Dr. Schwab, ER Bloggers, and Conservatism

Alerted by Kevin, MD today, I find that Dr. Schwab (Surgeonsblog) has decided to label ER Blogs, and bloggers as mindlessly conservative, and apparently unenlightened.  (Oh, plenty of disclaimers are sprinkled throughout, so you know he’s not actually talking about anyone, just everyone).

First thoughts: somewhwere Shadwofax has his lower lip stuck out just a bit, and this might be what made Graham pack it in.

 

So.  Fisking is what I seem to do best in these situations, so I shall.

… And yet. Reading some ER blogs — not all, and by no means all the time — I find the vitriol off-putting. The derision. And the take-no-prisoners attitude — the downright hatred, so it often seems — toward “liberals,” suffused throughout. (Not to mention a similar attitude, quite often, toward their own clientele). I love political give-and-take; most of my work-colleagues politicked far to my right, yet we had enlightening and stimulating, good-hearted arguments. But reading some ER blogs, unlike any other category in the healthosphere, is like listening to Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. It’s a polemicist’s playground.

Well, that’s rich.  I so tired of the lockstep leftist blather on Dr. Schwabs’ blog I eventually just stopped reading it.  A polemicists’ playground?  Read the sentence preceding that one, and see if you can find the disconnect.

 

In case you’re ever wondering if a blog writer is a fevered leftist, just wait for the following to appear in a blog post:

I’ve had my moments of moral muttering, liberally laced with haughty holiness. I consider George Bush the worst president we’ve ever had (and no, Mr. Bush, history will not vindicate you). But I’ve never called him “a bucket of spit.”

It’ll show up, appropos of nothing whatsoever.  They think it’s normal to interject their BDS into everyday life and any blog post.  Really.  It’s astonishing.

Nor do I kiss off all conservatives as some sort of existential threat. (Some, of course. But not the whole group.) Physicians are, in general, a conservative bunch. But they’re also educated; enough, you’d think, to have left their minds at least slightly ajar.

I have an open mind, but to paraphrase, not so open that my brains fell out.  I am reasonably well educated, I take my time making decisions when I have the time, and have come to the conclusion that the government isn’t the answer to every problem.  My personal politics skew more libertarian, but here’s the thing: NOBODY CARES what I think politically.  That’s why, excepting politics about medicine, I leave it out.

His ending:

Maybe it’s an inevitable corollary: working in an ER turns people. Another possibility: people who lean loudest to the right are the ones who choose the job in the first place. Or perhaps (with a couple of exceptions) it’s just that the rightward ER docs blog, and the leftward ones go home and tie-dye.

Get it?  If you’re conservative, you’re “turned”.  Perhaps some introspection and insight are needed on the part of the blogger.


Comments

  1. Nah, had nothing to do with it. I’d just rather focus on internship and my personal life than blogging.

  2. As a student nurse I was once asked by a fellow student nurse, “How can you be a republican and a nurse at the same time?”

    So much for liberals being “open-minded.”

    I consider myself well educated and I’ve arrived at my conservative views after much reflection. I stopped reading Dr. Schwab’s blog awhile back because of the condescension that you describe above towards people who don’t share his political viewpoint.

    Oops. Now that I’ve just outed myself as a conservative nurse blogger I’ll probably lose half my traffic. On the other hand, maybe I’ll see some more traffic from the ER peeps!

  3. TheNewGuy says:

    Maybe it’s an inevitable corollary: working in an ER turns people.

    Yes. Dealing with harsh societal realities up-close-and-personal tends to strip away some of the superficial feel-good platitudes that animate a percentage of liberals. How could it not make one more conservative?

    Brings to mind the old saying: a conservative is nothing more than the liberal who got mugged last night.

  4. Well done. I’m convinced.

  5. I guess I should have given you more, since you took the time.

    Get it? If you’re conservative, you’re “turned”. Perhaps some introspection and insight are needed on the part of the blogger.

