Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Right-wing blogosphere and its discontents

One thing that's easy to notice about the political blogosphere is the Right/Left divide over the political role of blogs. The major Left wing blogs tend to focus on relentlessly recruiting Democratic voters in the hopes of electing a Democratic majority to Congress someday soon. The major Right wing blogs tend to focus on creating an "alternative" media to the mainstream media of NBC/ABC/CBS/New York Times/etc.

The Right-wing blogosphere's conception of itself as a "media" outlet has its advantages, mostly arising from the fact that the mainstream media is both ultra-liberal and surprisingly inept. A big chunk of the Right-wing blogosphere, after all is said and done, is powered by the ability of any common person to open up any "Section A" of any day's "New York Times" and find some egregious piece of biased reporting. And internet phenomena involving prominent liberals, such as the "Rathergate" scandal, have earned the Right-wing blogosphere an honorary place in the liberal conspiracy theorist's "Republican noise machine".

On the other hand, a standing joke for the Left-wing blogosphere is that Right-wing blogs are basically useless for delivering votes to Republican candidates. An exemplary case in point is the website Instapundit. Instapundit is one of the most visited Right-wing blogs -- Right-wing only in the negative sense of not being explicitly left wing -- and is more aligned with a Libertarian philsophy instead of a Republican or Conservative one. Thus, Instapundit occasionally regurgitates self-defeating libertarian lunacy in the guise of the "alternative media" consensus.

The last year's most notorious example of libertarian lunacy is the PorkBusters campaign against out-of-control government spending. Don't get me wrong. The latest battle in the 230-year war against needless political spending is certainly a good thing as far as it goes. But the real problem with government spending is not pork but the welfare state mentality. Republicans and Conservatives could have really used some political cover for reduced spending through entitlement reform from an independent source of public opinion such as the internet. The primarily libertarian-leaning Right-wing blogosphere, sensing that the Republican-controlled congress was vulnerable on spending, characteristically decided to stick it to Republicans on behalf of the welfare-statist Democrats instead.

The current example of libertarian lunacy in the Right-wing blogosphere is encapsulated by Instapundit's now-infamous "GOP pre-mortem", which has been widely interpreted as the internet's conceeding a Republican disaster in the upcoming elections. The damage here is so bad that Republican media figures from Rush Limbaugh on down furiously attempting damage-control. But again, this shouldn't be much of a surprise since libertarians are always saying "Republicans deserve to lose; Democrats don't deserve to win". Why would any Republicans with any sense at all bother to go to their fair-weather libertarian friends for political advice and expect anything different?

And then there is blogger Andrew Sullivan, who apparently believes that the great Solon of the modern day conservative movement is Democratic Senator John Kerry. Since I'm plugging away at his book, we'll save that topic for another post.

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