JOSHUA MICAH MARSHALL
I just wanted to take this opportunity to send out my condolences to Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo. A few weeks ago, his father died. He wrote about the experience and what an amazing man his father was here.
Two things I wanted to talk about in reference to the event.
The first is, I'm not sure if I would be writing this blog if not for him. I clearly recall one day during Air America's infancy back in the spring of 2004 I was listening to the Al Franken Show when Franken had on this this Josh Micah Marshall guy. I had never heard of him before, much less this Talking Points Memo thing, and on a bigger scale, political blogs in general. I listened to the interview and he seemed like a sharp guy (or as sharp as one can sound when having to be interviewed by Franken, a man who insists on interrupting guests whenever something clever pops into his head) so when I got home that night I checked out his website. That day changed my life.
Before I learned of the "left blogosphere," the only political discourse that I managed on the internet was the occasional message board keyboard war where I would inevitably be shouted down by the horde of right wingers. Back then, I had a nascent passion for fighting what I felt was wrong with Bush and his gang, but I hadn't developed any of the tools or a voice/narrative to properly combat the evil empire on the right.
Reading TPM was an eye opening experience for me. Here was a guy who verbalized many of the views that I felt, and he had the talent or skills necessary to express them, unlike myself. And through TPM, I found a whole world of blogs and websites that shared many of my opinions. After spending what felt like an eternity feeling like the whole world was going nuts around me with all this Bush love, I had finally found my brethren, and it was all thanks to Mr. Marshall's appearance on the Al Franken Show.
The other thing that really resonated with me about Josh's post was when he talked about how he had tried to prepare for that fateful phone call and attempted to build "a protective wall around myself trying not to be caught off guard again." When I was about 12, my dad's brother had died and I was struck by how sudden everything had gone down and how a guy who had been alive a week ago was no longer there. I wondered if he had any plans for the coming weekend that would never be fulfilled. I wasn't particularly close with the man, but I feared ever being caught off guard by that sort of news, so I have unfortunately since that time answered every phone call with a caller ID from my parents with a certain amount of dread, thinking that this would be "the call" when "the news" would be dropped on me. Without fail, this has been my M.O. for over 20 years now.
When Josh identified the similar defense mechanism that ultimately failed him when called upon to serve its only reason for existing, it stuck with me. I have been fortunate in my life to have never had anyone truly close to me die. I'd occasionally get a phone call about a family pet dying, but it certainly lacked the resonance that I'm sure a close family member's death would elicit. I would assume that ultimately my defense mechanism will fail as well when that call comes, though I can only hope that it doesn't come for many many years.