong. Someone clearly needs to try the decaf.

My efforts to defend the lefty blogosphere as a sane participant in the political process are over. Fend for yourselves, guys. I thought maybe I was doing a good thing, trying to build bridges, but maybe nobody wants to cross a bridge to where you've arrived.

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