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A Response to John Cole
Posted by: Jon Henke on Saturday, July 28, 2007

John Cole responds to my post below, and I've responded in the comment section there. I've long been interested in the journeys being taken by two people whose opinions I respect a great deal, John Cole and Andrew Sullivan, both of whom have been so disillusioned by the Republicans that they seem to have decided they would rather deal with Democrats who anger and oppose them, rather than Republicans who anger and disappoint them. I disagree with the cynicism, but I understand it.

My comment is copied below.

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John, I like you and have no problem with your disappointment with the Republican Party. I share it, though I see it more as an opportunity to make things better, rather than a time to throw up my hands and walk away. However, this…
Since I know the target audience is not susceptible to mere logic … I have no problem with bloggers organizing and meeting with the RNC and the DNC and whoever else to pursue legitimate political goals. I frown on bloggers coordinating to engage in spin brigades to cover-up alleged wrongdoings. Pretending they are the same thing is hack-fu (to borrow a term) of the first order.
...is grossly unfair. Without getting into the merits of each issue – on which I either have no opinions, or opinions that might surprise you – why is meeting with Congressional Democrats to coordinate talking points and activity on an area of mutual agreement acceptable, but approaching the White House to coordinate talking points and activity on an area of mutual agreement unacceptable? (and what makes you think Democrats don’t communicate with bloggers and other allies to coordinate messages on many issues? Of course they do...why in the world would we have a problem with that?)

You assume, with no apparent basis, that the Left-leaning groups are sincere in their activity, but the right-leaning bloggers are insincere or operating out of less-than-genuine motivations. There’s no justification for that assumption.

I understand your deep disappointment with the Right over the past few years, and I share much of it. But – like Andrew Sullivan, with whom I am also quite sympathetic – you’ve allowed your disappointment and anger at many Republicans to turn into a generalized cynicism against virtually everybody on the Right. Instead of disagreeing with their arguments, you’ve reflexively assumed dishonesty from Ed Morrissey (re: that issue), myself (re: my post) and others.

That’s probably cathartic, but the assumption of bad faith is every bit as unbecoming in you as it is in, say, those on on the Right who assume that opposition to the war or other policies must be dishonest.

You and I probably agree on much more than we disagree – and perhaps more than you might think – but I object to being called a ‘hack’ or ‘stupid’ for not sharing your assumption of dishonesty.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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...and some nobody diarists at Daily Kos.
That was your response to my concern over libeling of military. Now you expect to interest me or others with your response to an even lesser blog at Balloon Juice. Get real Jon. Boo Hoo John Cole called me a hack.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
I don’t "expect" anything from you. I write on the blog that I own, because it interests me.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Well when the subject of your coordination with the Whitehouse is how to justify their actual contempt of congress and refusal to testify and hiding of serious wrongdoing as well as flouting the very idea of congressional oversight or of checks and balances, you’re either being insincere or just plain evil. And as I don’t think you’re evil, I’m perfectly happy to go with insincere. Is this really an area of mutual agreement? Because if it is then yes, your views on the merits would be a big surprise. Is the President’s contention that Congress has no business asking him questions really an area of agreement? You suggest that it is and that’s what makes coordination OK. I think the idea that either you really believe that or are willing, for whatever reason, to pretend to, is what is so infuriating, to me if not to John.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Well when the subject of your coordination with the Whitehouse is how to justify their actual contempt of congress and refusal to testify and hiding of serious wrongdoing as well as flouting the very idea of congressional oversight or of checks and balances, you’re either being insincere or just plain evil.
Here you are, retief, reprising the same tired and discredited argument used to attempt to declare Petraeus a Republican hack because he did an interview on Hugh Hewitt, replete with the same dumb assumptions made then.

Tell me, have you read any of the bloggers who were on that call and what they had to say?

Any rebuttal? Anything of substance which you can offer that gives credence to your assertions?

Anything?

Or are simply stuck with your baseless assertions again?

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
It’s easy to see that when you blog on your blog that expectations are low.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Cole’s problem is that he has already convicted the Bush Admin of various charges, and therefore any subsequent GOP action must be to thwart justice. From his comments:
I have all sorts of problems with the same groups getting together for the express purpose of galvanizing talking points to impede investigations into alleged wrongdoing.
He is, in fact, doing exactly what he accuses others of. He starts with the outcome he prefers and builds the rhetorical case to support it.

