The TBA Interview: DigbyJun 19, 2007 at 07:45 PM by Isaiah Poole
A short, unassuming woman blended into the large audience that sat through a panel discussion I moderated on Tuesday, “The Blogosphere: From Ideas to Action.” It was not until the panel ended and I was rushing out of the room that I happened to notice the name on her tag: “Digby.”
Digby had amassed a large following and deep respect in the progressive blogosphere for insightful, passionate writing on political issues, but before Tuesday no one knew the person behind Digby. That night, Digby revealed herself to the world and gave a rousing speech about what progressive bloggers have contributed to the movement as she accepted, on behalf of progressive bloggers, the Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award. Earlier in the day, I was able to spend a few moments chatting with Digby. Here are excerpts.
So what got you into this?
It was a reaction to the things that we were talking about in the panel, watching the events of the 90s and feeling impotent to do anything about it. And then there was a serendipitous moment when there was a new technology coming along that enabled people like me and other people who were interested and politically active. And I took to the Internet and I found that attractive.
So what were you doing before?
I was working in Hollywood. I worked in distribution for a number of years and had always been political.
And you created this anonymous personality.
Early on in the very early Usenet days when we're all writing online no one quite knew what to make of the Internet and we all used pseudonyms because we weren't sure what that meant to be yourself on the Internet. I found it a great challenge to write in sort of a genderless entity as a writer. I couldn't argue from authority, I couldn't even argue from my own experience, really. So I developed a way of writing and a way of thinking that was actually quite modern in the sense that on the Internet people were creating personalities that in a way I was kind of deconstructing.
Why the name Digby?
It was just a big name that my husband gave me. And I picked that in an instant. If I thought about it for a second I would've picked one of those grand Greek or Roman names that others have chosen.
What would you say is the most important thing that you accomplished?
I am very different from the bloggers who are very actively involved in organization and very actively involved in fundraising and other things. I operate in a traditional pundit role and I think my strength is in honing arguments and in connecting the dots that perhaps others don't. And some of that comes from my perspective of being outside Washington so I come at it with a slightly different perspective than many people. I think my accomplishment is probably helping develop a new form of opinion blogging.
We've been talking a lot at this conference about the progressive movement gaining momentum and gaining power. We're at the point where the conservative movement seems to be in disarray. But given where we are now, with a public that is very anxious about the war in Iraq and wants to get out, and as you saw in the polls just recently the Democratic Congress having a public opinion rating it is even lower than President Bush's right now, is there a danger that we have a moment that we could lose?
I actually feel very confident about it because there is this new political debate going on that is allowing us to make arguments that have not been made in a very long time. I don't think people have heard the progressive argument explicitly in a long time, not filtered through the right wing and the conventions of their media and interpreted by the mainstream media. I think as a lot of people are going directly into the blogosphere people are going to be hearing our arguments again. Now, whether we make them all and whether they are effective you never know; I don't think there are any guarantees there. But I think there is a new political debate that has opened up at a very propitious time for us as a result of the unfortunate failure of the conservative project under George W. Bush, and let's just say there will never be another time like this one.
Thank you, Digby. Thank you. You've been a voice in the wilderness for so long. Thanks for stepping into the light. It's a pleasure to meet you.
So, Digby gave a rousing speech, but you didn't know who she was until you we're "rushing" out of the room and just happened to see her tag? Who did you think was talking?
By the way, I still don't know who she is.