Bits and Bytes won’t break his bones ... Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, May 09, 2006
But Richard Cohen says he's seen this all before in another form and it worries him.
The "this" he's talking about is the burning hate from the left. He calls this form a "digital lynch mob" which has been "egged on to write me by various blogs." He cites two recent articles in which he's been treated to upwards of 4,000 emails. As he describes them:
When I guilelessly clicked on the name, I would get a bucket of raw, untreated and disease-laden sewage right in the face. I'd quickly delete the thing, like closing a manhole cover, and move on, trying to figure out how to peek into an e-mail without getting the full, ugly message.
Ah the price of fame, or at least celebrity, eh? Cohen seems somewhat surprised by all of this, or at least surprised enough to dedicate an article to it. Methinks that normally Cohen has a tendency to come down more left of center on subjects so he's less likely than most to get this sort of reaction (which many of us have seen before) from the left. Wouldn't you love to see Ann Coulter's mailbox?
And yes, there may be those on the right who act like this as well, but, given Cohen's usual propensity, it is interesting he doesn't mention that as having been something he's experienced as well.
No Cohen is talking strictly about the left in this article. But his observation and conclusion are what interest me. He is concerned about its effect on the left's candidates in the upcoming elections.
But the message in this case truly is the medium. The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred. This spells trouble — not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out Hillary!) I have seen this anger before — back in the Vietnam War era. That's when the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.
The hatred is back. I know it's only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during anti-war demonstrations. They hurt in a different way.
I can appreciate some of it. Institution after institution failed America — the presidency, Congress and the press. They all endorsed a war to rid Iraq of what it did not have. Now, though, that gullibility is being matched by war critics who are so hyped on their own sanctimony that they will obliterate distinctions, punishing their friends for apostasy and, by so doing, aiding their enemies. If that's going to be the case, then Iraq is a war its critics will lose twice — once because they couldn't stop it, and once more at the polls.
Anything I contend, at this point, should be considered nothing more than amateur psychology, but it is leavened with a few decades of experience in working with people. On the whole, people get tired of hate. It wears them out. They just don't want to hear the message after a while. So those who do nothing but spew hate see their audience dwindle to not much more than those who think like them. And, at intervals, they lash out and verbally "lynch" those who's words stir them to action.
Secondly, and this is mostly Cohen's point, because those who hate on the left will be roundly ignored by the right, they will, as they have in the past, have to find reachable targets for their venom. That will be the "apostates" within their own ranks. Think Nadar and the Greens and how the war between parties ended up between the Greens and Democrats (where Democrats worked feverishly to block ballot access for Nadar in various states). The Greens worked just as feverishly to demean and declaim the Democrats as not pure enough.
The Sheehan wing of the Democratic party (which Cohen identifies as the "anti-war" left) wouldn't be caught dead supporting Clinton, Kerry or, God forbid, Lieberman. All are apostates, with Lieberman as the worst of all. The only two who could claim their allegiance is Feingold and Gore. Given the pent up hate within this crowd, you can be assured political blood will be spilled. And Cohen thinks it will be the left, not the right, who's blood will spill ... again.
The only difference now v. then is the form and forum. It has become a digital fight of blogs, forums and emails. And leftist blogs are playing a large part in directing this war of words - the verbal evicerations of candidates not considered worthy. Cohen believes many blogs are the stokers of the engine of hate, and that it will be the effect of that hate which will eventually cause the left to falter and fail in the upcoming elections.
Cohen himself is a member of the "Bush lied" crowd, so I see him as little better than those who’s e-mails he decries. He just writes his poison in a more educated and gentlemanly manner, which is to his credit I suppose, but it’s really a laugher. He should speak to Michelle Malkin about hate mail...
Secondly, and this is mostly Cohen’s point, because those who hate on the left will be roundly ignored by the right, they will, as they have in the past, have to find reachable targets for their venom.
I hadn’t thought about that possibility, but it sounds right. Certainly, the vitriolic left has become a target of humor more than an enemy to be taken seriously by much of their political opposition.
I don’t expect, though, that continuing to lose elections will motivate any change among the vitriolic left. First, I saw at first hand how libertarians failed for years to have any political impact, and yet any attempts to be flexible or pragatic were attacked wholesale by the "purists" as selling out, etc.
Second, I am put in mind of something from Lee Harris’ essay on Al Qaeda’s fantasy ideology (a most thought-provoking essay if you have not read it, by the way):
A friend of mine and I got into a heated argument. Although we were both opposed to the Vietnam War, we discovered that we differed considerably on what counted as permissible forms of anti-war protest. To me the point of such protest was simple — to turn people against the war. Hence anything that was counterproductive to this purpose was politically irresponsible and should be severely censured. My friend thought otherwise; in fact, he was planning to join what by all accounts was to be a massively disruptive demonstration in Washington, and which in fact became one.
