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The Blogosphere's Mandatory Script

Skimble, a political blog, is closing up shop out of annoyance with the endless triviality of the election debate in 2008. Over at TalkLeft, Democrat partisans have diagnosed the problem predictably as being one of insufficient extremism -- being moderate or centrist is, to them, the worst sort of boring. (The fact that right-wing blogs just completely ignore these posts merely reinforces my point.)

Skimble gets the symptoms right and TalkLeft gets the diagnosis precisely wrong, though. This election has become too annoying to write about. But the problem is not the lack of partisan zealotry, the problem is the relentless and predictable scripts of partisan zealotry.

Take a step back and review any political blog you like and you will immediately be struck by the sameness of the posts. They take the story of the day -- invariably some substance-free "gaffe", photo op, or partisan charge of corruption -- and attach a laundry list of catastrophic impacts foretelling the end of the world if that candidate would be elected. Any reference to actual policy issues will be brief, insubstantial, and driven entirely by stereotypes. Comments threads will be infested by cut-and-paste repetitions of well-worn slogans and talking points, bereft of any engagement with the issues of the real world or any recognition that disagreement could indicate anything other than demonic possession. The scripts rule the day without any tolerance for deviation or criticism of any kind:

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