A Note On Suspect Sources

At least a couple of times a week, I’ll quote someone in the MSM or the blogosphere, often to criticize them and/or illustrate a common point of view, and someone in the comments thread will say: “Everybody knows so-and-so is a lying hack and a moron, so why are you legitimizing him/her by talking about him/her?”

Just to be clear, I do not think that mentioning, quoting, or linking to people at Political Animal “legitimizes” them, particularly in cases where I am trying to tear the bark off their hides. Moreover, we all understand that writers we don’t necessarily respect sometimes have large alarmingly large followings. I often criticize David Brooks (whom I actually hold in minimal if shrinking high regard, if only because of his occasional sense of humor) here, but that’s because he occupies one of the most valuable pieces of journalistic real estate in the world and clearly has influence with other elites. I’d about as soon undergo an unpleasant medical procedure as sample the literary stylings of Erick Erickson, but there’s no question he speaks for a significant segment of the chattering class. Hell, I’ll even subject myself to exposure to the Free Beacon or Sarah Palin’s Facebook page on your behalf if it seems relevant.

I know there are readers here who wish I’d just dismiss the Right with an occasional plenary condemnation and spend my time exposing the heresies of the Obama administration and the corporate domination of the Democratic Party. For better or worse, I believe pretty strongly that conservative-driven polarization is the overriding reality of American politics at present, and actually has a lot to do with some of the things we don’t like about progressive pols, particularly the electoral trimming and the money-grubbing we often see. Until such time as we enter a different era, I’m probably going to spend a disproportionate amount of space writing about the “other side” and the real-life consequences of their policies and politics.

Now that’s not to say any old right-wing crap merits attention here. I try to remember Kevin Drum’s wise warning about lazy shots taken at random crazy people. That is why I did not succumb to the temptation to write today about the former Michigan GOP flack who said the Court’s decision on ACA might justify “armed rebellion.” It’s neither accurate nor fair to attribute such sentiments to the GOP, and after all, there’s plenty of genuinely representative and consequential craziness to talk about without going there, such as the “Agenda 21″ conspiracy theory that is getting kicked around in public by actual Republican candidates for office in Georgia.

In any event, just wanted to explain my M.O and avoid unnecessary consternation among readers who may think I’m just winging it here. There’s always vast room for improvement, so don’t be shy (not that this is a quality particularly evident among PA readers!) about letting me know how it might be accomplished.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.