True Blue (Or Red) Bloggers

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 9, 2006; 8:09 AM

I had thought the Republicans would line up behind Gen. Michael Hayden as the new CIA chief, given his experience in the intel area.

Boy, that was really 2005 thinking. I guess a president at Bush's level of popularity can't take anything for granted.

But I want to talk this morning about the political role played by bloggers. The most interesting online pundits, to me, are those who are independent enough to occasionally criticize their own side, rather than shill for one party or a particular point of view. But there is no question that bloggers are growing as a political force, particularly on the Democratic side.

Now, some bloggers themselves are posing the question: Should they be cheerleaders for a party if they want that party to gain (or hold onto) power? Or is that an intellectually dishonest betrayal of the ethos of blogging?

Americablog's John Aravosis tackles the issue head-on:

"Some friends on the Hill recently asked me if the liberal blogs could lay off their attacks on Democratic members of Congress until after the election. The idea being that we need to keep promoting a public image of Dems good/Republicans bad, and that any criticism of Dems hurts our image and only helps detract attention from the Republicans' increasing number of failings. It's an interesting question. Is it time to sit back and shut up and hold our tongue?

"I think at some point we can hurt ourselves by helping create a public perception that our party has no message and is spineless. Then again, it's not like they need much help creating that perception - chicken and egg. And the larger question is whether the party will ever change if we don't publicly hold it accountable. Do we really want the same folks doing the same things (not holding Bush accountable, voting for every war resolution they can get their hands on) once they become the majority in Congress?

"It's very difficult to take a six-month hiatus in offering criticism that is intended to change the party for the better, lest the party get worse or at least stagnate at mediocre."

On the other side of the spectrum, Captain Ed grapples with the same dilemma:

"Some Democrats have promised to start impeachment proceedings if they capture the House in November, raising the ante for conservatives who may not care much for Bush but are unwilling to play enablers for Bush Derangement Syndrome sufferers.

"So what are conservatives to do?

"This delves into the question of priorities for conservatives. Does it make sense to tone down their frustration with GOP leadership (especially on spending and immigration) in order to retain at least some influence on the legislative process? Even more basic, does criticism and threats of Election-Day boycotts hurt the GOP or force it to improve? Even if it hurts, does it make a difference in the long run?

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