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.