Attacking Ben Domenech

It was only announced Monday that the Washington Post had hired RedState‘s Ben Domenech as one of its stable of bloggers. Already, the long knives are out.

Jane Hamsher thinks the Post has given left wing bloggers an early Christmas present by hiring “the most thick-witted, mouth breathing home schooled freak you could lay your hands on.”

David Brock has written an open letter to WaPo managing editor Jim Brady that, unlike Dan Froomkin, Domenech is “partisan activist” and, shudders, is not a professional journalist. Because, you know, most of the major bloggers are. Also, Domenech uses red meat partisan rhetoric on his blog.

Brad DeLong terms him “a man with no policy or analytic or reportorial qualifications save a couple years as a right-wing speechwriter, an unarmed man in a battle of wits.”

PZ Myers argues that Domenech lacks intelligence because he is a Creationist. Because, Lord knows, only stupid people believe in that God stuff. It’s no wonder Domenech is so stupid — indeed, “frothing idiot” — because “he is the product of home schooling, which in its worst instances can foster an unfortunately narrow point of view, and usually means the kid is instructed by someone with absolutely no training in education.” Because, as we all know, colleges of education are where the smartest students on campus tend to congregate.

James of Your Logo Here piles on, noting that Domenech is “a 24 year old with little journalistic experience.” The fact that he started one of the most successful blogs out there and has been hired to blog is, of course, irrelevant. Furthermore, in some blog posts written when he was in college, Domenech made some juvenile comments and failed to analyze grand strategy better than the experts. The horrors! Worse yet, three years ago, he wrote that Claude Allen was “clean cut,” not realizing that he would be arrested for a refund scam at Target one day. The fool!

Duncan “Atrios” Black unearths the transcript of a 1997 television show featuring young Ben Domenech talking about being home schooled in which our 14-year-old subject observes that, “Home schooling makes you a very independent person and makes you very defined.” The voice-over host, meanwhile, notes that some people have objections to home schooling. Hmm.

Jesus’ General goes him one–okay, several–better:

Now, while having such a relationship with one’s mother is not as common in the Heartland as “marrying” one’s sister or cousin, it’s pretty easy to imagine the circumstances that may have brought it about–you’re kicking back with mom, watching your worn out copy of Red Dawn on the betamax, and at the part where Patrick Swayze brings down a Soviet Hind-D chopper with an RPG, you notice that his hips move in the same way they moved in the final scene of Dirty Dancing. The thought of Swayze gyrating wildly to pop music awakens something very primal within you. With a quick glance toward your mother, you see that she is also obviously having similar thoughts. At that moment Swayze yells “Wolverines!” mother and son are overwhelmed with passion.

And John Amato believes this just goes to show that, “The Washington Post continues to become more and more a mouth piece for the GOP.”

Sheesh, a bit over the top guys.

Whatever one might think of Domenech’s views, he is undeniably bright. He has done quite well for himself. He got into William & Mary on a full academic scholarship and dropped out to take a political speechwriting job as a teenager. How many “Republican operatives” do you know in their early 20s? Let alone published in major magazines as 15-year-olds?

That he’s a conservative Christian hardly makes him unusual, let alone an idiot. It’s not a perspective I share, certainly, but many people brighter and more accomplished than me (including guys like Al Einstein) believe(d) in such things.

Frankly, Domenech is my least favorite of the RedState founders. I prefer a more mature perspective and tone. I disagree with him on Creationism and Intelligent Design and even have some vague concerns–which I admit are almost entirely contradicted by empirical evidence–about home schooling. But so what? Criticize his arguments, not his upbringing.

And am I the only one who sees the irony in a bunch of 40- and 50-something bloggers with advanced degrees resorting to name calling and over-the-top rhetoric to attack someone on the basis of being too young, immature, and lacking in nuance to blog?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Matt O. says:

    Of course, it doesn’t hurt that your dad has connections, but that’s just so commonplace in the GOP that it gets forgotten.

