A reader writes:
What I think Jeff G. and some of your more vocal (and acknowledgedly unrestrained) detractors are concerned with is that you’ll take your desire for moderateness, a good and necessary quality, and you’ll hold back in calling Obama’s policies honestly for what they are. That you’ll not harp on his failures as a leader because it’s not nice to do that to a nice guy. There’s principled ground to be had in the middle, and it’s easier to attack from the middle than from the other side, but the danger is that you might forget which side you started on.
I have never held back in describing any Democrat’s policies honestly for what they are (or any Republican’s, for that matter), and I assure you that I won’t in the future. I’ve had a lot of people criticizing me recently, and that’s fine. Most of you have been civil about it, and that’s all I ask. I’ve also had some people who agree with me, and that’s fine too.
I get turned off by knee-jerk conservatives (or liberals), but I also get very annoyed with the people who praise themselves as Courageous Martyrs for saying things that buck the party line.
On the Internet, when you say things that people disagree with, people are sometimes nasty. It’s a fact of life. Usually, it’s the “other side” that gets nasty, but if you say things that your own side intensely disagrees with, your own side can get nasty too.
When that happens, some people flip out. And the way a lot of them react is to sprain their shoulder patting themselves on the back for their own Incredible Courage. Andrew Sullivan is the quintessential example of this sort of blogger.
To me, that’s a lot of self-aggrandizing nonsense.
Sullivan has tried to rope me into this mindset. He wrote that I was “courageous” when I opposed Proposition 8. A small handful of people have reacted similarly to things I have said in recent days about Obama. A (very) small group said the same thing when I had some mild criticism of Sarah Palin during the campaign.
While it’s very seductive to have people call you brave, and I don’t mean to be rude to people who are trying to compliment me, I utterly reject any such notion as ridiculous. If you’re going to regularly spout opinions, you have to be ready to have people disagree, from whatever side. That just comes with the territory.
The worst is when these self-described paragons of integrity abandon all their principles out of pique, and run to the other side. I do not respect Sullivan because I think he has no core principles. To me, he seems to crave adulation, and when he didn’t get it from the right, he ran to the left and positioned himself as a supposedly “courageous” conservative — a Fearless Man unafraid to Speak the Truth.
That’s not going to happen here. This is not a Balloon Juice or an Andrew Sullivan style site. I’m never going to become a Democrat just because I’ve been offended by some of the things Republicans have done, because Republicans still share more of my core principles (at least in theory).