The Tragic Lessons of Charles Johnson

By tragic I mean hilarious, of course.

Apparently Charles Johnson never went away, because every once in a while Robert Stacy McCain will post about Johnson’s latest hallucinations.

Obama’s fawning fanboy Charles Johnson fancies himself an apostle of Scientific Truth (and imagines his antagonists are all ignorant bigots), but the relentless drip, drip, drip of scandalous facts the past few days have been quite hard on CJ’s self-image.

I’m not going to focus on Johnson’s latest inanities, but rather the two stark lessons that can be learned from the story of a man, who, at the height of his career was appearing on Fox News and is now locked away in a dungeon in L.A. with a computer and a bicycle.

So without further ado…

Lesson #1: You can’t politically convert twice and hold on to your credibility.

More than one come-to-Jesus moment that completely changes a person’s political outlook smacks of opportunism. Does anyone think that David Brock would ever get his old American Spectator column back if he re-converted? Even if he said he was really sorry? No one on either side would trust him at that point, and with good reason.

Charles Johnson was a liberal before September 11. He then started getting in spats with right wing bloggers around 2007, which just happens to be the time that the influence of right wing blogs had dropped dramatically. (Erick Erickson has a post that mentions the state of right wing blogs at the time.) By the time Johnson came out fully on the left, Barack Obama was at the height of his popularity and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. It’s all rather convenient. Blogs on the left predictably quoted him as a bludgeon against the right, but it’s hard to believe that he’s anything but a bludgeon.

So think long and hard before burning your old associates after that initial conversion.

Lesson #2: If you want to be an unprincipled hack, make sure that you’re clever enough to explain yourself.

A person doesn’t have to be intelligent to be successful, but a person who isn’t very smart had better be principled. Markos Moulitsas writes at the same third grade level at which Johnson writes, but DailyKos has been much more successful than Little Green Balls. This isn’t because Markos is any smarter than Johnson; it’s because he’s consistent. Markos Moulitsas would be the same lock-step Democrat under any administration, ready to spout talking points and say “fuck” a lot.

On the other side of this, Bill  Clinton has nothing in the way of principles, and he gets away with it. Bill Clinton can sign Welfare Reform one year and then defend Barack Obama when he guts Welfare Reform. He gets away with it because he’s smart enough to think up some smarmy explanation as to why he completely reversed his position. Ideally, an intelligent person is also principled, but an intelligent person can be unprincipled and still be successful.

I hope that people will learn from the tragedy of Charles Johnson, because I’m considering turning it into a play starring a suicidal mime.

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