May 10, 2006

Liberals Attack Richard Cohen

Last week, Richard Cohen wrote about how he though (and I agreed) that Stephen Colbert's jokes about President Bush at the White House Correspondent's Dinner were not funny and somewhat rude.

Well, the left did not take kindly to it. Evidently, Mr. Cohen experienced what he termed to be a "digital lynch mob":

Within a day, I got more than 2,000 e-mails. A day later, I got 1,000 more. By the fourth day, the number had reached 3,499 -- a figure that does not include the usual offers of nubile Russian women or loot from African dictators. The Colbert messages began with Patrick Manley ("You wouldn't know funny if it slapped you in the face") and ended with Ron ("Colbert ROCKS, you MURDER") who was so proud of his thought that he copied countless others. Ron, you're a genius....
Usually, the subject line said it all. Some were friendly and agreed that Colbert had not been funny. Most, though, were in what we shall call disagreement. Fine. I said the man wasn't funny and not funny has a bullying quality to it; others (including some of my friends) said he was funny. But because I held such a view, my attentive critics were convinced I had a political agenda. I was -- as was most of the press, I found out -- George W. Bush's lap dog. If this is the case, Bush had better check his lap.

It seemed that most of my correspondents had been egged on to write me by various blogs. In response, they smartly assembled into a digital lynch mob and went roaring after me. If I did not like Colbert, I must like Bush. If I write for The Post, I must be a mainstream media warmonger. If I was over a certain age -- which I am -- I am simply out of it, wherever "it" may be. All in all, I was -- I am, and I guess I remain -- the worthy object of ignorant, false and downright idiotic vituperation.

What to make of all this? First, it's not about Colbert. His show has an audience of about 1 million -- not exactly "American Idol" numbers. Second, it marks the end of a silly pretense about interactive media: We give you our e-mail addresses and then, in theory, we have this nice chat. Forget about it. Not only is e-mail too often a kind of epistolary spitball, but there's no way I can even read the 3,506 e-mails now backed up in my queue -- seven more since I started writing this column.

But the message in this case truly is the medium. The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred. This spells trouble -- not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era. That's when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.

The hatred is back. I know it's only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during antiwar demonstrations. I can appreciate some of it. Institution after institution failed America -- the presidency, Congress and the press. They all endorsed a war to rid Iraq of what it did not have. Now, though, that gullibility is being matched by war critics who are so hyped on their own sanctimony that they will obliterate distinctions, punishing their friends for apostasy and, by so doing, aiding their enemies. If that's going to be the case, then Iraq is a war its critics will lose twice -- once because they couldn't stop it and once more at the polls.

I am no Cohen fan, but he makes some good points.
I certainly do not have even .00005% of the circulation that Richard Cohen does, but when I wrote that I agreed with his column, I, of course, experienced similar "wrath" of angry Democrats through comments on this blog as well as through e-mail in my hotmail account.

For what its worth, I like Stephen Colbert - especially his Daily Show work. I just think that this particular performance fell flat. Rather than acknowledge that different people may have differing opinions, I was told that I "have no sense of humor". As proof, one particular reader told me to conduct a "Google" search to find out that the consensus was 50-1 that he was funny. Real genius.

Look, many of the people who believe that Colbert's routine was funny, are those with a visceral dislike for President Bush. People are entitled to their opinion as to President Bush, but I wonder - was some of the instant support for Colbert merely support for another anti-Bush person? Maybe so.

What Cohen, a liberal columnist, is now "experiencing" is what I have been writing about for over a year - the nastiness of political discourse in this country and the radicalization of the American left.

When I first started this blog, my intent was to start a discussion as to what I saw as a disappointing trend in the Democratic party. A party of ideas, which I had belonged to for the entirety of my "political life", had become devoid of substance and had to devolved into the anti-Bush party. Rather than pushing legitimate progressive ideas, their platform was defined as the opposite of whatever Bush was doing.

So, the "discussion" has yet to occur. Another reason for my last "sabbatical" from blogging.
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