Whither The Right Blogosphere

Ken AshfordRight Wing Punditry/Idiocy1 Comment

I’ve noticed lately that there is a certain "circle-the-wagons" and/or "flee-for-the-hills" mentality among those in the right blogosphere.  For example, I occasionally post at a non-politically-aligned group blog called Freespeech.com, which has had its share of conservative posters doing the whole smear-liberal-and-defend-Bush thing.  Starting in the middle of the summer, they’ve slowly disappeared.

Furthermore, I increasingly notice that many conservative blogs are engaging in heavy commentator management.  Under the guise of trying to raise the level of discourse, they simply refuse to allow dissenting views.  Either the liberal commentator is "banned", or the administrator simply decides to block all comments altogether.

In other words, it looks like the once-mighty Echo Chamber, like the Superdome, has cracks all over the place.

Tim at Corrente notices the same thing:

It’s interesting…I can remember a time when these folks actually talked with people in the left blogosphere — not block their readers. Believe it or not, I used to occasionally have contact with Jane Galt and Clayton Cramer.

But when their pet war turned out to be a disaster based on lies they had peddled, they stopped talking to us at all. I noticed all my conservative readers vanished from my other blog in the summer of 2003 as Iraq slid into chaos and it became obvious that liberals were right about everything regarding the war.


I suspect watching their president completely bungle and screw up a disaster to the tune of letting thousands die is just more than they can handle. It’s the last indignity for them. So look for them to come up with the lamest weirdest arguments ("the poor people in New Orleans had cars!") to try and exonerate their president and clear their own guilty consciences.

But they know the truth — even if they won’t admit it.

I think he’s right, on the whole.

But there are some conservative bloggers who do admit the truth on occasion.  I was struck, for example, by the Bush criticisms that have emanated from "The Corner" when Bush gave his first post-Katrina Rose Garden speech.  On the rare occasion a conservative criticizes Bush, it is usually couched in a "but Clinton was worse" context.  But occasionally, there is no Clinton caveat.

Usually what I see are conservative blogs, like Powerline and RedState, which focus on minutiae of controversies which they can defend (or at least try to), while wholly ignoring the larger criticisms which are — let’s face it — indefensible.  To my mind, even though they are not offering an explicit concession of Bush’s failures, they’re focus on minute surely acts as an implicit concession of Bush failures.

What brought the cowing of the right blogosphere?  Well, no doubt, real world events. The War in Iraq continues to look like a quagmire, for example, and it is getting harder to suggest otherwise and still pass the laugh test.

I also think Sheehan had an impact.  Not her so much, but the inability to smear her.  Oh, sure, they tried, but it just didn’t sit well.  And when we called them on it, they had nowhere to go.

I think the Iraqi Constitution had an impact.  After subtly and not-so-subtly bashing Islam for so long, conservative bloggers found themselves in the position of having to defend it.  Throughout the summer, you could almost hear the cries from the rightosphere: "Did we invade Iraq in order to create another Islamic nation, and how the fuck can I spin that?"

And Plame-Rove.  Conservatives found themselves stuck in the uncomfortable position of defending the outing of a CIA agent, something which — on any other context — they simply would go apeshit over (Thought experiment: Suppose it was Michael Moore who revealed Plame’s status to the public, and not Novak?)

And then, of course, Katrina — or more specifically, the embarrassing response to it on the part of Bush.  You could almost hear many on the right scrambling for talking points to defend Bush.  Some didn’t even bother.  And this time, even their media go-to people weren’t singing Bush’s praises.

So what am I saying?  I guess if there is a saving grace to Katrina, it is this:  It has acted as a large does of reality to a certain segment of reality-deprived conservatives.  There is, and always will be, a substantial portion of Bush defenders who will defend Bush no matter what.  But Katrina is becoming, for me, a measuring stick in which I can separate conservatives who are reasonable, somewhat reasonable, and total moonbat hacks.