“I always think there are more people who hate me on my own side than there are on the left.”—Erick Erickson to the New York Times, May 11, 2010
The first time I heard of Erick Erickson was when he was commenting on “The Georgia Gang,” a weekly public affairs show where I am a sometime panelist, for his blog, PeachPundit.com. Blogging was a new thing, as much as anything on the web is new.
I reached out to him to be a regular guest on my program because he was insightful and conservative. In addition, he was just as likely to criticize conservatives as to praise them so he makes good radio and it doesn’t hurt to have a guy like that on your side. Or at least, for him to know you well enough to write about you if the time is ever right.
From PeachPundit.com, he branched out to RedState.com, a national conservative blog. Erick then partnered with Eagle Publishing and became a part of the conservative powerhouse of Regnery, HUMAN EVENTS and now RedState.com. So as far as the liberal landscape was concerned, Erickson was a far-right guy and they liked to go after him. But he can take it, because he’s a conservative first, which means he spends his time attacking liberal policies no matter who proposes them. Politicians on all sides can’t stand him and he wears that as a badge of honor.
He has an interesting background, too. Like the President, Erickson spent much of his youth overseas, in Dubai. But when he came back to the United States, he didn’t seek out the Ivy League bastions of liberalism for his education. Erickson attended a small college in Georgia and decided to stay there to build a life. He’s married with children, a lawyer, a city councilman and a conservative icon. He lives a real life except for the icon part.
In early spring, it was announced that CNN had brought Erickson on board to be a contributor. He would participate mostly in the new “John King, U.S.A.” program created to replace Lou Dobbs but would also be seen in other places on the network. I thought the announcement was encouraging as the network had made a decision in 2009 to stop using radio talk hosts which, I believe, limited their ability to present balanced commentary on the news. Hiring Erick was a step in the right direction to restore competition to the cable news world.
In addition, Erick Erickson is honest. He’s not in the bag for Republicans or Democrats, he’s a conservative independent. He’s gotten in trouble for things he’s said, blogged or “tweeted” about Republicans, Democrats and Supreme Court justices and he’s learned real-time words have consequences. You can never really “take it back” in the blogosphere.
It is true Erickson is hated on the left and on the right. The difference is, on the right, candidates seek him out for approval. He takes sides and if you are on the wrong side from him, you don’t like him.
Earlier this year, he took to task then-Georgia Speaker Glenn Richardson, calling for his resignation. Glenn is no longer speaker. He also takes sides in Republican primaries.
Currently he’s endorsing former Secretary of State Karen Handel in the Republican primary for governor. However, I’ve found that unlike many pundits, his endorsements do not prevent him from criticizing the candidate’s behavior. He and I have disagreed on the value of Michael Steele as Republican National Committee chairman from the beginning, but it makes for spirited and friendly debate and that’s what we need in this country.
Jane Hamsher, the publisher of the liberal blog FireDogLake found out first hand last week that “you don’t go off the plantation” of liberal thought. She was willing to go on the record with The New York Times about Mr. Erickson. When the left was howling that Erickson should be silenced, she said it’s not unusual for bloggers to “test rhetorical limits” and “that’s no reason to keep them off the air.” She also called him an “honest broker.” For that, she has been attacked in the liberal blogosphere as well as having a “twitter fight” break out over her “honest broker” comment.
This is one example, but not the only one, of the left’s intolerance. The left believes all conservatives should be hated and not only hated but silenced and even better, not allowed to work. They hate the success of the Fox News Channel, of conservative bloggers and analysts. What they don’t get is guys like Erick Erickson expand the dialog.
He is an honest broker because he comments based on his values and a conservative platform, not party. We need guys like him on CNN and MSNBC. Fox News is No. 1 because liberals, conservatives and independents watch it.
We need more of this. Talking points are nice, but we are all getting them now. There’s no mystery to the message of the left or right. The White House is even engaging in what I call WH-TV, where they create the pictures and stories and video, not the White House press corps. There’s enough pre-packaged stuff coming out of government right now that it takes journalists to be journalists and push for the story on their terms, not the “campaign terms.” Erick Erickson is doing that. He’ll continue to be attacked and people like Jane Hamsher who defend him will continue to be attacked. But if you are telling the truth, it can’t hurt you. So keep on telling it, it’s the only thing that will save this country in the Age of Obama.