I just posted a reply to a comment on my Sunday column, and what I had to say was important enough that I thought I’d also publish it as a separate post. Hmm. That sounded pompous. What I mean is, it’s important in terms of explaining what this blog is all about (or what I would like for it to be about) that I thought I should make the statement a little more prominently.
The comment was from a blog newcomer called "Dale" who chimed in after a series of, shall we say, overheated remarks from some of my regulars. Here is his comment, in its entirety:
Good column today, much livelier than usual. In our house we agree
with your conclusion that we have to stay and finish in Iraq. Thanks
for cluing us in on Joe Lieberman’s remarks.
A few other thoughts:
This is my first blog visit. Based on the posts before me I’d say
you’re going above and beyond putting up with the stuff people say. If
blogs are limited to ranters, I doubt I’ll pick up the habit.
How come Congressman Murtha’s Iraq remarks got intense coverage and Senator Lieberman’s did not?
I’m a subscriber to the Economist too and agree that they do a good
job providing news. They’re pretty liberal but even so I think they do
a better job than the American media by presenting more facts and
also by providing both sides of partisan issues. Why do I learn more
about current US news by reading the Economist than I do by reading The
State or watching CNN?
And here is what I had to say to him in reply:
Dale, please don’t be put off by the other comments — at least, not to the point of giving up on blogs. We need more comments from people who are put off by extreme partisanship and personal attacks. If that description fits, that means we need YOU.
I’m trying to create a space here where people with various opinions can interact in a civil manner. But I also let anybody have their say (I haven’t used my ability to delete comments once since starting the blog in May — except for cases when the same comment is published twice, because of a glitch in the software). But it is my hope that people who are open-minded, reasonable and respectful of others will ultimately flock to this space in sufficient numbers that they will help distinguish this blog from the all-too-many partisan screamfests out there.
In fact, in case you haven’t read them, here are a couple of my recent attempts to tilt at the madly spinning windmills of partisanship. If you agree with what I’m saying there, and you agree with Joe Lieberman, you might want to give this blog a chance for a while before giving up.
As for your question, "How come Congressman Murtha’s Iraq remarks got intense coverage and Senator Lieberman’s did not?"… well, that was one of the oversights by the media that my column was meant to address, to the extremely limited ability I have to address it. The only defensible answer to the question was that Mr. Murtha was rather dramatically changing his point of view, and Mr. Lieberman was not — thereby making the Murtha comments more newsworthy, according to the basic standards of news judgment. But his comments weren’t nearly as important as the play they got, or the reactions from other politicians, or the reactions to the reactions, or any of that other destructive nonsense that happens in the echo chamber inside the Beltway.
One more thing: Your assessment that The Economist is "pretty liberal" is spot-on, although possibly not in the way that you meant it. The Economist refers to itself as "a liberal newspaper." That is to say, it is "liberal" in the classic sense of the term. It is very libertarian, particularly in the economic sense — very free-market-oriented, opposed to the welfare states of Europe, etc. Of course, over here, people tend to call that "conservative," even though it’s technically wrong to do so. (And even in explaining itself, the publication occasionally uses the modern, popular sense of the term, as illustrated in the above-referenced link.) Therefore, Steve Aiken has a point when he disagrees with your characterization — although I have to differ with him when he seems (at least by implication, although I may be misreading him) to equate calling that publication "liberal" with calling people with whom one disagrees "retarded."
Of course, I now welcome responses to my response.