As I've probably made clear by now, I'm borderline-obsessed with the mainstream media's insistence on looking at the world through the obsolete right vs left paradigm while refusing to accept the ongoing political realignment on a wide variety of issues including Iraq, corporate greed, pork barrel spending, the failure of the drug war, and -- most recently -- the ludicrousness of the Dubai ports deal.
We can now add another item to that growing list: Instapundit Glenn Reynolds' new book, "An Army of Davids."
You know Reynolds has hit on something when John Podhoretz and I agree that "Army of Davids" is a must-read. I did a blurb for the book, calling Reynolds "a compelling evangelist for the power of the individual to change our world", while Podhoretz, in his New York Post reviewed, gushed: "I can guarantee you there won't be a more exciting or inspiring book published this year".
The book is a powerful paean to how changes in technology are empowering the little guy to take on the goliaths of Big Media and Big Government. "Small is the new big," says Reynolds.
While touching on the seemingly endless arenas in which technology is decentralizing power and transferring it away from giant corporate entities to individuals -- including the arts, business, politics, music, and even space exploration -- Reynolds is especially engaging on the profound shifts in the way news and information are disseminated (not surprising given his place in the blogging vanguard).
"Power once concentrated in the hands of a professional few," he writes, "has been redistributed into the hands of the amateur many... Millions of Americans who were once in awe of the punditocracy now realize that anyone can do this stuff -- and that many unknowns can do it better than the lords of the profession." Bob Woodward and Tim Russert take note.
Reynolds also nails how the blogosphere has become an invaluable tool for holding the mainstream media's feet to the fire: "Where before journalists and pundits could bloviate at leisure, offering illogical analysis or citing 'facts' that were in fact false, now the Sunday morning op-eds have already been dissected on Saturday night, within hours of their appearing on newspapers' webites."
Reynolds may be identified with the right, but his central thesis that technology is evening the playing field between the media haves and the media-have-only-a-laptop-and-an-Internet connection crowd cuts across partisan lines.
Lines which are increasingly blurred. Take the aforementioned Dubai ports deal (please!). Reynolds says he is "now reasonably comfortable with it" and is "convinced that [it] isn't a bad thing." I disagree. But we find agreement on the way money can cloud the judgment of our so-called leaders and create a very different cost-benefit analysis for those in the establishment and for those whose sole interest is keeping our children and ourselves safe.
And we both see the ports firestorm as a populist issue. Reynolds has castigated the White House for having "missed the early warnings in the blogosphere that the Dubai Ports deal was going to play badly."
Blogs are by nature very personal -- an intimate, often ferocious expression of the blogger's individual passions... and pleasures ("Beware the people who are having fun competing with you!" Reynolds warns Big Media). They often create an unusually close bond between blogger and audience.
Reynolds, who has blogged movingly about his wife Helen (whom he jokingly refers to as Insta-Wife) and her health problems, was reminded of this during his current book tour for "An Army of Davids." As he e-mailed me from the road: "The most striking thing about the tour has been all the people I've met, from ordinary folks to big-name media, who say they're touched by how I always refer to my wife with love and respect on my blog. I'm glad to hear that, but in a way it bothers me that treating one's spouse that way is seen as worthy of comment."
Reynolds is a man of many skills and interests. He's a blogger, a law professor, a microbrewer, a musician, a record label owner, an expert on space, and a devoted husband. To that list we can now add author of an Insta-must-read book.