He, like Sullivan, are so mired in their hatred of BushCo that, definionally, any thing that does not skewer the GOP and President must be intenionally contrived evil. Again from his comments:
They, of course, are free to do whatever they want, just as I am free to point out they are little more than party apparatchiks. I won’t consider theirs to be independent thought, and will just remember when I visit Captain Ed and others I am not getting the unvarnished truth from their perspective, but what Karl Rove wants me to hear.
As Xrlq said in the comments for the previous post, "[t]herefore, it stands to reason that getting your weekly ration of right-wing talking points is bad, while getting your weekly ration of left-wing talking points is good..." This is obviously Cole’s mindset, and for anyone to point out this inconsistency, well then they are quite under control of Rove’s evil mind-machine, and only spewing lies.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Because if it is then yes, your views on the merits would be a big surprise.
I don’t have any views on the merits, because I haven’t been following the case in any depth at all. I have a view on the process. You cannot simply declare on issues of opinion that your side is right, and disagreement equals dishonesty.

That’s not debate. You’re just attempting to shout them down.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Good luck attempting to reason with John Cole, you’re going to need it. The bottom line is, you understand the difference between disagreeing and being disagreeable, while Cole doesn’t, never has, and probably never will. But good on you for trying anyway.
 
Written By: Xrlq
URL: http://xrlq.com/
The left is so certain of the righteousness of their cause that they cannot concede that there is room on the other side for anything other than evil. Myself, I believe that most of those cooperating in this endeavor with the Administration sincerely believe that the Constitution (and perhaps common sense) overrules base political maneuvering based on short term advantage and that The Republic will be stronger if the Democratic efforts in this case are thwarted.

Lacking that, assuming that the Democrats are right, there is every reason to allow the Administration the strongest possible defense so that the outcome is as close to correct as possible. Again, the motivation being the good of The Republic; having nothing whatsoever to do with passing political considerations. All of this assumes good faith and that is something the left is entirely unable to countenance.

I assume that there are some who don’t care about the long term good of the Republic on both sides. What I cannot determine is the justification for a claim that there are more of these folks on the right than on the left - other than insincere base short term political reasons. That coupled with a need for red meat for the sheeple.

I’ve read the case made by the left as best I can and (lacking the bias against the Bush Administration needed to support it) I don’t see why these issues need to be investigated at this particular point in time. Guess I just don’t see the threat clearly. Oh, I see the ginned-up threat, I just don’t see it in the real world. Hey, there’s an election already underway that can solve this problem.

So, my reason tells me that the threat is not real and that most of this is think-tank- generated political maneuvering. Perhaps someone could suggest a link (that is relatively free of liberal spin for the sheeple) where a good case is made?
 
Written By: notherbob2
URL: http://
Wait a minute. You are talking about JOHN Cole? All this time I thought that was JUAN Cole at Balloon Juice!
 
Written By: Ragu
URL: http://
Have I read anything on which to base my remarks? Well Jon Henke says
Without getting into the merits of each issue - on which I either have no opinions, or opinions that might surprise you - why is meeting with Congressional Democrats to coordinate talking points and activity on an area of mutual agreement acceptable, but approaching the White House to coordinate talking points and activity on an area of mutual agreement unacceptable?
I don’t assert that Jon agrees with the Whitehouse’s "oversight schmoversight" position, Jon does. Also the Captain Ed post that kicked this off does indeed consist of a recitation of Whitehouse talking points along with a paragraph of "analysis" that translates to "the Whitehouse is confident". Too bad they’re not confident enough to testify under oath, with a stinking transcript.

Jon, No views on the merits? That is a surprise. Maybe you’d care to inform yourself about the subject you’ve chosen to discuss before you decide it is an area of mutual agreement with the Whitehouse.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
I don’t assert that Jon agrees with the Whitehouse’s "oversight schmoversight" position, Jon does.
No, I didn’t. I very specifically kept my comments to the propriety of the blogger situation, not the political/legal question.

