I have spent the last several months correcting a few bad habits. One is this: never engage in online conversation where Larry Kralj has commented more than three times. The second, never engage in any online conversation where Mark Tokarski has been responded to even once. The third is to click immediately away from any thread in which JC shares a self-indulgent anectdote. The result of doing any of those is illfated, cursed … or put less dramatically, a colossal waste of time. Not a one of them has anything fresh to say, or anything helpful to offer. Just like too many of those they rail against, they haven’t accepted the fact that we are all in this together. So it’s no use dealing with what they’ve polluted. I have and will continue to read the blogs, but the comments are a waste anymore. (Food for thought, Pogie.)
That is from a rare Rob Kailey blog post. I don’t mean to be complimentary here, nor to be either obsequious or to damn him with faint praise. As I read him at this time he is going through period of self-reflection, and will endure some personal growth as a result. That’s painful for all of us, but I hope in the end that he writes regularly and about more than football and zombies. He’s not without talent.
This particular piece, where he took pains to level personal attacks against JC, Kralj and me … I want to soften it somewhat knowing that he’s got anger going on, and also that anger is an essential feature preceding deeper insight and interesting writing. So I take no offense, or at last am suppressing my own anger in response, and want to deal with the substance he brings to the fore.
Years ago, while a volunteer with Montana Wilderness Association, I met a man named Bob Decker, whose thinking and wisdom were beyond my own and most of the group. He tried to explain to me one day how Max Baucus controlled the debate going on around him. Essentially it was this: If you did not agree with Max, you did not get to be in the room with Max. Later others would use the term “framing” in the same manner – to frame the debate so that any views you do not like are excluded. Forceful marginalization is another term.
It’s nothing more than a power play. When Jon Tester became senator, he set out to advance the work of his predecessor, Conrad Burns, and reintroduced old wine in the form of his Forest Jobs Recreation Act. Like the Emperor’s New Clothes, all who entered the room were to bow and praise FJRA. The one who did not, Matt Koehler, who criticized the law and the means by which it had been crafted, was demonized. Tester was new on the job and did not know what Max should have taught him: Never let critics have a forum. Koehler endured a scathing personal attack and was not asked back to testify again.
I bring that to the fore because what I think Rob is doing here is very similar, though he does not have a senator’s power to control who gets to come into his office. Set aside Kralj, who I think was just included to brand us all as the same animal. Rob is very angry at JC and me. He’s not specific about what, but the intention of his tone is that the both of us be forcefully shut out of debates that involve Democrats. It’s an authoritarian attitude.
Why? When we are present, the debate does not go in predictable directions. The Emperor’s Clothes are worn by Democrats like Baucus, Tester, Bullock and now John Walsh. By saying that “we are all it his together,” Rob is being a little evasive, perhaps euphemistic. He’s saying that those who step out of line should be excluded from debate. It’s a power play, albeit a minor one, as these are after all low-traffic blogs.
The last line, “Food for thought, Pogie,” is a suggestion that I be banned from Intelligent Discontent. Pogie blows hot and cold on that matter but is sensitive to accusations of having an authoritarian bent, so I have survived. Someday I will get “No soup for you!” there too. But it is interesting, as there is no more bland and unoriginal and predictable writer on the blogs as Progreba, and yet he will attack me for being “predictable.”
Again, it is euphemism. He’s really saying that I am not playing by the rules wherein Democrats attack Republicans and visa versa, they all take immense satisfaction and personal validation from it, and they rarely interact and never hold their own party accountable. It is not unlike the snarky Daily Show pieces that make the rounds, the ones that attack Fox News and which are never seen by Fox News viewers. It’s all for personal validation. There is no “debate” going on.
Anyway, that’s my reaction to Rob’s attack. I think it is the product of an authoritarian mindset and cleverly worded to damn me and JC by lumping us with Kralj, and hide his desire to forcefully shut is out of blog commentary behind the euphemism of togetherness.