My friend did not disagree with me as to the likely counterproductive effects of such a demonstration. Instead, he argued that this simply did not matter. His answer was that even if it was counterproductive, even if it turned people against war protesters, indeed even if it made them more likely to support the continuation of the war, he would still participate in the demonstration and he would do so for one simple reason — because it was, in his words, good for his soul.
I think the left has a large contingent that views their political advocacy the same way as Harris’ friend. They literally don’t care about the political outcomes, as least not nearly as much as the very actions of opposition to those they clearly perceive as enemies, not as mere political opponents.
Mandatory disclaimer to avoid those who have a bad tendency to miss the point: I don’t claim that the whole left is like this. And yes, the right can have their fanatics too - we all know what you think of Ann Coulter. But I have long maintained here, in clear opposition to one of the web site’s proprietors, that the left is much more vitriolic in their rhetoric and malicious in their actions than the right, and you can’t make that point go away by trying to invoke the logical fallacy often called "the fallacy of the Golden Mean", but which I often simply call false equivelence.
But I have long maintained here, in clear opposition to one of the web site’s proprietors, that the left is much more vitriolic in their rhetoric and malicious in their actions than the right
I think that is right for the period of the Bush Administration, primarily because the Ds are out of power (and practically out of relevance) and lashing out is the easiest form of expressing that frustration. The right did the same thing during the Clinton Administration. Frankly, as a life long D, I cringe when I hear Pelosi and her crowd talk about hearings if the Ds win control of a house of Congress. Bad idea, bad politics. The vast majority of Americans really don’t want that. But they have to do it to appease the BDS wing of the party. On the other hand, the Rs actually went so far as to impeach a President, so I don’t exactly feel sorry for them. At some point, though, an adult needs to step forward and say "Enough!" I’m not counting on that happening in the next couple years
Ths post is right on about the dems. Many of us just can not believe that our red state neighbors would support the official use of torture, a president who doesn’t accept constitutional balances of his power, and to failure to hold the party in power for a mishandled war and rampant corruption. We are bitter. We were lied to about "judicial philosophy", WMD, the costs of Medicare drug benefits and more. Our Bitter feelings will turn people off.
In the same way that republicans always stick together (even in corruption) democrats always turn on each other. The far left thinks it can take over the democrats the way what Falwell and company took over the republicans. This would leave those of us who consider ourselves to be social liberals and fiscal conservatives without a party.
Personally I think that the Sheehan wing of the democratic party is much weaker than the Falwell wing of the republican party. It is there that social liberals and fiscal conservatives have their only chance gain any control of this country.
Personally I think that the Sheehan wing of the democratic party is much weaker than the Falwell wing of the republican party.
Even if true, the "Falwell wing" is less likely to focus it’s attacks within the Republican party. OTOH that’s not at all true for the Sheehan wing and Democrats. And that’s Cohen’s point (as well as the point of the post).
The Falwell wing of the Republican Party doesn’t have to focus attacks within the Republican Party. All they have to do is pick up the phone and call the White House. Karl Rove will take calls from Falwell or Dobson any time they call.
Many of us just can not believe that our red state neighbors would support the official use of torture, a president who doesn’t accept constitutional balances of his power, and to failure to hold the party in power for a mishandled war and rampant corruption. We are bitter. We were lied to about "judicial philosophy", WMD, the costs of Medicare drug benefits and more.
When I read screeds such as that, I tend to believe that you are a raving lunatic.
Methinks that normally Cohen has a tendency to come down more left of center on subjects so he’s less likely than most to get this sort of reaction (which many of us have seen before) from the left
He does? Really?
Here is what he said on Feb 6, 2003:
The evidence [Powell] presented to the United Nations — some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail — had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn’t accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool — or possibly a Frenchman — could conclude otherwise.
But the case Powell laid out regarding chemical and biological weapons was so strong — so convincing — it hardly mattered that nukes may be years away, and thank God for that. In effect, he was telling the French and the Russians what could happen — what would happen — if the United Nations did not do what it said it would and hold Saddam Hussein accountable for, in effect, being Saddam Hussein.
Here is what he said on March 20, 2003:
How could I, a supposed liberal, support the war in Iraq? I have several reasons, but the most important has to do with a recurring dream I used to have. In it, I am entering Auschwitz.
I don’t know — and I somehow doubt — that George W. Bush spends much time ruminating on the Holocaust and pairing it with what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I do think, though, that he thinks about evil. He does so, we are told, in religious terms, and in that he is different from me. But we both come out in the same place: Evil must be confronted. Since Hiroshima, there is little room to maneuver. Bad guys can do an awful lot of damage.
