Danny Westneat reads his mail

No Danny, you are neither a righty nor a lefty (though I kinda agree with your emailers that you sometimes come off  as a bit of a “whiner”).  No, what you are, Danny, is conventional, in that peculiar establishment media sense that so internalizes the traditional journalistic paradigm of objectivity and impartiality, that you seek to impose your own values on the rest of the world.

You accuse others of “open cynicism and closed minds,” all the while unskeptically embracing your own open cynicism toward party politics.  And that makes you at best an observer, and at worst (and despite your best intentions), occasionally a tool, because it is through partisan politics that public policy is enacted and executed in the real world.

And that’s what pisses off your readers on both sides of the ideological divide, because despite your genuine centrism and your devout nonpartisanship, as a newspaper columnist with a relatively large audience, your opinions can make a difference, whether they be informed by the conventional wisdom spoonfed to you by district officials during the school closure controversy, or the relentless equivalency with which you approach the often unequivalent failings of politicians in both parties.  Yet your oft repeated disdain for the workings of our two-party system leaves your commentary mostly devoid of constructive criticism but for the easy attack on partisanship in general… an attack that can’t help but irritate us partisans.

You fret about “polarized, triballike camps” as if man hasn’t always been tribal by nature, while implying that the “nichification of news” of which bloggers like me have been a part, is a cause of, rather than a response to, the realpolitik that rules our world. No, you’re not a partisan, but don’t be deluded that your refusal to actively engage in these partisan battles isn’t occasionally useful to one side or the other.

So criticize all you want.  That’s your job, as it is mine.  The difference is, I also view my job as trying to make a difference, and if that means getting my hands dirty in the real world of partisan politics, well that’s fine by me.


  1. 2

    Daddy Love spews:

    It’s hard for me to hear “the real world of partisan politics,” then contemplate the very different galaxy in which today’s Republicans live, and make any sense of it.

    But politics is about power AND about compromise. Partisanship can get you only power.

  2. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Alaska Newspaper Endorses Obama

    “ANCHORAGE, Alaska -The Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s largest newspaper, has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.

    “The newspaper said Sunday the Democrat ‘brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand.’

    “The Daily News said … John McCain has ‘stumbled and fumbled badly’ in dealing with [the economic crisis].”

    (Quoted from Associated Press under fair use.)

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: The Anchorage Daily News is part of the conservative-leaning McClatchy chain, making this endorsement all the more remarkable.

    The editorial is supportive of Palin, calling her “a success” as Alaska governor, but said “few would argue” she is ready to be president and “putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.”

  3. 4

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Things are so bad for McCain a Republican newspaper in his running mate’s home state endorsed … his opponent.

  4. 6

    YLB spews:

    Another great essay by novelist Mark Sumner aka “Devilstower”:

    Greenspan may pretend to rationalism and McCain to patriotism, but they are both simply continuing the jihad of the market fundamentalists. There’s not not a lick of difference between what they to offer and the railing of prosperity gospel preachers. It’s an appeal to greed. It’s a diminishment of the human spirit. It’s that elevation of selfishness not just as a virtue, but as the only virtue.

    In his testimony, Greenspan said he was “shocked” by the collapse of the markets. He shouldn’t be. All fairy tales come to an end, and this one has gone on far too long, hurting far too many in the process.

    There’s something in Ayn Rand’s works that appeals to everyone at some point in their lives. Everyone wants to identify with the specialness of Dagny Taggart or Howard Roark or John Galt. Everyone feels, at some point in their lives, as if they are the true hub of the universe.

    Then rational people grow the hell up and get over it. There’s no more substance to Rand’s objectivist view than there is in a child fantasizing about being a fairy princess, and even less to admire.

    John Galt is dead. We can only hope he stays buried.


  5. 10

    Piper Scott spews:


    Ah, but Goldy…you have to imagine Danny wrote a column about you while I have absolute proof that he wrote one about me!

    Of course, I know he covered your rookie outing in the Blogosphere, but that was over three years ago, whereas he was fascinated with me a mere 13-months ago.

    Only a paranoid thinks everything is about him.

    The Piper

  6. 11

    YellowPup spews:

    To both have an opinion and to be the kind of centrist that seeks equivalency in every case these days must be incredibly hard work. You’d have to be prepared to embrace ideas such as that the earth is more or less round, but (in fairness) has flat tendencies.

    I think it’s to be encouraged to stake out positions that are independent of party lines, but to try to embrace the lines of both parties is a terrible mistake.

  7. 13

    Piper Scott spews:


    Nice to see how well you write in Dick and Jane terms.

    “I have returned.” D. MacArthur.

    The Piper

  8. 14

    My Left Foot spews:


    I wanted to be sure that you would be able to COMPREHEND what I was saying. It was a special KISS comment just for you (they say to tailor the message to the lowest common denominator). You know how I am completely fascinated with you ala Mr. Westneat (sarcasm alert for wingnuts).

    Don’t we have a small wager regarding the outcome of next weeks Presidential blowout election? I seem to recall something a while back. I am not inclined to search the archive so I will rely on you for clarification. ( I know, call me foolish.)

  9. 16

    My Left Foot spews:



    Are you asking a question, making a statement or are you one hit on the crack pipe away from destroying your last two brain cells?

  10. 17

    proud to be an ass spews:

    Gosh. Poor poor Danny is hated by everybody.* That takes some kind of unbelievable talent.

    I really feel sorry for him. Maybe we should start a fund for him. What do you say, Goldy?

    *He’s the first one in this situation that I’ve witnessed who isn’t a thief, a liar, a child molester, or a brazenly unrepentant murderer.

  11. 18


    Proud @17,

    Actually, I like Danny. The truth is, I think Danny mistakes the crush of nasty email as having something to do with increasingly nasty partisanship, when it likely has more to do with the increasing popularity of sending nasty emails. I mean, back in the days when a letter to the editor required sending an actual letter, most people wouldn’t bother. Now it just requires a mouse click.

  12. 19

    My Goldy Itches spews:

    Goldy – I read the same column yesterday. While its true that Westneat isn’t the biggest fan of partisan politics, the larger point of his column, at least from what I took from it, was that depending on who is emailing, Westneat is either a right wing shill for the Bush Administration, or a Marxist plot spewing leftist progapanda from his own Pravda. This contradiction, according to Westneat comes from people customizing their news to what their ideological viewpoint agrees with. The Daily Me phenomenon. When any source outside the Daily Me gives off news or opinion that does not jive with the Daily Me, that source is either Marxist or Neocon, depending on your point of view.