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May 09, 2014

Progressive Bloggers Are More Pro-Obama Than Obama

So says this National Journal piece.

When Jay Carney was grilled at length by Jonathan Karl of ABC News over an email outlining administration talking points in the wake of the 2012 Benghazi attack, it was not, by the reckoning of many observers, the White House press secretary's finest hour. Carney was alternately defensive and dismissive, arguably fueling a bonfire he was trying to tamp down.

But Carney needn't have worried. He had plenty of backup.

He had The New Republic's Brian Beutler dismissing Benghazi as "nonsense." He had Slate's David Weigel, along with The Washington Post's Plum Line blog, debunking any claim that the new email was a "smoking gun." Media Matters for America labeled Benghazi a "hoax." Salon wrote that the GOP had a "demented Benghazi disease." Daily Kos featured the headline: "Here's Why the GOP Is Fired Up About Benghazi—and Here's Why They're Wrong." The Huffington Post offered "Three Reasons Why Reviving Benghazi Is Stupid—for the GOP."


It's been a familiar pattern since President Obama took office in 2009: When critics attack, the White House can count on a posse of progressive writers to ride to its rescue. Pick an issue, from the Affordable Care Act to Ukraine to the economy to controversies involving the Internal Revenue Service and Benghazi, and you'll find the same voices again and again, on the Web and on Twitter, giving the president cover while savaging the opposition. And typically doing it with sharper tongues and tighter arguments than the White House itself.

But are they all being honest?

Backing your friends and belittling your enemies is a healthy business model, one rewarded by a torrent of clicks, retweets, "likes," and links. "The incentives are to play ball," says one former liberal blogger, "not to speak truth to power. More clicks. More action. Partisanship drives clicks."

If someone is a progressive I'd expect him to peddle a progressive ideological line most of the time, and I wouldn't consider that dishonest. Wrong, yes, but not dishonest. It does not bother me at all that Dave Weigel, for example, would think Obama is right on all ideological points.

What makes me wonder about him is when he is also effusively pro-Obama (or rather: Effusively anti-any-criticism-of-Obama) about non-ideological points, like whether or not Obama told the truth in the aftermath of Benghazi.

Whether a man has told the truth about an event is a strictly non-ideological matter. He either did, or he did not. There is no theory of politics here that would tend to push an ideologue towards answering the question one way or another.

Someone could honestly always believe in the progressive ideological line, but it's a bit hard to believe that these progressive bloggers also believes that Obama has conducted himself faultlessly as regards every non-ideological grounds.

This is where hackery and herd discipline come into play.


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posted by Ace at 12:57 PM

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