Blog P.I.

Blog P.I. writes about one of my favorite topics– me (because we all know bloggers are all egomaniacs and shameless self-promoters):

Another popular veteran blogger has been steering wider and wider away from his peers in the rightosphere, and unlike Sullivan, it’s one who has called himself a Republican. This is John Cole, the West Virginian Army vet and Pajamas Media signatory who writes Balloon Juice. His site is a rarity in the sense that the chief blogger identifies as right of center, but the readership (as demonstrated by its loyal commenters) leans decidedly to the left. For some time now, Cole has featured a co-blogger, Tim F., who is even more critical of the contemporary right than himself.

Both Cole and Sullivan have voiced greater concerns about the direction of the Iraq war and the war on terrorism, and about the Republican Party’s priorities regarding social issues than most mainstream conservative bloggers (and more than avowed non-conservative Glenn Reynolds, at least until the “pre-mortem” post). Unlike many of their peers, they’ve lost all respect for the Bush presidency and reclaimed/redefined conservatism enough to justify staying on the same side of the fence.

The very fact of their disagreement isn’t so much the issue — they could have drifted apart and largely ignored each other. Instead, the animosity really has to do with Sullivan and Cole coming around to openly fight with their erstwhile allies. These arguments look like personality conflicts, and they certainly are, but are also so contentious because an ideological fight underlies them.

The fights they pick are not without merit, though it’s sometimes hard to decide which side is thinking about it more clearly, if anyone — and so I’ll punt and just say “follow the links”: a non-definitive summary would note that Sullivan has clashed with Glenn Reynolds and with James Taranto and become an inside joke among numerous other bloggers. Cole is currently in the middle of a blog fight with Dan Riehl, just concluded one with Red State, and before long will probably go another round with Michelle Malkin.

As far as I can tell, it seems Cole usually aims to stand up for decency, Sullivan for his principles. This also seems to mean Sullivan-engaged arguments often revolve around himself — and hey, that’s just what Time is probably hoping for. To use a phrase more commonly associated with the leftosphere, they’re like concern trolls in the wider conservative blogosphere.

Such blog fights can be either great fun or excruciatingly dull, depending on how much you have invested in the squabbling parties. And considering the war’s prominence in these splits, there will probably be more. Assuming Iraq gets worse before it gets better — that being one thing supporters and opponents of U.S. Iraq policy might agree on — we’ll see more bloggers reach a breaking point, lambasting their spherical allies for failing to understand what they do now, while the stalwarts kick them to the curb and renounce them as apostates.

Overall, an interesting discussion of where blogging might go, particularly relevant given the fact that we are beginning to see the “pre-criminations” over the coming Republican defeat in the House and Senate.

An interesting read, although I would take issue with two things (not including the slight dig- “it seems Cole usually aims to stand up for decency”)- I don’t think I am a concern troll, at least as it is defined popularly. I did, up until recently, really wish the GOP would succeed- I was a party loyalist (my archives are embarassing) until Schiavo (although I did have my issues I would speak out about). When I tried to give advice to the GOP, it was because I thought they were doing the wrong thing, often looking at the short-term political gain rather than looking at the bigpicture and the long-term effect. The trademark of this GOP has been doing things for short-term political gain, rather than looking at the long-term impact of their behaviors- and you can go down the list- the prescription drug plan, the domestic surveillance, the intervention in Schiavo, the torture bill, etc. Objecting to those things is not being a concern troll- it is trying, from my persepctive, to inject a little sanity in to a party that I now think is run by fierce partisans and reckless ideologues.

Second, most of the ‘fights’ I am involved in are not me picking fights, but me pointing to things people have said and trying to (in my own, delicate manner), explain why they are wrong. Take for example Dan Riehl- all I did was link his past and current behavior and point out the inconsistencies. It wasn’t me who called him a C*** S******, I just documented how his reaction was, once again, for short-term political gain and not based on any core beliefs. I also would not characterize my interactions with Red State as ‘fights’: those are tough guys, I know them pretty well, and they are not the least bit deterred by anything I might have to say. They have their opinions and beliefs, and they are going to stick to them. That isn’t fighting- it is disagreeing. Because we know each other and used to be on the same ‘side,’ the back and forths can get a little more personal, but I reject the notion that our interactions are fights. I still talk to them and wish them all well.

