Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Asshole of the Week: Editorial Direction

After a long layoff, Pooh's Asshole of the Week returns. But this one is something of a lifetime achievement award: I present to you the editor-in-chief of The New Republic, Mr. Martin Peretz!

I generally like me some TNR - the writers are skillful, and they tend to argue well, even when making points with which I strongly disagree. However, this affection largely ends when the discussion turns to anything even tangentially relating to the middle-east. To put it mildly, Mr. Peretz is strongly pro-Israel. And there's nothing wrong with that - conceptually, so am I, and I think so should most Americans for both moral and strategic reasons. However, Peretz's support goes well past unconditional, beyond vitriolic, and into unhinged.

I quoted extensively from Frankfurt's "On Bullshit", wherein he noted that the greatest enemy of truth is not the lie but the indifference towards truth, and subjects relating to Israel, no set of facts seems to dissuade Peretz from a position that Israel is good and the Arabs are bad. (Is this an overgeneralization? Perhaps, but given that this tendency was visible 15 years ago and compare these back-to-back recent posts on the situation in Lebanon. Not to mention this bit of folksy wisdom. Individually, each one is plausibly defensible, but as a gestalt...) But by now everyone has realised these tendancies of Mr. Peretz, so his (and by extension, TNR's) pontifications on those subject is taken with appropritate doses of salt.

What has been somewhat surprising is just how Pertez has taken Ned Lamont's succesful primary challenge to Senator Joe Lieberman as a personal affront. Once again, supporting Lieberman is not, in and of itself, objectionable. However, when that defense invokes red-scare tactics, (doubly ironic in this case - I'm not as up on my history of anti-semitism as I might be, but "unusually easy access to capital" has a 1930s code-phrase feel to it, no? More here) not-so-subtly racially-tinged guilt by association, and when all else fails, blaming Bill Clinton, (which never gets old, I suppose...) we have a problem. Given his choice of tactics, one could be forgiven for asking "Is there a difference between Peretz and Bill O'Reilly?"

(Actually, there is a difference - the comparison is unfair. To O'Reilly, he said snarkily...)

More: And since this will I guess serve as my one "ding-dong the witch is dead" post about the CT primary, I'd be remiss in not passing along the thoughts of my favorite conservative-libertarian Radley Balko:
So he's cool with bombing and nation building, and state-sponsored health care. He's okay with government censorship of video games and cable TV, and heavy-handed regulation of business.

Golly. What a moderate!

In other words, he's wrong on every issue. He's a culture warrior, a values cop, a Nanny Statist, and a big government foreign policy hawk. He favors high taxes, and a massive welfare state. He's pro-pork, pro-status quo, and pro-business as usual.

So the choice for Connecticut was between a culture warrior, foreign policy imperialist, and welfare statist; and a socially liberal, dovish, welfare statist. I know who I'd have voted for.
I don't agree with all of that, obviously, but it's always refreshing to see principles in action.


Daryl McCullough said...

I quoted extensively from Frankfurt's "On Bullshit", wherein he noted that the greatest enemy of truth is not the lie but the indifference towards truth...

Yeah, I always hate it when politicians or pundits say something intentionally misleading, and then defend themselves by saying "Well, technically, what I said was correct..."

A few years back, I proposed the term "truth-slaughter" to describe such situations. Truth-slaughter is to lying as manslaughter is to murder: The distinction might make a difference in legal culpability, but in either case, the victim is just as dead...

Pooh said...

Daryl, thanks for stopping by.

"Truth-Slaughter" is excellent, I might use that one myself sometime.