Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 13, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

SCALP HUNTING FOLLOWUP....At the end of a post yesterday about the recent success of the longtime conservative crusade to hound public figures (mainly media figures) out of their jobs, I said: "It might be time for liberals to realize that even if we manage to collect a few scalps of our own along the way, conservatives gain strength from promoting this brand of warfare far more than liberals do. I hope we're not just being useful idiots by joining in this game."

I've gotten a lot of email and comments about this, so let me explain briefly what I meant.

What I'm not saying is that liberals should back down from a fight. I supported Howard Dean for DNC chair even though I'm probably going to find myself wincing through some of his infamous miscues over the next four years because liberals need fighters these days. Dean's a fighter.

But liberals and conservatives prosper in different kinds of atmospheres. Conservatives tend to thrive on a sense of besiegement, a belief that they're surrounded on all sides by enemies seen and unseen who must be destroyed. The politics of personal destruction, brought to a fever pitch during Bill Clinton's presidency, is tremendously helpful to their cause and always has been.

Liberalism simply doesn't thrive in this kind of atmosphere. If we fight back using the same tactics we'll win a few battles along the way Hooray for our side! Jeff Gannon is a smut peddler! but in the long run we're just intensifying exactly the kind of warfare that helps conservatives the most.

So sure: of course we have to fight back. But we have to fight in a way that creates an atmosphere that encourages liberalism. The politics of personal destruction isn't it, and that's why I hope the lefty blogosphere doesn't give in to it.

Remember: you don't always fight fire with fire. Water usually works better.

Kevin Drum 3:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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