Saturday, October 29, 2005

Steve Gilliard's OK By Me

First things first: Steve Gilliard doesn't know I'm writing this and, with dukes like he's got, he certainly doesn't need any help from me.

But he's had a hell of a week with, on the plus side, being written about in the Washington Post – hey, it's all good publicity for a blogger – but, because of that, having to deal with a whole bunch of crap over a piece called Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house.

Steve does a lot of "custom" graphics on The News Blog and, in a piece skewering Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, he depicted Steele, who is black, as a Sambo-like, minstrel caricature. Steve – who let the record show, is also black -- did this to, in his usual pull-no-punches style, hammer the Republican Steele for being a tool of the conservative agenda. More specifically, he didn't like how Steele brushed aside the significance of his partner in crime, Republican Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich, holding an event at a racially-restricted country club.

The brouhaha over this – which included Steele decrying the entire Democratic party for Steve's post – caused Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine to pull an ad from The News Blog. This caused Steve to publicly call Kaine a "coward," which then prompted many on our side of the aisle to castigate Steve for bashing a fellow Democrat during a tough race in a red state.

I won't go into the rest – Steve does a good job in a post today of wrapping up where the dust has settled on all of this.

But here's the deal with bloggers: Unless you're one of the very privileged few, you don't get to do this for a living. You spend hours and hours as a public-domain journalist all in the hope of making a difference and, from a selfish point of view, having a way to vent your spleen, other than beating the crap out of every Republican you see.

One of the benefits is that, for better or worse, you have 100 percent editorial control over what you publish. Which means that most of us occasionally regret something we've written.

I wrote a piece a couple of months ago meant to show that, while we are being told by some conservatives that it's unpatriotic to protest the Iraq war, it's actually the blue states taking the brunt of the troop death in that war. I thought I was making a righteous point. However, after getting a touching e-mail from a red-state mother who had lost a son in Iraq telling me that my post made her feel bad and hearing (privately) from a couple of liberal bloggers who thought I went over the top, I retracted the piece.

Steve clearly feels some degree of regret over some of the fallout from this and, since I don't want to misrepresent what he feels, you should read his post today and see for yourself.

But when it comes to how Steve says some of the things he says, I will say loudly and publicly that he is my kind of guy.

We can parse the various issues surrounding all of this incident until the cows come home, but overreaction to Steve's piece on our side of the political divide is exactly what pleases the Republicans and those on the Far Right. They've becoming accustomed to us being the party of sissy politics, the people who don't fight back and who won't go mano a mano with Republicans -- who typically operate with no such scruples and who don't give a damn about consequences.

And there's no shortage of Right Wingers coming out of the woodwork to praise Kaine for pulling his ad from The News Blog. Ironically, these are the same people who would stick a shank in Kaine's ribs the first chance they get -- and twist it for good measure -- while Steve Gilliard would be fighting to protect him from the real bad guys.

Believe me, they like us apologetic and shrinking in our own shadows. They want us to be introspective and to carefully consider every word we say or write, for fear of ourselves being called politically incorrect or being accused of bloodying the waters of political discourse.

Steve Gilliard, like me, realizes that the time for Democrats and liberals being the punks to the GOP schoolyard bullies is over. You never hear the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin apologizing for comments and actions that are ten times as offensive as anything Steve has written.

And Steve should not apologize either. Screw these people, I say.

The motto of the Yellow Dog Blog is "No prisoners... No compromise... No more reaching across the damn aisle." That's because, as Howard Dean fully realizes and articulates, we are in a war for the heart, soul and future of our country.

If I'm going to be a solider in that war, I'll take Steve Gilliard in my foxhole any day.