Regardless, I don’t know where the GOP will go from here, and I have even less of an idea where right-wing blogging will go. I can predict that whatever happens, it will be ugly, and if the GOP wants to start somewhere when trying to figure out where things went downhill, they should start with Terri Schiavo- that is really where they started to lose my support and the support of many others. Schiavo was the beginning of the end, and is a perfect example of where this GOP has gone wrong- they suspended all of their long-held cherished beliefs for short-term political pandering. The idea was that this is a great way to shore up political support with the base, but no attention was paid to how it betrayed core principles and less attention was given to the long-term effects. It is an offense the hacks who run this party would repeat over and over- I can’t wait to hear the bleating when President Hillary Clinton (or whoever) uses all of her expanded powers in 2008. Sure, it was ‘fun’ passing those laws and using those votes to portray all Democrats as terrorist-loving defeatocrats, and it may have yielded some short-term political gains, but we’ll see how much fun those broad powers are in the future.






43 replies
  1. 1
    Steve says:

    This kinda bugs me. The fact that someone like John (whose patriotism nobody questions, even if all of us in the comments are terrorist-lovers) would break so visibly with the loyalists, and over issues as critical as the war effort, is pretty significant. Doesn’t it sort of trivialize the matter to boil it all down to an issue of “blogfights”?

    I mean, we have fun here, and we sometimes argue over stuff that is pretty trivial in the greater scheme, but there’s a lot more going on than just debates over civility. The profile kind of veers away from recognizing that.

    But it’s quite amazing how quickly someone who accuses liberals of “mounting a fifth column” can become an apostate in this political environment. The dead-enders are so desperate to identify “the enemy within,” they don’t care if the majority of Americans wind up being defined as the “enemy.”

  2. 2
    Davebo says:

    At the end of the day John you’ll be able to say you stuck to principles.

    A lot of other bloggers on the right gave them up like they were dirty laundry.

    Just sit back and wait. In twenty years or so the GOP might be able to purge it’s extremely unconservative leadership.

    I’m not much of a conservative except on fiscal matters. But I recognize the need for an honest opposition party to the democrats.

    Someday…

  3. 3
    capelza says:

    I would never see you as a “concern troll”. That’s a sloppy turn of phrase and it negates your valid concerns (sorry, can’t think of a better word) and disappointments. The author was correct though…decency is a hallmark of who you seem to be.

    You do certainly have an odd commentary, but I think what brought us, me at least, here was finding someone who was “real” and a conservative. I guess I am trying to find people who are searching for what is best for the country, not for the party. I got that from you the first time I read your blog.

    And the snark is the best here.

  4. 4
    Punchy says:

    and hey, that’s just what Time is probably hoping for.

    What kind of responsible blogger ends a sentence in a preposition? I disavow this entire treatise on the basis that the grammatical flaws are so blantant as to render the essay meaningless.

    Take your 4th grade grammar skills elsewhere, Blog P.U…

  5. 5
    Pb says:

    if the GOP wants to start somewhere when trying to figure out where things went downhill, they should start with Terri Schiavo

    That was probably the most visible example of the politicization of the crazy over conservative principles at the time, but if they really wanted to figure out where things went downhill ideologically, they’d have to start long before that. It’s essentially based around pandering and promising everything to their key interest groups, to the exclusion of all else, and the deceit and corruption involved therein. This goes for Bush’s promises to the Christian right back in 1998-1999, the K Street project back in 1994, and surely a number of other things before that. Tom DeLay didn’t just appear, full-formed, during the Schiavo fiasco.

  6. 6
    DoubtingThomas says:

    Wow! If they think your readership is to the left, whatever do they think of Daily Kos? I’ve always enjoyed BJ becasue the readership is all over the map. In today’s America, if you are not a Red State rightie, you must be a terrorist-loving, Bush-Hating lefty scum. And by the way, there is no center. There is only Right and wrong and I’m proud to be wrong.

