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Jul. 30 2010 — 7:04 pm | 92 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

To Lose Sight of the Shore

French author and Nobel Prize winner Andr√© Gide once famously said, “one does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time”.

I came across that quote approximately seven months ago and it settled into my chest like a branding iron… or a sleeping cat. Either way, it was hard to breathe.

I spent a lot of time wondering how often I’d set sail for new destinations and how often I’d splashed along the shoreline, pretending that I’d set sail. I spent a lot of time looking at previous posts I’d written in various venues and came to hate all but a few, for which I reserved a special kind of loathing only writers and Catholics know about. And I spent a lot of time asking myself just what the hell I thought I was doing.

At the end of that period of time, I resolved to be a less shitty writer/blogger and set out in search of this fish we call: talent. And in order to do that, I argued, I was in need of new beginnings.

Coates Bateman and True/Slant offered one such beginning. They gave me a home and some pay and more than a little encouragement. In the stark wilderness that is the Internet, a smart wayfarer does well not to dismiss the discovery of an outpost like True/Slant. You only find so many rivers in the course of your travels, you know?

Many of the outgoing contributors to this site have asked what True/Slant’s legacy will be or for what it will be remembered or what the lessons we ought to take from its near year and a half life are. I don’t know the answers to those questions. Any website that involves more than two hundred people is bound to be sort of like an electron: it depends how and when you look at it.

But the highest common denominator is what I personally think the legacy/remembrance/lesson that is/was True/Slant should be.

The explicit idea behind this site was that if you engage quality writers, give them some space, and let them do their thing, they will generate quality content. The bet that Lewis Dvorkin, Coates Bateman, Michael Roston and the rest of the True/Slant team made was that people would respond to that quality.

They were right.

Left to our own devices, we — all of us — tended towards the highest common denominator, not the lowest. In a sea of free pornography and moronic You Tube comments, that fact is a subtle miracle all its own. It is a real and tangible reason to hold out a thumbnail of hope. And it repudiates much of what we hear and are told about ourselves on an almost continual basis.

That is ultimately what I will take away from my short experience at True/Slant. That new lands are possible, but it takes work. When you set sail, you have to mean it. And when you lose sight of the shore, you’ve only really just started.

So, if after today you want to find me, you’ll know where to look. I’m right beside you, still trying to work up the courage to set sail.

Cheers,
Scott



Jul. 30 2010 — 3:20 pm | 48 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Weiner’s rant and the Democratic base

Greg Sargent says the following about Weiner’s rant,

To be clear, I’m all for the kind of passion Weiner is showing here, but let’s direct it properly. Don’t get into a shouting match about procedure. As emotionally satisfying as it may be to watch, raging against the GOP opposition machine’s successful efforts to tie Dems in knots just makes Dems look whiny, weak and impotent.

And in a follow up, Sargent goes on to say,

All I’m saying is that raging against successful Republican efforts to block individual Dem initiatives isn’t enough. Raging about GOP obstructionism in general isn’t enough, either. The point is that Dems need to build an effective larger case that transcends individual issues and reckons more directly with the strategy underlying all the GOP obstructionism.

I think Greg is operating with too blunt a scalpel, here. I understand his point, but I think that ultimately he misses the point of Weiner’s rant, which, I’ll add, didn’t not strike me as even remotely, “weak”, “whiny”, or “impotent”.

By my lights, Harry Reid is engaged in exactly the kind of strategy that Greg is looking for. Calmly and carefully, Reid is bringing a variety of bills to the floor and either chalking up a Democratic win or building a substantial case for Republican obstructionism. It’s a subtle, long-play game and, as mentioned previously, I think Reid is rolling it out just about perfectly.

Some might offer that this reflects more on Senate Republicans than House Republicans, but I honestly don’t think that fine a distinction is going to matter a great deal to the average voter. The point here is to build a case about, as Greg notes, the underlying Republican strategy. What are the members responsible for in regards to their Party.

But, turning Greg’s argument on its head, that type of strategy isn’t enough. It is, as they say, necessary, but not sufficient. As Gallup has hastened to point out with each of their generic ballots that have shown Democrats in the lead, there remains a substantial enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters. In short, Democrats have a deflated base that needs to get riled up and find a reason to get out to those polls and vote.

Harry Reid’s cool and calm strategy isn’t going to work in this regard. And while fear of losing the House and the Senate might generate some momentum, voters need more positive reasons to be motivated at the polls and, perhaps more importantly, in campaign offices. This is where Weiner’s rant becomes useful.

Weiner picked an issue he feels strongly about and in which it is hard to find fault: providing medical care for those rescue workers affected by 9-11. It doesn’t get much more altruistic than that in America these days. And Weiner’s point is not so much to argue about procedure, which puts voters to sleep, but rather to reassert the case that Democrats are on the right side of history here. That Democrats are the good guys.

There has been so much conceding and strong rhetoric followed by tepid incrementalism that I think a lot of the Democratic base has started to question just to what extent they are the good guys. And progressives’ full court press, as much as I’ve participated in and agree with it, doesn’t help with that doubt.

What Weiner is as much as saying here is, “We’re the good guys! You’re the bad guys!” And that, frankly, is what rank and file Democrats need to hear leading up to the midterms.

Case in point: check out the reaction that the rant got from Balloon Juice commenters. I know that “respectable” Democrats don’t want to believe that their base contains a considerable number of people who are precisely like the BJ “hooligans”. But those respectable types would be, you know, wrong.



Jul. 30 2010 — 2:27 pm | 464 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

‘You vote in favor of something if you believe it’s the right thing!’

Is it me, or have Democrats suddenly found their footing against Republicans? Politics is not inherently about righteous indignation, but a little righteous indignation on an appropriate issue never hurt politics. New DCCC t-shirt idea: What would Anthony Weiner do?



Jul. 30 2010 — 2:09 pm | 54 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Welcome to the Bitter Enders Club

No dogs allowed

Image via Wikipedia

It seems that Erik Kain and I have unofficially agreed to create the eleventh hour Bitter Enders Club of True/Slant.

Expect no weepy goodbye post from this corner of the Intertrons, at least for the next few hours. If there is decent political news on which to write over the course of the afternoon, then dammit — we’re going to write about it.

The minutia of political reporting stops for no man… or woman… or website… or dogs, we don’t stop for dogs, either.



Jul. 30 2010 — 1:28 pm | 39 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Reid not cowed by GOP tactics

It seems that GOP obstructionism is having the opposite of its intended effect on Harry Reid. Reid is lining up more jobs related votes to test Republican resolve on its block-block-block strategy,

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will force Republicans to vote next week on a $26.1 billion package of education funding and Medicaid assistance to states.

It will be a tough vote for centrist Republicans because the provisions are popular with Democratic and Republican governors and would not add to the deficit.

I have to say that this really is a brilliant little strategy if it is in fact what Democrats are doing (and that seems to be more and more likely to be the case). Fighting Republicans with their own fire is what a lot of Democrats and liberals have been wanting to do for some time. But the added bonus of this particular application is that it really does take the high road, even as it locks Republicans into a double bind.

I’m not 100% convinced it will save Democrats from big losses in November, but I’m not entirely sure what else they could be expected to do.¬† Regardless, it will be interesting to see how these series of showdowns play out.


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    About Me

    I'm a Canadian blogger who spends far too much time reading and writing about US politics. I've been involved in various forms of political organizing for the past decade, some of which has earned me recognition and other of which has earned me the title of "no good punk".

    I also blog at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the Commons, Beams and Struts, and The Washington Examiner's Opinion Zone.

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    Contributor Since: March 2010
    Location:Calgary, Alberta