Tom DeLay, Blogger
The Hammer finds his métier.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose various ethical missteps compelled him to resign this past June, was born to blog. He's a bully and a blowhard and he's got access to interesting political gossip. But I find TomDeLay.com, which debuted Dec. 10, disappointingly high-minded. Thus far, only one blog item has actually been written by DeLay (on MSNBC's Hardball, DeLay told Mike Barnicle, "I have the ideas and I have somebody else put the words together"), and that's an appeal to bipartisanship regarding the brain hemorrhage that struck Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.:
I too am a fierce partisan when it comes to principle, but I am also a fierce defender of the value that each person brings. I was appalled, as I am sure many of you were yesterday, by the immediate, callous and ghoulish speculation on the part the network news shows about the political effects of Tim Johnson's health situation … Tim Johnson, get well soon.
I heartily endorse DeLay's good wishes. But the political scenarist in me can't suppress curiosity about whether, in the awful event that Johnson should end up on life support, DeLay would once again support legislation blocking any attempts to remove the feeding tube. "It is more than just Terry Schiavo," he toldTime magazine in March 2005. Is it, though? Even with a Senate majority hanging in the balance? DeLay probably isn't such a partisan monster that he'd reverse field entirely and declare publicly that the man has suffered enough. More likely, DeLay would hold his tongue, "out of respect for the family," and quietly tell himself that Paris is worth a mass. (The latest news on Johnson's condition is hopeful, thank God, so DeLay is probably off the hook.)
The absolute worst thing on DeLay's blog is an interview with right-wing blogger Danny Carlton, proprietor of JackLewis.net. The blogosphere and its impact on politics/the media/the arts/American life has been discussed to death. There is nothing left to say, particularly within the blogosphere itself. I propose that this topic be banned from all future public discourse.
My Slate colleague and fellow Washington Monthly-style neoliberal Mickey Kaus (we also attended the same high school) will likely feel queasy when he discovers that his weblog is included in TomDeLay.com's "Blog Roll" of linked sites, otherwise all hard-core right. Better shore up that left flank, Mickey!
A mini-essay on the unintended consequences of population control (i.e., a shrinking West and a rapidly expanding Islamist East) has the virtue of being nominally substantive. A more honest consideration, though, would at least acknowledge that population growth tends to slow in any given geographic region as its economies expand and its governments become more democratic--two outcomes DeLay surely favors. Another mini-essay announces that global warming is "all just hot air," but if you click through to the cited article you'll discover that the source document from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change merely reduces a previous estimate on the extent to which human activity will increase global warming. The mini-essay is therefore dishonest in two ways: 1) The cited source says global warming is a real phenomenon, quite apart from whether it's affected by human activity; 2) the cited source says human activity doesincrease global warming, just not perhaps to the same extent as was previously assumed.
Cheap shots and spurious logic are essential to successful blogging, but the flimsiness of a blogger's arguments aren't supposed to be this easy to expose. A little more flair, if you please.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.