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« Empathy, reconsidered | Main | The Mannionville Gazette's Favorite Blog of the Day »


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Ken Muldrew

Lance, quoting his Sister Site, wrote, "And, truly, if one's worldview is structured principally of self-interest, empathy isn't reasonable".

It's worth noting that Adam Smith wrote extensively on empathy (except he called it "moral sympathy"). Although the self-interest types worship Smith, they probably wouldn't if they bothered to read his stuff more carefully.

Ian Welsh

Yup, there's a fair bit of residual bitterness. If I'm the guy you're referring to, yes, I'm pissed at a lot of netroots bloggers for repeatedly telling people that Obama was particularly liberal on the issues, when he wasn't. The economic policies Obama is following are about what I predicted. He's worse on civil liberties than even people like me expected, and so on.

Unlike the Clinton fans, I don't think Clinton was much better (though, having taken the time to actually read her policies I can say she was slightly to his left domestically, and to his right on foreign affairs). But what I told people was simple enough - that they were both centrists, and that people who wanted to elect progressive politicians should spend their time and money downticket.

Paul Krugman said the same thing, minus the "where to spend your money and time" thing.

The irony is that Obama didn't woo the netroots bloggers at all, with the exception of making sure he had at least one major blog as a channel for oppo dumps. Bloggers ripped themselves apart for (and in a few cases, against) him, and he didn't care. He had and has no respect for the netroots or blogs, and the netroots and blogs have very minimal influence in or with the Obama administration. (I'm not saying he should have respect, btw, from a cold hard power calculus there is a strong argument for disrespecting the netroots - they have nowhere to go, and will rally round anyway, so why bother?)

Does any of this matter? Not sure. The netroots can make a difference in certain targeted ways, and at certain times and places, but it cannot deliver enough votes or money to be a major player at the Presidential level, and the blogs media clout is in relative terms, diminished compared to the highpoint (around 05 to early 07).


Ian, I'd argue that the netroots are far better suited for downticket elections, even to the municipal level. Bloggers who focus on those are far more likely to attract local readers and even candidates than big Presidential or Senatorial races. Every political blogger has an opinion on those races; it's the local ones where he or she could make a real difference.

Not that I have ever practiced that, mind you.

Sunny Jim

As very much a casual reader and not a blogger, my two cents: Reading blogs like Lance's on a daily basis for about five years now has made me tons more well-informed than I could ever be with only newspapers. I could present an arms-length list of stories from the Bush years that started out as blog-driven and gained momentum until the cable news shows COULDN'T ignore them and still call themselves credible news outlets. Plus, Lance's blog roll is second to none, giving me such wonderful discoveries as the Mahablog, which in turn has become a daily must-read. Plus, I would strongly disagree with the notion that blogger influence peaked in early '07. To the extent that you can call it a movement, starting with Howard Dean in '04 and continuing with all those $20 bills sent to Obama last year, I don't think we've yet seen the full effects on a national scale. Cheers.

Bob Westal

Lance -- you were for Hillary? Oh, the disillusionment!

But, seriously, even though I'm not even a political blogger at all and will never, ever make Mrs. Clinton or any other politician at the national level laugh, I was pretty active during the primary and I post at DailyKos, and I can say that, yeah, things were pretty nasty at times in Netrootsville. (My real life encounters with Hillary supporters, some of whom included my best friends, were considerably better -- though sometimes almost as frustrating!) And, while my respect for Hillary has grown exponentially in her role as Sec'y of State (not bombing Iran and, somewhat surprisingly putting a bit of pressure on Israel's far-right government will do that for me), I have to say that the hard feelings for a certain strain of her supporters remains.

I could probably write a 10,000 word essay on the matter but the short version is being called a mindless follower of the dear leader, while then being castigated for "my side" saying nasty things about Hillary supporters in precisely the same breath as being informed I was probably a misogynist, can make a guy a bit touchy. It still lingers and, every time Obama disappoints (as any sane observer knew he would at times -- though actually so far less often than I expected; most of us knew he wasn't some kind of progressive wet dream, that wasn't what it was about), the Eddie G. Robinson "where's your messiah now?" posts appear and it all comes back to me. No wonder Obama keeps it all at arm's length. The guy's absurdly smart. As, I suppose, so are you for staying out of that mishegas for the most part.


Bob, what can I say? Her performance at State doesn't surprise me.

Sunny Jim, thanks.

Ken Muldrew, your providing that quote shows why I'd rather have you scientists reading the blog than any beltway insiders.

Ian, I didn't have anyone particular in mind. Thinking about it, I know of a blogger who fits the description and it's definitely not you.

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