    Perhaps some better reading is needed on the part of the blogger: I stated a fact, namely that ER bloggers seem to be conservative, and, in many cases, vitriolic. I don’t see a refutation of that at any point in the fisk parade. What I see is a misreading of my final paragraph which was only a listing of possibilities, including, I’d say, a little self-directed humor. As to the tone of my blog which turned you away (a mutual result), my liberal rantings are only a once a week endeavor and are clearly marked as such. The rest, which may or may not be worthy of your time, has been and remained about surgery and the concerns of a surgeon.

  6. Heh. Perfect.

    I still like the guy.

  7. Sid’s got a point. The vitriol and the venom on a lot of EM blogs is really off-putting. I know, I know, I play the self-righteous liberal to the extreme (I know my vices), but there are some EM guys who play the opposite role to the hilt. I can recall recent posts calling Hillary a “cunt” and Michelle Obama a “bitch.” Funny, but not “ha ha” funny.

    More bothersome to me is the incredible scorn and contempt and animus towards patients I saw on some EM blogs. Bear in mind that this is coming from someone whose most recent post is titled “Utter Depravity.” I’m clear-eyed regarding the folks we see — ED patients are a hard lot, and we all get jaded and cynical towards them. But I try not to hate them.

    There are some great EM bloggers out there — ER Stories, Whitecoat, 10/10 — they all rock. I don’t think it’s right to tar “all” EM with the wide brush. Scalpel is also great, so long as he takes his meds. But I have pared down my reading quite a bit, because there were a number of blogs I just found unpleasant.

    I don’t know about mixing medicine and politics. You clearly view your mission as just medicine, which is fine. I don’t think it’s accurate to say nobody cares what you think politically. I might disagree with you, but if I wanted amens I’d just hang out on Daily Kos. For me, I write about what I care about, be it karate, the cubs, my kids, or politics. I try to stick with the general theme — at least one medical post for each off-topic one — because that’s what brings people to my blog. But strangely, I find that the traffic and comments are higher with many of the off-topic or political posts.

  8. I think I tend to be more snarky than vitriolic. The true vitriol is found in the BDS posts of the rabid left bloggers. It’s indeed astonishing that they don’t even recognize it. I’ll gladly put my posts up against those of my critics for a comparison of the bitterness and hatred quotients.

    But it’s an interesting campaign, and those of us who are entertained by the political circus can hardly help posting about it occasionally. I don’t mind their posts, in fact I rather enjoy some of them. Why should they care what I write or be so bothered that my politics differ from theirs? At least among the physicians who blog (less so with some of the commenters) we are civil to each other in the discussions, unlike some of the other forums on the net.

    As I have gradually become less likely to post about specific patients, I’m sure my blogging has become less interesting (and less frequent). People can read what I write or not – I hardly even follow my hit count anymore, and I’m not getting paid.

    It’s just a hobby,

  9. We have a few bra-burning liberals that work in my department (“Bush is the worst president ever” said in the nurses’ station, wearing anti-Bush pins on their work clothing—inappropriate). One who does this sort of stuff routinely is a physician (although he’s a dude and doesn’t wear a bra nor burn it), and it makes me think less of him each time he does it, I must admit.

    To me, it just lowers your intellectual status in my mind. If all the further you can go into politics when you’re the one starting the conversation is “Bush is the worst president ever” with maybe another vacuous catch-phrase or two to back it up, are you going to miss an important diagnosis too because of your apparent intellectual laziness? I know you can be a good doctor and a really bad gardener or mathematician, but come on, now. Really, if you want to talk about politics at work, you better have some sort of mind-blowingly insightful dissertation in your mind; otherwise, you just piss people off and/or make them uncomfortable. If you want to talk about politics on a blog, you better make it medical (an industry where you have expertise), hilarious/satirical without being terribly off-putting, ironic, extremely well thought-out, or so obvious that it doesn’t need much additional explanation.

