Is anger the answer?

Anger, it seems, drives bloggers from both the left and the right.

Writes David Finkel in today’s Washington Post:

In the angry life of Maryscott O’Connor, the rage begins as soon as she opens her eyes and realizes that her president is still George W. Bush. The sun has yet to rise and her family is asleep, but no matter; as soon as the realization kicks in, O’Connor, 37, is out of bed and heading toward her computer.

Out there, awaiting her building fury: the Angry Left, where O’Connor’s reputation is as one of the angriest of all. "One long, sustained scream" is how she describes the writing she does for various Web logs, as she wonders what she should scream about this day.

She smokes a cigarette. Should it be about Bush, whom she considers "malevolent," a "sociopath" and "the Antichrist"? She smokes another cigarette. Should it be about Vice President Cheney, whom she thinks of as "Satan," or about Karl Rove, "the devil"? Should it be about the "evil" Republican Party, or the "weaselly, capitulating, self-aggrandizing, self-serving" Democrats, or the Catholic Church, for which she says "I have a special place in my heart . . . a burning, sizzling, putrescent place where the guilty suffer the tortures of the damned"?

Darfur, she finally decides. She will write about Darfur. The shame of it. The culpability of all Americans, including herself, for doing nothing. She will write something so filled with outrage that it will accomplish the one thing above all she wants from her anger: to have an effect.

"Darfur is not hopeless," she begins typing, and pauses.

"Ugh," she says.

"You are not helpless," she continues typing, and pauses again.


She deletes everything and starts over.

"WAKE THE [expletive] UP," she writes next, and this time, instead of pausing, she keeps going, typing harder and harder on a keyboard that is surrounded by a pack of cigarettes, a dirty ashtray, a can of nonalcoholic beer, an album with photos of her dead father and a taped-up note — staring at her — on which she has scrawled "Why am I/you here?"

As Finkel notes, these are mean times. But does anger solve the problem? Writes Jim Geraghty of The National Journal on CBS.Com:

Today, there are still some blogs out there going out and doing reporting, or drawing on well-grounded experience in non-journalism fields or providing insightful analysis. But many, many more blogs are forsaking fact-gathering for the venting of straight-up, raw anger.

The blogosphere has always had heavily ideological conversational posting boards like Daily Kos and Eschaton on the left or FreeRepublic and LittleGreenFootballs on the right, where no holds are barred and no shot at the opposition is beyond the pale. On those sites, there’s always a crowd of peers cheering you on, and reinforcing the perception that those who disagree with you are so wrong, mendacious, stupid or evil that no criticism is over the top or out of line.