  7. 7
    Tim F. says:

    Cole has featured a co-blogger, Tim F., who is even more critical of the contemporary right than himself.

    Actually, I bet that the can’t back that up. Lately it seems to me that if anything I have been the more restrained of the two of us. The needle fell off of my outrage meter years ago. Even when something happens that should practically send me to apoplexy I really have to remind myself to get worked up.

    John, on the other hand, has the zeal of a convert.

  8. 8
    scarshapedstar says:

    a party that I now think is run by fierce partisans and wreckless ideologues.

    Shit, I’d take a wreckless ideologue at this point. Most of our ideologues create one wreck after another.

  9. 9
    John Cole says:

    Shit, I’d take a wreckless ideologue at this point. Most of our ideologues create one wreck after another.

    I am getting worse and worse with things like that- Iam not sure why, but the older I get, the more I mix homonyms and make spelling errors like that.

    Fixed, though. Thanks.

  10. 10
    Blue Neponset says:

    I am a wee bit concerned that Blog P.I. doesn’t knows what a concern troll is. Having said that, I am sure we would enjoy his writing a wicked lot more if he was familiar with common blogging terms, and I hope he figures this out soon because he seems to have very thoughtful things to say over at his well designed blog.

  11. 11
    canuckistani says:

    You do certainly have an odd commentary, but I think what brought us, me at least, here was finding someone who was “real” and a conservative. I guess I am trying to find people who are searching for what is best for the country, not for the party. I got that from you the first time I read your blog.

    My favourite conservative blogs are the ones that are willing to give Creationism and Intelligent Design a kick in the ass. When I find one, I know that the owners are on the side of reason, and useful and enlightening discussion will result, even if we disagree about many things.

  12. 12
    Perry Como says:

    I am a wee bit concerned that Blog P.I. doesn’t knows what a concern troll is.

    I just hope that Blog P.I. isn’t overplaying his hand. I’ve been a longtime fan of his work, but posts like this one may not be helpful in the long run.

  13. 13
    WWB says:

    Re: My use of the term “concern troll.”

    I wouldn’t get too hung up on the usage. I did treat the term as if it had more elasticity than some here reasonably argue, but then again, many who are called concern trolls are not actually duplicitous. I don’t mean that John (or Andrew Sullivan) are actually dishonest, but that their critics are liable to think so.

  14. 14
    Rex says:

    I love it when they call Cole a “former conservative”–as if toeing the party line put forward by a bunch of nutjobs is the sole prerequisite of conservatism.

    Schiavo was the beginning of my end with the Republicans as well. My dad campaigned for Goldwater and truly understood conservatism. If he were alive today, I can’t help but wonder what he would think of the party to which he devoted so much energy. He’d probably think they were a damned disgrace.

  15. 15
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    This all smacks of soap opera at this point. Squabbling bloggies deal with issues of ideology while behind the scenes the personal pasts and shared confidences rise to the fore in ways nobody would ever have suspected.

    Who is real? Who has the right vision for the future of our nation? Can bogger A find some rapport with Blogger B while under attack from another blogger who all agree is extremist and so unfair in their behavior? Will those who offer their support today remain true to those politicians and those who support them when the heat is on?

    Buncha silly old ladies.

  16. 16
    foolishmortal says:

    On first reading, I didn’t read the ‘slight dig’ as a dig at all. Sullivan is described as standing up for ‘his’ principles and you as standing up for, presumably general, ‘decency’. Sullivan comes off slightly more concerned with himself, and you more concerned with the nation in general. Not a huge amount of daylight between them, but that was my read.

    Re: where the GOP started to go south, the Schiavo affair was perhaps the first unequivocal indicator that something was very wrong, but the signs were there long before. In terms of this blog’s evolution, I first started reading it when Jim Henley linked to your discussion of the “bad apples” theory (a stand for ‘decency’ if there ever was one). Correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems to me to be your first sustained deviation from the party line.

