Right Wing Bloggers: Stupid or Evil?

The Village Voice has managed to get lots of links today, primarily from conservative blogs, by providing The Official Village Voice Election-Season Guide to the Right-Wing Blogosphere: A confederacy of dunces. It must be taken somewhat tongue in cheek as the subtitle (A Confederacy of Dunces) certainly dominates the views expressed.

Beyond the subtitle, conservative bloggers, if they took this seriously, could certainly disagree with the rating by Stupid/Evil Ratio. All blogs receive a combination score adding up to 100, suggesting that those who hold different opinions can only be stupid or evil. There’s also a problem with the idea that stupid and evil are inversely proportional to each other. There are some conservative blogs which I would prefer to give high scores for both stupid and evil, while others deserve much lower rankings in both.

I do not believe many are taking this very seriously, or feeling terribly insulted. For example, Ann Althouse writes, “Roy Edroso puts a lot of work into this thing, and it would have hurt my feelings if he’d left me out. So don’t cry for me.”

Protein Wisdom does take this a bit more seriously, writing “It’s wry, amusing, and demonstrates perfectly the left’s contention that if you disagree with them, you’re either stupid or evil, or some combination of both.” Considering that this was my immediate objection to the article (assuming it is taken seriously), I hope that most readers realize that the view that everyone on the left can only see those who they disagree with as stupid or evil is no more accurate than The Village Voice’s inherent claim that those they disagree with are stupid or evil. (This is not to say that there aren’t far too many on the left who do believe this. There are blogs on the left which also deserve high scores for stupid and evil.)

The article only mentions a tiny number of conservative blogs, and I wonder if those who are not mentioned are happy or if they follow Ann Althouse’s thought process and feel terribly insulted. I suspect most don’t really care either way. If they are only including a small number of conservatives, their choices are a bit unexpected. Besides including Ann Althouse (a “Moderate” Democrat who disapproves of nearly everything the Democratic Party does and who voted for Obama in the primary) they include “Lipstick libertarian” Megan McArdle who also supports Obama. There is far too high a percentage of Obama supporters in this article to consider it a real guide to the right-wing blogosphere.

Megan also does not take this too seriously, writing “Apparently I’ve made Roy Edroso’s hate list. Honestly, I feel like he could have done better. My friends offer more biting and incisive criticisms. Even when sober. But of course, it’s an honor just to be nominated.” Strangely, among the criticisms of McArdle is one of the reasons I read her blog:

As an Atlantic blogger, McArdle still complains about statism, but half-heartedly (“I just can’t get that excited about the complaint that the Bush administration wants to spend taxpayer money on people with bad mortgages. The government spends amazing amounts of money on amazingly stupid things”).

Doctrinaire libertarians can be so boring to read as their take on any issue is predictable (regardless if they are right or wrong). Some libertarians cannot differentiate between the truly evil things government might do from the more trivial as they rant against government inspection of meat with the same degree of vitriol as they protest the Iraq war. Even worse, many so-called libertarians defend the Iraq war and even the Patriot Act.

The Village Voice describes McArdle as a previous supporter of the war, which would decrease my respect for her, but I do find it of interest when she does show less concern for the more trivial examples of statism and tries to look at the big picture instead. Of course that would have to be a trait which differentiates all the libertarians who are backing Obama from their more doctrinaire counterparts, as well as from the many libertarians who are impossible to differentiate from conservatives.

Clinton’s Make Believe Positive Campaign

The Washington Post has an op ed from pollster and former adviser to Bill Clinton  Dougles E. Schoen saying Hillary Clinton “needs to completely abandon her positive campaign.” This would be like George Bush’s pollsters  saying that Bush should abandon his policy of being completely honest and transparent and should become more secretive and misleading in his communications with the American people to improve his approval ratings.
This appears to be an attempt to hide how dirty Clinton’s campaign has been, considering how many believe she has resorted to the Tonya Harding strategy. Josh Marshall also questions Schoen’s arguments:

But, seriously, what is Schoen smoking? Hasn’t Clinton been going after Obama pretty much tooth and claw for like eight weeks?

