"A Benumbed Nation Can Only Look on in Horror at What Has Become of the Democratic Party."
He's taking the expected whacks from the conservative blogosphere, but Glenn Greenwald's roundup of October 2006 commentary on Larry Craig makes for interesting reading. When professional "outer" Mike Rogers claimed to have proof of Craig trawling for sex in bathrooms, the reaction ripped the first two plays from Kubler-Ross: Denial and anger.
The most hysterical outrage of all was from Glenn Reynolds, who went so far as repeatedly to predict—literally—that the country would be so repulsed by Rogers' reporting that it might actually swing the election in favor of the Republicans. More absurdly still, Reynolds cited a grand total of two reasons why he voted for GOP's Bob Corker over Harold Ford in the Tennessee Senate race, one of which was actually Rogers' report on Craig ("the sexual McCarthyism from the pro-outing crowd… has convinced me that [Democrats] just don't deserve a victory with those tactics").
As usual, Bush-supporting bloggers like Ann Althouse and Patterico dutifully echoed Reynolds' line: "I truly believe this sort of tactic is going to create a backlash." Identically, Michelle Malkin's Hot Air actually convinced itself, as Reynolds did, that the Craig report was so despicable that it might save the GOP from defeat…
Greenwald, as is his way, ropes in some bloggers who weren't so egregious. (Although Reynolds' "I'm voting Republican because Democratic bloggers outed some people" post remains a monument to weirdness. [UPDATE: See below.]) I still wonder how much the more partisan bloggers calling for Craig's ouster were considering politics ten months ago and are considering politics now. Dean Barnett and Hugh Hewitt are Romney backers, and Craig's endorsement of their man makes Romney look bad. Patrick Ruffini realizes that Republicans will hold Craig's seat if he resigns.
Maybe most importantly, Craig was an apostate on two important issues: He favored immigration reform and, like most of Idaho, he wanted to roll back some of the PATRIOT Act. It's not true, as Matt Yglesias says, that Craig is a "bad senator" who'll be replaced by "another conservative Republican who's just as bad." His replacement will probably be less independent and less libertarian on those issues.
UPDATE: I missed Reynolds' response to this:
I see that Glenn Greenwald has a "remarkably boring and windy post" accusing me of hypocrisy over the Larry Craig affair. No. Craig got himself in trouble here; what I was objecting to in the past were organized Democratic efforts to out gay Republicans for political gain. That's hardly the same thing. If Glenn Greenwald were to find himself in similar trouble I would shed no more tears than I have for Craig; if I felt that GOP operatives had arranged the story to discredit Greenwald, I'd regard it as a dirty political trick.
My tongue was located in the general cheek region when I described Reynolds' 2006 post as "I'm voting Republican because Democratic bloggers outed some people." That was only part of Reynolds' explanation for backing Bob Corker over Democrat Harold Ford. I'll excerpt:
Ultimately the combination of Ford's "F" rating on gun rights and the sleazy "outing" behavior of the Democrats was such that I just felt I had to vote Republican in this race… Not long ago I was thinking that a Democratic majority in Congress wouldn't be so bad; but the sexual McCarthyism from the pro-outing crowd, coupled with the Dems' steadfast refusal to offer anything useful on national security, has convinced me that they just don't deserve a victory with those tactics. That's not Ford's fault, either, really. But I just don't think the Democrats are ready for a majority right now. We'll see how many other voters agree.
Reynolds is saying what Greenwald was claiming he said, that Democrats deserved to suffer for exposing Republicans' sex lives to win votes. But his outrage in both cases was genuine.