    In my personal politics, they lost me in like September 02, when Cheney started attempting to discredit Blix et al. I’d previously thought highly of Cheney, but when I heard him talking about how ineffective weapons inspections were before they’d even started, something just clicked. I knew then we’d go to war, that WMD had nothing to do with it, and that we were not dealing with a normal administration. I personally can’t think of a better example of “doing things for short-term political gain, rather than looking at the long-term impact of their behaviors.”

  17. 17
    Richard Bottoms says:

    >John, on the other hand, has the zeal of a convert.

    Heh.

  18. 18
    srv says:

    Even when something happens that should practically send me to apoplexy I really have to remind myself to get worked up.

    Which leads me to a post suggestion. Have the goalposts moved so far that we’ll never recover? Have we become so jaded with Orwellianism that we won’t find our way out?

  19. 19
    D. Harmon says:

    John,
    I have been reading your blog for the past few weeks and enjoy it for a lot of reasons. I guess I’m a moderate–I support most conservative principles like fiscal and personal responsibility, strong defense, keeping the government out of our personal lives, empowering people to solve problems at the local level, etc., but haven’t voted for very many Republicans because I have heard a lot of talk about these things and but not much action (and usually the opposite action, like wasting money on pork projects, investing in fancy weapons ideas but less so in the people in the military, blaming everybody but yourself for your screw-ups, etc.) but at the end of the day, I just want a govenment that doesn’t screw things up any more than they already are.
    So, I love your perspective and humor. The “Keep it Gay” theme song made me laugh all day yesterday and I showed it to everyone I thought would appreciate it. the comments are great and usually really funny too.

  20. 20
    fwiffo says:

    I’m wondering if libertarian types will always tend to gravitate toward the party out of power (with some delay after a switch takes place), and conversely, that the part out of power will drift toward libertarianism. Vice versa with authoritarians/statists and the party in power.

    The party in power likes what the goverment is doing with that power, so they advocate for more of it. The people out of power are horrified at what the government is doing, and want to take that power away.

    The original meanings of of “liberal” (meaning “free”) and “conservative” (meaning “restrained” or to preserve traditional power structures) got reversed at some point in history. Milton Friedman was considered conservative, but he preferred to call himself a liberal. Now it seems like it’s switching back.

    The people that call themselves “conservatives” these days certainly aren’t. Reckless spending, meddling in people’s personal lives, aggressive foreign policy, creepy new executive powers, etc. are authoritarian ideas, not conservative ones. “Conservatives” have redefined conservatism to mean partisan republicanism or bushism. The response from people like John Cole (after waking up) is angryism. Andrew Sullivan’s response is an attempt to redefine conservatism to whatever Andrew Sullivan happens to be thinking at the moment (thereby fulfilling his role as self-centered pretentious boob.)

  21. 21
    p.lukasiak says:

    its signficant that so many “conservatives” attribute the Schiavo fiasco for their emergency from lockstep wingnutty worship of all things Bush. While those of us who never completely lost our marbles after 9-11 viewed the Schiavo debacle as an amusing but not terribly important sideshow in the extravaganza of disaster that was Republican control of government, (Iraq, torture, deficits, the efforts to destroy Social Security, etc. etc…), the efforts to keep alive an abviously permanently brain dead woman is seen as the GOP’s first big mistake.

    (its rather amusing to read the ‘pre-mortem’ of that ideological moron Glenn Reynolds — who manages to completely avoid the Iraq debacle and the Katrina disaster in his reasons why the GOP is gonna lose this year.)

    Its indicative of the intellectual and moral vaccuum that “conservatives” live in that the first time they noticed that their naked king was not fully clothed in imperial regalia was because of Terri — and their reaction was akin to that of Victorian moralists who were exposed to an unclothed ankle.

    What’s most appalling is that “conservatives” have learned nothing — Cole himself admits that he would still support a war in Iraq despite knowing how venal and corrupt Bush is. To them, the failures of GOP leadership is an abberation that at worst is like a pre-cancerous mole that must be removed, when in fact the GOP is more akin to the putrescent shell of a person who is in the last stages of the ebola virus.

