I traipse down memory lane not only for self-congratulatory reasons. The reason there were so few bloggers created the context for why bloggers were necessary in the first place. We were about to go to war and almost no one, from the leaders of the Democratic Party (remember kindly, compliant Tom Daschle?) to the editorial boards of the Times or Post, was willing to condemn the damn thing.
This is a remarkable fact. We were about to invade a country on a purely racist premise, having confused one group of brown non-Christians with another ("they attacked us first!"), led by a man whose father had been humiliated in this country and his group of insiders (Perle and Wolfie, where have you gone?) who had been agitating for a decade in the Weekly Standard before 9/11 to invade it. It is true that everyone assumed our erstwhile ally had WMD, but so what? Lots of countries had them, and they were, so far as anyone could tell, not "gathering threats."
So blogging seemed to be important. In any case, it provided an outlet for outrage, and for a certain segment of cranky lefties, that seemed like reason enough.
But outrage always seems to be competing with cynicism. So many of the really good independent bloggers either went pro and became party insiders (which was good for them and good for the party) or were crushed by cynicism. It's bad enough that Bush is corrupt and imperialistic and monarchal, but it's far worse that he and his GOP cohorts are stunning ideologues, who always--and I seriously mean always; it's the first play in a one-play GOP playbook--politicize decisions. Every decision is made with an eye toward how it will punish the Dems. The major scandal of the day, the prosecutorial firings, have emerged as a scandal because people can't believe that the White House would actually try to use the US prosecutors to exact revenge. But for those of us who watch, it's the least surprising thing about this scandal.
The media didn't really know how to handle this level of corruption and manipulation. It took them four years to tumble to the fact that this is SOP for the GOP, but it seems that they have finally tumbled. The Post is no-longer pro-war; Sean Hannity is no longer regarded as a journalist, and the he-said, she-said regurgitation of fake arguments for the GOP's benefit seems to be a vestige of a naive past.
Democrats finally seem to have their heads in the game. Or at least know what the game is, whether they have learned how to play it. I used to say that the Dems were in a back alley knife-fight with Karl Rove, and they thought it was a game of chess. At long last, Nancy Pelosi has handed out the Leathermans.
And bloggers? They are ubiquitous: not only are there literally thousands of good and hundreds of excellent political blogs, but now everyone has a blog--the MSM, magazines, Arianna Huffington. We even have the emergence of the blog-as-newspaper.
For the indie blogger with a readership of 50, it's far harder to imagine that you're saying anything important. Blogging has become a burden and an act of conspicuous vanity (whereas in 2003 it was virtuous vanity). Some blogs still have critical relevance--BlueOregon provides political news that would otherwise go missing--but some, like Hog, are pretty obviously redundant.
I wouldn't care so much if my outrage were greater than my cynicism, but at the moment, it's not. The scrum between the forces of truth and lightness and darkness and autocracy just makes me tired. I can't say that the outrage won't bubble up again--it always seems to--but for now it is swamped by cynicism. As a parting example, a coda, if you will, I will offer you one of the most cynical spectacles I have ever seen, courtesy of the crown prince of darkness and autocracy, Tom DeLay.
He has a new book out, the purpose of which is to give relevance to his struggle to inject ideology into all things Republican. As was the case throughout his career, nothing mattered except the supremacy of the GOP--certainly not little things like facts. In an act of mesmerizing idiocy, he tries to deny the words in his new book in an interview with Chris Matthews because they failed to suit his argument at the time.
And that's why I'm tired. Good night and good luck.