The Purists of the Left Meet Unintended Consequences

Anyone who reads this blog – or reads any of the other places I write for or comment on –  knows that I’m not particularly fond of the atmosphere at several of the “progressive” sites.   It’s not that we necessarily disagree on goals, it’s that we disagree on methods, and that I really don’t feel obligated to buy into the “our way is the only way” mentality that has taken them over.   I regularly failed to see how attacking the President as often – and in the manner – they did was “effective.”   One of the people who regularly diaried at Daily Kos went by the screen name Blackwaterdog.  Her specialty was diaries that were  nice, positive picture diaries detailing the President and First Family’s activities, along with links to “good news.”   When I was there, I always considered them really nice breaks from the often relentless negativity and internecine battles what were going on.

The purists hated them.  Really, seriously, loathed them.  You see, they were something that countered their preferred narrative.  It was hard for them to keep painting the President as an out-of-touch, much despised, weak  failure when BWD was putting up those diaries.  So they went after her, hard.  Last month they finally succeeded in driving her off of Daily Kos.  End of story?  Not quite.  You see she took a brief break, and then started her own blog – “The  Only Adult In The Room.”   Which is pretty much the same thing that she was doing over at Daily Kos.  The people who liked her diaries found her new home, and enjoyed being able to read them without having the purists dumping all over them.   So the purists got rid of a thorn in their side, and everyone else got to enjoy her work.  That should have been the end of it, except that Glenn Greenwald, who writes for Salon (and who has ties to Jane Hamsher over at FireDogLake) decided to take a shot at BWD on Twitter.

In other words, a well-known columnist decided to take a cheap shot at a little-known blogger whose main sin was to write positive things about the President.   Why he did it, I don’t know – my own hypothesis is that it was part of an attempt by the purity brigade at FDL to just make her go away.  They couldn’t resist taking one more shot at her.   The problem was that Glenn went and did it by comparing her to a Nazi propagandist. That’s when the unintended consequences set in.

You see, what happened was that Twitter exploded over that.   It was re-tweeted around, and a storm of criticism descended on Glenn.  Instead of backing off and apologizing, he tried to defend himself, and no one was having any of it.   Then the blogs jumped in.  Balloon Juice, most of the African-American run blogs, and a number of the other pragmatic progressive blogs all took up the cause.   If the purpose had been just to denigrate and minimize Blackwaterdog,  it failed miserably.   Instead of minimizing her, her blog became popular.  Even more unintended consequences set in.  You see, there were a number of other blogs which had been created by ex-members of Daily Kos, most of whom were “pragmatic progressives.”  In the furor, they began to get noticed as well.    Their traffic increased dramatically.  So that, by the time President Obama announced his tax cut compromise, creating the inevitable storm of criticism on Daily Kos, HuffPo, and FDL,  a lot of people decided that “enough was enough” from them, and migrated to the “pragmatic sites,”  which were more than happy to point each other out, and yes, traffic (and new participants) increased again.

The purists thought they’d won.  They thought they’d “purged” the pragmatists and the people who support the Democratic Party -and in particular, the President – from view.  Instead, they called attention to the fact that we haven’t gone away, and they aren’t the “voice of the majority.”    Purists of the Left, Professional Left?  Meet unintended consequences.  It’s great for us,  lousy for you.



Filed under Politics

37 responses to “The Purists of the Left Meet Unintended Consequences

  1. sherijr

    This is just wonderful Norbrook, thank you. . I love the unintended consequences 🙂 .. and the squirrel too~

  2. Tracy

    We will not be moved. We will continue to support pragmatic unabashed liberals who are not afraid to support our president. We also support civil discourse.

  3. Eric

    I was a long time lurker on Dk and the other big dem sites. The primary pie fights turned me off from them, and I’ve always felt that they were divorced from the real job of organizing that went on away from the keyboards.The manner in which BWD was treated was, and is shameful, and is hardly the behavior of folks who call themselves ‘left’ let alone Democrats.

  4. Chris Andersen

    Let’s call it the GOS Diaspora. I think I have feed subscriptions to the blogs that have split off, but someone needs to put together a comprehensive list.

    • Many of the blogs that are benefiting from this aren’t technically “split offs.” The People’s View (Deaniac’s site), and this site, for example, were not created as a split, but to have some place where we could do things that might not be suitable for the GOS. Originally, this was intended to be my non-political “everything else” blog.

      I do know that Blue Wave News, because I was involved in the discussions, is a result of the diaspora starting. It got started because a group of us realized during the HCR battles where the GOS was going, and decided to start thinking of alternatives.

