Getting it From Both Sides

flat-possumI alternate between being amused and depressed when reading comments on blogs.

Of late, I’m simultaneously being lambasted by conservatives who’ve read me for years and can’t believe what an apologist I’ve become for Obama and denounced by liberals who used to respect me as fairminded and can’t believe what a stooge for the GOP that I’ve become.

Sigh.

I’m not sure whether this is proof of the old adage that being middle-of-the-road gets you run over from both sides or a function of being situationally radical.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    I haven’t dinged you too much lately, other than for relatively small ‘point of facts.’ That might be a sign that you aren’t too far from “my” middle.

  2. Hoodlumman says:

    James, why don’t you go and cry your tears into your Obama coffee mug!!

    😉

  3. James Joyner says:

    Heh. Well, I do have a “Foreign Affairs” coffee mug (actually, two of them from about 15 years apart). That could be interpreted as a subtle homage to Obama’s lineage, I suppose.

  4. At least you haven’t been called a nihilist… yet.

  5. M1EK says:

    Or it could just be false equivalence, as is often the game played by Republicans who want to appear moderate to the real centrists.

  6. Furhead says:

    Just keep calling ’em as you see ’em, please.

  7. Mark says:

    James – I just took a cursory look over what you’ve written in the past week or so, and it’s not surprising that you’re drawing flak from reasonable Democrats. You went through some impressive gymnastics to defend Wilson, white-washed the very real race-discrimination that Karl Rove pushed to win by a thin margin in Ohio, and then found a way to attack Obama’s speech to kids.

    You’re splitting the difference between rational and insane behavior, drawing a false moral equivalence between the two and then complaining that both insane and rational people are mad at you. Sometimes “centrism” is being moderate, and sometimes it’s just being too cowardly to take a real opinion.

    You do not appear to be any more of a “moderate” than someone like Susan Collins, who votes with the President but arbitrarily demands that something be removed from his legislation – not because it makes policy sense but because she needs something to score fiscal conservative points with.

  8. C.Red says:

    As a a fairly long term reader, though I very seldom post comments (how do some people have time to comment as much as they do?) I don’t see that you have changed that much over the last few years.

    You seem to be an actual Conservative, as opposed to a Reactionary, which is what at least seventy percent of the current Republican party is.

    I don’t think that you currently have an actual party at this time. Maybe the Republican Party will come back to their senses and move back towards actual conservative values sometime soon, maybe not.

  9. James Joyner says:

    You went through some impressive gymnastics to defend Wilson, white-washed the very real race-discrimination that Karl Rove pushed to win by a thin margin in Ohio, and then found a way to attack Obama’s speech to kids.

    I actually

    – Said Wilson’s action was inappropriate but that Obama was in fact poisoning the well.
    -Pointed to the “Stolen Election” meme as very non-fringe in the Democratic Party, which you seem to add a data point to.
    – Defended Obama’s speech to kids and made fun of conservatives who demonized it.

    Sometimes “centrism” is being moderate, and sometimes it’s just being too cowardly to take a real opinion.

    You do not appear to be any more of a “moderate” than someone like Susan Collins. . . .

    I don’t claim to be either a centrist or an ideological moderate. I’m a libertarian-leaning conservative. I only strive for moderation in tone and fairness of analysis.

  10. Drew says:

    I’d like to echo Furhead.

    For example, I’ve been no shrinking violet in going after Alex here when I think he’s full of it, which is often. But he also (IMHO) writes some very good stuff. And I acknowledge that.

    Similarly, I’ve had go-rounds with DS over at GE, especially on health care, but by and large find his positions and writing stimulating and persuasive.

    I guess the point is this. You’ve got to call it like you see it. Period. Philosophical pigeon-holing is for the birds. (Nice, eh?) And playing go-along-get-along is for weak minds. You will always be in conflict with someone. There is rarely perfect alignment of philosophy. One can only hope that the inherent conflict and tension of the debate results in at least marginal advancement of people’s personal deliberations.

    At the end of the day you can only put forth your best intellectual/data informed/heartfelt/honest positions and let the chips of the debate fall.

    Good luck, you are on a national stage.

