Dispatches > The Buzz

Blogwatch

Issue: "Earthquake in Bam," Jan. 10, 2004

Gloom-and-doom Democrats

Many in the blogosphere are beginning the new year with the assumption that all the Democratic candidates for president are doomed, and that means the task of pundits is to fix upon the exact source of Democratic woes. Some look at the failure of Democrats to connect with most Christian voters: James Taranto (opinionjournal.com/best) doesn't think much of Howard Dean's attempts to communicate with Christian voters by saying that Christ "sought out people who were disenfranchised, people who were left behind. He fought against self-righteousness of people who had everything.... He was a person who set an extraordinary example that has lasted 2,000 years, which is pretty inspiring when you think about it."

Mr. Taranto notes an important omission: "Do you notice something missing from Dean's description of Jesus? Well, does he use the phrase 'Son of God'? Nope. 'Messiah'? Ixnay. 'The Way, the Truth and the Light'? None of the above. To hear Howard Dean tell it, Jesus Christ was just a socially conscious celebrity, like Princess Diana only less glamorous."

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The New Republic, in good neoliberal form, has a blog devoted solely to attacking Howard Dean. The first post of Jonathan Chait's Diary-of-a-Deanophobe blog (tnr.com/deanophobe.mhtml) labeled Dr. Dean "arrogant and frequently dishonest ... his nomination would lead to a political disaster." Mr. Chait then argued that "Dean and his hard-core supporters ... give the impression that they know nothing at all of why President Bush is successful, and therefore what it takes to beat him. Read the pro-Dean blogs, and you come away with the view that Bush is strong because he's ruthless and has lots of money, and therefore if the Democrats are also ruthless and raise lots of money, they can beat him.... They can't fathom why those things might hurt Dean in a general election because they don't ever talk to or read anybody who thinks differently."

Steven Den Beste (denbeste.nu) argues that Democrats are failing to connect with one specific minority: "white men. Making up just shy of 40% of the voters, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that more white men overall will vote Republican than Democratic. Generally speaking, it's not really so much a question of whether the Democrats can get a majority of White Male votes as of how big the Republican margin will be.... If the margin among White Males is too large, however, then the Democrats will lose." Mr. Den Beste's ultimate prediction: "It's becoming increasingly hard to avoid the conclusion that unless something extraordinary and unexpected happens between now and then, the Democrats are inevitably going to crash and burn most spectacularly next year."

Quick's takes

Bloggers often refer to the blogging world as a democracy, a way to help ordinary folks beat big media elitism. Bill Quick (dailypundit.com), the man who coined the term blogosphere, has long been a supporter of this view and has gone so far as to provide inline comments on his blog, allowing any commenter to post his take on the blog's main page, right after Mr. Quick's own analysis. His next step will be to "make it possible for those of you who have photo-phones or similar thingamabobs to post your pictures and commentary instantly to Daily Pundit." But he adds, "You'll have to get instructions and a password from me in order to be able to post directly to Daily Pundit. Sad to say, certain known space-wasters won't be able to get one. They'll have to confine themselves to the comments, like everybody else."

World's blog (worldmagblog.com) encourages comments; we make eight to 10 posts per day, Monday through Saturday, and readers respond with their own views day and night.

Quake-proofing Iran

Josh Chavetz of Oxblog (oxblog.blogspot.com) hit upon an important factor leading to the massive death toll of the Iranian earthquake: "The level of devastation caused by something like shifting plates isn't random. Partly, it's a factor of things like where the quake hit in relation to populated areas. But a lot of it also has to do with building materials and building codes." Mr. Chavetz provided the contrasting stats between the Iranian earthquake and the very similar Los Angeles Northridge earthquake of 1994, which only killed 60, and noted: "Earthquakes are natural and random and meaningless. But the devastation is not-it's a factor of poverty and poor political management.... In the long term, we can help the people of Iran to live under a more responsive government, and we can help them build a 21st-century economy-the kind of economy that produces enough wealth to allow them to build safer buildings."

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