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Annals of career "progressive" idiocy

My work is never done! Political "pro" Chris "I'm Writing As Bad As I Can" Bowers heaves up another brick! Why has Bowers written "RIP" for the amateur blogger? Clarifying and extending his previous post*, insofar as he is able, he gives a number of reasons. I think this one is the best:

4. ... No one has enough free time to blog as much as Matthew Yglesias, David Dayen, or the front page of Daily Kos.

It seems that Bowers, an English major, somehow made it through college without taking the time to learn how to write -- Daily Kos will never have "free time to blog" because it is a blog. Basic skills aside, can anybody spot the fact-based flaw in what Bowers has written?

If you're unemployed, or underemployed, you've got all the time in the world, and you absolutely have as much "free time" to blog as Yglesias [genuflects], or Dayen; the average duration of unemployment is now 34.4 weeks, the highest on record. And there are plenty of bloggers with time on their hands for that reason; myself among them.

Now, I'm not a mind-reader, so I can't say for sure why Bowers would write something that stupid, and that easy to disprove. But I suggest that Bowers is, like so many immature would-be writers, simply writing from his own experience, without yet having the maturity (or perhaps the desire) to contextualize his experience by imagining what the experience of others could be like. Bowers is a creature of Versailles, and in Versailles there really isn't an unemployment problem, especially for a cohort that has the serviceable skills of Bowers and his ilk. Nobody Bowers knows has the free time to blog, ergo, nobody has the free time to blog.

Many have commented that Versailles is "wildly out of touch" with the rest of the country -- even more than usual. Bowers simply exemplifies this process; in five or six short years, he and his neo-Broderite tribelet have become just as out of touch as The Dean himself. Or George Will.

Or, heck, Sally Quinn.

Oh, and there's another problem. I'll just quote Bowers:

5. New voices will still emerge, but only within the professionalized context: Undoubtedly, new voices will still emerge from the hobbyist world. However, when they do those bloggers will emerge within established, professionalized blogs in order too attract an audience in the first place

Can anyone spot the flaw?

NOTE * I mean to call out Bowers calling the rest of us unwashed "fellow bloggers". A hearty chuckle was had by all.

UPDATE See here for "I'm Writing As Bad As I Can."

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Joseph Cannon's picture
Submitted by Joseph Cannon on

A increasing number of people hate the mainstream media. Now that the monetized bloggers are within the mainstream, the unfunded bloggers will have larger audiences than ever before.

Blogging is an addiction. This, I know. Amateurs who possess that particular simian on their dorsal sides will somehow make the time to blog copiously. And readers will always seek out the non-whore writers.

To cite the obvious example: No institutional force in the American media wants to pay one cent to any writer who talks about how the Palestinians are getting screwed. But people want to read such stories.

Bowers refers to the amount of writing produced by Yglesias and company, as though the big bloggers sold sentences by the yard. But what about quality? Many art-for-art's-sake writers know how to turn a phrase, while most of the paid pundits have lost the knack. When was the last time Josh Marshall or Moulitsas or Huffington did a clever or memorable bit of wordsmithing?

Joseph Cannon's picture
Submitted by Joseph Cannon on

"AN increasing number of people..."

Cannon's law: Whenever you criticize the writing of others, your first paragraph will contain a hideous typo or grammatical mistake.

propertius's picture
Submitted by propertius on

Joe! You're alive! Your fans have been worried about you - we all hope you're okay.

I certainly agree that there's a hunger for non-media whore bloggers, but I wonder how the death of net neutrality will play into that. I can certainly see Comcast, Verizon, or ATT slowing access to the non-mainstream blogs in the name of bandwidth conservation. Not that our corporate overlords would have any interest in channelling political/economic discussion...

Pol C's picture
Submitted by Pol C on

Bowers is a classic example of someone who is compelled to aggrandize himself by tearing others down. The columns all follow the pattern of "We're cool, and everybody else sucks." It's a high-school clique mentality.

All good political writing is about policy and ethics. It's not triumphant crowing along the lines "I'm a creative-class trustafarian who's paid to write for the New York Times, while you're a working-class Bubba loser who writes for zippo on a WordPress URL, nyah, nyah, nyah."

I'd like to remind Bowers that the cohort with whom he identifies came to prominence in no small part because people were fed up with the intellectual wasteland of the corporate-media punditry. Success breeds complacency, and I've no doubt the current A-listers will eventually become as obtuse and as dunderheaded as Dowd, Broder, and Joe Klein. The primary wars made it clear that the process is already well underway.

propertius's picture
Submitted by propertius on


propertius's picture
Submitted by propertius on

Hey - you can't expect an obscure 2000+ year-old Roman poet to be up to date on all these cool cultural references. I'm still having trouble getting used to that newfangled printing press thingie!