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    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    Linkage Time

    I don’t like to do the linkage thing. I’ve got no problem with people who do (unless that’s all they do – does Instapundit ever actually, you know, write anything?), but this is supposed to be me, and I don’t know how much “me” you can put in when you are linking to things other people have written. Nonetheless, here’s some linkage for you:

    I don’t know what it says about my politics, cause I don’t feel like a centrist, but it seems like I link to things Ed Kilgore posts at New Donkey more than anyone else. There are four great posts up right now that he put up Monday. One is on the ugly smear campaign that has started against AARP. (And pretty soon the folks behind the Swift Boat Veterans will be joining the battle!) The second is on the likely Republican presidential candidate in 2008. The third is on the recent poll that showed Republicans by a 3-1 margin believe George W. Bush is a better president than George Washington. The fourth is on Hunter S. Thompson.

    You can see the ad here, along with a piece by Steve Gilliard that captures my thoughts on it.

    What the cretins at USA Next don't get is that AARP isn't a campaign. They aren't an adhoc organization which comes together and falls apart in 18 months. They are here today, and will be here tomorrow, with a mailing list in the tens of millions. If this becomes about the survival of the organization, this fight could get much nastier than these folks can imagine. By suggesting that the organazation of widows and veterans can be slandered like a man, well, it's a campaign born of arrogance. They aren't called a powerhouse for no reason.

    Ever seen an ad with a dead child and a smoking gun attacking the NRA? No? Not because people haven't been tempted, but because alienating millions of NRA members who aren't gun nuts was not just risky, but stupid. It would backfire, badly.

    Well, calling AARP homoloving pacifists is not just insane, but stupid. Because AARP has several Congressmen by the balls and could turn a town meeting into a very nasty affair. Poltics is not for the gentle and easy going. The USA Next guys can pull that shit with politicians, who have limits on their behavior, but there is nothing to stop AARP from unleashing PI's, demanding their allies in Congress investigate them, and all kinds of shit which they cannot imagine. Notice how everyone treats the NRA gently. Well, AARP is spending $10m now, they can up that figure as needed without begging for a dime, and my bet is that they will, because they will see this as a threat to their organizational integrity. AARP has years of chits and favors saved up, and while the Bushies may act like that's no big deal, Congress members from states like Florida and Arizona don't have that luxury.

    This is unfathomable to me. One of the key elements in Bush’s victory was the senior vote. It seemed like after years of hearing Democrats say “The Republicans are coming after your Social Security check” seniors said “We don’t believe you” and voted for Bush. So what’s the centerpiece of his domestic agenda? Coming after their Social Security check. But not just their Social Security check, their lobbying organization. And not just by arguing that they are wrong, but by arguing that they support gay marriage and are against the troops. C’mon! WTF!?!?! It’s as if the worst excesses of blogland are working their way up the food chain. No civilized debate, just yelling and screaming and trying to drown out any opposing voice.

    Finally, there is this other piece by Steve Gilliard
    on outlaw journalism and blogging. Yesterday on Daily Kos, Kos referred to Thompson as the world’s first blogger. I agreed then, and the Gilliard piece explains why:

    Which is why Hunter Thompson was a hero. He was honest to a fault and mean to a fault. In a world where journalism has become about asking questions politely and fiction about settling grudges with parents and schoolmates, he was about something far more important.

    Blogs follow in the tradition of outlaw journalism, but without the flourishes he liked. It's not about just being outrageous, most of the bloggers are little different than their peers in newspapers, clean living young men and women. They don't get drunk and naked for fun, they pay their bills, stay faithful and maybe have a beer too many. However, it is the spirit of what Thompson meant, to be outside the laws of journalism, not the rules, but the laws. The laws of not offending advertisers and friendly pols. The laws of family friendly copy. Those laws. Not the rules about honesty and decency.

    Thompson understood the danger of objective journalism, which was a creature of the post-war period, Roosevelt would have laughed at the concept, battered by Father Coughlin and the Chicago Tribune, which is that the dishonest and the disingenious can have their way with the honest and decent. He called for subjective journalism long ago and our temporary experiment of objective journalism is ending, because it only serves the status quo, which is not most of us.

    It's odd to think of the outsider Thompson having won the day about what we call journalism, but blogging allows for a world of outlaw journalists, working cheap and fast and supporting each other in ways he couldn't imagine. It's not a bad legacy.

    Thompson taught that it was okay to put oneself into the story, that indeed, if you weren’t willing to put yourself into the work, and be honest in doing so, then it probably wasn’t worth doing the work to begin with.

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