Wednesday, December 06, 2006

# Posted 8:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MY OWN PRIVATE CINDY SHEEHAN: One might say that OxBlog is my cattle ranch. It is my place in the blogosphere, where I go when the work day is done to talk about whatever I want to talk about. But it seems that there is a protester standing outside the gates of my ranch.

Now, it wasn't hard to figure out why Cindy Sheehan spent her time protesting outside of the President's ranch. He makes the big decisions about Iraq. But why would someone protest outside of my ranch? I'm just a small-time blogger.

For those who haven't visited the comments section lately, what I'm talking about is how, over the past few days, a small number of commenters have posted dozens of derisive remarks about my ability to think or lack thereof. What made the comments stand out was not just their volume and their tone, but also the authors' obvious commitment to spending enough hours in the OxBlog archives to find direct quotes of mine, mostly regarding the invasion of Iraq, that they could put on display.

Why is this issue of such great importance to these individuals? And why have they chosen this moment to bring it up? I don't know, primarily because I don't know who the authors of these comments are. At first they were anonymous. Then they adopted a number of pseudonyms. Now one of them has posted his name and e-mail address, although I don't believe I've met him before.

Do I know anything at all about these individuals? Well, a little. First, they seem to be quite intelligent. Second, they have sufficient courtesy not to use profanity in their comments. Third, they still have a lot to learn about tact and sensitivity, since they took advantage of a eulogy to launch their protests against me. Fourth, they seem to have some connection to Oxford.

Do I have any guesses as to who these protesters are? Well, my girlfriend suggested that it might be my ex-girlfriend, who made a habit of holding grudges. But this is not her style. Certainly, she would never disrespect a eulogy (which made me quite angry).

Now, there is one individual connected to Oxford whom I've criticized by name on more than one occasion. But he actually responded to such criticism in a very civil manner, appropriate to a substantive argument.

As a result of my critics penchant for anonymity, some have suggested that they are a little bit short on courage. In general, I have no problem with anonymous commenters on this blog or any other. There shouldn't be a price of admission for engaging in public debate. But if someone launches a concerted attack on me personally, I do think it is appropriate for him or her to identify himself and explain his or her reasons for putting OxBlog in the crosshairs.

On a related note, it has been suggested that the anonymous critics are playing an unfair game because their is no way for anyone to expose their past opinions to critical scrutiny. In some ways, this is a debate as old as Socrates, who often maddened his discussion partners by subjecting their opinions to intense scrutiny without advancing any opinions of his own.

Personally, I'm fine with the Socratic approach and welcome the criticism of anyone who disagrees with my posts. But my critics' apparent purpose is not to take issue with any of my arguments, but rather to destroy my reputation as an analyst. Now, if that really is their purpose, then it would be fair for them to make their own writings available for comment. Prediction is a tough business, so if someone wants to mock my abilities, they ought to establish their credentials.

In fact, one of the critics (Ryan) did finally post an opinion of his own with regard to the invasion of Iraq. Of course, it isn't hard to have a reasonable opinion about the past in hindsight. The real question is whether Ryan & co. went on the record back in 2003 with regard to their expectations about the war.

Now unfortunately, this entire post has been talking up by me talking about myself and me talking about people who've been talking about me. There hasn't been any political substance to it. That will come next.

Although President Bush had reason enough not to invite Cindy Sheehan into his ranch, my time is a lot less valuable and I will be glad to address the substantive points my critics raise alongside their derision. Yet hidden in my Cindy Sheehan metaphor is a prediction about how my critics will fare once they are out in the open. Sheehan became an overnight celebrity, but now the Democrats have distanced themself from her because what she actually stood for turned out to be a little bit embarrassing. (See photo above.)

If my critics have put their writings on the record over the past few years, I'm guessing that they won't come out of this looking any better than I will. But if my critics are willing to put aside their derision and engage in a substantive discussion, perhaps we will have what to learn from one another.
(13) opinions -- Add your opinion

Why I De-Blogrolled Oxblog

There was a point last year when David Adesnik, formerly "Idealist Foreign Policy Intellectual" actually morphed into "Pro-Bush Partisan Hack" pretending to be "Idealist Foreign Policy Intellectual". I can't exactly identify when Adesnik reached the tipping point, but he'd clearly passed it by August, when he was really really focused on Kerry in Cambodia, which of course had exactly nothing to do with any meaningful foreign policy issues, but had a lot to do with supporting the Swift Boat Smear.

That's pretty much when I pulled them out of my blogroll, and definitely stopped taking them seriously. I still have Oxblog in my Bloglines account, and skim their posts occasionally, more for Josh Chafetz than for Patrick Belton. Doing that, I can remind myself of why I stopped reading them regularly.

For example, I ran across this gem from Adesnik today (the following being the entire post):

ANN COULTER: It's a cheapshot from the folks at Michael Moore.com, but it's still pretty funny.

The "cheap shot" is of course the video where the Canadian interviewer calls Coulter on her bullshit assertion that Canada sent troops to Vietnam.

