The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Neitzschean Existential Angst of Blogging in the Same Sphere as Ace

Posted on | December 10, 2012 | 43 Comments

OK, the pretentious title is both:

  1. An anti-intellectual mockery of show-offs who throw around terms like “existential angst”; and
  2. An honest admission of inner doubts about my own relevance, given that at least half my blog-shtick is ripped off from Ace.

While I’ve improvised, adapted and, perhaps to some extent, genuinely innovated on the AOSHQ model, the derivative nature of my act is still something I occasionally bump my head against.

Back in the day when I was trapped in a desk-editor’s job at The Washington Times, I’d look over the fence at the green grass of the blogosphere and say, “Wow, those guys are actually having fun.”

Nobody was having more fun than the AOSHQ Morons. So when I finally stepped across the fence, it was certain that I was going to try to do something Ace-ish with my own personal corner of the ‘sphere. And discovered, inevitably, that it ain’t nowhere near as easy as it looks.

You know how, when you were a kid watching baseball, you’d see the games on TV and then go out in the backyard to play ball with your friends? And you weren’t exactly clobbering homers over the fence in every at-bat? As a matter of fact, you were striking out a lot, and hitting foul balls that broke out the neighbor’s window?

People who succeed at something are usually very good at what they do, and tend to make it look a lot easier than it actually is. So if your idea of a career plan is, “Hey, I’ll learn to play guitar like Yngwie Malmsteen,” good luck with that. If everybody could do it, there would be no distinction or honor in the achievement, and it’s the same way with me trying to be an Internet Funny Guy Like My Hero Ace of Spades.

He’s just a hell of a lot funnier than me, so I have to figure out some other formula for “value-added” besides the funny stuff. Also, there’s a lot more to Ace than just the wisecracks, and his serious stuff is pretty damned awesome, too. Either way, it’s a mighty hard dollar, this independent blogging racket and, nearly five years into the gig, my appreciation of Ace’s work has increased rather than diminished.

Staying at it this long isn’t easy, and while readers may envy Ace’s glamorous life — the wealth, the fame, the hordes of lovestruck blog groupies — I’m sure there are some mornings when he wakes up and says to himself, “Damn. Gotta go sit there at the computer all day.”

All of which is a wordy preamble to this story: I was sitting here at the damned computer early this morning with the TV on MSNBC — I watch, so you don’t have to — when I heard Joe Scarborough go on an embittered rant against conservative talk-radio.

He named Glenn Beck specifically and I was wondering, “Why does Joe hate Glenn Beck so much?” Then somebody on Twitter pointed out that Scarborough once briefly tried his hand at talk radio and flopped disastrously.

Whatever makes people tune into talk radio, Scarborough didn’t have it, and it only took a few months for the ABC radio network to realize it.

Isn’t it therefore rather unseemly for him to be knocking Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or Mark Levin or any of the other successful practicioners in a medium where he, Joe Scarborough, has proven himself incapable of success? I think it is and, if I should ever decide to pack it in as a blogger, I hope to God somebody will slap me if I ever try to excuse my failure by disparaging the success of others.

That word again — in case you missed it — is unseemly.

Well, the thought crossed my mind when I heard Scarborough’s disgruntled rant that maybe I should blog about it. But there were other things to blog about, and it slipped my mind until this afternoon when — in search of something else to write about besides the tedious “fiscal cliff” story — I clicked over to Ace’s and saw the headline:

Joe Scarborough: God-Damn Those
Political Talk Show Hosts Who
Run Other People Down Just To
Increase Their Influence, Buff Their
Brand, and Juice Their Ratings

Yeah. You should go read that. I’ll probably still be here coping with my existential angst when you come back. If you ever come back.


43 Responses to “The Neitzschean Existential Angst of Blogging in the Same Sphere as Ace”

  1. ThomasD
    December 10th, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

    And Ace stole his schtick, lock stock, and rotgut barrel, from Jonah Goldberg, then dialed up the raunch to levels intolerable to the likes of NRO. One he got the requisite level of attention he dialed it all back.

    Scarborough is also seeking attention, mainly from his current – and so he hopes future – employers. Seeking to remind them that his utility is to serve as a legitimacy foil to those other – popular/successful righty pundits. He is their claim to being ‘balanced’ professional journalistic organizations.

  2. CPAguy
    December 10th, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

    I like RSM much better than Ace.

    Ace is OK….but I enjoy the bootstrapping journalism displayed on this blog.

    Also have enjoyed Smitty evolving into a nice groove over the past year.

