Whose side are you on?

Whose side are you on?
: Someone I like and respect said this to me in email:

I would never say this in public, but you are happy to slam Dean and the other Dems on your blog but you never tell anyone who you are for. Just like negative campaigning doesn’t work, negative blogging has its limits.

Well, that person was too nice to say it in public but I will. What the heck.

My life is an open blog.

But the problem is, I don’t know who I’m for. (Hell, I can’t even say that without getting my knickers in a grammatical gordian knot: I don’t know for whom I am? Oh, well…)

In this blog, writing about politics, I’m just a voter and I’m transparently subjecting you to my process of selecting. I’ve done that in other areas. In the early days of this blog, my few readers watched me give up my cherished pacifism in the face of our generation’s Hitler (a comparison I make quite intentionally, unlike others who have lately used it glibly). I’ve gone from disliking and distrusting Bush to at least giving him a chance to do his job (and weblogs have helped me be more open-minded). And I’ve decided that I don’t like the new Burger King sandwiches after all. This is the transparent life. That’s one reason we webloggers get attacked — who the hell could care less what you think? — but we also get attacked if we’re not transparent. So I’ll be transparent. So call me the Invisible Man.

When it comes to politics, though, it’s not so easy for a journalist to reveal preferences; we have that beaten out of us at an early age. There’s no crying baseball. There’s no political preference in journalism.

But my email correspondent is right — and so, for the most part, is Roger L. Simon when he challenges us all to vote in public — and so I should at least give you the context of where I stand right now, in case you could possibly care:

I have been a life-long Democrat and liberal and I’ve enumerated various stands here (never enough for the satisfaction of some, but they can kiss my NWL ass). I’ve been disturbed by many trends on the left, leaving its roots and soul behind. Too often, the left cares more about PC than free speech; today it cares more about fighting Bush than fighting a tyrant like Saddam. I could go on and on but I already have. Unlike Simon or Totten, I haven’t left the fold; I just dyed my sheepskin black.

It’s no surprise that I don’t like Dean and the more I see of him the less I like him. I won’t hash it all over again because I’ve hashed him plenty but I think he is destructive, trading on bile rather than on building a future. I say he is wrong on the war and that ousting Saddam is a humanitarian and thus a liberal issue. I disagree what he says about many issues (including media) and agree about some. But in the end, I think he is far from inclusive and he is hot-headed and perhaps even a bit unstable; I do not think he would make a good President; I also think he has no chance of winning the election. As a voter, he turns me off and I say so. And as I’ve said here, I think his negativity is what has lost him the nomination. I am not alone. Far from it.

But because Dean was — through the fault of my fellow media travellers — so long the presumed front-runner and winner, I will admit that I was lazy. What was the point of studying the stands of a dozen other candidates when none of them will win or, at the least, most will not survive until my state’s primary? The primary system will do its job, I figured, and then I will do mine. But the last few weeks have changed all that.

I had hoped early on that Clark would be the alternative to Dean but he has, instead, tried to become Dean the Sequel. He harps on the war with the same shrill tone as Dean. He flipflops menacingly. He reveals himself to be an amateur and if this were American Idol, I might be forgiving, but this is the Presidency we’re talking about. Clark is not my man.

Lieberman would be my man — if only he could win. We agree on the war. He is the most mature and experienced of the entire field. He’s smart and practical. He’s a Clinton Democrat and so am I. We disagree about many issues — among them, government control of entertainment content. But all in all, he has come the closest to my weltanschauung. But he’s losing.

So now I turn to Kerry and Edwards and, quite frankly, I don’t know enough about either of them yet. Sure, I’ve followed Kerry over time but I need to study up on what he’s saying today, for politicians do morph, don’t they? And Edwards is impressing people but I fear that could be because he’s the one about whom we know the least, and thus he’s the one in whom many are now putting their greatest hopes. He is the blank slate. So I’ll watch him, too.

So I’m not engaging in “negative blogging.” I’m engaging in honest blogging. I don’t like or trust Howard Dean and I say so here. I have been unimpressed with Clark and I’ve said so. I am still figuring out the rest of the pack if the primaries don’t select for me.

And that, folks, is the way things are.

Should you give a damn? No. I’m just one voter. But since (some of you) asked….

  • Dave Schuler

    Dear Mr. Jarvis:
    You wrote:
    “Sure, I’ve followed Kerry over time but I need to study up on what he’s saying today, for politicians do morph, don’t they?”
    My experience has been that people tend to keep doing what’s been working for them. This is not a thought-out strategy–it’s a reflex. John Kerry founded his political career on being anti-war. Giving him the benefit of the doubt I’ll accept that that’s where his heart is. And that time is gone.

  • MG

    So go ahead and vote for Bush. You know you want to…Who else is going to prosecute the war on terror? All other issues are minor compared to this one.

