Video: Analysis, activism, or advocacy in a primary season?

posted at 1:15 pm on November 21, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

FreedomWorks has started to publish the various speeches and presentations from BlogCon 2011 in Denver, including the speech I gave — really, more of a discussion starter — from the second day.  Thankfully, they have kept the Q&A from the segment, which I think was the best part of my time at the podium, in which I discussed the various ways bloggers approach the primary season, as either analysts, activists, or advocates.  All three are legitimate choices as long as they’re chosen honestly, I argue, and all three play an important role in allowing us to test our candidates:

David Freddoso wrote about the need to vet our own candidates last week for the Washington Examiner, in the context of responding to criticism about his coverage of Herman Cain’s problems on the campaign trail:

Why do I bring this up? Because all this griping about the exposure of conservative candidates’ flaws will, at best, result in the Republicans’ nomination of another unvetted Barack Obama-type candidate.

If Republicans nominate a candidate while overlooking his flaws, they might lose. Even worse, they might win. If you look forward to defending a bad president — the way liberals do now — then stop reading here.

For those conservatives still reading, you bear the responsibility for making sure the GOP does not nominate a candidate who doesn’t know what he thinks about Libya, abortion, Israel or unions. …

And with the candidates we do have, it’s worth poking at their flaws. They will either die deserved political deaths, or come out of the ordeal stronger.

That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have their defenders, either.  I think we’re better off when we have bloggers filling all of these roles.  Of course, this can go off the rails at times, too, as Lisa Graas does in accusing me of attacking Rick Santorum and the Catholic Church in this post from August.  This is what I wrote, in defense of Santorum from the media painting him as a “dominionist”:

Well, I guess I’m safe; I’m Catholic.  And so, by the way is Rick Santorum, who is most certainly not “affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity.”  He attends a Latin Mass, which might give a few evangelicals — and maybe a few Catholics, too — the vapors.   Keller’s ignorance is on full display right off the bat.  If he can’t even bother to Google, what makes him an expert as a religious inquisitor?

She lumps me in with other supposed Catholic attackers of Catholicism (including the Boss Emeritus) for my statement on the “vapors,” claiming that I wrote that Santorum gives people the vapors:

Way back in August, Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, a Catholic himself, suggested that the fact that Rick Santorum is a faithful Catholic would give people the “vapors“. Hot Air is among the most popular conservative blogs. Such a suggestion, in and of itself, has power to make a great many conservatives skeptical of him. In other words, it was, by itself, politically damaging to Rick Santorum. Hot Air readers might not have the “vapors” had Ed Morrissey, a Catholic, not suggested that having a faithful Catholic as a candidate might be cause for “vapors”.

This is such tortured thinking that the Geneva Convention might apply.  Saying someone got “the vapors” over something is obviously derisive of those having the vapors, not the something that triggered it.  Furthermore, I didn’t write that Santorum gave people the vapors — I wrote that “a few evangelicals — and maybe a few Catholics, too” get the vapors over the Latin Mass.  And I wrote that to show how ridiculous it was to put Santorum in the category of potential Dominionists, which is a fringe evangelical concept.  In fact, I think Santorum has done a good job representing social conservatism, as I said it my talk earlier this month — and I’ve written in support of the Latin Mass before.  This is the kind of oddball paranoia that can occur when advocates abandon reason and reading for comprehension in passionate defense of their preferred candidate.  Fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often.

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..I am very jealous of your weight loss! To quote Billy Crystal, “You look fabulous!

Good talk, by the way!

The War Planner on November 21, 2011 at 1:20 PM

What are we going to do tonight?

Same thing we do every night.

Try to take over the world!!! :-)

Keep up the good work, Ed.

coldwarrior on November 21, 2011 at 1:22 PM

I think it is safe to say that Bill Bennett is a fan of Sen. Santorum, he subs on his show on Fridays when he isn’t running for president. He is very complementary of his intelligence and his knowledge of the workings of D.C., that said he feels that Sen. Santorum presents himself as a victim and that it is unhelpful. Oh yeah, Sec Bennett is also Catholic.

Cindy Munford on November 21, 2011 at 1:25 PM

This is the kind of oddball paranoia that can occur when advocates abandon reason and reading for comprehension in passionate defense of their preferred candidate. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often.

It’s your subtle humor that I enjoy mostest. :)

Fallon on November 21, 2011 at 1:31 PM

..I am very jealous of your weight loss! To quote Billy Crystal, “You look fabulous!”

Good talk, by the way!

The War Planner on November 21, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Thanks. I wish I could take more credit for the weight loss, but when a cardiologist tells you you’ll be dead in 20 years if you don’t start exercising and eating right, well … you tend to start being a little more responsible. ;-)

Ed Morrissey on November 21, 2011 at 1:57 PM

It’s your subtle humor that I enjoy mostest. :)

Fallon on November 21, 2011 at 1:31 PM

You have to keep smiling!

Ed Morrissey on November 21, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Ed,
Agree on the vetting of the candidates and that process should make them stronger for the G.E.

In other news,
GO ROMNEY! :o)

g2825m on November 21, 2011 at 2:18 PM

..I am very jealous of your weight loss! To quote Billy Crystal, “You look fabulous!”

Actually, it’s not “fabulous”, but “mahvelous”. And Ed does look mahvelous.

The Monster on November 21, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Thanks. I wish I could take more credit for the weight loss, but when a cardiologist tells you you’ll be dead in 20 years if you don’t start exercising and eating right, well … you tend to start being a little more responsible. ;-)

Ed Morrissey on November 21, 2011 at 1:57 PM

..that’s my point; I had a wake up call in 1997 (not a doc telling me anything, by the way) and tried to do that. I was mostly successful, but have fallen off the wagon of late. Thanks for the renewed inspiration!

The War Planner on November 21, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Ed, for you I would shave my head as a sign of solidarity, but if things keep going as they have I probably won’t need to do much shaving.

Keep up the good work! ;o)

DannoJyd on November 21, 2011 at 3:12 PM

I have no problem with vetting, as in examining qualifications and history, but I do object when half-truths and innuendos take the place of full and fair discussions and logical arguments. I know that people have the right to utter such things, but they don’t serve us well when they do. I expect that sort of baloney from Democrats and the fourth estate, but not from true patriots.

We should all develop our critical thinking skills and apply them rigorously. Some flaws are self-evident. Others are less so. For example, I haven’t figured out why Tim Pawlenty had to drop out so soon and didn’t catch fire, or why Santorum polls so abysmally. But when bloggers go beyond vetting and become torpedoes against any candidate, they can end up depriving us of good candidates.

I’m not aware of any websites devoted to destroying Cain, Bachmann, Perry, Paul, Santorum or Gingrich. But I have seen NotMitt.com and MassResistance.com which seem dedicated to telling people who not to vote for. There are people determined to consider him a liar, no matter how reasonable he sounds. When someone comes on with that kind of pitch, I tend to wonder what are they trying to keep me from seeing.

flataffect on November 22, 2011 at 12:01 AM