Friday, March 24, 2006

You know what popped into my head as I was reading about the resignation of Ben Domenech at The Washington Post?

Paul Bremer saying, "We got him."

Remember that? The capture of Saddam? He was out of power and in hiding; he was an irrelevant relic -- but the message that went out from the Bush administration about his capture was: This is a real blow to the insurgency. Which it wasn't, of course, because the strength of the insurgency had nothing to do with whether Saddam was in custody or at large.

I'm afraid right now we're like the Bushies then, giddy because, well, we got him. We got Ben Domenech. Yes, he deserved what he got (so did Saddam) -- but how much does it matter? What effect is it really going to have?

Domenech is almost certainly going to be replaced at the Post by someone who's an ideological clone but who's been vetted more carefully. And life will go on as it has. The same people will control what they've controlled for years.

The initial anger at the hiring of Ben Domenech was for an understandable reason: the Post was responding to right-wing criticism of a mildly liberal Post blogger by "balancing" him with an out-and-out right-wing apparatchik. But eventually the concern was not about the decision to hire an apparatchik but, rather, about the (admittedly juicy) failures of judgment on the individual hired. It's now been conclusively demonstrated that Ben Domenech should not have been hired. What's been lost is the principle that an apparachik should not have been hired.

And is it really so important? Bloggers at the Post have limited influence on the discourse; I'm sure most of America doesn't even know that the Post has a stable of bloggers. I think there's been a loss of perspective -- Ben Domenech became just about the only topic on many left-wing blogs this week because he was one of us, a blogger. Are we developing a bit of tunnel vision? Is it good that we sometimes seem to be sniping at other bloggers more than at Cabinet members or senators?

Why are we doing this? Is the point to keep up a running conversation about the state of the country? Or is it all about which side's bloggers are better?

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