  • hari

    Hi:
    You can make your blog easier to read by putting a space between each paragraph preferably, or by indenting the paragraphs. Thanks

  • Matt

    Amen to hari on the paragraphs. Oh, and lose the orange and purple!
    Not being negative. Just being honest. ; D

  • Ebb Tide

    I am following the political candidates in the primaries, but it *is* only January. So if your primary is coming up PAY ATTENTION, everyone else… you have a bit of time left, like 9 months or so.

  • Ebb Tide

    Oh, and to the people who do not like purple text, there is a way in IE to go about overriding a web pages text and fonts calls, I forget how at the moment, but YOU CAN change it from purple if YOU don’t care for it. (maybe it is in Accessibility settings, in there somewhere.)

  • http://hubrisfortyros.blogspot.com/ Dan Herzlich

    “perhaps even a bit unstable”
    This gratuitous remark about Dean is buried like a bone shard in that big meatloaf of text.
    Are you saying he is or isn’t? Don’t pussyfoot. On what do you base this? This is a serious charge.
    Why not say, “Well, maybe, depending on how he’s feeling, there’s a possibility that as President, he’ll start a thermonuclear war because they wouldn’t give him mustard for his cheesesteak sandwich at McDonald’s.”
    You have to be more ambitious about your writing than this.
    DH

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Dan: Your pompous lecture is obnoxious.
    You wanna see unstable? Watch The Scream again, for starters…. Unless it would give you, like Dean, an anxiety attack.

  • Doctor Slack

    You wanna see unstable? Watch The Scream again, for starters….
    Wait a minute. That’s not an answer to his question, and it’s not consistent with what you’ve said:
    If the Scream had come from a moment of excitement, it’s understandable.
    Except, now you’re saying it isn’t understandable, it’s an indicator of “instability.”
    On the other hand:
    If the Scream was a calculated political move, it reveals numbnutty judgment on the part of the candidate and his staff
    So Dean’s entire staff is unstable, not just Dean?
    I mean, if “unstable” was a rhetorical flourish and you didn’t mean it literally, why not say so? That would be clumsy, but at least understandable. But this? And you’re calling Dan obnoxious? Sheesh.

  • http://hubrisfortyros.blogspot.com/ Dan Herzlich

    Jeff, based on yesteday’s radiocast, I would say that of all the A-list bloggers, your were the most honest. (BTW, if you had a radio show, I’d listen to it.) You made it clear where you want to take your blog, and I even feel that people who are talented and prolific should be well-compensated. I hate the disingenuousness of the majority of bloggers who claim to be searching for “The Truth.” It better to express your doubts and admit when you’re undecided at this point.
    Some words have very loaded meanings, “unstable” being one of them. Dave Winer explained the scream the best, others mention the fact that Dean was miked in a noisy room. Would you prefer just to have actors running for office?
    I’m not dumping the Chianti on your carpet, Jeff.
    DH

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Dan: I serve nothing but fine cabernet.

  • http://hubrisfortyros.blogspot.com/ Dan Herzlich

    Just to add, I don’t own a television and I’ve haven’t seen ANY video of this incident. I’ve got to be honest. If anyone can tell me that watching this video proves the point, then I guess I’m wrong.
    DH

  • lk

    Yes, you are just one voter, but you used to be a TV critic, thus you have instant credibility.

  • burnplant

    Wow, Jeff calling someone pompous, pot meet kettle etc…
    All I’ve seen Mr Jarvis serve up here in my reading today is pompous opinion. He’s been whining about “graffiti” and unseemly comments, but if you scroll down he immaturely mocks Dr. Dean and applaudes the high-minded discourse that Howard Stern is offering.
    It’s laughable that this supposed political blogger doesn’t know anything about Kerry or Edwards. Well, there were nine whole candidates to study up on…I can see why it might be best to be a stooge and only bone up on the Dean-Bush race that the media force fed to us, and people like Jarvis ate up. After all, no one’s ever lost in Iowa or NH and went on to win the nomination…oh, except the last two Presidents.
    And how about that war on terror, Jarvis really likes that, so much so that he wishes he could vote for Lieberman, which is really a vote for Bush, but guilt free…or thought free is more like it.
    What I don’t get about these liberal warbloggers like Jarvis and Totten is that they don’t even question why we are bombing Iraq while the President has failed to mention the name Osama Bin Laden since what…2002? Are they just looking for dead Arabs from any country? It seems like killing 10,000+ (conservative estimate) under false pretenses (no matter how noble the “plan c” party line was) sort of calls for some new blood in office…dontcha think?
    It would be a real shame to lose another fictional vote for the democrats, but we’ll have to pull together somehow and get by without them. Damn.

  • Angus Jung

    It appears to be written in some variant of standard English.

  • anne.elk

    Hey Jeff, not a good day for you. Sorry about that.

  • Angus Jung

    anne.elk telling you you’re having a bad day is a bit like Donald Trump telling you you’ve got bad hair.

  • Doctor Slack

    Or Angus Jung telling you you’ve got no gift for comedy…
    *ba-DOOM-boom*

  • Angus Jung

    Or Doc Slack telling you to get to the point… ;)