And here is what he said on April 11, 2006:
We all know the cliche about generals fighting the last war, but in Iraq it is not the tactics that were duplicated — certainly not compared to the Persian Gulf War — but the tendency of the military to do what it was told and keep its mouth shut. Shelton, who retired in 2001, cannot be blamed for this and maybe no one but Donald Rumsfeld can, but the fact remains that the United States fought a war many of its military leaders thought was unnecessary, unwise, predicated on false assumptions and incompetently managed. Still, no one really spoke up.
The man is hack. Has been for years. He supported the war in Iraq. And then he gets mail from people who are angry with him - people who are against the war in Iraq.
What does he expect?
I hope Cohen is right. Maybe their anger will be enough to knock Hillary out of the race. We can only hope.
The only Democrat who has a chance of winning in ’08 is one who did not have to vote on the war, i.e., one not in Congress in ’03.
No, MK, he’s obviously an apostate, and you, without knowing it, make his point.
Actually, you make my point. If he has left his fatih, if he is truly an apostate, then the religion he left behind is not that of the left, but that of the right.
I will say this slowly so you understand .....
Cohen ... was ... a ... supporter ... of ... the ... war ... in ... Iraq. Now ... he ... has ... had ... his ... Peter ... deny 3 times ... moment.
Again, and Drum makes this point too, the divide on the left is between those who supported the war and those who did not. Cohen did. Others did not. Are people angry with him for supporting the war. Of course they are. And does he deserve the label of "hack" now that he is having his Peter moment? Of course he does. The only thing worse than those who supported the war is those who supported the war at the beginning and who are now lamenting that no one stood up to protest the war before it started.
Cohen ... was ... a ... supporter ... of ... the ... war ... in ... Iraq. Now ... he ... has ... had ... his ... Peter ... deny 3 times ... moment.
I’ll type this slowly:
He ... is ... an ... apostate ... and ... as ... he ... pointed ... out ... the ... vitriolic ... KosKids ... anti-war ... left ... (that ... includes ... you) ... aka ... the ... keepers ... of ... the ... purity ... flame, ... condemn ... him ... and ... will ... do ... the ... same ... with ... any ... other ... liberal ... or ... Democrat ... in ... the ... same ... situation.
Or said quickly, again ... you’ve proven his point.
The man is hack. Has been for years. He supported the war in Iraq.
If he has left his fatih(sic), if he is truly an apostate, then the religion he left behind is not that of the left, but that of the right.
Everyone except you seems to believe that he’s more left of center, mk. Are you saying that even tepid support for the Iraq invasion invalidates someone’s other political positions? Hypothetically speaking, if someone is pro-choice, pro-welfare-state, pro-heavy-environmental-regulations, pro-gay-rights, etc. on through the leftist hot buttons, but still favored the Iraq invasion as a necessary evil, does that automatically put them on the right politically?
What a joke. The left is more willing to purge its members right now because:
a) The Republican party is in power and can much more easily appease/buy off its lunatics. They do this in every forum imaginable. What was the anti-homosexual-marriage amendment if not that? And the militant anti-birth-control worldwide policies? and, and, and, and, and and. The Republicans cater to the fringe. The Republicans are owned by it. That’s why there’s less infighting. (and then again, is there really? can you say "The Club For Growth?")
b). Being owned and run by the fringe was good for the Republican party. The anger brought them to power. There’s no reason on earth to assume it won’t go the same for the democrats. When voters are angry, the politician who wins is the most aggressive one. Have you seen Bush’s polls? People are angry.
All of this tripefrom Mr. Cohen is, first of all, why the claim of the "liberally biased media is a joke" (are you going to claim that Mr. Cohen is liberally biased after highlighting his anti-liberals column?) and secondly, an example of how the conventional wisdom is always several steps behind events, usually because of the feed bag hooked around their nose.
Dissing the ’moonbats’ is the Washington DC gravy train, like finding WMD evidence was in 2002. Rupert Murdoch is playing a little smarter, and mending fences with hilary clinton.
The day, the very first day, when Mr. Mcq brings up Rameesh Pomeru and his recent book, "The Party of Death, Democrats, the courts, and the media", and concernedly asks, "will all of this vitrolic hatred from the angry right doom our chances of holding onto the whitehouse?", I’ll start taking you seriously. In the meantime, your obsession with the angry left annoys me. Why don’t you do some serious looking into the angry republican right in the 1990’s? Why don’t you post a transcript of the Rush Limbaugh radio show? Why don’t we all look at how reasonable and gentlemanly it is?