Monday, April 05, 2004

I have been pondering the tempest in a piss bucket that is the furor over Kos' "Screw 'em!" comment.

To play catch-up: Kos, in a comments thread to someone else's post on his site, expressed little sympathy for the mercenaries -- and I don't care what the Geneva Convention says, they were mercenaries -- killed at Fallujah. Inspired by Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds the right-wing bloggers howled for blood, calling for advertiser boycotts of Daily Kos and delinkings.

John Kerry's blog complied.

First off: Reynolds is a disingenuous hack. He denies that he led the campaign against Kos, but contrast his mischaracterization of the comment ("gloating", "America-hatred") with what Kos actually said. He preached to the choir, and touched off exactly the shitstorm he was hoping to create.

Second: the Kerry blog people should know better. Big Left Al called this Kerry's "Sister Souljah" moment, but I have to disagree. In 1992 everyone knew who Public Enemy was. In 2004, if you aren't a blogger you don't know Kos from Costco. Big Media doesn't want to acknowledge that blogs have any impact at all, much less do things that invite comment or action from presidential candidates. This isn't a story that's going to catch fire. No one outside the blogosphere is going to pay any attention at all. All Kerry's blog people have done is piss off, and alienate, a group that has done nothing but push his candidacy and help fill his coffers.

In fact Atrios has already struck back:

People can advertise with or not, and link to or not, any blog they want. But, if we haven't grown up enough to realize that one stupid retracted comment posted by a blogger in the comments section of someone else's diary post on that blog deserves absolutely no official written response by a campaign - no matter how offensive it is - then I don't think we're grown up enough yet to have blog/campaign complementarity. The Kerry campaign is now operating on the standard that they are responsible for the comments made by any blogger they link to, and in fact will allow themselves to be forced into commenting on any transgressions. They're trying to get their guy elected, and they're going to do what they think is necessary (I'll let others judge the wisdom), but it shows they're not ready to really have a blog and interact with the rest of the blog world. They should just pull down all their links.

Third: Kos was right.

Look at what Kos actually said, between his original comment and subsequent explanation. Aside from the emotional reaction brought on by his personal history (grew up in a warzone, served in Bush 41's Gulf War), here were his main points:

- he was upset that the deaths of mercenaries were getting more play than the deaths of actual soldiers
- he was upset that mercenaries are being used in Iraq at all
- "Nobody deserves to die. But in the greater scheme of things, there are a lot of greater tragedies going on in Iraq (51 last month, plus countless civilians and Iraqi police). That those tragedies are essentially ignored these days is, ultimately, the greatest tragedy of all."

As above, so below. The right-wing bloggers target the messenger because they have no rebuttal for the message. Sound familiar?

The worst lie George W. Bush ever told: "I'm a uniter, not a divider." Under his watch he has turned America into a nation of Hatfields, McCoys and horrified bystanders. In fact, from this moment on I am retiring "Pub" and "Dem" in favor of "Hatfield" and "McCoy". I will not be consistent in which is which, because it doesn't matter. You'll simply have to deduce which party I'm talking about through context.

Despite their rhetoric the president's team acts as though no battle is as important as the one for the White House.

They are horribly, horribly wrong.

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