Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Sin of Being Right; The Joy of Blogscenity

Radar Online must have done something right, because they sure irritated some people with this article, comparing the professional fortunes of pundits who advocated the Iraq invasion in 2003, with those of pundits who opposed it. The conclusion was that the hawkish ones, who have been proved so abundantly wrong, are still higher and getting higher still on the political pundit food chain than the doves, who were merely correct as opposed to "serious."

The liberal-hawks doth protest an awful lot, with a lot of fake humility and various rationalizations: the doves were right, but just got lucky; or the doves were right, but that will make them cocky and therefore less likely to be right next time; or, the doves were right, but not for the right reasons.

I don't mean to bore you all, singing verse after verse of the same song, but prestige journalists continue to flounder and to be exposed as emperors-with-no-clothes by the new online news 'n' opinion outlets they so disdain. In the first week of operation of Time magazine's group blog of TV pundits, Joe Klein showed his ass, and then tried to pull rank on Greg Sargent of TAPPED and TPM (Rank on Sargent? No, I didn't do that on purpose), where at this point Greg Sargent is worth a whole Town Car load of Joe Kleins.

And then there is a whole exchange, centered at MyDD and TPM Cafe, whether the Internet left is worthy of the name or just a nest of monosyllabic brainless drones whose only useful attributes are its Paypal accounts. That deserves its own post.

I found a little gem today, poking around the archives of the Guardian website, and wanted to bookmark it. Theo Hobson riffed on Polly Toynbee's first brush with the blogosphere, and her offended reaction to her blog commenters:

When the pseudonymous anarcho-bloggers put up two fingers to the established columnist, they are performing a very useful corrective function. By replying to a wise, measured essay with comments that are nasty, brutish and short, they are injecting a crucial realism. They are saying that none of us is a pure, godlike intelligence calmly surveying the world; that we are all passionate, fallible and limited by our perspectives - and less wise and good than we like to seem.

They are true satirists - puncturing pomposity with low realism. And (this will really rile them!) they are performing a crucial theological function. By mocking the tone of calm, polite rightness, the blogscenity-mongers are reminding the omniscient columnist that she is not God. They are reminding us that real life is not a calm debate but a struggle - intense, passionate and messy. We are not wise spirits who look down on the world's terrible problems: we are down on ground level, fully involved and implicated. We are all guilty; we are all part of the problem.

Blogscenity is a refreshing reaction to the absurd and pompous hangover of the Enlightenment that is the print pulpit. The detached, benign, omniscient voice is a fraud - and a blasphemy. Knock it.

Feedback welcome.

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