Ephron on Blogging, Everyone Else on DeLay

If you held a blogging conference and no one blogged about it, did it ever really happen?

Luckily, Nora Ephron chronicled her experience at just such an event in Manhattan yesterday, though she doesn’t seem to remember much of what was said, although what she does remember seems very important. “I could call Ken Auletta,” the moderator of the panel, she writes, “and ask him what it was he said exactly, but that would involve reporting, and I learned this morning at the panel on blogs that when you are a blogger, you are so busy blogging that you don’t have time to report.”

Blogging on the DeLay indictment, The Lunch Counter, like many conservatives these days, sees conspiracy everywhere. Burnishing those well-worn rhetorical tools — personal insult and pure conjecture — TLC launches its attack:

Under the guise of not being a partisan hack, of being a truly non-partisan prosecutor, the biased media and Al Franken proclaim that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle (D) can’t be biased against conservatives because he has prosecuted more Democrats than Republicans … What the big fat liar omits is another fact, there weren’t any republicans in Texas politics 20-30 years ago, and the Democrats he was after then were conservative Democrats who didn’t kowtow to the Democrat machine of the day, of which Ronnie Earle was a major player.

Shades of Ephron! It’s true that Texas, until recently, had far more Democrats than Republicans in elected office, which would naturally skew the partisan makeup of those Earle investigated. But to say “there weren’t any republicans in Texas politics 20-30 years ago,” or that the Democrats Earle prosecuted “were conservative Democrats who didn’t kowtow” to the party line, is to blog first and to report later (or not at all).

Dan Cody sees trouble for Republicans everywhere he looks, writing that given the DeLay indictment, the investigation into the timely sale of Majority Leader Bill Frist’s stock in his family’s business just days before said stock tanked, and the widening Jack Abramoff scandal, “on every level of government, Republican party leaders are being unmasked as a corrupt and power hungry people who think the law doesn’t apply to them.”

He goes on: “Right now the Republican Party stinks of corruption. Thankfully in 2006 we have a chance to clean house and restore some small bit of honor and integrity back to government.”

Funny, that sounds suspiciously like the Republican platform in 2000, doesn’t it? For that matter, it also recalls the rhetoric of the “Gingrich Revolution” of 1994. The more things change, apparently, the more they stay the same.

Grand Ledge Royals gives a little history lesson along those lines, writing, “Eleven years ago, the Republicans took control of Congress — breaking a 40-year Democratic reign in the House — by campaigning as reformers out to derail a Democratic machine that Mr. Gingrich described as endemically, irredeemably corrupt. In fact, as the 1994 election approached, the Democrats endured several ethics scandals, including the fall of a speaker, a majority whip and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.” Take-home message: There are no saints in Washington, and it appears that whoever grasps the levers of power walks away with dirty hands.

Over at GOPBloggers, the focus this morning was on rescuing fiscal conservatism from an administration that spends like a drunken sailor. It seems a little late in the game to us, but Jonathan R. is sounding a clarion warning: “The fiscally conservative wing of the Republican party in Congress is beginning to assert itself and … it just may be necessary to preserve the GOP governing majority.

“It is up to Republicans to clean up our own act, before voters do it for us. Some may prefer to ignore or excuse fiscal profligacy (the ‘stick your head in the sand’ approach), but it is better to tackle these issues rather than have them tackle us. Fortunately, fiscally conservative Republicans like Jeff Flake, Mike Pence, John Sununu, Jim DeMint and, yes, John McCain, are generating some attention.”

Yes, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, focus is turning to the 2006 elections. Our advice? Pull on those waders. It’s going to take a while to pump the muck out of the lower-lying portions of the blogosphere.

Paul McLeary

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Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.