  3. robertstacymccain
    December 10th, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

    Hey, this is not about invidious comparison. The whole point of the post is that success is not a zero-sum game, and people should not think that way. It’s not either/or.
    Beyond whatever genuine ideological differences Scarborough may have with grassroots conservatives, he has evidently let himself succumb to a sour-grapes attitude. We should learn to avoid that.

  4. robertstacymccain
    December 10th, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

    C’mon, man — no Ace-bashing, or I’ll have to go all Chris Crocker on you: “LEAVE THE EWOK ALONE!”

  5. K-Bob
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

    Okay, I love a good comparison as much as the next guy intellectual, but about the only way I can see Ace as having stolen from Goldberg is that they both use the English language as their preferred medium of exchange.
    Unless I missed the sarcasm?

  6. Adjoran
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

    Most politicians who get caught in an adulterous scandal with two years until their next election manage to resolve to tough it out, “repair their marriage,” “work on themselves,” etc., because it is just hard for voters or the press to maintain a level of outrage for a year and a half (witness the Tea Party of 2010 & the Election of 2012).

    Scarborough could not. The details of his cheating were so egregious, so repulsive that he had to resign just after being reelected because they would not only ensure he would never win another election, but that he could never get a job dealing with the public or with politics.

    So IF I were so degenerate as to watch him, I would recall that every time he mounts the high horses.

  7. K-Bob
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

    We all know from grade school that the kids who run around claiming to be smart are probably average at best.

    One of the smartest guys I knew when I was growing up was a guy who can’t read. He wasn’t a carpenter. He worked factory jobs. But he decided one day to build his mom a house, and just did it. Took him a year, working evenings, and he never had help. Went on to build his own house. Eventually got hired as a carpenter making more money than factory workers. Last I heard, he owned a hardware store. He still couldn’t read, or make out a check.

    I’d trust that guy with a critical decision sooner than some self-professed intellectual on TV.

  8. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

    I like a lot of bloggers and most of the blogs on my blog lists are ones I read because I like them (there are a couple of exceptions I include for comparison reasons). I assume it is the same for Ace’s and TOM’s lists.

    If they are conservative it is generally win win.

  9. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

    I do not get Ace bashing. I think Ace and his contributors do a good job. I do not have to agree with all their positions (and often I disagree) but so what? I do not agree with anyone 100%.

  10. Terry
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

    Hey, you and Ace are both good at this. You may or may not be intellectual (i.e. book smarts) but you are definitely both popular intellectuals (common sense and/or street smarts) able to communicate on a meaningful level to those of us bitter clinger types who may or may not have graduated from ivy league college.

    If the difference between the intellectual (Scarborough) and popular intellectual (Limbaugh, Levin, Beck) is a determining factor in successful communication skills, I would suggest Scarborough is greatly outwitted, ultimately evidenced by the fact one no longer has a talk radio show and the other three are tremendously powerful.

    The short version of all this is that you and Ace are both more widely respected for your personalities than for your brains. 🙂

  11. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

    You had to say “mount,” adulterous scandal, and Scarborough in the same post? Now I have to go bleach my brain.

  12. K-Bob
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

    BTW, if anyone is wondering how he could build a house without any help, he simply copied what he saw in the design of those “double-wide” premanufactured homes. The dimensions on those things are easily managed by one man who is patient enough to figure out how to rig things. The interior designs are simple, too. He just copied a good, basic design.

    He couldn’t read, but he could use a tape measure and add and subtract (i think he used the markings on the tape itself as a way to add or subtract). And he could figure out a way to rig something for hoisting up walls by himself, or holding the end of a long piece of siding while installing it. Damn clever stuff.

  13. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

    I don’t see it myself.

  14. richard mcenroe
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

    Plus you got more of that low, back-holler, “Lawless” cunning than Ace on his best day.

  15. richard mcenroe
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

    Let’s just say Scarborough can never visit Ohio if the legislature has its way…

  16. K-Bob
    December 10th, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

    Ace doesn’t use his own blogroll to get to those blogs, though. Some of those links are older than email. It’s like a wonderworld of 404’s on his state-of-the-art blog platform.

    He mustn’t change it, though. It’s like the big, white, rickety wooden roller coaster of blogs.

  17. K-Bob
    December 10th, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

    Two words: Dead Intern

    Of course, on the left, that’s a resume enhancer.

  18. K-Bob
    December 10th, 2012 @ 8:04 pm


  19. richard mcenroe
    December 10th, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

    Not so much for Gary Condit, but I think the Dems have built up the requisite callouses by now. Or callousness; your choice,

  20. K-Bob
    December 10th, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

    Ace gets bashed by the morons on his posts. Did you read the first few comments?

