I know what you're thinking: "How can I miss Steve when he won't go away?" But I see that I'm not the only lefty who's announced a withdrawal from the fray this week -- John Emerson of Seeing the Forest is going on hiatus.
Besides delayed shock at the results of the '04 election, he's feeling some of what I've been feeling:
At the beginning of my blogging career I was happy just to vent, but over the last year or so I've tried to figure out a way to make something of my political writing. That really hasn't happened -- I still seem to be speaking to the same small audience of people who basically already agree with me, without really getting my message out the generic Democrats or the big-time bloggers -- much less the party leadership.
He goes on to say this:
The media is hopeless, and we need something completely new -- a new national newspaper, new national TV and cable networks, and a new national radio network. Radio is only halfway there, and the others don't exist at all. It would all cost about half a billion, and while people tell me that the money is out there, I don't see much happening.
Right now there is no career track for openly liberal, openly Democratic media people. You can sit back and watch all of them fudging, refusing to burn bridges, and primping their moderation cred -- hoping for that invitation to go on TV, or maybe even to write for the Times eventually, like the liberal Kristoff.
I might also mention that there's a considerable pool of talented bloggers out here who've been self-financing all along while the dud consultants have been pulling down six-figure incomes for losing over and over again. After awhile, that kind of thing gets old, and I know of at least two well-respected bloggers who are just plain flat broke. Republican bloggers seem to get support, although they don't necessarily tell anyone about it.
I don't know about financial support, but Republicans on the Internet sure get political support. On the right, it sometimes seems that anyone can break big-time: You can be a ham-fisted clown like ScrappleFace, pop the phrase "axis of weasels" into your silly blog, and see it rocket around the world, straight up into the mainstream, within days; you can be a non-blogging chat-room dabbler like Buckhead and the Internet Right will take your brief comment about document fonts and use it to turn CBS upside down (and neutralize an otherwise important and accurate story).
The Right will take anything it thinks it can use from anywhere on the Internet and stovepipe it this way; "axis of weasels" went mainstream via James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" in The Wall Street Journal; the route for the CBS story was from Buckhead to two right-wing blogs to ABC via the Drudge Report.
Taranto, Drudge -- we have nothing similar, no truly effective inside-yet-outside conduit to the news mainstream. I'm not sure if the problem is that our advocates aren't as good (or as well funded) or that they don't "work the refs" enough or that ABC and CNN and The New York Times have highly developed cases of Stockholm Syndrome and will eagerly seize on an "underground" story that's embarrassing to liberals while turning up their noses at something similar from our side.
I don't have answers, but I think John's on to something.