In the Arena

The Elements of Vile

  • Share
  • Read Later

As a newcomer to this blogging business, I’ve been interested in the Edwards dust-up. As readers know, I’ve been critical of the tone of the left-wing blogosphere in the past. But I think that Yglesias raises an important point here and anyone reading the comments section of any Swampland post knows that troglyditic right-wing cavedwellers fester there, in a vomitously vile manner, too.
And I’d add this: Radio. I was driving into Springfield, Ill last night for the Obama festivities and caught the ever-vile Sean Hannity “interviewing” the even-more-vile Dick Morris about Hillary. Just disgraceful…and they were mild compared to the crap I’ve heard from Rush and others over the years.
It’s obvious that the current level of vitriol on the left is a reaction to nearly twenty years of sewage emanating from Rush et al. It’s also a product of the times: There’s a whole generation of people who believe that serious political discourse consists of Pat Buchanan and Eleanor Clift screaming at each other. The intemperance on the left has three other sources (1) justifiable fury over the Bush adminstration (2) justifiable fury over the way the media treated Clinton and, to a certain extent, Bush and (3) ideologues of any sort tend to be obnoxious.
The trouble is, obnoxious doesn’t win you many friends or elections. I think Melinda Henneberger raiases an important point here. To which I add this, Roman Catholics are THE swing vote in American politics. When Democrats win them–Clinton in 1992 and 96, and a skad of candidates in 2006–they win elections. When they don’t, they lose.
Now, being civil doesn’t mean you can’t call a fool a fool. It’s means you can’t call a fool “a wet turd of a human fart.” (A sobriquet employed by my favorite character in Primary Colors, Libby Holden.) Vileness is fun, but it’s kid fun–and there is very important business to be transacted in the next few years. And promising candidates like John Edwards don’t need to be weighed down by the ill-considered anger of their supporters.