  22. 22
    Perry Como says:

    Speaking of keeping it gay:

    Getting the gay spanked out of you

  23. 23
    John Cole says:

    What’s most appalling is that “conservatives” have learned nothing—Cole himself admits that he would still support a war in Iraq despite knowing how venal and corrupt Bush is. To them, the failures of GOP leadership is an abberation that at worst is like a pre-cancerous mole that must be removed, when in fact the GOP is more akin to the putrescent shell of a person who is in the last stages of the ebola virus.

    That isn’t what I said at all.

    And Schiavo was, like it or not, when I first realized the crazies are in charge. Sorry that upsets you.

  24. 24
    jg says:

    if the GOP wants to start somewhere when trying to figure out where things went downhill, they should start with Terri Schiavo

    I’d say it started when Nixon was impeached.

    I started to see them differently during the Clinton impeachment but I still considered myself a republican up until july 03. The changing justifications for the war were the last straw.

  25. 25
    jg says:

    Also the current republican party is more of areligious cult than a political party. The speed at which people are ostracized for exercising some independant thought is one piece of the evidence.

  26. 26
    Pb says:

    John, I found a new fabulous video for you to check out… very funny stuff.

  27. 27
    D. Harmon says:

    Perry Como, I laughed until I cried over that video clip. You guys should have your own show.

  28. 28
    Inactivist says:

    The good blogging, and the ugly

    Briefly, and to begin, please do see one of the most clever and entertaining posts I have read in, oh, forever; hilzoy has posted the GOP’s version of Exodus, replete with plagues, NAMBLA, boils, snuffing out the young, and NAMBLA.

  29. 29
    Punchy says:

    I support most conservative principles like fiscal and personal responsibility, strong defense, keeping the government out of our personal lives,

    I call shenaningans on this. This is NOT soley a “conservative” value. NOBODY–conserv or progressive–wants the gov’t meddling in personal arenas. I wish people would stop listing this as a “conserv” tenet, thus implying it’s not something liberals support. It’s like saying “I’m a conservative becuase I’m against killing babies and eating their entrails”….

    And PLK, nice ebola reference. Any time you can get “Cole”, “Bush”, “GOP”, and “ebola” in one paragraph, I’ll give you mad props.

  30. 30
    Bombadil says:

    His site is a rarity in the sense that the chief blogger identifies as right of center, but the readership (as demonstrated by its loyal commenters) leans decidedly to the left.

    Mad props to us!

    And, Darrell? Nyah, nyah, na-nyah, nyah!

  31. 31
    Bombadil says:

    >John, on the other hand, has the zeal of a convert.

    Heh.

    Yeah, I liked that, too!

  32. 32
    Krista says:

    His site is a rarity in the sense that the chief blogger identifies as right of center, but the readership (as demonstrated by its loyal commenters) leans decidedly to the left.

    He makes us sound like a bunch of golden retrievers with inner-ear disorders…

  33. 33
    Bombadil says:

    He makes us sound like a bunch of golden retrievers with inner-ear disorders…

    Better than a bunch of dyspeptic Rottweilers, as on some other sites.

    Besides, everyone loves golden retrievers.

  34. 34
    Ed says:

    I attribute the downward trend as starting with the “Majority of the Majority” decision.

    Once you stop even talking to the other side, don’t allow them to even offer good, common sense amendments, it’s not going to be too long before you veer off-track and are hijacked by extremists.

  35. 35
    ThymeZone says:

    Besides, everyone loves golden retrievers.

    I’ve always thought of myself more as a chihuahua.

    “Yo quiero Taco Bell” was my proudest moment.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    PR says:

    Sorry, The downfall didn’t start with Shiavo it started with Nixon

  38. 38
    ? says:

    I see there is already a link to this post by the Inactivist, who gives you some deserved praise.

    Among other things she praises you for “intellectual honesty and original thinking”.

    It’s true.

  39. 39

    “The downfall of the Republican Party,” is a little premature, see Mark Twain. The separation between Republican and Conservative is a bit tougher, but I don’t agree that it dates to Terry Schiavo, it predates it considerably. The pandering to the Religious Right would meet my definition of Anti-Conservative and then you run into the confluence of working up to a War on the basis of cherry picked intelligence and running a War without actually funding it. I quite honestly cannot come up with a definition of Conservative prior to this Republican Congress that included backing a Theocracy. I cannot come up with one that included running a war without funding it.

