INTELLEFTUALS: My progressive-pundit honor roll for 2009 (must-reads and should-listens--heavy on the wonks)
What's an Intelleftual?
It's a term I've coined for a smart set of progressive thinkers (and those who listen to them), whose ideas and positions are unquestionably liberal but also undeniably pragmatic — and more importantly, rooted in real numbers, sound ideas and legislatively and socially practical policy.
They tend to travel in a social-media pack (see how often these guys link to each other — sometimes in circular fashion!), but I think of this as more "birds of a feather" than "echo chamber," since when need be they also disagree with one another — sometimes vociferously, but never using the kind of toxic and corrosive language that has dominated contrary discourse in the past few years. They also tend to be broad-spanning in their interests (Ezra Klein is a wannabe cook; Nate Silver was a sabremetrician before a poli-wonk; etc.) and perhaps most importantly for anyone trying to translate complicated issues into lay-comprehensible language, they tend to have great senses of humor and a deep immersion in popular culture.
As a result, they've become my morning reads on domestic policy issues, and they're often smart on foreign/global topics as well, particularly when the subjects involved are anchored to statistically assessable outcomes. For example, many of these are among the smartest and most reasonable voices out there on climate change, immigration, trade, et cetera. So, if you haven't yet — consider adding these guys to your feeds and making them must-reads. They're a breath of fresh air in an environment for punditry polluted by antiintellectualism, rudeness and knee-jerk ideology.Data Hounds:
- Ezra Klein: One of the Washington Post's few non-heinous columnists, and the clearest and brightest voice on healthcare reform through the long, dark journey from January to now http://www.ezraklein.com/
- Nate Silver: Stats junkie and pollwatcher extraordinaire; made the 2008 campaign make sense, and has continued to use data the way it oughta be used ever since
- Matt Yglesias: Overtly political (sometimes shrilly so), but not afraid to take contrarian positions as needed, and invariably thoughtful in even his most opinionated writings
- Josh Marshall: Like Yglesias, a political animal, but driven by reality and real information; heads up Talking Points Memo, which has done some of the best investigative work and issues-tracking in the blogosphere; their Health Care Wire has been a necessary read
- Jonathan Cohn: A critical voice on healthcare, and the author of Sick.
These are the big guns. I'll add more as I think about some of the voices I'm on the fence about. Until then, Happy Poli-Holiday reading!