David Broder has written that Harry Reid should abdicate the Senate Majority Leader’s position.
I think this event deserves a discussion of the media context.
Let me start simply this way. David Broder is the “unchallenged dean” of the Washington commentariat. No op-ed columnist has enjoyed the respect and prestige David Broder has. (I don’t need to go further to tell you that Broder is nobody’s conservative.)
This is the man who has called for the resignation of one Harry Reid.
Once upon a time, this Broder pronouncement might well have created a tidal wave. Harry Reid might have been halfway out the door by the afternoon of the Broder column’s publication. In short, Harry Reid might have been given the full Trent Lott treatment on a matter much more richly deserving it.
The case is easy to make and Broder made it. Reid conducts himself in an aggressively boorish manner. In an apparently desperate bid to be invited to the next Yearly Kos meeting, he recently yelped that “The war is lost,” despite the fact that we have poured a rather large amount of blood and treasure into Iraq, the fact that the United States is never outgunned, but only loses its nerve, and the fact that there are several million Iraqis hoping we don’t pull a cute Vietnam-style see ya later (and quite a few terrorists who hope we do). Reid badly undermined us with both enemies and allies.
Broder said all this (just a little more nicely than me, but not much) and Pejman and I have to share the news. It did not generate its own massive press explosion. I’m not sure Broder’s announcement will mean more than Mark Levin’s a few days ago. To a person who remembers life before the blogosphere, that’s a little surprising.
(Personally, I pray the Democrats fall to common sense and send Reid to the back benches. David Broder is not the enemy of the Democrat party. He probably lifted a toast on that unhappy November night last year. They should heed his advice.)
But guys like David Broder don’t carry the influence they once did. I can think of no position in the established media that has been more thoroughly damaged by the internet than the once small ranks of op-ed columnists. Not so long ago, there were just a handful of political column writers who could hope to influence national opinion. In the age of the internet, the ranks of well-educated opiners with something to say are legion and they are constantly cranking out content. The democratization of discourse is in effect.
Broder’s column may just sink beneath the waves of the opinion ocean. It’s too bad. Because this time (no, it’s not the only time) the dean is right.