Today's Blogs

Croc Hunter, RIP

Bloggers mourn “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin’s death by stingray. They also react to Republicans’ pre-election decision to drop immigration reform and enjoy Lee Siegel’s demise.

Croc hunter, RIP: Australian naturalist Steve Irwin was killed Sunday by a stingray while shooting a documentary near the Great Barrier Reef. He was best-known for his television antics, which usually involved playing with dangerous animals. Bloggers voice a collective “Crikey!”

Wisconsin law prof Ann Althouse remembers Irwin as “the most enthusiastic person in the world”: “[P]eople who have that level of enthusiasm are ordinarily tamped down by social pressure – or, if they don’t respond to social pressure, shunned or institutionalized. Or drugged. The extraordinary thing, then, is not that he was so over-the-top enthusiastic, but that he didn’t annoy us into rejecting him. He actually made us happy. What a guy!” Katie at Inky Circus calls the attack a “case of dreadful irony”: “[Irwin] truly loved animals and wanted everyone else to love them too. Maybe he overestimated how much they were capable of loving him back.”

MrBlank at 37 Signals hopes Irwin is remembered for his originality in a business of TV copycats: “He taught by sharing his joy about his work, not by preaching to people or scaring people with worst-case-scenarios.” Indcoup, blogging from Jakarta, writes that Irwin “did far more for Aussie-Indonesia relations than the miserable politicians could ever hope to achieve. He came here on many occasions, and nearly lost a hand feeding a chicken to a huge Komodo dragon in Eastern Indonesia.”

Some bloggers don’t remember Irwin quite so fondly. Baza at Melbourne Indymedia scoffs at the torrent of eulogies: “Steve did not love animals. Steve loved money - and in the end the money killed him. And he knew he had to take stupid risks harrassing wildlife to get it.”

Read more about Steve Irwin’s death. Watch a tribute collection of Steve Irwin’s South Park appearances.

Republican insecurity: As Congress resumes its final 19-day session before the primaries, Republican lawmakers abandon immigration legislation and focus instead on national security. Bloggers wonder if it’s a clever gambit or a desperation move.

Clammyc at the liberal Booman Tribune cries flip-flop and wonders why the alleged “biggest threat to our nation” is suddenly not so big: “What this really shows is two things: first, it shows that once again, Bush can’t get one of his ‘pet projects’ to be taken seriously enough by his own party. … What it also shows is that the republicans are, once again doing what they do best – playing politics with people’s lives, while not accomplishing anything.”

Brenarlo at conservative North Dakota-based Say Anything argues that GOP politicians should separate border control from other immigration issues: “Closing the border down is a matter of national security and would play to their political strength. The NSA wiretapping and port security are part of the GOP’s plan…but not closing the border? The GOP leadership better right this ship, or we may be talking about a Speaker Pelosi.” But for that to happen, writes Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters, Republicans will have to contend with Dems set on preventing them from “giving voters another issue on which to judge national-security bona fides. If Democrats are forced to vote against border security, or more likely to filibuster it, it will provide Republicans with a powerful talking point for the midterms.”

Read more about the Republican priority shift.

Sprezzaturenfreude: The editor of the New Republic issued an apology to readers, explaining that “the comments in our Talkback section defending [critic] Lee Siegel’s articles and blog under the username ‘sprezzatura’ were produced with Siegel’s participation.” Siegel’s blog has been dismantled and he “has been suspended from writing for the magazine.” Bloggers delight.

Nick Gillespie at Hit & Run, the blog of libertarian Reason, offers some textual analysis: “You don’t have to be a fan of Castiglione to admire the, er, chutzpah, of Siegel calling his fake self sprezzatura. I guess he didn’t know the Italian word for douche bag.

At a new blog, Lee Siegel is God, a writer claiming to be sprezzatura mercilessly parodies Siegel’s nutty prose: “Lee Siegel’s cat (aloof and self-assured, like Uma Thurman at age 16. Poor Maya! Poor beautiful, cool Uma!) requires feeding. You may ask why I, spezzatura, must go feed the cat, when clearly she is first, imaginary, and second, not my cat, but Siegel’s. To the first, I can only state that the great Siegel himself saw fit to pour her a bowl of milk, and–what’s that, Mayachka? You would like some tuna, too? Well, it shall be done.”

American Prospect blogger and longtime Siegel-basher Ezra Klein says he understands Siegel’s actions: “I well know the business end of an angry readership with instant feedback mechanisms. The temptation to create a new persona and rally support for yourself in comments can be almost overwhelming. Almost. But most of us resist the urge, take the lashing and move on. The next day, our skin is a little thicker, our tone a little harder, our arguments a little tighter.”

Read more about Lee Siegel’s fall from grace. In 2003, Siegel penned a diary about his imaginary cat for Slate. Also, Jack Shafer wonders exactly what Siegel did wrong.