So, first of all, it's not a "cheap shot", no matter how much Adesnik wants to portray it as one because it's on Michael Moore's site. We would see footage like that all the time if Coulter didn't spend all of her time on wingnut circle jerk cable shows run by the likes of Hannity and O'Reilly. She talks bullshit on camera for a living, and footage of her actually being called on it is not a cheap shot. It's not like Michael Moore's people made that footage up. It's hardly a cheap shot to show the entire exchange, in context, so that one can see what happens when someone finally does call Coulter on her bullshit. It's simple factual reporting and it shows, sadly enough, that Coulter doesn't have a command of even simple facts.

Second, Adesnik found that clip at michaelmoore.com, today? That footage hit the web 4 weeks ago, and was readily available at any number of high-traffic sites that aren't named after the favorite overstuffed straw man of the Republican apparatchik class. Of course, one wouldn't expect a partisan hack to spend a lot of time reading the other side's media criticism, but an "Idealist Foreign Policy Intellectual" might have bumped into that particular clip, especially because it had to do with, you know, conservative punditry and foreign policy (and ironically, Vietnam, one of Adesnik's hobby-horses during the presidential campaign).

Feh. Why do people take this guy seriously?

this was a much needed shot in the arm for oxblog. david probably did it himself...
I have found Dr. Adesnik to be one of the more self analyzing bloggers around. He has gone through at least a handful of stints just in the last year where he has brought out some of his old commentary that he had analyzed or forecasted completely wrong, especially in regards to Iraq, and vocalized how he has rethought the problem.

By no means, do I agree with everything that he says, and it would be annoying if I did because of the echo chamber affect. But his critical self assessments are refreshingly honest and much appreciated by this reader.
the authors' obvious commitment to spending enough hours in the OxBlog archives to find direct quotes of mine

geez, what's with this 'it must have taken ''hours'' thing? I just skipped going to the pub once.

As I said previously, only if you're idea of research is looking through Wikipedia should you be surprised with the scope of quotes presented.
I don't get the Sheehan thing.
You really shouldn't get too addled about anonymity. When I publish articles I get anonymous reviews. Think of these comments as reviews or grades. For my part, I enjoy knocking heads with neocons and right wingers. And while I try to be polite about it, I don't feel the need to be nice.

But fairshot has a fair point. You have been wrong, spectacularly wrong, about the biggest issue of our time, Iraq. It doesn't seem that you've confronted this, and not confronting it doesn't mean that it will go away.

You've been reading Beinart lately, currently #35,474 on Amazon. He was wrong as well. To quote from the Publishers Weekly review, "The tragic conundrum of a fighting liberalism that avoids enmeshment in a Vietnam or Iraq (the author now repudiates his early support of the Iraq war) is never adequately addressed." He may be trying to claw his way back to respectability, but he has a little self-critiquing to do.

You do as well.
Unfortunately, David, I'm afraid I agree with the above post.
Cindy Sheehan? David, these various postings are your own words, not theirs; the posters have simply spent the time to look through them. You are your own Cindy Sheehan, if there is one at all.
Sorry, but I thought OxBlog was 'off-the-cuff' political commentary, not '...whatever [David] want[s] to talk about...when the work day is done'. That's a bit insulting to people who have kept this site a regular read.
What if your critics don't have a body of writing dating from 2002? Can only other established bloggers criticise you?

Secondly, is it possible that if you and your co-bloggers hadn't been quite so rude and derisive to the anti-war movement at the time in Oxford, and to 'liberals' and 'the left' since, you might not be facing so much glee at your apparent humiliation now?
''In the process of compiling material for yesterday's posts on Iraq, I found it disturbing to read hundreds of paragraphs that I myself had written but whose contents I would not have recognized in the absence of a byline. Thus, to take either the credit or the blame for the contents of those paragraphs seems rather strange.

At the same time, there were discernible patterns of thought that gave a distinct personality to what I had written. On the other hand, I would not have recognized such patterns if not for the convenience of the OxBlog archive.

n our heads, we tend to keep an informal score of our own rights and wrongs on the issues of the day. Unsurprisingly, such informal scores tend to ignore losses and emphasize wins, thus suggesting to ourselves that we have far more insight and credibility than we actually do.''

David Adesnik, August 27, 2003 06:07 AM
Anon 10:16 You must have stopped reading Oxblog a long time ago --Chafetz stopped writing for it at least a year ago, and Belton rarely posts anything other than jokes. Even if you don't agree with him, least Adesnik takes the time to post thoughtful, coherent arguments.
Mr. Adesnik, though I disagree with many of your opinions — and I believe you sometimes go too far — I think if people are to critisize they should do so as constructively as possible. I keep up with OxBlog and maintain a blog of my own, and wish that sometimes contributers other than you would post (hint-hint other Oxbloggers). But, David, you do not want to start posting too much about your critics, especially those who comment anonymously, or you will end up like some of the other failed bloggers out there. You want to focus on the issues, and sometimes acknowledge differing opinions if it fits into what you are saying, but don't get too wrapped up in it. One exception is your correcting yourself over Iraq, keep it up but don't self-destruct. You are one of the few conservatives who have admitted the lenses were foggy in the objectives for war.

Well, it's always good to hear what the other side has to say anyway, inspires debate.

P.S. The first anon comment on this post is quite a good one.
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