So, the Dems choose Virginia Governor Tim Kaine to give the rebuttal to the SOTU. Lots of liberal bloggers criticize the decision for various reasons (including me). Ezra Klein registers his objection with a post linking to my points about his being not gay-friendly and Arianna Huffinton’s points about his being hawkish on Iraq, and also notes Kaine is “at best, a functional speaker, not an orator for the history books,” adding:

And nor is he a good looking dude who could put an attractive, fresh face on the party. He's a squat, squinty, pug-nosed fellow who just won an election that largely revolved around retail politics and the endorsement of his predecessor.
Then USAToday singles out Ezra’s commentary on Kaine’s looks, which is a bit unfortunate, but wev (what do you expect from USAToday?). But then, The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel also picked up on it, posting here and here:

Why are so many liberal bloggers up in arms about Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine being picked to give the Democrat's reply to Bush's State of the Union? There's been fury in the blogosphere about everything from Kaine's looks, style, obscurity, his open talk about his faith and his inexperience in national security. Liberal writer Ezra Klein (no Brad Pitt, last time I checked him out) vented that Kaine is "a squat, squinty, pug-nosed fellow."
Now, look—Ezra didn’t take a cheap shot at Kaine. A cheap shot would be calling Kaine an ugly bastard in the middle of a post about his position on the war. Addressing his looks in a commentary about his viability as a party representative on an important televised appearance is totally fair. Looks matter in politics, which itself might not be fair, but that’s the reality. (It’s also not remotely the only criticism Ezra had.)

On the other hand, Katrina’s remark is a cheap shot. Jeralyn Merritt, Digby, and Jane Hamsher, among others, have all pointed out that Ezra is, in fact, pretty hot. (Ezra left it up to his readers to be the judge.) But I suppose as the resident Ugly Mug it falls to me to point out that even if Ezra had a face like a baboon’s ass, his observation would still have been equally viable.

Since when must offering analysis of a political decision be predicated on having demonstrably superior expressions of the quality upon which one is commenting? If that’s the new guideline, I guess we ought to request that anyone who has an opinion about Bush’s honesty had better provide a list of every time they’ve lied, to ensure they’ve lied fewer times than he has.

And that’s what annoys me about Katrina’s dig—not just that it was undeserved, but that it’s more of the same “Oh, who are these infantile bloggers, anyway?” nonsense that seeks to cast bloggers as irrational and unfit by virtue of lacking some set of stupendous qualifications with which well-known opinion-givers are, apparently, imbued the moment they start receiving a paycheck. It also deliberately misses the point that appearance and presence are indeed fair game when critiquing such a decision. In fact, it sort of deliberately misses the point in the same way that rightwingers (and increasingly, even lefties in print media) like to deliberately miss the point; that is to say so that they can justify ignoring all other legitimate points from the same source by virtue of association.

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