[Aah, hell. You can get away with reading just the quote and the short second paragraph following it. The rest isn't up to snuff.]
In the 'Left' blogosphere, Ezra Klein is rated more accurately than Matthew Yglesias (neither is an intellectual heavyweight but Klein seems to be the more serious of the two). But I'm reminded periodically that one of the major weak spots in poli-blog discourse, leftish and rightesque, is the pressure against any kind of serious engagement with full-blown ideas (rather than rhetoric/talking points) from one's ideological opposites, and it affects him too. The 'wisest' liberals should have things to say to the wisest conservatives, and vice versa; it ain't necessarily so.
Klein wrote on Monday:
Clint asks, "I'd love to have a summary of who you think of as the 'Ezra Klein' of conservative bloggers. Or maybe your top 5, since conservative means many things."
This is a tricky question to get into, because folks get all sorts of pissed off when you approvingly link to writers you disagree with, and because, as Clint says, conservative means many things. In particular, I worry that I don't have any standard issue Republicans. [... my emphasis --wa.]
Predictably, Klein's commenters get their tight whites in a bunch over his mention of Megan McArdle (who, in fairness, really doesn't know her ass from her elbow, near as I can tell). A lot of that is the usual young-blogger resentment, mixed with 'conservative chicks are so horrifying' feelings, blended with the tendency to go after low-hanging fruit (she's an 'economics blogger' with an MBA). And unsurprisingly, his commenters have few alternative suggestions to make - Larison, Drezner, a couple grudging mentions of Sullivan, etc. Basically, his commenters (a small fraction of his readership) have no interest in the arguments of Klein's opposite numbers in Right Blogistan.
Must it be said? That's a problem. Even if Klein is straightforwardly describing the feedback he gets, rather than justifying his own lack of engagement, it's a scary thing he's saying. If you can't approvingly cite anyone but your ideological fellow-travelers, you're not doing serious intellectual work; you're doing PR.
Many, many, many 'Left' bloggers write as if there's no such thing as a good conservative idea (or ideal). Disgust with Republican politicians is reasonable; their organization is corrupt and, in many cases, flat-out evil, and the national GOP is complicit in various war crimes including torture, so it's sometimes OK to dismiss Republican maneuvers at first glance. And we might note that disgust with Democratic politicians is equally justified, with a minute of Bonus Hate for their absolute lack of testicular fortitude. But it astounds me that - in a year when the presumptive Dem nominee, an African-American Harvard grad, has more cross-party appeal since any politician since Reagan and is renowned for his ability to speak to conservatives - the 'thought leaders' who support him show no interest in extending the same basic courtesy, in finding common cause and joining wider discussion. No wonder our bloggers have been so obsessed with politicians who 'pander to the base': that's the basic model for blog audience-building among our young up'n'comers.