Apologia Pro Waldo Jaquith

There are so many avenues to this it’s tough to get started. Waldo removes a blog from his aggregator for posting the aftermath of an act of terrorism, calling it “political pornography” (which is definitely not to be confused with adult pornography like www.nu-bay.com) and booting the blog.

Now General Greivious’ Dog isn’t the only photoshop blog out there. In fact, it was predated by Perseverando, the author of which is currenly being considered to replace the outgoing Tucker Watkins as a representative for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat transitioning from Allen to Webb.

I will leave aside the obvious dichotomy between allowing the liberal photoshoppers and excluding the conservative ones. I will also leave aside the propriety of removing GGD for posting an un-photoshopped and factual occurence. Free speech isn’t always pretty, but warts and all it has it’s place.

Let’s step back for a moment to the very first Sorenson Institute Blog Summit. A verifyable success IMO, and it was due to one individual: Waldo Jaquith.

The second Sorenson Blog Summit was an even greater success than the first. Credit can be given to one man: Waldo Jaquith.

The Virginia Polticial Blogs aggregator was a “gift” to the Virgina blogosphere to help the smaller blogs enter the mainstream. This was a tremendous boon to those blogs who didn’t have the clout that a Commonwealth Conservative or Bearing Drift have, yet at the expense of his own readership one man took the time to do this: Waldo Jaquith.

Given the opportunity to use his skills to coarsen the Virginia blogosphere, one guy actually did his best to widen the scope and create opportunities for people to take advantage of the new media: Waldo Jaqith.

Folks, I’m not arguing that I agreed with the removal of GGD. Mr Jaquith is an unabashed, socialist, commie-pinko, leftist, tree-hugging, socialist (for good measure) Democrat. So now that my conservative credentials are firmly re-established….

Waldo is a rare example of how a partisan can still be objective and altruistic for the good of his neighbor. Considering how Waldo Jaquith could have very well been otherwise, taking the tack of his erstwhile colleagues on the left, blogs should be grateful for an even playing field.

Now I realize there are growing pains in the blogosphere — aggregators could very well be the next big thing and may very well become partisan in the same way independent blogs have been snapped up and influenced by campaigns. Heck, aggregators could very well re-align that paradigm, because who the hell wants to read 15 posts on one site saying the same thing? Death of the echo-chamber? Perhaps…

I have to touch on the War on Terrorism and the graphics produced from this policy. Firstly, I don’t view the “War on Terrorism” as a true war. Like a “War on Poverty”, an anti-terrorist stance is a policy of the United States. It will take years to root it out as an acceptable method of political communication. It will take farsightedness to effect the Renaissance upon those nations who have never expereienced an Age of Reason.

Now there are images that will undoubtedly offend. They are designed to offend, but they are also a window into the souls of those impacting the violence. Terrorists such as these deserve to be rooted out and destroyed, and as a public we should be made to understand the seriousness of the threat of terrorism.

Covering up the pictures, “political pornography” as it may seem, doesn’t do anyone justice.

Now I’ve taken a bit of flack for not revealing sources with regards to the files kept by the Jim Webb campaign (specifically Vanden Berg) on Virginia bloggers on the left and the right, and for good reason. I believe the practice to be particularly “Nixonian” (as it was described to me), something that would never occur to a MSM reporter.

Ironically, for as concerned as Republicans were about such vindictiveness, I can’t help but compare the spectre of files on bloggers to the “VandenBerging” of Waldo Jaquith.

Of course, the tables got turned quickly with the VandenBerging of John Maxwell, a 16-year old named Alex who posted pseudonymously as an attorney in the Valley. Oops… but one more reason why pseudonymous blogs are not to be trusted.

Still, the entire episode of bloggers breaking stories (e.g. Waldo with Goode, Hoeft with Kellam, or myself with the anti-Miller flyer) only for those stories to ultimately break the blogger is appalling. Some have argued that by blogging about politics, you have opened yourself up as a public figure to be scrutinized. Others have insisted that as no MSM reporter would be challenged, neither should a blogger. I argue somewhere in the middle, that MSM reporters really report under the aegis of a larger organization, while bloggers are soapboxes for individuals.

It doesn’t mean you get the inner details of your life posted, but neither does that mean you get a free pass, either.

Back to Waldo Jaquith, it’s his damn aggregator. Let him have it, and let him be. Life does in fact move along.

For Republicans who typically argue in favor of property rights (I tend to be the guy that says you have property right up to the point that it affects my own property rights), this is an open/shut case.

For a moment, I don’t beleive Waldo was being malicious in removing the post with the butchered American.


Waldo Jaquith’s prime metaconcern has always been with the tone of the blogosphere. He isn’t alone. Chad Dotson, Norm Leahy, Cory Chandler, myself, Jon Henke, the gang at SST, Jim Bacon, and much of the “Old Guard” that consist of the larger and longer existing blogs have been keen enough to understand what might happen if things got out of hand.

Most of us would agree: Sorenson I and II, VaPoliticalBlogs, and many of the constructive items that have benefited the Virginia blogosphere (both in tone and technology) have happened because of the altruism of Waldo Jaquith.

Waldo is a Democrat, I am a Republican. I would like to think that there are parallels between the left and right when it comes to blogs. We have Commonwealth Conservative, they have Raising Kaine. We have Bearing Drift, they have Not Larry Sabato. We have GGD, they have Perseverando.

Now I’m not saying I’m the parallel to Jaquith, but I’d like to think that someone else thinks so. He’s a smart guy, he’s well respected on both sides. I’ll take that.

Now I know there are critics of every stripe. Democrats will undoubtedly read this as vindication or scoff with insincerity. It’s neither. Some Republicans may read this as being “squishy” on the issue. If so, you would count yourself as the fifth person in the world to charge me with leftism or moderation.

There is an old Napoleonic dictum: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” These same critics (to their glee or head-shaking confoundment) will readily add that no Democrat would ever come to my defense on such an issue. Perhaps so.

I disagree with the man’s politics, but I think Waldo is a fine individual who doesn’t deserve many of the personal insults he’s had to endure.

So here it goes:

I will add the following: I am very glad to see the ODBA cut its teeth, step up, and defend GGD’s post regarding Islamic terrorism. That is an issue we cannot ignore and must discuss as a society. It’s real, and it should be discussed in an open forum. Unfortunately, some forums are more open than others.

That having been said, Waldo Jaquith is a good man who made a decision with which I disagree. It wasn’t the first, it won’t be the last. But we can be grown-ups and disagree without being disagreeable. Not everyone lives up to it, but those who realize it first get the better of everyone else.

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