  11. Steve Plunk says:

    By hosting and posting you putting yourself out there for unfounded criticism. Sometimes it’s minor disagreements and sometimes more substantial disagreements. If that depression you speak of comes from comments attacking your views don’t let it worry you. The way to judge success is how many people read what you have to say in the first place. Getting your opinion out is what it’s all about isn’t it?

    It’s become very common for those with opposing ideas to label people as stooges or that they are relying on talking points or perhaps they are just less intelligent. None of those apply in your case and you know it. Let those accusations run off like water off a ducks back.

    I appreciate what you all do here and look forward to visiting every day.

  12. peterh says:

    I’m tempted to say that your traditional base has devolved from obtuse to batshit crazy or that you’re just slowly evolving in a John Cole fashion……but after giving it some thought and how long I’ve been reading your site, I’ve concluded that your base has always been batshit crazy and we libs don’t feel you’re evolving fast enough…..enjoy the gauntlet….:-)

  13. Our Paul says:

    Take comfort in the obvious: the quality of your correspondents. With an occasional notable exception, they are willing to engage with you, and others. They substantiate their points with pertinent links, and will at times argue passionately but rarely hurl garbage at each other. Their writing is crisp, and to the point (with one notable exception whose identity I would be ashamed to reveal).

    You do not attract quality readership without being provocative. And, you cannot be provocative without attracting criticism. The two go hand in hand. Take comfort in what my pappy used to say: “the last guy that was perfect got himself crucified for his troubles…”

    My suggestion: quick week end trip to Montréal for you and your wife to cure your ennui. Feast on some sweet breads which you disdained in the past, and catch the fall colors. Your batteries do have a tendency to run down with a new kid, and two working parents.

    Psst: Always use the accented form a city in Canada. The Québecois get cheacky about that…

  14. Marty says:

    I’m a recent follower of your writing; I’ve been searching for other points of view that are thought-provoking & intelligent. I don’t want to only read those posts (and posters) that I agree with. As novelist GK Chesterson said – “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong”, so I’m striving to do more listening outside the echo chamber.

    That being said, I only tend to chime in when something I read goes beyond the bounds of logic – like intimating that Mr. Obama is ‘poisoning the ell’ when in fact, he’s merely pointing out the demonstrable falseness in recent documented attacks by individuals in the opposition.

    I, too, tire of some of the strange rhetoric that shows up in comments on this or other blogs – I’m still not sure if commenter ‘Triumph’ is serious or satire.

    At any rate, I find both you Alex here largely engaging thoughtful, and I’ll thoroughly enjoy my time here as long as you are.

  15. odograph says:

    James, with respect to Marks comments, and my points of fact: I would say that I have noticed you looking for the conservative angle … something a true centrist probably would not do. Some even looked like an obvious stretch.

    (I’m not going to go back and look up what “Obama was in fact poisoning the well” was about … day after commentary pretty much has it as an Obama win. That this would be spun by self-identified conservatives is unsurprising.)

  16. Mark says:

    Said Wilson’s action was inappropriate but that Obama was in fact poisoning the well.

    I disagree, and I think that you’re drawing a false equivalence between Obama’s words and those of politicians “whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost.” In fact, you’ve claimed Obama’s words are worse than the actions of those who would disingenuous rob most Americans of the gains of health care reform to score personal political gain. These two sides are not equivalent, and anyone who has honestly examined our “health care system” would not believe them to be so.

    Pointed to the “Stolen Election” meme as very non-fringe in the Democratic Party, which you seem to add a data point to.

    Again, you’re defending Karl Rove, perhaps the cruelest and most cynical political operative of our lifetimes, while dismissing even the mere existence of vote suppression in poor and minority communities in the United States as a fringe opinion.

    I don’t claim to be either a centrist or an ideological moderate. I’m a libertarian-leaning conservative. I only strive for moderation in tone and fairness of analysis.

    I don’t think you can claim to have achieved fairness of analysis. In a few sentences, you’ve defended men who disingenuously engage in race- and gay-baiting for political gain and simultaneously support tax giveaways to the rich while opposing reforms (of any kind) to improve access to health care for the bulk of the country. Why would you be surprised that most Democrats are critical of you?

