When I heard that The New Republic, which has the reputation as being a little more moderate and reasonable than other publications across the aisle, had begun a new group blog, I headed on over. The Plank, as its called, seems to be trying to follow the format used at NRO's The Corner, although it's less a comment string than The Corner is. As at The Corner, no commenting is allowed.
The group blog format seems to grow more and more popular. It allows individual bloggers to take a day or two off, of course. It also allows for the many members to support each other, in contrast to the poor solitary blogger who may by turns feel ignored or beleaguered. The warm camaraderie of our own humble blog is an example of this support system. And a group blog can be a place where opposing ideas are thrashed out in one place, without having to search the web for a different opinion.
So how does The Plank rate? This is from one of the first posts, and is something of a "mission-statement".
The New Republic has done its fair share to invent and reinvent opinion journalism in this country. And we've had our share of success in the blogoshpere. But blogs, like TV shows, can't (or perhaps shouldn't) live forever. So, we're trying to mix up the lineup. You can expect The Plank to satisfy your procrastination jones about six times a day--and a few times more when we can gloat over the jailing of political enemies.
That they mean this seriously is shown in an early post, How You Can Help Scooter And Karl, in which Franklin Foer pleasures himself with the thought of Libby and/or Rove going to jail. Another post, Scooter On Ice, follows on in the same vein.
Elevating the tone a little, Noam Scheiber surveys the state of journalism and notes the following;
People who work at conservative think tanks or receive conservative foundation money, even people who work at conservative media outlets, risk having the plug pulled if they deviate too far from the party line. All it really takes is a phone call from Karl Rove's office to a wealthy right-wing philanthropist and you could wind up on the street. But when you work at, say, The Washington Post, you know you're going to get that next pay check whether Rove likes your latest column or not.
Of course, this is nonsense. If you work for the Washington Post and Karl Rove likes your work, you will probably not work at the Post very long. Witness all the hard hitting exposes the paper has done on "The Lies of Joseph Wilson".
Giving us a more useful insight into the thoughts of our sinister friends, Michal Crowley discusses the different tacks being taken on Iraq by the Democratic presidential contenders.
Viewed through a 2008 presidential political lens, that places the two of them [Kerry and Feingold] both on the fomenting left flank of Hillary Clinton, who continues to infuriate anti-war liberals with her stubborn stay-the-course position. As more and more Democrats adopt the Kerry-Feingold slow-withdrawal line, will Hillary be able to hold out? No one knows. But the answer may largely define the 2008 Democratic primaries.
While The New Republic magazine endorsed the Iraqi war, The Plank is strongly opposed to it. Several print magazines have an online presence or blog, but none that I know of have such a fundamental difference in opinion between the two.
So whats the overall verdict on The Plank? It is clear that the left has yet to "move on" and that they are content to recycle old and discredited ideas to each other. That is, I don't see any evidence that ideas are bubbling and fermenting over there. And the general tone is pretty juvenile - a PG rated version of Democratic Underground. On the other hand, it does give a glimpse into the mindset of the people who make up the intellectual/activist base of the Democratic party, which will be useful information as we approach the next elections.