Sunday, April 16, 2006

Vengeance is mine, says WaPo

Adapted from The Wizard of Oz, 1939

Billmon shares pithy insights into the front-page placement of a WaPo Easter Saturday story about left-wing blog rage starring angry Maryscott O'Connor of My Left Wing, with a supporting cast, Rude Pundit, Daily Kos, Smirking Chimp, and a brief appearance by Eschaton. Not flattering. What merits the spot on prime newsprint real estate? Short version: vendetta:

At first I thought this was just the SCLM being the SCLM – and Karl Rove thanks you for your support. But on reflection I realized that the genesis of this particularly smear job isn't politics, it's payback. The Post is getting even with Left Blogistan for the take down of Baby Ben, for the impudent e-mails about the omsbudswoman from hell, for the passionate defense of Dan Froomkin, for the outrage over the Post's editorial defense of the sliming of Joe Wilson, etc. etc.
In other words, the liberal bloggers who dragged the Google swamp for the evidence of Baby Ben's journalistic offenses not only cost a few brownie points with the White House, they humiliated the editors in front of all their friends. And by God, they're going to pay, dammit! Do you hear me? Pay!
....the great and mighty Washington Post is apparently scared of its shadow. It's not that the kind of left-wing anger the Post describes isn't out there in – it's certainly inside me – but what the Post reporter doesn't seem to recognize (he wasn't supposed to) is the difference between the anger of those who have absolutely no power, who have only their words as weapons, and the anger of those who wield considerable influence over the party in complete control of the most powerful government in the world.
In the Post article, Maryscott says at least one thing that is both true and wise, which is that her rage and her blogging are both "born of powerlessness." ...If power corrupts, so does powerlessness. It can lead to fatalism, apathy and irresponsibility – or to paranoia, rage and a willingness to believe [every] loopy conspiracy theory that comes down the pike.
The difference, I think, between left and right is that the right has no rational justification to feel any of these things, and yet many, if not most, conservatives continue to wallow in the mindset of a besieged minority.
I agree with Billmon on the corruption of power and its polar opposite but doesn't powerlessness and/or fear of the loss of power also drive the Hyperbolemobile into high gear?

Conservatives resist change. Traditions keep a rolling. I can see how they could still feel downtrodden having yet to get over their victimology and move on. The reaction isn't reality-based or justified but hissy fits don't necessarily occur rationally and as politely as cartoon Chip and Dale when they amiably disagree. Call it phantom pain, the ghost of a powerless past, or a viral legacy. They're our wingnuts.

Eric Hoffer wrote of powerlessness in The Ordeal Of Change, how mass movements ignite after feelings of disenfranchisement and alienation accumulate:
...the difficulty of dealing with drastic change tends to produce those extreme attitudes in the individual that often result in the rise of mass movements and other generally destructive activities in the world.
Small things appear bigger than they really are, and boom. Fear and frustrated anger beget hyperactivity--positive and negative. However, losing the 2000 election on a court decision wound folks up and with six years of voter fraud and suppression, the Vampire Congress, Katrina, Iraq, gasoline price increases, Plamegate, outsourcing, and just unadulterated incompetent, malicious neocon evil-doing, out-of-power liberals inclined to fix things have to find a catharsis. The instantaneous medium of the Internet works well. The reconciling factor with Maryscott and company is they can do some good for others in the process. Paydirt. In time the rage will pass. If folks were more like Chip and Dale, be very worried.

Newspapers, however, have had their business cannibalized by other media since radio, more aggressively with TV, and the Internet has scorched it. Employment classifieds and classifieds in general have traditionally been newspapers' bread-and-butter, as much as 30-40% of ad revenues, now crumbs with online job sites and auctions. Pressure was already high to retain eyeballs. Major and national dailies have been gushing a steady stream of subscriber losses and readers to the sexier, flashier Internet especially when 9/11 piqued the desire for immediacy. Rising popularity of the blogosphere, its watchdog tendency, the unmerciful deconstruction of what media publish versus the lack of interactivity of passive news reading and Billmon's point about them being afraid of "their shadow" seems apropos. Panic may well stalk the halls of newsrooms across America.

No one behaves their best when fear takes hold. Remember the rush to invade Iraq. Without fear-mongering, it wouldn't have happened. Fear incites the worst of human behavior and makes us prone to treachery. Ever notice how people hate the loss of control? Makes 'em feel vulnerable, dependent, and mad because of fear.

In the battle to control spin and apply a tourniquet to seepage and prestige, the heat's just starting to rise. Watch your back.