Steve Benen also shows many faults in Schoen’s arguments, including:

John Heilemann has a fascinating item on McCain in the new issue of New York magazine, and he spoke with one leading Republican Party official about how the GOP would go after Obama in the general election. “Our strategy will look a fair amount like the one that Hillary is running against him now,” the official said.

If Clinton were running an exclusively “positive campaign,” somehow I doubt Republican officials would make a comment like this.

The dishonesty shown by Hillary Clinton  has already been very damaging to her campaign. After a long string of lies from Clinton and her supporters, the claim that Clinton has been running a positive campaign might be the biggest lie of all.

Obama’s San Francisco Remarks Not As Damaging As Clinton’s Dishonesty

It should be pretty clear from my posts over the weekend that I didn’t consider Clinton’s attacks on Obama for his comments in San Francisco to represent a meaningful attack. Actually I considered the controversy to be more of a reflection on Clinton as it showed how desperate she was to grab onto anything to try to attack Obama, even if it meant attacking him from the right. However the more important question is not what I think of the validity of the attacks but whether they are likely to impact the nomination battle. So far it does not look like these attacks are having much impact.

The polls do not yet present a clear picture as they do not fully take in the response by voters. For example, The Philadelphia Daily News shows Obama closing the gap on Clinton, trailing by only six points, compared to trailing by sixteen points in March. They include this caveat:

But experts said that the survey may not fully show the impact of Obama’s statements last week that small-town Americans are “bitter” over their economic status and “cling to guns or religion.”

“It’s too soon — you’d have to see polls taken Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,” said political consultant Neil Oxman. “It’s clear [internal] polling in both campaigns show an uptick in support for her and a downtick for him.”

They go on to note that “Clinton is now running a television ad attacking the remarks.” The Swap tried to answer this question with a study by a consumer-research company that examines advertising effectiveness. They did not find that the ad had much of an effect:

After being shown the ad, not many people shifted their views. When asked before and after seeing the ad who they would vote for if the election were held today, Obama’s support went to 44 percent to 45 percent, pre versus post. Meanwhile, Clinton’s support went from 43 percent to 44 percent, pre versus post.

Although the ad does not seem to be having much of an effect, apparently Clinton believes this is the only argument she has left. Talking Points Memo reports that this negative ad is the only spot Clinton is running in most Pennsylvania markets.

Another theory raised over the last few days is that party activists might not care but that superdelegates might see Obama’s comments as harmful in a general election and therefore switch to support Clinton. I believe this is primarily hopeful thinking on the part of Clinton supporters. The Hill interviewed some of the superdelegates and did not find evidence that Obama’s comments were a liability.

While the poll I noted above still shows Clinton with a small lead, other polls continue to show even worse news for Clinton. Public Policy Polling shows Obama with a three point lead. While this is still statistically a tie, the trend does not look good for Clinton who led by three points last week. Nationally, a Reuters/Zogby poll shows Obama increasing his lead to thirteen points, up from a ten point lead last month.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Obama with a ten point lead with other numbers also presenting poor signs for Clinton. Obama has moved to a 2 to 1 edge as to which is more electable in a general election. In a hypothetical general election race, Obama leads McCain by five points while McCain leads Clinton by three points. Clinton’s unfavorable rating has increased from 40% after the New Hampshire primary to 54%.

Clinton’s strategy of trying to destroy Obama by running a dirty and dishonest negative campaign against him also appears to be backfiring. The Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Clinton is viewed as “honest and trustworthy” by only 39 percent of Americans.

Among Democrats, 63 percent called her honest, down 18 points from 2006; among independents, her trust level has dropped 13 points, to 37 percent. Republicans held Clinton in low regard on this in the past (23 percent called her honest two years ago), but it is even lower now, at 16 percent. Majorities of men and women now say the phrase does not apply to Clinton; two years ago, narrow majorities of both did.

Superdelegates may or may not consider Obama’s comments in San Francisco, but it is hard to ignore the dangers of nominating a candidate who is considered to be dishonest by so many Americans.