Now, anybody who knows Ben - and who in Virginia politics and the blogosphere actually doesn't know NLS? - knows he's a bomb thrower full of piss and vinegar and hyperbole. That's his charm.
We all read him, of course, not because of the controversies he stirs up but because of his brilliant analysis of election results in district by district races and because he's a genius with numbers. Right. And all 16 year old boys read Playboy for the articles.
Anyway, although I do object to the way both Gordon Smith, who came across NLS on his one and only visit to Virginia, and Hank Bostwick, who actually now lives in Roanoke, have inserted themselves into Virginia politics like gangbusters, without actually knowing or understanding the dynamics of either the blogosphere or the local political situation here.
I have no quarrel with their joining the discussion about the presidential race, of course, because that's not local and they know as much as any of us. But when they take it upon themselves to email, and encourage their North Carolina readers, to contact Leslie Byrne, Jim Webb, and Del. Lionel Spruill to urge them to denounce Ben as a racist, they are stepping into quicksand and will rapidly sink.
For one thing, no politician or candidate needs to get involved in a blogger war. We should be shielding them from that because they have to run on serious issues not on the rantings of every loose cannon blogger. Blogs, after all, are free and anybody can have one. Nobody can control bloggers. And nobody should be held responsible for what bloggers say.
But what Jim Webb and Leslie Byrne also know that these two didn't is that Ben was one of the first bloggers to run the infamous Maccaca video that exposed genuine racism. George Allen's. If it wasn't for Ben and also Lowell of Raising Kaine, that video would have been a blip on the back page of the Washington Post on a slow Saturday. Without Virginia bloggers exposing it and keeping it alive not only might Jim Webb not have been elected but the U.S. Senate might now still be under Republican control.
I think the Scrutiny Hooligan guys actually are well meaning. I've been reading their site. I was particularly impressed with their call for civility between the Obama and Hillary camps. Both the Obama supporters and the Hillary supporters in the blogosphere need to get a grip before we bring defeat upon the Democratic nominee, whoever it turns out to be (and if they had stopped to read our blogs before launching in, they'd know that I have been preaching that since the beginning), and the whole party in November. Here's what SH said:
Most surprisingly, though, is the way Senator Clinton has been vilified by those who profess to be left-leaning, progressive or liberal bloggers. Consider a site like Washington State’s The Progressive Review. PR purports to support the progressive agenda but the site is slathered with links or posts containing claims about Hillary Clinton that are so offensive it reads like an aggregator of Rove’s honorable mentions. Senator Obama’s camp has rightly accused some Clinton supporters of exacerbating the racial divisions growing within the Party, but take this guy at Politik Ditto and his post “Maggie Williams: Driving Mrs. Clinton.” It appears the images and language of racism can come from any direction. Not surprising, even MySpace is filled with the most obnoxious anti-Clinton sites boasting thousands of friends, many who spread the same baseless lies perpetrated by the right-wing sites listed above.More than curious. It's disastrous for us. Both sides do, indeed, need to get a grip. Here's some good advice from our guys at Scrutiny Hooligans worth taking.
By now, most readers understand the charges against Senator Obama from various corners of the conserva-sphere: he’s a terrorist, no I’m sorry, a terrorist who (hearts) sex offenders, and a covert Muslim extremist.
What twists my melon is this guy at No Quarter, Larry Johnson. Good ole LJ basically plagiarizes Foxnews, Jews Against Obama, and Bill Cunningham at the same time he links to, and is linked from, many blogs claiming a liberal bent and professing allegiance to the Democratic cause. Curious.
Perhaps some progressive prognosticators should consider the implications of the images, metaphors, and analogies they use to fuel the snark their readers crave, especially those that impact the lives and self-esteem of members of our Party.It's all excellent advice. Now if they could maybe also tone down the rhetoric and get to know the Virginia blogosphere before firing shots from North Carolina, we could have some productive dialgogue
Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, the millions who have already voted and the millions yet to vote, all deserve the chance to participate in the difficult conversation that lies ahead, but they should be encouraged to join the discussion in a thoughtful, civil way. Many will say such an expectation is naive or no-fun. Perhaps.