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December 17, 2002

MATTHEW YGLESIAS WRITES:

Seems to me that "[t]he Internet commentator Atrios" is becoming quite the influential figure in liberal journalism circles. Isn't it going to be embarrassing if it turns out that he is Bob Shrum after all? Or even worse, some annoying college student?

If you read Kausfiles today, you might wonder if Atrios is really Sid Blumenthal, but I'm still going with Shrum.

More seriously, I wonder if Krugman knows who Atrios is? Citing an anonymous Internet commentator on the Times oped page is a bit unusual. (Maybe Atrios is Krugman! Reynolds' Assignment Desk says "find out who --" oh, hell, never mind.)

But though I think Atrios' anonymity is a barrier to his/her influence, it's obviously not that big a barrier. (S)he was posting a lot of solid stuff on Lott, and, ultimately, that's what matters. Which is the beauty of the blogosphere.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: This passage from the New York Times article on black Republicans makes me think that Kaus is giving Blumenthal too much credit:

"It was like a rifle going off," said Peter N. Kirsanow, the only black Republican on the United States Commission on Civil Rights, who was at home reading a book and watching C-Span when Mr. Lott's comments stopped him cold.

Angry and shaken, Mr. Kirsanow called another Republican on the commission and said plainly, "Something has to be done."

Armstrong Williams, a conservative black columnist who was in the room when Mr. Lott made his comments, had a similar visceral reaction. "It was like being cut with a chain saw," he said.

The next day, Mr. Williams called Mr. Lott's office, expressing his outrage with a terse warning: "There's a storm brewing."

He then called Harold E. Doley Jr., president of Doley Securities, a prominent Republican donor and the only black now with a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, to take his pulse on the Lott situation.

Mr. Doley's response was firm and quick: "Lott has to go."

Bloggers (and Blumenthal's emails) may have sped this along, but it was going to come out. Lott could have stopped it with a prompt, forthright statement no later than the following Saturday. But he ducked and covered, and -- as is often the case when people duck and cover -- he purchased ruin for himself and trouble for his party. As I wrote earlier, Lott laid the foundation for his own ruin, and then stood aside so that others could build on it.