Friday, October 31, 2014
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Five for fighting

Attytood's top impact posts

Five for fighting



2008 was a weird year for Attytood (I'm referring to the blog, not to myself). Overall traffic was probably down -- not so much because of what I did or didn't write but because three years worth of archives vanished into cyber-nothingness when Philly.com switched the blogging platform. The new platform also meant a new commenting system which, overall, was probably an improvement -- requiring registration meant that some of the worst dreck was eliminated and there was spirited debate among a small group of "regulars," but it also limited posts from newcomers, especially folks outside of Philadelphia who came here from national blogs and (understandably) didn't want to go through the registration hassle to post just one comment. Plus my lengthy summer "book vacation" and a new Sunday-to-Thursday night schedule (occasionally swapped for Friday nights) made for erratic posting at weird times-- which was not really a plus when it comes to building readership.

The good news was that several individual posts from 2008 did manage to have an impact, despite all of that. Here's five posts that mattered, one way or the other:

5. Exclusive: Hillary acknowledges a "misstatement" on Bosnia, March 25, 2008

Clinton acknowleged today for the first time that it was a "misstatement" when she said in a major prepared foreign policy speech last week that "I remember landing under sniper fire" but also tried to brush off the entire issue as "a minor blip." She also gave a revised account of her airplane landing and her tarmac greeting at the Tuzla Air Force base 12 years ago -- seeking to explain a picture re-published this weekend in the Washington Post showing her and daughter Chelsea calmly greeting an 8-year-old girl.

It's true, I guess -- timing is everything. Questions about Hillary Clinton's account of her 1996 trip to Bosnia and her remark that she landed amid sniper fire were starting to rise on the very day that she came to the Daily News to address the editorial board and certain reporters, including Your Blogger. Her chilly, concessionary response to my question was picked up by the TV networks (it was also videotaped), the New York Times and elsewhere. The episode was a major hit to Clinton's credibility as she narrowly lost the Democratic nomination. (Note: How come no comments? Because it's a dupe of the real original post, which was in the old blogging format.)

4. An open letter to Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, April 17, 2008

With your performance tonight -- your focus on issues that were at best trivial wastes of valuable airtime and at worst restatements of right-wing falsehoods, punctuated by inane "issue" questions that in no way resembled the real world concerns of American voters -- you disgraced my profession of journalism, and, by association, me and a lot of hard-working colleagues who do still try to ferret out the truth, rather than worry about who can give us the best deal on our capital gains taxes. But it's even worse than that. By so badly botching arguably the most critical debate of such an important election, in a time of both war and economic misery, you disgraced the American voters, and in fact even disgraced democracy itself. Indeed, if I were a citizen of one of those nations where America is seeking to "export democracy," and I had watched the debate, I probably would have said, "no thank you." Because that was no way to promote democracy.

To say that people either loved or hated this angry, over-the-top rant, which I started writing before the credits faded out on ABC's televised Democratic primary debate here in Philadelphia, would be an understatement. It went online at 12:23 a.m. that morning and became the most popular post in the history of Attytood by a longshot, drawing well over 100,000 page views and hundreds of emailed responses from around the globe.

3. Palin's speech to nowhere, Sept. 4, 2008.

But more than anything else, it was a Speech to Nowhere because for all the acclaim, the great bulk of it was devoted to one thing, and that is the one thing that millions of Americans are talking about in 2008 when we talk about "change" -- to the ugliest kind of "pit bull" politics, to use Palin's words, that tear down the other side with cheap ad hominem attacks, surrounded by a cloud of half-truths (uh, those "Greek columns"...did you actually even watch Obama's speech? Because there weren't any) and ridiculous innuendo about "parting the waters" which means nothing but fires up a big hockey rink full of Dittoheads. These kind of vicious attacks -- without having the grace to acknowledge that, despite some real differences on issues with Obama, that he has already accomplished something impressive that says something positive about America and the progress we've made -- were utterly lacking in class. And this is what Tom Brokaw considers "winning" -- have we really sunk that low as a nation?. The people of America want and deserve a real debate, now trash talk from the basketball point guard who was once called "Sarah Barracuda."

This was the second most widely read post of 2008, and I was proud of this because at the time it was bucking the conventional wisdom about the Palin pick, which was mostly positive. A month later, most everyone else in the pundit class was aboard the same bandwagon.

2. Obama would ask his AG to "immediately review" potential of crimes in Bush White House, April 14, 2008.
Obama said that as president he would indeed ask his new Attorney General and his deputies to "immediately review the information that's already there" and determine if an inquiry is warranted -- but he also tread carefully on the issue, in line with his reputation for seeking to bridge the partisan divide. He worried that such a probe could be spun as "a partisan witch hunt." However, he said that equation changes if there was willful criminality, because "nobody is above the law.

Obama's visit to the Daily News and Inquirer was also newsworthy, especially now that he's less than four weeks away from becoming the 44th president of the United States. Believe it or not, my question to Obama still remains the only time that he's been directly questioned about the prosecution question, even though it's been the subject of numerous articles since Nov. 4. In fact, this blog post was recently cited in the New York Times, and it's been cited in countless other blogs.

1. The myth of Ronald Reagan: Coming to your bookstore in 2009, July 2, 2009

Reagan's distorted legacy will loom over our next president, whether it's John McCain, who flip-flopped on taxes to appease key GOP power broker Grover Norquist, the head of the Reagan Legacy project, or Barack Obama, who has cited Reagan's political optimism as an influence and whose recent moves to the political right is raising new doubt about whether he can alter the course that was set nearly three decades ago.

Unless something is done to correct the myth.

This wasn't the most monumental post for readers in 2008, but it was for the blogger. Hopefully it will affect you sometime next year.
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