When Peter Daou of the normally-serious Salon described some audience-boosting flatulence from Glenn Greenwald as "seminal", I took a bit of interest. What I found was an utterly generic diatribe bashing Bush and his supporters.
Normally I follow the tack of most sensible bloggers and ignore these tirades - since they represent a near-automatic link from Atrios, Kos, and a few of the other blogs that traffic in this nonsense, I have long imagined that they were simply a useful device for boosting readership. Hey, people like to vent, there is a readership for this, so live large.
But "seminal"? Please - it never occurred to me that these rantings are meant to be serious objects of discussion. The readers had their fun, move on - a few weeks ago the right was "frightened bedwetters", today Greenwald's seminal effort has us pegged as "Authoritarian Cultists", and a few weeks hence we will be something new (any chance of making the next one alliterative? "Corrupt Christo-cultists", maybe? Nah.)
My view remains that serious discussion of these Bush-bashing riffs makes as much sense as pondering the intellectual output of an open-mike beer-belching contest at spring break in Fort Lauderdale. OK, that is a bit of a flawed analogy - with the Bush-bashers, it is a year-round activity.
However, Mr. Daou is deeply concerned about "Unanswered Challenges", so I am exhorting him to answer mine. First, let's recap Greenwald's Garglings:
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.
E-Z, yes? Criticize Bush, and you will be re-labeled a "liberal". Breakthrough stuff.
So, my three part challenge:
(1) As James Taranto noted, Greenwald's links don't actually lead to any supporting evidence - for example, careful link-followers will note that Andrew Sullivan implies that Brent Bozell re-labeled him, writing "All of that makes me a 'liberal.' " However, Mr. Bozell (or whoever wrote this) said that Andrew "has been off the conservative reservation for at least a couple of years." The word "liberal", which Andrew quotes, is applied to The New Republic, and I doubt they would object.
Or - if Messrs. Greenwald and Daou, or their supporters, could find real evidence of Cult leaders actually re-labeling Bush critics as "liberal", that would advance this seminal effort and deepen our understanding of this important work.
(2) Let's test the predictive power of this new social science hypothesis by applying it to the experience of Heather Wilson (R, NM). On Feb 8 she broke publicly with Bush on NSA oversight, so the Cult has had almost two weeks to attack her.
Full Disclosure - I spent about five minutes with the Powerline search function and came up empty on "Heather Wilson". I have not bothered to check the others. Suspenseful, yes? Let's fly under the bridge!
And please - if this is a cult, I expect the leaders to lead it. Somewhere, in someone's comments section, almost anything can be found. But if the best evidence anyone can find of Cult relabeling is from some unknown commenter at Protein Wisdom, bring it in so we can mock it.
(3) If any of Team Daou/Greenwald are still with us, please try to respond to the point made by Taranto and others - if this is a Cult, why did so many conservatives rebel over Harriet Miers? Or, to pick another, how about immigration reform?
This is so exciting - don''t you love it when a "seminal" work provokes discussion? The old back and forth, conducted with mutual respect and motivated only by a desire for the truth?
OK, speaking for the Cultists, I can't say I sense a lot of mutual respect. And given the absence of evidence on offer, I don't think either Daou or Greenwald hold any real evidence in advancing anyone's understanding or discerning "the truth".
But wasting a few more minutes highlighting the vacuity on display at Salon is fine with me. If I had that perch, and was interested in promoting lefty bloggers, I hope I would push myself to offer my readership a bit more than the latest Bush-bashing ravings linked by Kos and Atrios - most folks who want that sort of intellectual pornography probably can find it with no help from Salon.
Just to give Mr. Daou a boost to get started - pick a post at random from The Anonymous Liberal. Or check out The Next Hurrah - they aren't exactly undiscovered, but they aren't the Blog Monsters they could be, either.
OK, that's enough kisses of death for one morning.
FINAL: Mr. Daou has his own little challenge "proving", to his satisfaction, that the media tilts right, with specific emphasis on the Cheney Valentine's Weekend Massacre. And he is troubled that none on the right are rising t ohis challenge. Gee - call folks "Authoritarian Cultists", and they tune you out - who wouldda thunk?
Besides - the VP shoots a man, and the press does not get told for nearly a day? Of course that is news, and of course the press over-reacted.
Some quick thoughts:
(1) If a coin touted as "fair" comes up heads seventy-five times in one hundred trials, color me suspicious. And please don't offer the twenty-five "tails" as proof that the coin is fair.
In this context, even if the media sometimes tilts right, that hardly proves it mostly, or always tilts right. A real test would look at "all" the Cheney coverage, and who is going to do that?