    The way to really improve health is to empower people to do for themselves, not support chronic poverty and helplessness through government programs. Nobody wants to admit it, but just improving access and giving out insurance does not address many of the underlying causes of health disparities between the “rich” and “poor”, namely helplessness, chronic stress, hopelessness, and housing/food issues.

    /rant

  10. To me, it just lowers your intellectual status in my mind. If all the further you can go into politics when you’re the one starting the conversation is “Bush is the worst president ever” with maybe another vacuous catch-phrase or two to back it up, are you going to miss an important diagnosis too because of your apparent intellectual laziness?

    Would it be “intellectual laziness” if I were to say that I think Bush is the worst President in my lifetime, perhaps in the last 100 years, and then to provide a number of reasons to back up my statement, which I can?

  11. Aerospace Genius says:

    If you step back from the day-to-day trivia of political discourse, you can see a very consistent phenomenon. Conservatives think that liberals are wrong, while liberals think that conservatives are bad. From that, it’s easy to figure out why there is a disconnect in that discourse.

    It seems to me that people who respond more strongly to emotional pleas tend to the left and those who respond more strongly to logical arguments tend to the right.

  12. Orac:

    As long as your statements make him worse than Carter… Good luck there, dude.

  13. “Sobriquet” — I’m impressed.

    I think we agree, but one minor distinction. For me, the political posts do not bring the amen chorus — quite the opposite. It reliably brings out the conservatives, and I like discussing (occasionally arguing) with those who think differently than I do. I don’t know if we’ve ever convinced each other of anything, but I enjoy the back and forth. I think the EM crowd clearly skews right, which means that your partisan posts are more likely to get amens.

    Orac — I’m not sure that we can objectively say that Bush is the Worst President Ever; he’s got Buchanan and Harding to compete with, and they were pretty awful. I’d settle for worst of my lifetime. See — we have found common ground! (that’s a joke, for the humor impaired.)

  14. One of these days I’ll get you to agree with me, Shadowfax. I haven’t given up hope.

  15. No, never give up hope, or dare I say the audacity of hope?

    Perhaps I shouldn’t…

    Never mind…

  16. I think some issues are getting mixed up here. First, I believe (don’t make me hit the back button) “not all, and not all the time.” So, no, I didn’t paint all with the same brush.

    The other is conflation of work and politics, in a couple of ways. I agree with Nurse K that wearing political buttons at work is a mistake: after all, rapport with patients, especially in ERs is hard enough. Interjecting political opinion only makes it worse and risks establishing some sort of mistrust. So in that, we agree. (I’ve written about the rules where I trained that we all were clean shaven, wearing our coats and a tie at all times out of the OR; no scrubs allowed except there. This, in SF, in the 70s, when many medical residents wore long hair, tie-dyed coats (where have I heard that term lately?) and peace buttons.

    The second/other is more subtle: commenting on my blog, Nurse K has taken me to task for implying these vitriolic right-wingers give substandard or uncaring care. I said, and I believe, nothing of the sort. We’re talking about venting on blogs. I note a preponderance of arch conservatives among the ER doc bloggers, and note that in many cases there is overt derision expressed, not only of us liberal monsters, but of some of their patients. That, I believe, is factual. I noted it, and speculated about possible reasons. Given that I clearly have no way of knowing about actual care rendered, it would be illiberal of me to draw conclusions about that. I’ll leave drawing erroneous conclusions from people’s words to, well, vitriolic wingers. Kumbayah.

  17. Sorry. I meant to say First, I believe I wrote (don’t make me hit the back button) “not all, and not all the time.”

  18. “If you step back from the day-to-day trivia of political discourse, you can see a very consistent phenomenon. Conservatives think that liberals are wrong, while liberals think that conservatives are bad.”
    Are you serious? I know some conservatives (doctors too) that think liberals are pretty bad, no matter what.

  19. Aerospace Genius says: