D.J. Drummond, a talented, well-regarded, Houston-area blogger-journalist and widely-read at the "Polipundit"
site, is calling for a rapprochement
among conservative bloggers on the heels of the Harriet Miers' controversy. D.J. is rightly concerned that the bad blood coursing through portions of the center-right/right-of-center galaxy of the blogosphere may persist unless the conduct of the Miers' debate and the damage it inflicted are addressed and ways of repairing it found. On this score, I say good for him.
One of the more regrettable effects of the Miers feuding here at Polipundit.com, and in the Conservative Movement in general, is the way that specific individuals were treated. Without relighting old fires by pointing to specifics, grossly undeserved insults were thrown at Conservatives by other Conservatives, purely spiteful articles were written and broadcast, and once the nomination was withdrawn, there were many on both sides which wished to continue the fighting. While it is certainly wise to pursue ways to put the matter behind us, and to repair the damage done, it would be very foolish, as some are trying to do, to ignore that real damage has been done, and that victories in the future depend on addressing the present condition.
The issue is not Miers now, but the Conservative Movement. Demanding people ignore the fact of very real injuries is simply not reasonable, nor would it be wise for people to seek to continue the feud. The question at hand is not an argument over things done, but the question about what to do to heal and regain momentum.
Of course, D.J. Drummond
and certain other top-of-the-pyramid conservative bloggers with huge readerships (Hugh Hewitt
certainly comes to mind) share to a degree in the manner in which the debate foundered on the rocks of ad hominem
attacks and ridiculous claims that if one took issue with the selection by the president of Harriet Miers and urged the president to withdraw her name, then one was necessarily disloyal to the president, the Republican Party, the Conservative Movement, and, as Hugh charged in a preposterous fit of pique
on his radio talk show, by definition in favor of Hillary Clinton's candidacy.
Hugh, to his credit, eventually published a mea culpa of sorts
; but then he turned right around and offended a number of us on the Right by publishing an Op-ED piece
in, of all places, "The New York Times." Persist in pummeling us if you must, Hugh, but not in the Gray Lady, as that's piling on. You may think the NYT gives your viewpoints gravitas in assailing fellow conservatives who disagreed with you over Miers, but it does not. Some ego-trips should be forsaken in the interest of maintaining your enviable political stewardship in the blogosphere.
But, to D.J.'s question:
While we can dispute their number, there are Conservatives who voted in 2004, who are now inclined to sit out the next round. There are Conservatives who feel that they have been mocked and degraded, simply for their own principles, no less valid than the ideology which won the day against Miers. The Liberals, never reluctant to press an advantage, will certainly press this opening.
What, do you think, is the best thing to do to repair the damage?
First off, Mr. Drummond, dispense with "the idealogy that won the day" posturing when you're trying to broker a resolution. Either broker one in a diplomatic fashion or remain an editorialist espousing your views; but, please, don't mix the noble effort of the former with the polarization that ensued from the latter. You supported the president and wanted to see the process followed right on through to an up or down vote in the Senate. Fine. I understand your viewpoint and respect your right to give voice to it. I, on the other hand, felt betrayed by a president who earned my vote by committing to, if given the opportunity, the nomination of a SCOTUS candidate in the "Scalia-Thomas mold." "Trust me" was attached to her nomination and, sorry, but I'm not a trusting soul, particularly when the nominee is a virtual cipher and there is not a body of evidence attesting to her Scalia-Thomas affinity. Nor am I a "bastard" for thinking as I do.
Now then, on to possible solutions, at least within the context of the woof and warp of conservatives who blog and decry judicial activism.
1) A return to "civility"
is devoutly to be wished.
2) In what I expect will be near universal support among conservative polibloggers for Samuel Alito, the heavy-hitters in our midst should demonstrate the same loyalty and grace to polibloggers in the "tail of the blogosphere" who read, link, and trackback their posts (and blogroll their sites) that Harriet Miers showed the president in her prudent, selfless withdrawal as nominee to the SCOTUS. If more firepower
would be a welcome event on behalf of the Alito nomination (and other important agenda items of the Conservative Movement), then draw us in and make the tent bigger. Give legitimacy to our viewpoints by recognizing us through links. Bush and every other president before him have won office through building and sustaining a coalition. The big-gun polibloggers need to be less a "West Wing" clique and more overseers of a broad-based coalition. Hierarchies are fine and top-of-the-pyramid positions in the blogosphere have been well-earned. Just broaden the base and recognize that lofty bully pulpits require solid foundations.
3) There should be a greater frequency of the polling of conservative polibloggers in determining their hot buttons and political opinions and such polling should be conducted using a broader base. Patrick Ruffini, John Hawkins, Glenn Reynolds, N.Z. Bear, and Professor Bainbridge have led in this area and are to be commended. But better, broader polling would give encouragement to the smaller readership blogs that their work on behalf of the conservative cause has merit and that that work should be given a larger voice. There is strength in numbers. As Hugh Hewitt wrote in his book "BLOG":
The "tail" is simply the 95-99 percent of blogs that are not giant traffic getters. These are low- or medium-traffic generators, some getting ten visitors a day, some a hundred, some a few hundred. Their traffic is steady, but it isn't growing at a great rate, if at all.
"The power of the tail" is the aggregate number of visitors, not to any particular blog within the tail, but collectively to all blogs on the tail, and the fact that these low- or medium-traffic blogs generally enjoy the trust of their visitors.
If a point of view or product makes its way throughout most of the blogs in the tail, the audience for that point of view or product will far outstrip even the largest audience for the biggest blogs.
What those of us in the "tail of the blogosphere" just witnessed in the Miers' brouhaha were the top-tier polibloggers engaged in internecine warfare
and in that woof and warp of political controversy and bilious broadsides on the Right we were relegated to the position of onlooker -- hand-clappers on the respective sidelines, cheering one side or the other, but not allowed out onto the playing field. After all, if D.J. wants to do no more than broker a rapprochement among the principal architects of the Miers' controversy in the conservative galaxy of the blogosphere, all he need do is get the top dozen or two dozen of the conservative polibloggers to make peace with one another and to rally behind Samuel Alito. I suspect that won't be hard to do and with today's announcement by the president I suspect that the "Friendship Bridge" has already been erected (or is presently under construction).
4) The question becomes is D. J. Drummond a bold diplomat and a "big picture" guy like the president he's dedicated himself to? The grandest gesture of unity and peace-making would come from the forging of a grand center-right/right-of-center coalition of polibloggers
in the blogosphere. And the fine examples of mentorship and stewardship by major, top-tier bloggers that would follow in drawing we in the tail into such a unified coalition would form the catalyst for the building of many more combat divisions on the Right, rather than the regrettable divisions in the Right born of needless internecine warfare. After all, it shouldn't be all about artillary fire. Isn't it high time that the foot soldiers be drawn into the campaign?
FOLLOW-UP: The Blogs For Bush
site is posting on the formation of a coalition
to back the Alito nomination and that activity has merit; however, do understand in my post that I'm suggesting a much broader, more comprehensive coalition in the blogosphere to advance the Conservative Movement and with identified, prioritized agenda items and the delegation of responsibilities by high-powered, blogger-stewards who embrace "the tail."