  2. James Joyner says:


    Yes, no Democrat ever got ahead because of connections. Ask the Kennedys, Evan Bayh, Jesse Jackson Jr., Hillary Clinton. . . .

    And, really, is being chairman of the Loudoun County Republicans that big an advantage? Until the last decade, Loudoun was a rural backwater.

  3. Matt O. says:

    Sure helped get into the good graces of the White House. But you also must ask yourself – what would the Right do if Markos Moulitas was signed on to blog for

    All hell would break loose at RedState so do not give me that “over the top” excuse.

  4. Matt O. says:

    Daddy Domenech’s connections go higher than that, as Josh Marshall explains.

    Little did I know this Ben Domenech gambit from the Post was a secret plot to create the grist for more Abramoff blogging.

    You see, it turns out the Domenech family came in for a number of Bush administration appointments. Not only Ben, but Ben’s dad, Doug, who was White House liaison to the Department of Interior.

    Or to put it more colloquially, White House guy to make sure Jack Abramoff got what he wanted with the Indians and the Pacific Island stuff.

    Wayne Smith was the point man for Indian casino policy at the Department of Interior. He ended up having kind of a rough ride over at Interior. And, according to Smith, as reported last year in the Denver Post, Domenech told him “we had to pay attention to [Jack] Abramoff, because otherwise the religious right and (Ralph) Reed are going to come up and bite us, and our whole base will go crazy. They will light up our phones, shut down our phone lines.”

    According to Smith, Domenech was the conduit for Abramoff operative Italia Federici. Said Smith: “Doug would come down and say, ‘Italia called and Jack wants this’ That’s how it all happened internally.”

    Probably not the last fun quote from these quarters.

  5. Civility in public discourse is on its last legs.

  6. JakeV says:

    So Domenech is the guy who posted as “Augustine” at Redstate? Huh. I was never too impressed by the quality of his thought or of his writing. Maybe he’s improved in the months since I stopped visiting there, but somehow I doubt it. He didn’t seem particularly open to new ideas or information, or at all capable of serious self-criticism.

    I always found his pseudonym amusing, since St. Augustine was reflective, inquisitive, and intellectually rigorous–seemingly the exact opposite of the Redstate Augustine.

    I can’t say I foresee great things for him or his WaPo blog, although I guess if he’s lucky he could be the next David Frum or something. He should probably be grateful for all the free pub he’s getting from the lefty blogs, because I doubt anything he writes will merit attention.

  7. Matt O. says:

    Personally, I think this guy is a joke. He talks about getting past all the bipartisanship at his new blog…

    We can all agree that such things lower the quality of debate on the Internet, play to the worst side of our knee-jerk partisan nature and have no place in the modern public square. I look forward to engaging you in a serious, respectful discussion on the issues that matter most to the future of our nation.

    … but in an earlier post in the same blog, he was acting all partisan again. Not to mention that’s all he did at Red State.

    He’s all over the place.

  8. minimalist says:

    Benny-boy isn’t a scientifically-illiterate dolt simply because he’s a creationist, but because he comes out with howlers like “theories other than the typical evolutionary construct… something involving genetic mutation… or something inspired by Stephen Jay Gould”. I mean, that’s some serious ROFL-fodder for anyone with a grade-school understanding of biology; mutation is the freaking HEART of evolution and the source of variation, and Gould’s ideas are mainstream! Being a creationist is simply the natural consequence of such ignorance.

    He also completely lied about Gould’s stance on creationism, either because he is thoroughly unprincipled or because he was both too sloppy to realize that maybe he’d want to quote *Gould’s own words* as proof, and too thick to comprehend the real point of the article that he did cite.

    You’d know all that if you actually read Myers’ post for comprehension, but that’s too much to ask of knee-jerk wingnuts these days, I suppose.

