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Bloggers Matthew Yglesias and John Hawkins Prove Politics Is Broken

5 years ago
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Political bloggers have the job of reporting on -- and analyzing -- politics, but they are also becoming a sad reflection of our bitter and broken political system.

On Friday, two blog stories came to light that serve to illustrate the decline of domestic political bonhomie. To be sure, we will not be talking about either of these stories a month from now. Still, they provide a snapshot of the current state of political discourse.

On the conservative side, RightWingNews' John Hawkins asked several conservative bloggers to help compile a list of "The 25 Worst Figures in American History."

Here's the kicker: While conservative bloggers ranked liberal Presidents Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama and Franklin Roosevelt at the top of the list of the "worst figures in American history" (and numerous other liberals made the list), they failed to include some really bad people -- like serial killers. As National Review's Jim Geraghty incredulously noted,

"No Charles Manson? Come on. You're really telling me Al Sharpton and Michael Moore outrank somebody like Jeffrey Dahmer, who ate people? Race-baiting and rabble-rousing outrank cannibalism?"

Certainly, one could make the case that political leaders -- because of their reach and immense importance -- actually have much greater impact over our society as a whole than any serial killer ever could (though I would argue the Manson murders actually had a major impact on American culture, and essentially ended the '60s).

But this, of course, is sophistry. Hawkins' list was not titled "the worst political leaders," but rather "the worst figures" in American history, and thus, the results seem to betray what we already know to be true: Too many political bloggers view their political opponents as being worse than serial killers.

Of course, this is not merely a reflection of conservative bloggers, but rather, of the current state of political discourse. I have no doubt that members of (as Robert Gibbs has called them) "the professional left" might rank Ann Coulter as being more harmful than, say, Al Capone.

But while conservatives were busy ranking liberal politicians as worse than Jeffrey Dahmer, one liberal blogger was busy arguing that the ends justify the means. Responding to conservative blogger Mark Hemingway, liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias fired off the following Tweet:

"Fighting dishonesty with dishonesty is sometimes the right thing for advocates to do, yes."

When conservative Josh Trevino pressed the point, Yglesias responded, asking: "Do you really think deception is immoral in all circumstances?" (The Daily Caller has more on the Yglesias story.)

I know and like both Yglesias and Hawkins (and many of the folks who helped Hawkins select members of the list), and let me stress this is not about them. While it would be wrong to assume these two incidents represent the whole of the political blogosphere, my educated guess is that they do not represent a minority viewpoint, either.

So what's the sad lesson learned from the convergence of these two blog stories?

In general, too many partisans (or ideologues may be a more accurate term) view their political opponents as actually being more dangerous than serial killers. And thus, in order to beat the bad guys (who, after all, are worse than Manson), they believe lying is justified. . . .

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Matt: Politics may be broken, but we are being blinded and diverted with partisan issues. The entire Congress is to blame for most of the problems we face in politics and this country. 435 Congressmen + 100 US Senators = 535 = Clueless. The time for a unified message criticizing the politicians is need now more than ever. We support this claim with facts on how the '535' has turn themselves in to a rich political ruling class. Check out

August 16 2010 at 10:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To paraphrase Billy Budd from Melville's novella, "It is much easier to lie than to tell the truth..."

August 14 2010 at 1:51 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

It is a shame that political dialogue in this country has seemingly gotten so poisonous. I say seemingly because I wonder if this has been going on longer than we think and we're just seeing it more because of the internet, etc. In my experience, you can still sit down and talk to people who disagree with you and have a nice discussion. If you believed what you see online, you'd think that the only alternative when running across someone from the other side would be a knife fight. So, don't be all that worried - a lot of times online you are seeing the extremes. And just think, thanks to the internet, people you'd cross the street to avoid are now allowed right into your home or office. Ain't technology grand?

August 14 2010 at 12:40 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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