  17. J.W. Hamner says:

    James Joyner:

    If it means anything, I do apologize for my comment in the “liar” thread, since I misread what you wrote… though the proper reading doesn’t make me agree with you any more than before… the fact that I was wrongly reading your comment, at the same time as being over the top snarky, kind of a double whammies of the benefits of civil and reasoned discourse. I probably did get extra miffed because I’m used to feeling your critiques are reasonable even when I don’t agree.

    Though it’s a little weird that that realization came in a comment thread about the semantic justification of somebody shouting “You lie”

  18. James:

    I see you as a genuine conservative and not a dick. That’s right: a dickless conservative.

    Wait, that didn’t come out right.

  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    Your a good dude James, heck you tolerance is epic, and your devotion to treat even idiots like me fairly is a “site” to behold.

    But wasup with the best song contest, Did I ruin it? Did I miss it?

  20. reid says:

    – Said Wilson’s action was inappropriate but that Obama was in fact poisoning the well.

    This is exactly the sort of thing that a hack, team-before-country pundit or blogger would write. How dare Obama defend his policies against a month-long stream of distortions and lies from mainstream conservatives! Really, where is his sense of decency! Ignore the huge failings in your guys and find any angle, no matter how slim, to attack the other guy.

    You do have fans sticking up for your integrity here, so I’ll probably keep coming back… sorry!

  21. Joe R. says:

    In fact, you’ve claimed Obama’s words are worse than the actions of those who would disingenuous rob most Americans of the gains of health care reform to score personal political gain.

    Wow, you really have to stretch logic and terminology to get the word “rob” into a sentence like that.

  22. James Joyner says:

    But wasup with the best song contest, Did I ruin it? Did I miss it?

    Sorry, it just died on the vine. There really weren’t any of the nominated songs that I particularly liked so it was hard to motivate myself to rank them. I probably should have started the contest from, say, 1962 and worked up.

  23. Furhead says:

    I, too, tire of some of the strange rhetoric that shows up in comments on this or other blogs – I’m still not sure if commenter ‘Triumph’ is serious or satire.

    He (I assume, based on his taste in avatars) does some of both. I would call many of his posts ‘trolls’, and he did catch me in the early days. At this point, though, I rather enjoy some of his absurdities.

  24. Michael says:

    Your problem, James, is that while you are a moderate, you’re not a centrist, you’re libertarian.

    As such, you agree with Obama on nearly all the topics you disagreed with Bush about. Conversely, you agree with the Republican party on nearly all of the topics you disagreed with the Democrats about.

    The difference, with the change in Presidency, is that your fiscal views are now brought to the attention of liberal minded readers, and your social views are now brought to the mind of conservative minded readers. During the Bush administration, it was the opposite.

  25. James Joyner says:

    Your problem, James, is that while you are a moderate, you’re not a centrist, you’re libertarian.

    As such, you agree with Obama on nearly all the topics you disagreed with Bush about. Conversely, you agree with the Republican party on nearly all of the topics you disagreed with the Democrats about.

    The difference, with the change in Presidency, is that your fiscal views are now brought to the attention of liberal minded readers, and your social views are now brought to the mind of conservative minded readers. During the Bush administration, it was the opposite.

    That’s pretty much it, I think. Additionally, in the early years of this blog, “friend” and “foe” were defined almost exclusively based on one’s view of the Iraq War.

  26. odograph says:

    That’s pretty much it, I think. Additionally, in the early years of this blog, “friend” and “foe” were defined almost exclusively based on one’s view of the Iraq War.

    Heh, and climate change.

  27. sam says:

    You’re nothing but a fair-minded, reasonable stooge. And the sooner you cop to it, the better for all of us.

  28. dutchmarbel says:

    You’re actually the only conservative I still regularly read (well, apart from lt Nixon, but he is entertainingly provocative).

    I don’t think your POV has shifted that much, you always strike me as a ‘common sense conservative’. Even when I disagree with you (usually 😉 ) I still can see how you can come to your conclusion. I think the people explaining that you are leaning too much in the Libertarian direction have the proper explanation.

    I do feel that the US has become more polarized. Even more polarized I should say, because for me, coming from a compromise oriented country, the States always had a problem with the ‘give and take’ that oils society in my piece of the globe. I frankly read less and less American blogs these days. But I still follow OTB and think the discussions in the comments have much improved over the years 😉