03/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sirota, Silver Debate Devolves Into Petty Name-Calling

Ugh. This is the sort of day that it's been, that I've found myself slogging through the two sides of a terrifically boring blogfight between Open Left's David Sirota and 538.com's Nate Silver. Whatever happened to all those Blagojevich press conferences? Those were awesome.

Anyway, these liberal blogs, they fight like kittens. What exactly is going on? Argh, I'll tell you.

Last Wednesday, Silver suggested that the whole world "give [Tim] Geithner a break," despite the fact that he's a terrible monster who didn't have a slam-dunk plan to save the banks after Obama talked up his presentation like it was going to be an amazing performance. It was sort of like that Will Smith movie, Seven Pounds, which pretended to be an inspiring tale of humanity but was really about an elaborate plan to commit suicide with jellyfish. (Oh, sorry. SPOILER ALERT. Who cares, that movie's terrible and should be burned.) Anyway, Silver pointed out that most of Geithner's critics weren't economic experts, which is true! But then he suggested that people lay off the "ideological smelling salts" and defer to "expert opinion." This sounded, to Sirota, like Silver was saying, "Shut up and don't question the sage wisdom of establishment thinkers."

Naturally, a deep and satisfying huff from a bag of ideological smelling salts followed. Sirota was quick to point out, correctly, that to a certain extent, Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner were part of a tribe that "got it wrong," and that much of the "expert opinion" included people "who had direct hands in destroying the economy." It would have been wise to stop there: point made, case for questioning establishment opinion planted. But Sirota couldn't resist labeling Silver a "perfect distillation of the eliteocracy" and a "power-worshiping sycophant." Pretty awesome name-calling. And he gave his own list of people who should be "listened to," like "Krugman, Reich, Roubini, Baker, Galbraith, Mishel, etc." because some eliteocracies are better than others.

Silver then wrote out an elaborate post about the taxonomy of progressivism that was rather uninteresting up until the last paragraph, when he dropped in a few links that pointed to a long-held grudge with something Sirota wrote back in November. Sirota responded again, pretending that it was an argument over something high-minded when really it was about petty, personal differences. (I love bloggers who boldtype things like, "Let's be very clear: this is not about a petty 'Nate Silver versus David Sirota' grudge match" and then go on to refer to the person you're not in a petty grudge match with as the "hackneyed tripe...of the Bush years," "archaic," "boring," "McCarthyite," "banal," "McCarthyite," "Establishmentarian," and probably some more "McCarthyite," I don't know. I sort of gave up once he started using quotes from Top Gun.)

And then Silver called Sirota "self-aggrandizing," which was mean! And then Sirota called their discussion an "ongoing debate," which was wrong! And then there was news of a chimpanzee attack on the news, and you know what? I found that I cared more about that than about this insipid blogger spat. I really did. And it felt so good to admit that.