    And other young “Republican operatives”? How about George Deutsch, the Aggie dropout who has about as good a grasp on science as Benny? Let me repeat that: *he couldn’t hack Texas A&M*. Academic achievement ranks near the bottom of the list of qualifications as a GOP operative. All you need are connections, a willingness to toe the line (no matter how absurd and divorced from reality) and a heck of a lot of lip balm.

  9. yetanotherjohn says:

    I think what sums this up is the amount of bloviating we are seeing on the left because â??a man with no policy or analytic or reportorial qualifications save a couple years as a right-wing speechwriter, an unarmed man in a battle of wits.â?? If he is really so incompetent and “unarmed man in a battle of wits”, wouldn’t you relish using him as a foil to point out the logical fallacies of the right? The center right of the blogosphere has enjoyed countless “fiskings” when they deconstruct the logically or factually challenged pieces from the MSM. So why would the left be so outraged that such an unworthy opponent who is an “unarmed man in a battle of wits” should be attacked so vehemently. And the attacks are ad homonym attacks, not rational deconstruction of his arguments. Surely, they aren’t afraid of engaging an “unarmed man in a battle of wits”.

  10. Jeff Boatright says:

    “Yes, no Democrat ever got ahead because of connections. Ask the Kennedys, Evan Bayh, Jesse Jackson Jr., Hillary Clinton. . . .”

    You’re pretty funny, James. Nice try at misdirection and glad to see that you’re admitting that Bennie got the job through connections and not merit. But to follow the path you’ve set us, what were these people doing at age 24? Think hard. Hmm. Kennedys – most actually had served in the military by that age- weren’t wannabe gamers cheering on the demise and crippling of others. Hear tell, some of them got blowed up n’ stuff and others actually got injured and still went on to public service. The others you list…Hmm…Did they get gigs for positions at top national institutions, at age 24, with virtually no experience? Hilary? Nope. Bayh and Jackson – I have no idea. But as to Bennie’s experience and merit, I mean, we can’t say for certain he’s “Augustine” at redstate, so Bennie’s written very little that he can lay claim to. Maybe a box turtle sex speech or something, but sorry, your examples don’t actually support your point.

    “And, really, is being chairman of the Loudoun County Republicans that big an advantage? Until the last decade, Loudoun was a rural backwater.”

    Yeah, Jimmy, play it. That’s all he’s every done. No Bush appointment, no Cornyn stretch as speech writer. Next thing you’ll be telling me is that sex with box turtles is highly overrated. Or maybe you’re talking about the Daddy? Then yeah, I agree, being in a tight relationship with Jacko Abramoff is certainly not that big an advantage ANY MORE.

    Man, you are really stepping in it these days. Face it: The hiring of this kid by WaPo ranks right up there with Team Bush installing some know-nothing at NASA. And at FEMA. And at… See a pattern? No experience, but lots of the right connections.

  11. Jeff Boatright says:

    yetanotherjohn, we already are using him as a foil. And, we’d love to engage him, but comments aren’t allowed at his WaPo gig. Funny, that. As for AH attacks, well, did you read his first WaPo essay? Pot, meet kettle.

  12. minimalist says:

    On sober reflection I’d like to apologize for my “knee-jerk” remark. It was rude and unwarranted.

    I still stand by my points regarding Domenech’s lack of competence.

    Well, okay I apologize for the Aggie crack also.

  13. McGehee says:

    But you also must ask yourself – what would the Right do if Markos Moulitas was signed on to blog for


  14. Given the current practice of cherry-picking Ben’s old posts for proof of his apparent idiocy and unfitness to blog professionally, from now on I suppose we will judge the integrity of Media Matters based on the maturity level in a handful of juvenile posts by Oliver Willis.

    Or Duncan Black, for that matter.

    P.S. If nothing else, Domenech’s debut and his very own Two Minutes’ Hate seems to be making his blog quite popular — the server is down as I post this.

    P.P.S. I rather enjoy the elitism and religious bigotry embodied in the flurry of “home schooled = idiot” posts attacking Domenech out there. It’s almost as if the left-wing blogosphere is wholly populated with the membership of the National Education Association.