The Thinker

Is this the best political blog?

So many blogs and so little time! So many blogs, yet most of them are just spinning variants of the top news stories that show up on Yahoo News. This means if you read many blogs then you are also dealing with a lot of noise, because you have likely read much of the content elsewhere. (I strive to make my blog different. It is my hope you get generally unique insight from my blog. I cannot say that of most of the blogs I read.) While blog sites offer a comfortable feeling of community for like-minded people, not that many of them can put it altogether. This is especially true in the complex world of American politics.

Many bloggers claim to be able to see the forest through the trees, but few have the combination of education, experience, content and depth of knowledge to see the forest clearly. Billmon used to share this amazing talent with the world. Alas, Billmon’s blog is no more. Steve Gilliard’s blog is no more either. (In Steve’s case, he actually died. Billmon just retired.) Therefore, for some time I have been hunting for a political blog site that could do both Billmon and Steve Gilliard justice.

Some have come close. Digby, for example, is full of useful political analysis of current events. In my mind is the best political blog written by a woman. Others are noteworthy. The Veracifier video blog hosted by Talking Points Memo has Joshua Micah Marshall dissecting current events by inserting actual recorded political events. Huffington Post is something like the National Inquirer of political blogs. It is sassy and spicy and throws in the latest celebrity news for our consumption. Juan Cole’s Informed Comment remains excellent because he is an academic specializing in Middle East studies. However, when he strays outside his area of expertise he is not as sharp. Atrios has a huge following but little in the way of detailed political analysis that I need. Still, Atrios may be the Strunk and White of bloggers. Each word is pungent enough to carry ten other words with it. He is a master of being expressive while being terse.

There are a number of journalists associated with The Washington Post worth reading. For general snarkiness and for meticulously documenting the context of Washington’s political events, Dana Milbank’s Washington Sketch is a must-read. He is not really a blogger though. He is a paid columnist. Dan Froomkin of the Washingtonpost.com’s White House Watch blog is full of useful insider Washington facts that generally do not appear elsewhere. He deserves book marking too.

I wait for the unlikely return of Billmon. Meanwhile, there is Kevin Drum who arguably is just as good as Billmon. If my blogging time is limited and I need someone who can both find the golden nuggets of political news and put it into realistic perspective, Kevin Drum’s Political Animal blog is the place to go. His blog on the Washington Monthly web site offers what I consider the best mixture of insight and content, much of which either cannot be found elsewhere, or which ordinary blogs do not deem worthy of comment.

So who is Kevin Drum anyhow? Thanks to Wikipedia, I learn that Kevin is a 48-year-old man who hosted the now defunct CalPundit blog. For someone who seems to understand Washington like the back of his hand, he hangs out in Long Beach, California. He is married and has two cats. Pictures of his cats tend to show up on Fridays, when he like many bloggers feels compelled to share the latest pictures of his furry friends lounging around the house.

For a career that included being a city editor, high tech marketer and an IT consultant, he seems an odd choice for being such a top-notch political blogger. In fact, his career does not look too different from my own. I studied journalism, but my bachelor’s degree was in communications. I moved into the information technology field because I found it fascinating and it paid much better than communications. I was never in the marketing side of IT, but I am currently in the management side, which pays very well indeed. Unlike Kevin, who now earns his money as the paid blogger for Washington Monthly, my blog site at best generates only a couple hundred bucks in Google Adsense revenue a year. I have a feeling that if Kevin lived down the street from me we would be great friends.

As you might expect his blog has a liberal bent. Unlike many political blogs though, he is not blinded by his liberalism. He can see merits in other points of view and is not hesitant to write cautions and concerns into his blog entries. Like the best bloggers such as Atrios and the retired Billmon, he can find the connections that elude most of the rest of us.

If you are a political animal like me, you too should be reading Kevin’s Political Animal blog regularly. In fact, if your time is very limited Kevin’s blog should be the only one you read. He is that good.


P.S. Thanks to my brother Tom for introducing me to Kevin’s blog

 

13 Responses to “Is this the best political blog?”

  1. 2:17 pm on October 14 2007, A commenter said:

    I too wait for billmon’s return. But if you’re itching to check out a new blog I’d try Scott Horton’s No Comment blog at Harper’s Magazine located here: http://www.harpers.org/subjects/NoComment

  2. 4:31 pm on October 25 2007, catherineD said:

    Kevin Drum’s blog is always second on my list, but I feel I need to point out what is first, as well: TheCarpetbaggerReport.

