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June 29, 2012 5:12 PM A Note On Suspect Sources

By Ed Kilgore

At least a couple of times a week, I’ll quote someone in the MSM or the blogosphere, often to criticize them and/or illustrate a common point of view, and someone in the comments thread will say: “Everybody knows so-and-so is a lying hack and a moron, so why are you legitimizing him/her by talking about him/her?”

Just to be clear, I do not think that mentioning, quoting, or linking to people at Political Animal “legitimizes” them, particularly in cases where I am trying to tear the bark off their hides. Moreover, we all understand that writers we don’t necessarily respect sometimes have large alarmingly large followings. I often criticize David Brooks (whom I actually hold in minimal if shrinking high regard, if only because of his occasional sense of humor) here, but that’s because he occupies one of the most valuable pieces of journalistic real estate in the world and clearly has influence with other elites. I’d about as soon undergo an unpleasant medical procedure as sample the literary stylings of Erick Erickson, but there’s no question he speaks for a significant segment of the chattering class. Hell, I’ll even subject myself to exposure to the Free Beacon or Sarah Palin’s Facebook page on your behalf if it seems relevant.

I know there are readers here who wish I’d just dismiss the Right with an occasional plenary condemnation and spend my time exposing the heresies of the Obama administration and the corporate domination of the Democratic Party. For better or worse, I believe pretty strongly that conservative-driven polarization is the overriding reality of American politics at present, and actually has a lot to do with some of the things we don’t like about progressive pols, particularly the electoral trimming and the money-grubbing we often see. Until such time as we enter a different era, I’m probably going to spend a disproportionate amount of space writing about the “other side” and the real-life consequences of their policies and politics.

Now that’s not to say any old right-wing crap merits attention here. I try to remember Kevin Drum’s wise warning about lazy shots taken at random crazy people. That is why I did not succumb to the temptation to write today about the former Michigan GOP flack who said the Court’s decision on ACA might justify “armed rebellion.” It’s neither accurate nor fair to attribute such sentiments to the GOP, and after all, there’s plenty of genuinely representative and consequential craziness to talk about without going there, such as the “Agenda 21” conspiracy theory that is getting kicked around in public by actual Republican candidates for office in Georgia.

In any event, just wanted to explain my M.O and avoid unnecessary consternation among readers who may think I’m just winging it here. There’s always vast room for improvement, so don’t be shy (not that this is a quality particularly evident among PA readers!) about letting me know how it might be accomplished.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Ron Byers on June 29, 2012 5:26 PM:

    Ed, you don't have to explain yourself. You are doing a great job. I doesn't hurt any of us to visit a right wing crazy site every now and then, and if you don't report on what they are doing how will we know what to say to our crazy winger relatives?

    I read you so I am not blindsided a the dinner table.

  • c u n d gulag on June 29, 2012 5:40 PM:

    No beef from this corner.

    I think you do a terrific job.
    I especially like it when you show your wry wit, and verbal word play.

  • N.Wells on June 29, 2012 5:43 PM:

    Not that it fits particularly well here, but I wanted an excuse to say it: Electoral Vote.com ( http://electoral-vote.com/ ) had a particularly good essay on the ACA decision.

  • T2 on June 29, 2012 5:44 PM:

    write whatever you want. I do.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on June 29, 2012 5:50 PM:

    You have to know your enemy to beat them. It's necessary that somebody does it so everybody else doesn't have to.

    Beating up on your own -- a liberal pastime -- only gets you beaten. I'll never understand this about liberals. We really need to learn how to win. And when the opponent is vicious, we have to be vicious in return, or at least learn that it has to be stood up to, no matter how unpleasant and tedious.

    Kilgore is correct. Ignoring the right is empty-headed and a losing strategy.

  • Arlington BigFish on June 29, 2012 5:51 PM:

    Ed, You da man. Don't change a thing.... except for maybe moving back to the East Coast so your activity doesn't start so late in the morning.

  • SadOldVet on June 29, 2012 6:42 PM:

    As I have never been shy about expressing my opinions of Ed Kilgore, I add the following points.

    1)I totally agree with you that mentioning, quoting, or linking to people (or organizations) does not legitimize them.

    2)I totally do not understand holding David Brooks in minimal high regard. That David Brooks has such an influential position and is occasionally 'humorous' in undercutting democrats and pimping republican positions is all the more reason to hold David Brooks in complete contempt.

