“Have a thick skin, and a tender heart.”
Steve Daines said that to me in early-2014.
Of course, he was speaking about politics...and he wasn’t just talking to me - it was a class of people learning about how to run for political office.
I thought it was good advice at the time, and I still do. Alas, for years I wasn’t able to follow that advice. Why? I had a thin skin.
For a long time, I took things personally. If someone mentioned me online, I’d usually get offended. I’d lash out. I’d play the fool.
It took me a long time to develop an ‘I-don’t-give-a-fuck-attitude.’
That kind of attitude is one of the most important things if you’re going to write about politics.
But not everyone has that attitude.
Take Don Pogreba, the main writer at MT Post.
I wrote about his cohort, Pete Talbot, a few days ago.
Pete has a thick skin, and didn’t feel the need to comment on my post (of course, chances are also good that he never read it).
Don wasn’t the same way.
Mere hours after I put up my post critiquing his site and their ideas, Don had to come over to my site and comment.
Here’s what he said:
“Want to share your traffic data sometime? Happy to compare.”
I did the same thing that Don does to me - I deleted that comment.
Don was confused by this.
He came back to my site the next day, saw his previous comment had been deleted, and went ahead and left this comment:
“Happy to compare actual traffic numbers anytime, Greg.”
As Don does to me, I went ahead and deleted that comment.
This upset Don.
Ten minutes after I deleted his comment, he came back to my site and left this comment:
“I will admit to needing your in-depth explanation on one matter, though. Given that we are somehow the reason Republicans win in Montana, was our blog the reason Dems held most of the Land Board until recently? That the governor has been a Democrat our entire run as a site? That Jon Tester has won three elections? Only a fool would think any of that is true. Or maybe (and brace yourself for this), our blog is a small part of a very complex system and we simply write to inform and entertain folks. Shocking idea.”
As you can guess, I deleted that comment.
Hey - I love free speech...but I simply cannot allow people to comment on my site that won’t allow me to comment on theirs.
That angers Don.
You see, he simply cannot stand the idea that someone is going to write about him or his baby...without giving him a chance to comment.
Now, if he wants to write about someone and he decides that that person won’t be able to reply...that’s perfectly fine.
Rember, Don’s “blog is a small part of a very complex system,” and allowing people they don’t agree with politically to comment would be too big of a leap for them.
What a joke.
Don and Pete content themselves with throwing stones in such a way that those they’re trying to hit can’t reply.
They simply block them from commenting.
And my God, are we lucky for this!
Imagine if Don and Pete had to come out of the safe and secure bubble they’re living in. Imagine if they actually had to read comments from people that disagree with them.
That will never happen.
Democrats are weak, and here in Montana they’re especially weak.
Don at MT Post has to block the comments from people he doesn’t agree with, and over at Missoula Current, Martin blocks the comments from people he doesn’t agree with.
If they were winning, they wouldn’t do that. But they’re not winning. They’re losing...and the vast majority of people they support lose.
The truth is that it’s not just Democratic political bloggers that are weak, it’s politicians in general.
I’ll never forget the time I saw a major Montana politician did a complete 180 because of one Facebook comment.
Aside from a thin skin, many of our Montana politicos also have no confidence.
Worse, they constantly seek public affirmation. They want to be loved, and the idea of any kind of criticism causes them to lose it, and lose it bad.
We’ve all seen the comments on MT Post and RD, with Don and Pete and Travis going at each others’ throat after one puts up a post about the other.
All I can say to the Montana GOP is hope to hell that Don and Pete write about you on their site.
You’ll never be a rising Republican star until you get a dedicated post on that site, one attacking you for your ideas and your beliefs.
That’s about all Don and Pete can do - attack, attack, attack...and then attack some more.
I’d be as alarmed about those attacks as I would from an 8-year-old insulting me - who cares?
No one cares.
Oh, you might think someone cares because there’s 100 or more Facebook likes or shares or whatever.
If Facebook likes translated into success at the ballot box, then Hillary would be president right now.
But she’s not. Because Facebook doesn’t make an ounce of difference.
Don's site doesn’t make an ounce of difference, either. Before him, MT Cowgirl used to be the hot site. It didn’t make a difference, either. That’s why they quit over a year ago.
As I said on Saturday, I hope Don and Pete continue just as they are.
I want them to attack Republicans, I want them to do it everyday.
After all, we still have a few blue counties.