National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

It’s a Political Jungle in There

BY ERIC SCHESKE

March 23-29, 2008 Issue | Posted 3/18/08 at 3:37 PM

 

If it’s a topic of conversation, you’ll find a blog dedicated to it. Weather, food, religion, psychology, literature, baseball, basketball, colleges, movies, travel. Whatever it is, someone is blogging about it.

But what topic gets the most blog play? What sphere of activity attracts the most bloggers, the most readers, the most incoming links?

Nobody knows. And even if somebody did know, the information would be out-of-date by tomorrow. Such is the lightning speed with which the blogosphere changes.

Most everyone, though, would agree that the blogosphere has three subjects that command attention: gadgets and technology, celebrity gossip and politics. If you search for the most popular blogs on the Internet, the ones in these categories will dominate the Top 20.

Of those three, which is Numero Uno?

I’d pick politics. It’s a matter of respect. I’m no fan myself, but it was political bloggers who put blogging on America’s radar screen. They played crucial roles in pointing out Dan Rather’s questionable journalism, Jayson Blair’s plagiarism at The New York Times, Trent Lott’s statements at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party and John Kerry’s Vietnam War record. All these stories may have fallen through the cracks of the mainstream media if not for the cyber-caulking provided by political bloggers.


Pick Your Flavor

Where to go for political blogs?

That’s largely a matter of preference: left, right, moderate, libertarian, green, socialist. You have your choice. The blogosphere spans the political spectrum. On the left, Daily Kos (dailykos.com) and Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com) are favorites. On the right, Michelle Malkin (michellemalkin.com) and Instapundit (instapundit.com). For a blogger who leans to the right but keeps his readers guessing, go to The Drudge Report (drudgereport.com).

What about Catholic political bloggers? Unfortunately, none of them rank among the cybersphere’s heavy hitters, but they’re numerous. The annual Catholic Blog Awards (catholicblogawards.com) dedicate an entire category to Catholic political and social commentary.

The Anchoress (theanchoressonline.com) won the category in 2006 and 2007. I suspect she’ll win again in 2008, and deservingly so. This anonymous blogger touches on many topics, but hard-hitting political commentary is the blog’s core.

There are lots of good Catholic political bloggers, but if I had to pick my favorites, I’d choose:

• Catholics in the Public Square (thepublicsquare.blogspot.com). All politics all the time, from a Catholic perspective.

• The Dawn Patrol (dawneden.com/blogger). Convert Dawn Eden’s blog. Not dedicated to politics, but it emphasizes pro-life politics and frequently exposes the dishonest political tactics and harmful policies of Planned Parenthood.

• Vox Nova: Catholic Perspectives on Culture, Society, and Politics (vox-nova.com). The subtitle says it all. Numerous contributors make for an active blog.

• Taki’s Top Drawer (takimag.com). Taki Theodoracopulos’ blog. Not explicitly Catholic, but heavily slanted with a Catholic perspective.

• Catholic Analysis (catholicanalysis.blogspot.com). A smart one-man show dedicated almost entirely to politics.

• The Distributist Review (distributism.blogspot.com). A list of Catholic political blogs that didn’t mention ChesterBelloc-inspired thinking would hardly be Catholic. The blog isn’t updated as often as I’d like, but it keeps alive the economic and political thought of a heady bygone Catholic era.

• RomanCatholicBlog (romancatholicblog.typepad.com). Far more political than its name implies.


All-American

The blogosphere gives everyone the chance to offer an opinion.

The scandalous Republican staffer Jessica Cutler once told the Washington Post in an interview, “Everyone should have a blog. It’s the most democratic thing ever.”

I agree that blogging is a democratic thing, but I’m not so sure everyone should blog. There are many reasons: family commitments, limited skill, technological inability, disability. I could list a hundred more.

But one deserves specific mention: spiritual danger.

If you want to make it in the blogosphere, you need to make a splash. In the political blogosphere, the splash probably needs to be offensive.

Nearly 200 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville observed a troubling characteristic of American writing: inflammatory prose. He said readers in America’s democracy “require strong and rapid emotions, startling passages, truths or errors brilliant enough to rouse them up and to plunge them at once, as if by violence, into the midst of the subject.”

The prose in democracies, de Tocqueville said, “will frequently be fantastic, incorrect, overburdened, and loose, almost always vehement and bold. Authors will aim at rapidity of execution more than at perfection of detail.”

Thanks to the blogosphere, de Tocqueville’s observation is truer today than it was in the early 19th century.

Newspapers then and now have employed inflammatory prose, but it’s nothing compared to what you can find on the partisan blogs. The prose on those sites would make a thundering Tom Paine blush.

Although I’m no spiritual authority, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to think bloggers that use profane and mean-spirited posts to tap into the American love of violent prose are running a spiritual risk. A similar thing goes for their fans.

Fortunately, none of the Catholic political bloggers listed above use such prose. If you want to keep abreast online this political season but don’t want to feel like you need a shower or a confession when you’re done, check them out.


Eric Scheske blogs

at The Daily Eudemon

(ericscheske.com/blog).