Thursday, March 22, 2007

Easy There

If you haven't yet paid attention to today's episode in the blog-war between Jonah Goldberg and Andrew Sullivan ostensibly in re: John and Elizabeth Edwards but in reality in re: how much they dislike each other, see Sullivan's posts here and here, and Goldberg's inordinately bitchy riposte here.

Sullivan then responded with a post entitled "Blacklisting and Conservatives." After addressing the content of Goldberg's charges --- which had become irrelevant by this point --- Sullivan noted Goldberg's comment that "I think I've been pretty good about not posting much about Andrew Sullivan" and wrote:
What can this mean, except a petty sand-box approach to journalism? I disagree with many people at NRO but I always link and write and even praise when it occurs to me. In contrast, Jonah's comment suggests an actual informal policy of blacklisting this blog and its arguments at NRO. Blacklisting others is not, I think, a sign of a movement's intellectual health. It was done to Bruce Bartlett's book as well. NRO spent much more ink on D'Souza's excrescence than on the serious and increasingly salient critiques that Bartlett and I have made about the Bush administration.
Now, reluctant though I am to offer an even partial defense of the author of Liberal Fascism, it seems to me that Sullivan's interpretation of this remark makes sense only on the assumption (to paraphrase William F. Buckley) that Sullivan's opinion of himself and the universe's opinion of him are entirely or at least substantially aligned. That is, only if one takes it as a given that Sullivan's critique of the contemporary conservative movement is as earth -shattering as he believes it to be, does it follow that Goldberg's demurral in responding to Sullivan is the result of an implicit blacklisting policy at NRO. (Jeremy, e.g., reads Sullivan's critique without experiencing any seismic activity.)

Much more likely than that Goldberg is inadvertently copping to an implicit blacklisting policy on the part of NRO, is that Goldberg is making the much more mundane claim that Sullivan's arguments are so overwrought, bombastic, self-contradictory, etc., etc. --- there is a basic list of charges that his opponents on the right level at him --- that serious thinkers should not take him seriously. Never mind that Jonah Goldberg is not a serious thinker. This is a claim that stands or falls --- falls, in my opinion, but whatever --- on its own merits. And it is not the claim that those who stray from conservative orthodoxy must be (literally) proscribed.

Note now, Sullivan's response: A choice by certain individuals and institutions to ignore him is equivalent to blacklisting. What instance of egomania and general derangement does this resemble? Why, none other than David Horowitz's delusion that he has been roundly rejected by the academy because it is populated by Stalinist ideologues [takes one to know one--ed.], rather than, say, because he is an intellectual pygmy. In other words, this is dangerous stuff.

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Well, oddly good news about Elizabeth Edwards this morning. The Edwards' announcement is part of what seems to be a new medical paradigm in which diseases are treated and (with luck) rendered asymptomatic rather than aggressively --- and as anyone who has seen the effects of substantial radiation or chemotherapy can attest, poisonously --- attacked. If we could have a direct election for first lady, Mrs. Edwards would surely win in a landslide. I'd vote for her for president if she were running.

In considerably sadder news, Cathy Seipp, an indy journalist and very smart and all-around charming woman whom I met when I was working in LA a couple of years ago, has succumbed to lung cancer after surviving it four or five years longer than she was supposed to. RIP.

UPDATE: Just to clarify what I meant by "oddly good news," the story the slightly-more-reliable-than Drudge Report Politico unfurled early in the morning was that the illness was bad enough to compel Edwards to drop out. As George Burns is supposed to have said when asked how he felt on the occasion of his 90th birthday, "Considering the alternative...."

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Sunday, March 18, 2007


You'll notice at right that I've added a few blogs that should have been here ages ago; and also a new one, from our pal Jeremy, "An American at Cambridge."


Thursday, March 15, 2007

March Madness

Dick Enberg: "And Patrick Ewing now on the floor for Georgetown." What year is it?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Very Modest Request

Could we possibly have a moratorium on coverage of the Paul McCartney-Stumpy McGoldigger* divorce involving lame puns on Beatles' song titles? I just saw Norah O'Donnell trot out "Can't Buy Me Love," "We Can Work It Out," and "Penny Lane" in the span of about 3.5 minutes. Joe Scarborough seems to have a contractual obligation to mention the "Marital Misery Tour" twice in every show. MSNBC is relatively --- repeat: relatively --- watchable, but my guess (not having and not planning to watch them) that CNN and Fox are better on this score. The former, because their average viewer likely conceives of Paul McCartney as a goddamn punk kid, the latter because their average viewer likely conceives of McCartney as a goddamn red commie.

*This appellation is not mine, but rather belongs to one of Don Imus' paid sycophants (I'm not sure which; actually, I can't tell one apart from another). Still, I like it.


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