A few weeks ago - in between Hillary Clinton's official entry into the presidential race and the first Republican primary debate of the cycle - the fiery online conservative forum Free Republic marked a decade in operation as one of the premier online forums for right-wing political discussion.
It also experienced one of the biggest internal battles to rock the site since the 2000 election of George W. Bush -- a tumultuous campaign year that nearly tore the site apart, as its founder and chief administrator first cleansed commenting ranks of Bush supporters, then, later, rallied to his support.
At the heart of the latest controversy: the fight over the conservative bona fides of Rudy Giuliani.
Over the past few weeks, chaos has reigned in the "Freeper" community as members sympathetic to the former mayor's candidacy claim to have suffered banishment from the site. They were victimized, they say, by a wave of purges designed to weed out any remaining support for the Giuliani campaign on the popular conservative web forum. Another significant chunk of commenters have migrated away from the controversial site over the action, according to a number of former site members and conservative bloggers who have been tracking the situation.
I actually used to hang around over there. The echo chamber effect on that site is truly remarkable, and knowing the place as I do, I can see why they'd purge the Rudista -- they simply violate too many litmus tests of what it takes to be a Freeper. Of course this sort of thing is what the entire Republican party is facing in microcosm. The hardcore are going to react very, very badly to any attempts to wrest control of the party away from them by moderates, but if the moderates fail, it will lead to another electoral disaster.
Glad it's happening to them and not us... :)
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!