  21. Joe_Detweiler
    December 10th, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

    There are Blogs other than yours out there? Well I’ll be damned.

  22. Scoob
    December 10th, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

    Ace tends to run hard-conservative between primaries, and then tilts establishment/moderate during them. I used to assert that he might be influenced by Rovian advertising, until he banned me. Now I’m allowed back, but he still bans my comments. Must have been hitting too close to home. But I am a fan of Maetenloch.

  23. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 10th, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

    That may be true, but I have always liked AoSHQ. I check it almost every day.

  24. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 10th, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    I see that sort of things all the time over there. Sort of the way HA readers are always giving Allahpundit a hard time.

  25. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    December 10th, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

    Terry, Joe Scarborough is not an intellectual. Rush Limbaugh did not graduate from college, but he is very well versed on conservatism and could hold his own with any of the greats.

    Scarborough is not that smart and not at all principled. If I were to compare him to anyone it would be Bill O’Reilly, but Morning Joe is shorter and with a smaller IQ.

  26. Becca Lower
    December 10th, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

    Cool story, K-Bob. Thanks for sharin’ it.

  27. Finrod Felagund
    December 10th, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

    Everyone gets the Existential Blues now and then.

  28. K-Bob
    December 10th, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

    Gotta love them big, white, rickety, wooden roller coasters

  29. ThomasD
    December 10th, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

    I’m not ‘bashing’ Ace. And he most certainly is out of the mold of Goldberg back when The Goldberg File was making routine references to his couch and Juggs magazine. But, perhaps there aren’t as many around whose internet memories go way back to before the turn of the millennium.

    All I’m noting is that when people seek to communicate they frequently adopt known conventions as a way of facilitating the process.

    Much like 12 bar blues. And my point is there is no shame in borrowing from those who came before.

  30. ThomasD
    December 10th, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

    html fail, sorry.

  31. ThomasD
    December 10th, 2012 @ 9:57 pm
  32. ThomasD
    December 10th, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

    If Scarborough were truly intelligent or intellectual MSNBC would not be giving him so much airtime and access to the public – because then he’d be a danger.

    He’s less unpredictable than David Brooks.

  33. WJJ Hoge
    December 10th, 2012 @ 11:00 pm

    I will cheerfully admit to ripping off, I mean recycling, shtick from other bloggers—including you and Smitty.

  34. Adjoran
    December 11th, 2012 @ 1:19 am

    Well, Ace is a pampered urbanite. He got soft hands, city hands. But if you take your cappuccino extra-frothy, he’s your man.

  35. Adjoran
    December 11th, 2012 @ 1:22 am

    I’m no O’Reilly fan but I’m pretty sure Li’l Joey has a testicle deficit, too.

  36. K-Bob
    December 11th, 2012 @ 1:35 am

    Glad to! I haven’t seen him for over a decade, and this just got me to thinkin’ about him and his wife – really nice people.

  37. scarymatt
    December 11th, 2012 @ 6:45 am

    I miss Monty’s DOOM posts.

  38. Bob Belvedere
    December 11th, 2012 @ 7:33 am

    That was Jonah before he went all wobbly and started wanting to be part of the Conservative Beautiful People.

  39. Bob Belvedere
    December 11th, 2012 @ 7:33 am


  40. Bob Belvedere
    December 11th, 2012 @ 7:43 am

    Me too…just sayin’…

  41. Quartermaster
    December 11th, 2012 @ 8:05 am

    I never had much respect for Goldberg. When he was being owned, and regularly fisked, by the paleos, I tried to warn him off because he was making a fool of himself (which didn’t take much since he was almost there anyway). We had an email exchange, where he continued to make a fool of himself. He finally stopped emailing me when I ignored him for 3 days.
    Goldberg is not a man anyone should pattern themselves after.

  42. McGehee
    December 11th, 2012 @ 9:33 am

    I can’t get into hanging out at AOSHQ because it seems like it only takes 45 seconds for any given post to exceed 100 comments. My commentative brilliance gets lost in the shuffle and even if anybody responds I’ll never find it.

    I much prefer the blogs where the pace is slower, the commentariat doesn’t number in the thousands, and a marginal wit like myself can get some traction.

    This is turning out to sound a lot less complimentary to our host than I intended, so I’ll shut up now.

  43. Frank_B
    December 11th, 2012 @ 11:34 am

    It’s all about the je ne sais quoi, which is French for: “Who is going to clean up this mess?” I enjoy both sites but have a special fondness for this one. RSM, Smitty and the Wombat (though I be banned to infinity and beyond for a past indiscretion) seem much more like actual humans than Ace’s crew. Success for everybody!