Read for comprehension.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Jon, As you don’t explicitly include yourself in "people approaching the Whitehouse" group of bloggers you mention, I apologize for imputing to you the "mutual agreement" you only suggest others share with the Whitehouse. They are the ones you assert agree with the Whitehouse’s "oversight schmoversight" position. You, of course, don’t know enough about it to have an opinion.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Too bad they’re not confident enough to testify under oath, with a stinking transcript.
Same fallacy as Cole’s. It has nothing to do with confidence, rather what executive priveledge is. Your entire argument is based upon the assumption that a legal decision consistant with your preferences has already been made.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Have I read anything on which to base my remarks?
A simple "no" would have sufficed.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
*I* wasn’t one of the bloggers participating in the conference call. I’m commenting on their conference call, and on the practice of conversing with politicians and their offices.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Something tells me that this clarion call for Congressional oversight will vanish with the mist under a November sun if a Democrat is elected President. If fact, I predict nothing further will be heard about oversight unless the Republicans regain the majority in the house.
 
Written By: Bob
URL: http://
As to fallacies, bains, go and familiarize yourself with the slothful induction.

Jon, I believe I just said that. Of course, as you claim ignorance of whether the matter in question ought to be an "area of mutual agreement", your comment is something of an irrelevance. Your comment is precisely analogous to a terrorist’s lawyer who when accused of passing messages to his terrorist buddies defends herself by noting that lawyers are allowed to meet with their clients. In fact some of her accusers have met with their clients in the past, and even passed messages to those clients’ families. Such gotcha-ism misses the point.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Of course, as you claim ignorance of whether the matter in question ought to be an "area of mutual agreement", your comment is something of an irrelevance.
If you haven’t figured out by now that I have no intention of making a normative argument on the underlying merits of the case, then the problem is your own. This post argues with the subject that John Cole brought up, nothing further, and I don’t intend to be dragged into an argument I haven’t made merely because you wish to have it.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Jon, I sympathize with your point: that it’s okay for bloggers to talk with politicians. Fine. Even on a conference call.

On the other hand, if those politicians are telling the bloggers what to say, and the bloggers consider it their job to ’put the message’ out, that is definitely more questionable ground.

I think John Cole is right to say, as well, that there’s a difference between coordinating a democracy bonds drive, and coordinating a message to put out on Alberto Gonzales’ public defense of his obvious lies and misstatements. Alberto is not a partisan case anymore. The list of conservative bloggers who have called for his resignation makes that pretty clear.

I guess the bottom line is, sure, go ahead and listen to what the White House says - I think it’s going to far for JC to criticize you on that basis alone. But I understand his skepticism that the white house’s position will be held up to critical analysis. I’m not sure how I feel. perhaps I’ll have to wait and see.

I have a feeling you don’t think that posting opinions on Alberto Gonzales would be good for your career. But if you tell me I’m wrong, then, hey, maybe I’m wrong.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Alberto is not a partisan case anymore.
In 2001, much to my dismay, the Baltimore Ravens won Superbowl XXXV. I would have been rooting for the Ravens (with former Denver TE and future hall of famer Shannon Sharpe) but they made a decision to retain LB Ray Lewis which I could not take. Many of my friends rooting for the NYGiants took my position to be pro Giants, but that couldnt be farther from the truth - I (used to) hate the Giants. But I despised the Raven’s management even more.

Bottom line, it is disingenuous to suggest that I support your side based upon my disgust (for entirely different reasons) with AG Gonzalez.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
I have a feeling you don’t think that posting opinions on Alberto Gonzales would be good for your career. But if you tell me I’m wrong, then, hey, maybe I’m wrong.
I don’t have a high opinion of the fellow and think he should step down or be asked to resign post-haste. However, I haven’t followed the case(s) closely enough to give you an answer on whether Congress should take action.

I didn’t blog during my Senate role, because it would simply open my office up to attacks by Lefty bloggers, but I’m more comfortable blogging a bit in this role. I just try to avoid commenting on areas too closely related to any of my clients.

At no point, however, has anybody, in any of my jobs, asked my positions, party affiliation or voting record. Nor have they suggested my opinions are problematic, even when it’s clear I am at odds with my employers.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I think John Cole is right to say, as well, that there’s a difference between coordinating a democracy bonds drive, and coordinating a message to put out on Alberto Gonzales’ public defense of his obvious lies and misstatements. Alberto is not a partisan case anymore. The list of conservative bloggers who have called for his resignation makes that pretty clear.
As one of the many conservative bloggers who think Gonzales is a boob who should have resigned (or, better still, gotten the "yer doin’ a heckuva job, Gonzo" treatment) a long time ago, I beg to differ. Wanting the guy gone is not equivalent to believing all the trumped up charges that he has committed a crime.
 
Written By: Xrlq
URL: http://xrlq.com/

 
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