  3. 10:29 pm on October 25 2007, Zach said:

    Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum are my two favorite bloggers, by far.

  4. 11:20 pm on October 25 2007, Dillon said:

    Digby and Steve Benen are my faves.

  5. 2:23 am on October 26 2007, Luigi D said:

    I read Juan Cole and Kevin daily. And the CarpetBagger is just super … a must read blog.

  6. 9:59 am on October 26 2007, chicago dyke said:

    sigh. i’m sorry, kevin’s a nice guy and we’ve met and chatted about this sort of thing, and i don’t think even he would compare himself to billmon in the Olde Days. seriously, they are separated by an order of magnatude, at least. kevin works for the audience he’s addressing, but he really doesn’t speak for the entire liberal blogosphere. like, not at all.

    and nice sexism! digby sure do write n read and pontificate, bett’r’n all them other wimmins! it’s like she’s got a man sized brain, or sumpthin. gorsh, i’m so glad you menfolk let us speechify wit you. lemme git back in the kitchen and make you some dinner.

  7. 10:00 am on October 26 2007, chicago dyke said:

    more coffee. i can spell “magnitude” (and other words too) just not at this hour. hence my slip into my more natural wimminspeak, i suppose.

  8. 11:05 am on October 26 2007, Tucker said:

    . . . not to mention the lack of a link for Hullabaloo despite having links to the entire boys’ club. Yeesh.

    (Digby and Ezra Klein are my personal faves. Kevin and Atrios are also on my Daily Ten list.)

  9. 11:12 am on October 26 2007, Mark said:

    Not linking to Digby was an oversight. URL added.

  10. 12:58 pm on October 26 2007, Tucker said:

    Thanks for correcting (and admitting!) it.

  11. 3:24 pm on October 26 2007, JC said:

    I wonder if there is a way that, like what Daily Kos community did with Cheers and Jeers did for Bill at Portland Maine, we can actually pay Billmon, via various paypal donations?

    Seriously, his voice is THAT MISSED.

    a. Incredibly vibrant voice? Check.
    b. Deep analysis? Check.
    c. Well versed in many subjects? Check – economics, history, literature, poetry. Guy has crazy skills.
    c. Attitude? Check.
    d. Cuts through the B.S.? Check.

    Even to this day, his is a voice that is simply irreplaceable. He is worth 10 of Tom Friedman. As much as two Kevin Drum’s (don’t get me wrong, I really like Kevin, read him all the time – it’s just Billmon is THAT GOOD.) Josh Marshall, as a blogger, came close, but he is doing this less and less, as he turns more to mananagement of the TPM experience, video blogging, etc.

    Seriously, why the Nation or someone else didn’t hire him straight away, is beyond me. (Maybe they wouldn’t pay enough.)

    Did anyone, without mentioning names, no why he just disappeared? The one issue with him, I think, is he could get so carried away by his writing, and the sense of genuine outrage that he has, that it might have affected his personal equilibrium. You got that sense, sometimes. (Most incredible writers have this happen.)

  12. 3:54 pm on October 26 2007, Mark said:

    Billmon is anonymous. Except for a couple journalists who have interviewed him and I suspect never met him in person, no one that I am aware of knows who he is or where he lives, other than south eastern Pennsylvania.

    Count me in as someone who would gladly chip in to employ him as a full time blogger. He was phenomenal and I am not sure his like will ever quite come again.

    As for why he disappeared, he clearly found the pressure and the time a lot to handle. I strongly suspected he had some mental illness, simply because of his long absences and the most creative people I know tend toward mental illness. I think he also really wanted his anonymity.

    Billmon was an inspiration for me. While my blog predates his, he really inspired me to hunker down and up the quality of writing and research for my own blog entries. I felt I occasionally beat him in the flowery writing department, but I never came close to matching him otherwise, in spite of lots of kudos I’ve gotten for some of my more popular essays.

    Damn, I still miss Billmon.

  13. 8:31 pm on October 31 2007, at Citizen Jake said:

    [...] Kevin Drum’s Political Animal the best political blog around? This guy says so, I can’t disagree, especially now that I’ve got my full content feed to [...]

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