    3) After Obama is reelected, an occasional post some of the heresies of the Obama administration would be just fine and posts about the corporate domination of the Democratic Party would be excellent.

    4) I totally agree that the current reality of American politics is conservative-driven polarization. Acknowledgement that much of that is also driven by big money funding the promotion of the polarization. Unless you think that the Teabaggers are 'grassroots' and 'real grassroots' organizations are those funded by billionaires (Tea Party Express).

    5) I do like that you are not an 'Obamanaut'. I do wish you were more progressive. You still come across regularly with the stench of your DLC background. I do like your sarcastic attacks and wish there was more of them.

  • bluestatedon on June 29, 2012 7:04 PM:

    Ed, I agree with everything you've written here, except this:

    "It’s neither accurate nor fair to attribute such sentiments to the GOP..."

    To which I respond: bullshit—such sentiments are extremely common within the GOP teabagger base. Remember the target symbols that Palin used on one of her wonderful pieces of communication? That's the GOP in a nutshell. Emphasis on the word "nut."

  • berttheclock on June 29, 2012 7:36 PM:

    er, David Brooks and his influence - When such as Helen Dragas uses a column by David Brooks to attempt to turn UVA into a version of the University of Phoenix by going all out On-line teaching and removing the Classic studies from the university, I say enough of David Brooks.

  • Varecia on June 29, 2012 11:57 PM:

    "...At least a couple of times a week, I’ll quote someone in the MSM or the blogosphere, often to criticize them and/or illustrate a common point of view, and someone in the comments thread will say: “Everybody knows so-and-so is a lying hack and a moron, so why are you legitimizing him/her by talking about him/her?”..."

    In general, and not specifically to you or anyone who writes here: I often get a little twinge of this sort of annoyed reaction to that kind of blog post because I at times suspect that the point is to keep people agitated, but not in a focused and productive way, if you know what I mean. Feed the chronic addiction to polarization if you understand what I mean, and in that way such venues are no different from Fox. And then I wonder if its all theater, the incessant brawling between left and right.

  • jhm on June 30, 2012 7:27 AM:

  • Anonymous on June 30, 2012 7:27 AM:

    You may be prematurely minimizing the "armed rebellion" meme. Come September, if it still looks like Romney can't catch fire, we may very well see some pretty freaky "militia/survivalist" stuff out of the GOP.Remember, what Eric Erickson puts on paper is the sane stuff, the crazy stuff is what doesn't get published.

  • Celui on June 30, 2012 9:17 AM:

    Ed: I don't read your blog entries to be reinforced in my own (rather) progressive outlooks. Rather, I expect and demand of you that you continue to demonstrate clear thinking (even if it might come from another source, but certainly not Brooks), and I look forward to your well-turned phraseology and snarks. Keep up the good work. I expect this of PA and everyone associated with Charlie Peters. Good man, that guy.

  • bluestatedon on June 30, 2012 9:30 AM:

    "I at times suspect that the point is to keep people agitated, but not in a focused and productive way..."

    So, following your logic, The Daily Show and the Colbert Report are mirror images of the wingnut right, and are wastes of time. If we ignore the myriad absurdities of the right, they'll go away on their own. To pay attention to them, to mock them, to ridicule them, is no different from what Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck do.

  • Patango on June 30, 2012 12:21 PM:

    "and in that way such venues are no different from Fox. And then I wonder if its all theater, the incessant brawling between left and right. "

    How you could compare this place to FOX is beyond me , I do not read or comment at places that are all about the shrieking heads , what irks me about conservadem comments like this , as bluestatedon lit on , is these types want to play polite with the gop , and this is why dems have been steamrolled for 30 years , the pinky in the air defense has failed america and liberals , this is THE POLITICAL ANIMAL after all , The Monthly strikes a great balance

    And while I love the east coast , when experiencing Big Sur , you will not miss it too much

  • Varecia on June 30, 2012 12:58 PM:

    Some of you need to polish your reading comprehension skills. I said I wasn't talking about this blog:

    "In general, and not specifically to you or anyone who writes here..."

    But I do sometimes wonder if there isn't some payoff to some blogs for keeping people chronically agitated by pushing all the hottest buttons, even if there is little new to be said about some people and some issues. And those blogs don't seem to actively facilitate any real organized action.
    And isn't The Daily Show technically entertainment of the comedy sort?
    We are allowed to have out own individual opinions here, aren't we? Or do we have to march lockstep and parrot and echo certain party lines?