  5. Aquagranny911

    Good for you Norwood! You really nailed this one. I could never understand why BWD diaries generated so much hatred and yes, I will use that very word. I thought that if people didn’t like the diaries they should just avoid them but that never happened and things just got really ugly until she left.

    I am so happy with what she has done, also you Deaniac and others. The thought in my mind is that if you all are so irrelevant and unimportant than why is it so necessary to denigrate and crush you?

    This is not the liberal way or the Democratic way as I know it.

    • Thank you. In looking back, the attacks on BWD – and their success – were in many ways a result of Meteor Blade’s being handed the keys as site moderator, and his decision to play favorites. Before that time, communities would defend themselves. I know that as a former member of the “pootie & woozle” community. It was one of the “play nice” little safe havens there, and before MB took over, also had the deserved reputation for defending its turf against complainers and those who would attack it. RL_Miller had one of the funniest comments about it (with pictures): “Do not mess with the Pootie People. First they’ll be hurt. Then they’ll call in the the big guns and gloat over your corpse.”

      Because MB was protecting the other side, and was pulling rules out of thin air at the drop of a hat to justify it, it couldn’t be done with BWD. Actually, it couldn’t have been done by the P&W people either after that, but their reputation of “don’t mess with them” carried over.

      You’re right though, if they’d just left her alone, it would have been fine. The problem is that they can’t stand anything – let alone something that makes the Rec List – that counters their anger.

  6. I read postings over at the DailyKos a few times – but only a few times. Let me speak for a moment of the result of that.

    When one who is not a liberal or Democrat reads at sites like DK it gives one the view that the stereotypes of the left hyped by idiots like Limbaugh come to life on sites like DK. That those kind of lefties exists and are dangerous to the well being of the republic, etc, etc, etc. Those sites give life to the bogeyman so often talked about by the hard right.

    One then has to work to find places where information on the realistic, reasonable minded people of the left speak out in the genuine spirit of wanting to inform and discuss their beliefs – with ALL political persuasions. Personally, I am pleased to have found places like this – here, at Blue Wave News, and The People’s View.

    Free speech is a great thing, but there are some places where it makes your belly ache, and DK is one of those places.

    • Exactly. It’s the same thing impression I get when I visit places like RedState, Free Republic, or the Post & E-Mail. They’re the places that give life to the bogeymen that the hard left can talk about.

      They’ve become – or were meant to be – the sort of places where each side’s extremists hang out, but they also don’t persuade anyone beyond the extremists – most normal people visiting them are aghast at the rhetoric.

  7. majii

    I loved BWD’s diaries on DK, so when the purists began to invade them and post off-topic, ugly comments, I’d had it and began to avoid the site. Greenwald, Hamsher, Kos, and the rest of the purists have outlived their usefulness, imo. When everything on a site becomes a criticism/personal attack without any substantive suggestions/solutions accompanying them and zero analysis of the issues, I lose patience and interest.

    This post is right on the money, Norbrook. I always enjoyed the diaries that you and Deaniac posted at DK, too, because they were a refreshing break from all of the “attack” diaries.

    Free speech doesn’t exist on these purists-heavy sites. One either follows the herd, or one is attacked relentlessly. None of these purists should have anything to say about how authoritarian the republicans/tea partiers are ever again because they’re just as bad, maybe worse.

    Greenwald and the rest of the purists may have thought that theirs was the only game in town, but the existence of your blog and those of other pragmatic liberals that have sprung up sends them a strong message that they’re NOT the only game in town.

    My attitude toward all of them can be summed up in one phrase: Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    • Agreed. They have a very limited view, and an absolute conviction that the are right, and everyone who doesn’t agree with them on everything is wrong. It’s why I said we agree on goals, but not much else. The insistence on purity often means they lose site of the goal – I sometimes call it the “up to your ass in alligators” conundrum.

      For example, I think it’s safe to say that most people in this country would agree that it’s terrible that there are children going hungry in this country. Making sure that they don’t – and there are a number of good reasons for that – is a goal. How you’ll do that, how you’ll pay for it, and how you evaluate it to see if it’s working are all subject to debate, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the goal.

  8. TrumpDog

    I still can’t wrap my mind around the hatred directed at BWD for her positive diaries. I don’t even know that they disliked the diaries, I think it was more like they hated that she liked the president!
    Baffling, considering the shut we went through during the Bush years. You’d think they’d at least want to cling on to some positive aspects of a Democratic president. But no, they were relentless in their criticisms and attacks and they got exactly what they wanted – BWD gone.

