THE BLOGOSPHERE'S BEEF WITH TNR. I think Marty Peretz's Friday evening post on The Plank, in which he defended TNR from its left-wing blog attackers and excoriated their grammar, actually made a lot of fair points. TNR does effectively criticize the Bush administration and congressional Republicans on any number of issues, mostly domestic. And, I might add, they often do so more effectively than some of their more left-leaning counterparts precisely because their tone is less rigidly partisan and they are willing to grapple more seriously with conservative counter-arguments. [Full disclosure: I used to work there.]
But here's the irony: Immediately below Marty's post is a prime example, courtesy of Lawrence Kaplan, of precisely what the bloggers find so maddening. And no, sorry Marty, it isn't because "TNR is a heterodox institution, a concept Kos surely cannot fathom." It's because TNR is an institution that gives space to the conservative -- not moderate -- rantings of liberal-haters and Democrat-haters like Kaplan. Here's what Kaplan said:
After listening to the Senate Minority Leader speechify about "Mr. Bush's war," anyone who didn't realize how deeply unserious the Democrats are about Iraq surely came away convinced.
This isn't simply a "heterodox" opinion for a supposedly liberal publication. Other liberal magazines allow a wide range of opinions, but those opinions all fall somewhere broadly within the liberal spectrum. TNR, on the other hand, indulges Bush crony Greg Mankiw with a non-sensical cover story in favor of social security privatization, and indulges neo-con Lawrence Kaplan (and Peretz) in contemptuous anti-left diatribes.
The analogy is perfect, in fact, in explaining why Kos et al hate TNR's favorite senator, Joe Lieberman, and don't have the same venom for Max Baucus and Ben Nelson. It's not because Lieberman is more conservative. The blogosphere is pragmatic, non-ideological, and very tolerant of moderates (see their recent embrace of Mark Warner). What they do not tolerate is the public flagellation of their party's left-wing that gives aid and comfort to the enemy.
Clarification: This post originally contained a quote from Kaplan's post which suggested that he was praising the Senate Republicans, when he was not. I apologize for the error.