I never took seriously the idea that if liberals “got tough,” conservatives – who were used to rolling them over like a stack of Colmeses – would be flustered and confused. I still wouldn’t say there’s a new trend forming, but two things have given me cause to wonder. First there was Howard Dean joking to a meeting of the black caucus (all Democrats) that Republicans couldn’t get so many “people of color” in a room unless they “invited the hotel staff.” A few days later, there was a burst of press released outrage from folks like J.C. Watts and Michael Steele demanding Dean apologize.
(There’s actually a terrific article by W. James Antle III in the new American Conservative about Republicans trying on racial politics – I forget the title, but the conclusion is something like “Republicans haven’t made much headway as the colorblind party, so they’ll see what they can get as the party of Johnny Cochran.)
A far more amusing incident is happening on the right-wing blogs now as they percolate with indignition about the Jeff Gannon affair. Without going into details on the whole Gannon mess, the gist of some conservative blogs is that the issue is a case of terrible liberals, without morals, run amock. The post that struck me was on the fantastically overrated Powerline by John Hinderaker.
The American left has been guilty of many contemptible actions over the past twenty years, but few are so deeply offensive as its treatment of Jim Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon (His real name is Guckert, but he adopted Gannon as a pen name). Gannon is, apparently, a homosexual with a rather sordid past, including stints working as a gay escort. He is now trying to make a career for himself as a reporter; until a week or two ago, he worked for the online Talon News Service. He was able to get one-day-at-a-time passes to attend White House press briefings, where he committed the unpardonable sin of asking questions that had a pro-Bush administration twist. (Sort of like Helen Thomas, only in reverse, and nowhere near as one-sided.)
The presence of a Bush-friendly journalist in the White House press corps was taken by the left as a deep affront. A study conducted a few years ago found that the White House press corps is 90% Democratic; apparently the left wonâ€™t be satisfied until the figure is 100%. So liberals began â€œinvestigatingâ€ Gannon. They found that he was a homosexual and started posting photos of him on their web sites, along with vicious personal attacks. Gannon, stunned by the virulence of the leftâ€™s attack on him, quit his job at Talon. Subsequently, a low-life named John Aravosis who is a gay activist and has a web site, found nude photos of Gannon and posted them online.
For insights like this (they continue for a few grafs and end with “Rarely have I seen such deeply contemptible conduct”), Hinderaker was booked on Howard Kurtz’s “Reliable Sources.”
Now, I’ve been idly watching this Gannon mess from the beginning. After Gannon’s “divorced from reality” question at the WH press conference, initial exposes of what “Talon News” was started appearing on sites like “Media Matters.”
After this initial blitz, Gannon made a fatal mistake that has been mostly forgotten since. On jeffgannon.com, he updated his front page with a dig at “left-wingers” who were going after him. He made sarcastic thanks for all the attention, noting he’d gotten more interview requests than ever. Gannon has scrubbed his homepage since then, but in his first Gannon post the blogger at World O’ Crap excerpted another round of the site’s updates.
The hard-core Lefties are conducting an exhaustive search for me in cyberspace, which has produced an entertaining mosaic of conspiracy theories. I appreciate all the attention, but I can do without the threats on my person, property and family.
The title of Gannon’s message, by the way, was “HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT.”
Basically, Gannon had sealed his fate by pulling a Gary Hart – he dared liberals to go after him. Like Gary Hart, he did it even though he knew there were mountains of dirt out there about him. But it was his mistake. And the response from the very influential Powerline blog … is a lot of sniveling and whining.
Keep in mind, Hinderaker is the kind of blogger who was no problem likening liberal journalists to Nazis. What we have here is a textbook case of people who can dish it out but can’t take it. So it’s interesting to see what’ll happen if liberals (especially liberal bloggers) continue acting as mean and hardcore as they are with Gannon.