    I still think it’s weird that Greenwald jumped in the fray. You’d think he’d be above that but looks like he’s not. The good is that he helped publicize her blog, lol.

    • Exactly. They’re driven by their hatred of anyone who appears to contradict them, and no, it doesn’t speak well of them.

      I normally try to avoid “conspiracy theories,” but knowing that Glenn and Jane have business ties, and given his own inflated opinion of himself, it’s not weird that he might decide to “put down” someone who had antagonized the firebaggers. I honestly believe that he didn’t think when he fired off that tweet. He hit a lot of nerves when he did it, and instead of immediately saying “I’m sorry, that was stupid of me” tried to defend it, then went with the lame “I rescind my comment.” Too late. 😀

      As I pointed out, it wasn’t just publicizing her blog, it ended up publicizing a lot of other blogs. I know that my traffic here has jumped 10 times higher since that incident, and we’re seeing a lot more traffic and commenting over on Blue Wave News. All to the good, I guess.

      • I wonder just what he thought would happen. Perhaps he did it first to someone we don’t know about, and they cried and deleted their site because he was angry. That’s the only reason I can think of that he would pull a stunt like that without thinking about the effect he would have on the situation.

        Today I went to the Big Orange. They are nastier than ever.

        I should have known. Whenever there was a diary dealing with real need, there was barely any interest in it. Unemployment, unions, nada.

        • It might have been that, and he might have thought that his followers on Twitter would go there and harangue her until she removed it.

          All he did was offend a lot of people. Even besides that , as Angry Black Lady pointed out, he picked on someone who was not doing this for money – it’s a site, which means there’ s no advertising revenue for doing it. It made him look extremely petty and vindictive, besides looking stupid.

          That’s besides the little fact he didn’t realize – the frustrati might try to post nasty things, but it wouldn’t have worked. That’s because when it’s your blog, you get to decide whether or not to allow comments to appear. 😉

      • TrumpDog

        I know that my traffic here has jumped 10 times higher since that incident, and we’re seeing a lot more traffic and commenting over on Blue Wave News. All to the good, I guess.

        That’s great to hear, Norbrook 🙂

        • Yeah, it’s just sort of startling. Not that this blog is in any way going to be on the “top blog” numbers, but when I pull up the dashboard here to edit a post, or approve a new commenter, the site traffic graph is a part of it. I went from 25-30 hits per day (average) with an occasional peak up near 100 to suddenly having 300+hits a day this past week. Posts over at BWN that used to draw 5-10 comments are now hammering 50 or more, and growing. It’s the sudden change that catches you by surprise. 🙂

        • Suzanne Holland

          Could not be happier……….hope traffic does nothing but continue to pick up……great site!!!

          • Thanks! I’ll be happy one way or another. 🙂 The only reason I noticed it is because when you look at the “traffic graph” it looks like a cliff. My usual traffic, and then all of a sudden this big spike which kept going on. It does grab your attention. 😀

  9. revgerry

    so happy to find you all, a group of sane progressives who understand the political process that is and reflect what I believe to be true. I have hungered for sanity these past months. I am hoping/wishing someone creates a meta (omg, a positive use of that word) place to collect all the posts though, so people will crosspost. I have been diligently going through the links and signing up for the new blogs, well new to me to be part of this positively motivated network, .The orange place was very well set up to move quickly.

    • Thank you for visiting! I understand what you’re saying, but in general, that would have to be yet another site, more of an RSS feed than anything else.

      While I do (and can) cross-post some things here to another blog, in general, I try to avoid it. Sometimes because it’s just rude, sometimes because it’s site policy. For example (shameless shilling follows) I write for Blue Wave News. Everything there is original. No cross-posting, as a general policy, and I agree with it. We also try – fail sometimes, but try – to keep the articles and discussions oriented on the issues, and not degenerate into “let’s gripe and bash DailyKos and FDL” sessions.

      So I do some different things. If I feel it belongs on BlueWaveNews, that’s where I put it. If it’s not appropriate for that site, in my opinion or the editors who have to approve it there, it goes here. Sometimes, the issue I’m talking about needs to go somewhere else – for example, I do some state political blogging over at The Albany Project.

      That’s where a lot of us started off from – personal blogs for things that didn’t quite “fit” anywhere else, that have because of circumstances, changed. Originally, this wasn’t supposed to be political at all. One of these days, I am hoping to get around to the meaningless blathering about things outside of the political arena.

