Outraged or Just on the Other Side?

Jules Crittenden is shocked that lefty firebrands Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald have continued ranting and raving about injustice now that their guy is in charge over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

One possible explanation for this is that, rather than having simply been partisan hacks fomenting faux outrage at the Bush Administration, they’re intellectually honest ideologues who are genuinely motivated by principle and actually outraged when their government violates said principles.

Having come of political age during the dying days of the Carter administration and then twelve years of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, I was a strong believer in the existence of Liberal Media Bias.  Then came the Clinton administration.  Suddenly, those liberal pinkoes in the press, like Sam Donaldson, were giving Clinton a hard time.   After a few years of that, I had to conclude that maybe — just maybe — most of the elite press were actually trying to hold politician’s feet to the fire rather than simply carrying water for the Democrats.

To be sure, I still think the elite media outlets are overwhelmingly comprised of liberals with sympathies for the Democratic Party and that they bring certain biases to the table and filter the news accordingly.  But that’s a different thing than being overt hacks.

Similarly, the blogosphere came of age during the George W. Bush years.  The medium as we know it started gaining steam after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and really took off during the early days of the Iraq War from 2003-2004.

We naturally judge the more heated partisans of the other side poorly, presuming that they’re either venal or crazy.   The more animated blogs were easily dismissed as either suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome or as Rovian Robots carrying out marching orders from BushCo.

Probably, that was true in many instances.  But we’ll see over the next few months and years which bloggers are intellectually honest.  Are they praising Obama, or at least excusing him, for conduct that they thought Bush should have gone to jail for engaging in?   Alternatively, are they excoriating Obama for things they praised or excused Bush for?   We’ll soon see.

Photo by Flickr user cdresz under Creative Commons license.

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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. sam says:

    You’ve got a lot of nerve, pal, being reasonable and measured all that kinda thing. Sometimes I wonder why I read this blog what with its balance and stuff.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    George W. Bush’s administration was the first that operated in the environment of extraordinary scrutiny, rational, irrational, or incomprehensible, that the blogosphere provides. For good or ill I think it limited the administration’s freedom of movement in important ways just as it will the new Obama administration which is the first to come into power in such an environment.

    I’m not at all surprised that some in the Left Blogosphere are outraged at some decisions of the Obama Administration. What surprises me is that anyone might have believed that the Obama Administration (or any other capable of winning the White House) would have done otherwise.

  3. James,

    I loved your possible explanation. Literally LOL’d.

    No, not sarcastically, not thinking you’re a fool. But rather agreeing with you 100%.

    What an unfathomable shocker — folks on the other side might hold their views with some degree of intellectual honesty.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Anderson says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve been opposed to torture, denial of due process, and illegal surveillance, not just to Republican torture, denial of due process, and illegal surveillance. (I am even against torture, denial of due proces, and illegal surveillance of Republicans.)

    Obama’s been a pretty huge disappointment thus far, and while I accept that he’s got a couple other things on his mind, there’s no excuse (for instance) for DOJ to be adopting some of its predecessors’ legal arguments.

  5. Anderson says:

    Btw, JJ, “outage” is not a verb as your post title would have it; if it were, I think it would mean growing older than someone else? “Living past the age of 33, I’ve outaged both Alexander the Great and Jesus of Nazareth.”

  6. Perhaps Jules is simply too locked in on the partisanship/politics as sports way of looking at the world that he is missing the point that it isn’t always about which side “score.”

    On the bias issue, I have been bemused by some who are claiming late night talk show bias because there were so many jokes about Bush and far less about Obama. Clearly they have forgotten the joke-writing bonanza that was Bill Clinton and the merciless skewerings he took nightly.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Btw, JJ, “outage” is not a verb as your post title would have it; if it were, I think it would mean growing older than someone else?

    Sounds right to me.

  8. Thomas Jackson says:

    Who can ever forget those days of Donaldson ranting and raving about the incompetence of the Carter regime? Apparently you have sir, Donaldson’s treatment of Carter bears not the slightest resemblance to his jihad against Republicans nor his constant hectoring of conservatives.

    What next? A fond homage to Michael Moore’s savaging of Slick Willie?

  9. Clovis says:

    Weeeeeeell,

    Mostly, I can agree with the good Doctor’s point; but only mostly. Some of us recall folks (or folkettes) like Steinem and the NOW crowd completely and shamelessly doing a volte-face on the very things they railed so strongly against. Oh, it’s okay because it’s (swoon) Clinton, so what we were saying before … is still true for everyone but him.

    It was so damn blatant. As were the media blinkers in this past interminable campaign.

    Skepticism was, and is, warranted; and of course (as you note) time will tell. Please forgive me, though, if I do not let current intellectual honesty blind me to past perfidy.

  10. Brett says:

    I don’t know how anyone could look at Glenn Greenwald’s blog and conclude he’s a partisan hack. The man has been incredibly critical of the Democratic Party and the media in general (the media that James is criticizing for being liberal).

  11. tom p says:

    Probably, that was true in many instances. But we’ll see over the next few months and years which bloggers are intellectually honest. Are they praising Obama, or at least excusing him, for conduct that they thought Bush should have gone to jail for engaging in? Alternatively, are they excoriating Obama for things they praised or excused Bush for? We’ll soon see.

    Count me as guilty as charged. The issues that Glen G is so upset about are among those I considered to be the “Rubicon” (among those things I could not accept) Unfortunately tho, I am not a constitutional law professor, nor do I have access to the “top secret, super secret, classified” material.

    Ergo: I am going to give Obama a break… for a year or so (if they can’t straighten out Bush’s mess by then, we need somebody else). But even I have a limit… And it is people being held indefinitely with out charge, on one man’s say so…

    That is just plain wrong (“un-american” if you like)

  12. Khornet says:

    Heh. Lessseee….conservatives were criticizing Bush from the get-go for big-gov’t excesses: we railed aginst his steel tariffs. We railed aginst his lax immigration policies. We condemned the Medicare drug benefit. We opposed Harriet Meyers. We supported the war, but criticized its execution. We also condemned McCain for McCain-Feingold, among other things. Seems to me that the right has practiced principled criticism all along. Seems to me the left refused to see what we were saying about Obama, and now they’re all surprised.