    The John Cole vision of a Republican Party may be close by in the wings. The slide of the current crop has been exponential, from the Religious Right pandering to the near abrogation of the BOR and English Common Law. You quite simply cannot just get there in a fell swoop, it takes the erosion of core beliefs to get into an accelerating slide like this one. Shock has a wondrous concentrating effect, reasonable people wait in the wings.

    I look forward to it, I really enjoy debating people I can at least respect and I do appreciate the concentrating effect of that debate.

  40. 40
    Frisco Bay says:

    Right, Left, Center. This reminds me of a football game. Our government has forgotten how to govern for the “people”. The politicians are more concerned about winning any way they can to further their own personal agendas rather than effectively running a true democratic state. Somewhere along the way they lost their way.

  41. 41
    Heironymus Frosch says:

    A omment in verse:

    How did the IAEA Miss This One?

    “Rumsfeld asserted that the war showed other ‘rogue regimes’ what could happen if they should refuse to come clean about disarming. He did not mention that inspectors have failed to find banned weapons in Iraq, a principal reason the Bush administration gave for invading last March.” Report of NATO ministers meeting , AP, Feb. 7, 2004

    The most dangerous WMD in the world is not in a desert cave,
    Or in any other sandy expanse where bad guys misbehave.
    There’s naught to compare with the havoc that this wayward missile wreaks:
    Head for the nearest spider-hole when Donald Rumsfeld speaks.

  42. 42
    mike a says:

    Sometimes a prepostion is something which it is okay to end a sentence with. http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/%7Em.....00743.html

    At the very least I wouldn’t equate such usage as indicating a 4th grade understanding of grammar.

    I apologize for posting something rather off-topic, but I can’t come up with anything that measures up to the standard set by what has already been posted.

  43. 43
    OCPatriot says:

    I’m ashamed but we have to call Rumsfeld and now Bush a “traitor” along with Murtha and the Generals who advocate getting us out of Iraq, Never thought he’d say we have to turn it all over to the Iraqis themselves before they were ready. I guess he finally threw in the towel. Old “cut and run” Rumsfeld. No “stay the course” for our President; never been; he says it with a straight face or a smirk? What a pity!

    If only Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld would “stay the course” and let our troops “stand down as the Iraquis stand up”, everything would be OK. But, no, they’ve turned into the kind of “traitors” the dissenting generals were, and Murtha, and even Jim Baker and Kerry and Hillary seem to be. Our government is now being run by “traitors” who want to change what we’re doing and cave into the defeat of our troops. Of course, to keep doing what we’ve been doing requires even more troops, and that requires a … dare I say it? … “draft”; but anything to defeat these Iraqui terrorists in this “war on terror,” right?

    First James Baker, then a couple of Senators like Warner and Hagel, then the leak that old Father Bush hands are in dismay over the direction of the war in Iraq. Theyre pumping up a campaign to change course and do exactly what Murtha has been calling for, only none of them is being called a traitor or a member of the cut and run group, as Murtha and others were. But thats exactly what theyre proposing. Now, in effect, Will joins them.

    Just watch as Bush himself starts to back-pedal, saying maybe if something isn’t working, we ought to change it. He says, “We’ll change tactics not strategy.” A play on a words is what that is. With that, “cut and run” suddenly goes down the drain. Bush just said, on ABC, “We’ve never been ‘stay the course’.” He actually said it. Here’s the website

    http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek.....038;page=2

    He said it aloud. No “traitors” here anymore, even Bush when he says he’ll consider what Baker and his committee want to propose. I call them all “traitors” because I grieve for the good men and women already killed, and the others who still will be killed, while this timetable and withdrawal change occurs.

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  1. Inactivist says:

    The good blogging, and the ugly

    Briefly, and to begin, please do see one of the most clever and entertaining posts I have read in, oh, forever; hilzoy has posted the GOP’s version of Exodus, replete with plagues, NAMBLA, boils, snuffing out the young, and NAMBLA.

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