      • revgerry

        Have been checking as many of the new sane wave as possible since someone (electablog maybe?) told us about them. It takes a lot of time, and “:”traffic” counts for each writer and thus overall site impact could improve if someone devised some kind of network /meta blog/…”” I am not a techie.

        Just sayin’, most people will not have time to visit 10 or 15 blogs a day, however interesting and positive – plus there is the hassle of signing up on new accounts for each site on varying platforms…

        • Understood. Most of us here on WordPress use a common sign-on for comments. There’s no need for an “account.” Several others use Disqus for comments (Like The People’s View), which also has a single sign-on capability. I originally used it to sign up for commenting elsewhere, and it just carries around, so I didn’t need to recreate an account when I went to Deaniac’s site.

  10. revgerry

    BTW, is “the deal” truly dead after that house vote, and are the unemployed SOL?

  11. MsKitty

    Yep. As the saying goes “Karma remains undefeated.”

    I have to say I am really enjoying all the new blogs that have sprung up in recent weeks. And what I especially like is the sense of community that it has fostered. It’s not unusual to see front pagers in one blog come over to another to comment, or sharing links to other blogs instead of trying to keep the shine (and clicks) all to themselves.

    We’re here and we’re not going anywhere…so deal with that, Professional Left.

    • I wouldn’t say we’re new blogs – This one is approaching its first anniversary, and I know Deaniac’s has been around for quite some time. It’s that we’re now being found. 😀

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  13. angee

    I thank greenwald everyday for his attack. Without it I would have never discovered your blog and many others. It’s good to know that there are progressives out there supporting the POTUS. Now if only the MSM would take noticed.
    I guess having a progressives bashing the democratic President is sexier than having progressives supporting the POTUS on their shows.

    • I can see criticism of the President, because after all, I can’t think of a single President in my own memory who has done 100% of the things I’d have liked them to do, and in the way I’d have liked them done. That, or they dropped/ignored/reversed course on something. But there’s a difference between reasoned criticism and outright screaming bashing and attacks. The problem is that the media has forgotten that. What I also see is that it’s relentless, and constant from the Left. It’s not a case of “oh, on this issue he sucks,” it’s no matter what he does, all the time, and they’ve been doing it since before he took office. My comment to them (on a number of places) is that they can’t claim he lost them, because they were never with him.

      • tracy

        Too much of the criticism misses the boat by focusing on the president rather than all the institutional constraints in congress, why we have blue dogs, the miseducation of the electorate, winner-take-all politics. It is only by discussing these issues that we can develop strategy for change. We also miss all the change that goes under the radar (regulation enforcement, effects of investment such as the evolving battery industry discussed today on the people’s view).

        • Exactly. They’ve been – and it’s been around for quite some time – fixated by something they claim to hate, an “imperial presidency.” That’s why they (and I think there are a number of other reasons behind it) constantly attack one person, instead of stepping back and seeing where (and how) they should be focusing. I don’t blame the President for something the courts do, I don’t blame him for some block in Congress deciding to give their leadership the figurative finger. We don’t have to like it, but the government has been designed to have many of those things – it’s called “checks and balances.”

      • woody45

        I’m late to the party but that’s it Norbrook. There’s no balance or perspective. For instance this whole tax deal is the fault of weak Dems in Congress who ran like scalded dogs when the President told them to take on this issue back in September. Instead of pointing that out they blame Obama for coming in and getting a better deal at basically the last minute.

        Look I can understand Rush Limbaugh wanting Obama to fail. His job is to root against the other team but you can’t call yourself progressive and savage your own side worst than he does. That’s not criticism. More than anything it makes you think something sinister is at work.

        • They threw perspective out the door a long time ago. I’m perfectly willing to criticize, but I criticize the appropriate person or group, and I try to offer an alternative when it comes to policy or politics. I’ve stated several times that they were never “with” the President, or if they were, it was based on a fantasy and only for a short period until the election was over. I also find it interesting that many of the leading purists, at least among the professional Left, are former Republicans. In some ways, it’s like people who have just converted to a religion. They go overboard trying to show everyone just how wonderful it is.

  14. Andréa- (You've called him everything else- now call him Mr. President!)

    The Professional Left = Tea Party. Full of whack jobs!

  15. JBerry

    I was out of the country when all of this took place, without internet access. Prior to that I had been increasingly frustrated with DKos. After my return, I happened to stop by and read the post about BWD, Greenwald etc.. As a result, I discovered TOAITR, People’s View, Balloon Juice, and today, Norbrook’s Blog. I’m completely finished with Kos – no reason to return. At this point, the greatest thing about Kos, is that it has given birth to these pragmatic sites.