I can’t help but be amused by the firestorm kicked up over the comments by Democratic strategist and “rural liaison” Dave “Mudcat” Saunders (thankfully, no relation). To his credit, he’s savvy enough to realize that the best way to get free publicity and respect among the punditocracy is to pick a fight with the liberal blogosphere. So that’s what he did with a post entitled “Go Ahead And Shoot At Me” in which he argues against the “stereotyping of my people and culture” by stereotyping the people he doesn’t agree with. Taking a lesson from his co-blogger Joe Klein, “Mudcat” hides his criticism behind a vague label (the “Metropolitan Wing”) so he can insult a broad swath of his peers without ever having to name names. That way, if he’s confronted for his actions, he can always pull the “I wasn’t talking about you” trick.
But this isn’t about some Dixie-whistling Mr. Smith taking on the intellectual elitists who have taken over his party. You don’t get to write your first blog post at Time.com by being an outsider. It’s about currying favor with the beltway insiders who pay his bills (like the campaigns of Mark Warner, John Edwards, Bob Graham, and Jim Webb). By provoking a firestorm with the netroots, “Mudcat” not only insulates himself from opinionated brutes like us, but he further cements his reputation as the go-to guy to save the Democratic party from coastal elitists, bile-spewing atheists, and any other GOP stereotype of liberals that he can muster. Any criticism of his broad attack on his fellow liberals is just another example of the “arrogance and intolerance” that he’s up against.
Like John McCain’s straight-talking “Maverick”, Dave Saunders’ “Mudcat” persona is the schtick he uses to get work from campaign managers who are stupid enough to believe you can pay a guy to help you simulate a fondness for “the Heartland”. “Mudcat” is a poor-man’s Carville, Bob Shrum with an accent, and he’s just plain boring. The precision with which “Mudcat” was able to inspire controversy within the liberal blogosphere is impressive, even if it does end up feeling choreographed and predictable. Congrats, “Mudcat”, you’ve made all the right enemies, but to end this on a conciliatory note, let me welcome you to the blogosphere by echoing your wish that bloggers who “believe the only way to win an argument is to shot the loudest with personal attacks, you can go to Hell”. Now, what did you mean by “pseudo-intellectual arrogance” again?