Glenn Greenwald attracted a fair bit of attention with his post explaining that some Bush followers are "authoritarian cultists". Let's squeeze some juice on Saturday morning:
It used to be the case that in order to be considered a "liberal" or someone "of the Left," one had to actually ascribe to liberal views on the important policy issues of the day – social spending, abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, immigration, "judicial activism," hate speech laws, gay rights, utopian foreign policies, etc. etc. These days, to be a "liberal," such views are no longer necessary.
Now, in order to be considered a "liberal," only one thing is required – a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush. The minute one criticizes him is the minute that one becomes a "liberal," regardless of the ground on which the criticism is based. And the more one criticizes him, by definition, the more "liberal" one is. Whether one is a "liberal" -- or, for that matter, a "conservative" -- is now no longer a function of one’s actual political views, but is a function purely of one’s personal loyalty to George Bush.
...And in that regard, people like Michelle Malkin, John Hinderaker, Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt are not conservatives. They are authoritarian cultists. Their allegiance is not to any principles of government but to strong authority through a single leader.
Whatever. Look, the point of these Bush-bashing diatribes is not to make sense - there is a virtually insatiable internet market for anyone interested in trying to stretch "Bush Sucks" into five thousand or more words. I imagine that, as podcasting develops, we will see this genre set to a danceable beat so that the target market can tap their toes and sway to the cadence.
And as with other pop songs, a memorable tagline is important; "authoritarian cultist" provides a wonderful mix of menace and intellectual heft.
Beyond the tagline, Greenwald was also shrewd enough to position this post in a way that appealed to Andrew Sullivan's sense of victimhood - Andrew, the Solitary Soldier of Truth, Bravely Battling the Bushies... this tirade had to go to Number One, with a bullet!
But fun's fun. James Taranto took the trouble to follow the links and see just what evidence Mr. Greenwald offered in suppport of his thesis. What he found was not enough to get a passing grade on a seventh-grade paper, but was evidently more than enough for the Self-Invented Reality Based Community. What's next for the "Best Of" team - in the weekend edition, will Mr. Taranto fisk "Stairway to Heaven"? (How could all that glitters be gold, anyway - what about diamonds and rubies?)
The Bull Moose offered a few sagacious paragraphs, but we will steal only this:
Yes, there is an element of conservatism that attempts to apply a Lenninist discipline on ideological heterodoxy. In fact, the Moose was the target of their efforts. The Moose has enjoyed the distinct pleasure of being labeled both a Republican squish and a Rovian plant. But, based upon personal exposure to both sides of the political spectrum, this mammal can confidently observe that there is more tolerance for differences on the right side of the spectrum than on the left.
While Greenwald suggests that "loyalty" to Bush is the requirement for the right, the standard to to be a member in good standing of the liberal/left community is hatred of Bush.
Emphasis added. The always dry and sly Peter Daou is kind enough to illustrate this very point as he praises the Greenwald gurgitation:
Lately, there's been a burst of energy in the progressive blog world, with dozens of great posts from high profile - and high traffic - bloggers on Daily Kos, Eschaton, HuffPo, C&L, FDL, MyDD, TPM, and several others. Among those blog entries are two seminal posts, one by Digby, the other by Glenn Greenwald.
Mr. Daou goes on to link to "a definitive piece on the "Cult of Bush". But eventually, way down in a note at the bottom, he lets his readers in on the joke - Daou is making the same sort of assumption about Greenwald's politics (Greenwald is bashing Bush, he must be a progressive) that Greenwald is decrying in the post Mr. Daou praises.
[Oh, do you not trust my characterization of Mr. Daou's end note? See for yourself:
NOTE: Although this piece is about the trajectory of progressive blogging, I should note that Greenwald's post is not written from a specific ideological perspective.
Why Mr. Daou chose a "seminal" but non-ideological blog post to celebrate the week in progressive blogs remains a bit of a mystery. Another mystery - is that a "NOTE", or, more precisely, an "UPDATE"? Put another way, did Mr. Daou seriously not realize that his "NOTE" and his opening paragraph contradict each other, or did he add the "NOTE" later, perhaps after outside intervention? Answer: these are activists blogs, so say it with me - facts don't matter!]
Meanwhile Bush supporters have been beside themselves all week, and are no doubt trembling in fear of the next lash from Greenwald's cat o' nine tails. Or maybe they are watching the Olympics. No worries. A few weeks ago, we were "frightened bedwetters"; now we are "authoritarian cultists"; in a few weeks, we will surely be "authoritarian bedwetters", or something else entirely. The well of juvenile insults is bottomless.
Meanwhile, my one secret hope - that a notable Dem would actually pick up on one of these silly, self-defeating themes - remains unanswered. Too bad. Don't we all agree that if Howard Dean had any stones, he would say "authoritarian cultists" right there on national television? Howard, you hold the fate of a nation right there in your hand, or mouth anyway. Go!
BONUS: Let me offer supporters of the "authoritarion cultist" theory an easy shot at the hoop - George Will whacked Bush for the NSA program on Wednesday; Heather Wilson, the Congressfolk from New Mexico whose national reputation does not precede her, broke with Bush on the NSA program a bit more than a week ago.
So it should be easy to document attempts by the Cult to re-label Will and Wilson, yes?
If you need to keep it simple - Greenwald cited "Michelle Malkin, John Hinderaker, Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt". Jeff Goldstein also earned a mention somewhere. That is not a lot of looking to do, and evidence of the Cult should abound, yes?
I have no doubt that the many hard-headed, truthseeking members of the Self-Invented Reality Based Community will rise to this modest challenge. Just as I have no doubt they carefully evaluated the "evidence" offered by Glenn Greenwald last week before shouting "Huzzah!".
LAST THOUGHT 'TIL THE NEXT ONE: A careful re-reading of the Andrew Sullivan post that started it all shows Andrew using the word "liberal" in quotes, as in:
I'm a little stunned that this is now something that now requires one to be seen as a "liberal."
However, following the links, Bozell never called Sullivan a liberal - that word was applied to The New Republic magazine (and is truth a defense here?). Bozell (or whoever wrote the piece) says that "Andrew Sullivan has been off the conservative reservation for at least a couple of years", but surely there are other reservations than Camp Left on Dean Island that might hold Andrew. Militant libertarians?
Sullivan and Greenwald - could be a great name of a law firm. But don't count on them to actually read the evidence.
AND ONE MORE THING: James Taranto links to the wrong Greenwald diatribe (Jan 16, 2006), or at least, his excerpt does not match the diatribe to which he linked. The Feb 12 tirade is correct. We will accept the "They all read the same" defense, this time.