THE NEW NEW LEFT? After reading two rather similar complaints from Richard Cohen and Jon Chait about, in essence, people on the internet being mean to them, it occurs to me that it might be worth pointing out that blogosphere luminaries like Duncan Black and Markos Moulitsas don't actually resemble their online personae Atrios and Kos all that greatly. For Duncan you'll sort of just have to take my word (or that of others who've met him, I doubt you'll see much disagreement on this). For Markos, one can clearly see that when he decided he wanted to write a calm, analytical book, he came up with a calm, analytical book.

All of which is by way of saying that one shouldn't infer from the fact that a certain strain of internet commentary has a very different writing style from traditional punditry that the root cause of this phenomenon is a drastic characterological difference between the writers. The other thing is that the comparisons between the stridency and vulgarity of some blog prose and New Left radicalism seem badly strained. A much more obvious analogy is to the dominant rhetorical approach on conservative talk radio, except without the FCC keeping an ear out for dirty language. It's just not that big a deal. The main difference, I guess, is that center-left pundits probably don't listen to talk radio and do spend time reading what gets written about them on the internet.

What is a big deal, as Kevin Drum notes, is the Iraq War. There's a big disagreement about that, and that's fine. It's an important issue. But there isn't some broader radical agenda out there.

--Matthew Yglesias

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