Tuesday, June 24, 2008


A journalist friend e-mails me:
WTF? Tertiary syphilis??? Unless you have information I doubt you have, this would probably be actionable if Rich Lowry read it.
My friend has a point. To suggest that Lowry's mental impairment is the result of advanced syphilis -- general paresis, in which the disease destroys the central nervous system -- is irresponsibly defamatory. On the other hand:
  • Arguing that the McCain campaign would benefit from hiring Bill Kristol -- hey, look at what Bill did for Dan Quayle's career! -- is the kind of bizarre statement that calls into question the mental capacity of anyone who would make it. Especially since Kristol is already dispensing his advice for free via the Weekly Standard, the New York Times, and Fox News.
  • Political correctness being what it is, I feared that such old-fashioned slurs as "retard," "moron" and "feeb" might be unacceptable to certain advocacy groups. Similar considerations ruled out "psycho," "schizo" and "nutjob." I was seeking le mot juste.
  • "Tertiary syphilis" is a term sufficiently exotic that anyone sophisticated enough to comprehend it would realize that Lowry (probably) isn't suffering from it.
  • Ibogaine addiction, however, can't be ruled out.
  • At this point, getting sued for libel by the editor of National Review would be an incredible career-booster for me, an unbearable embarrassment for him. It would expose him as the kind of humorless narcissist who self-Googles and then flies into a towering rage over a puerile joke at his expense by a mere blogger.
Let's face it: Lowry is a textbook example of the Peter Principle in action, a man struggling under the burden of his own spectacular incompetence. Lowry knows as well as anyone that, if there were any justice in the world, he would have been required long ago to surrender the editorship of National Review to Ramesh Ponnuru, Jonah Goldberg or some other reasonably skilled journalist. If Lowry occasionally utters something completely insane -- e.g., suggesting that Bill Kristol lay aside his lucrative TV/newspaper/magazine career to become a political adviser -- this is to be understood for what it is: A cry for help.

Lowry should be pitied, not mocked. I apologize for my uncharitable jest. Rich needs our prayers, not our jokes.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin, while not going so far as to suggest that Lowry is in the terminal stages of an irreversible neurological deterioration, also rejects his advice:
With all due respect, adding another Beltway political strategist to the McCain camp isn’t going to fix an un-fixable the problem. It’s not fundamentally flawed messaging, it’s a fundamentally flawed candidate. The sooner Republicans reconcile themselves to that, the better.
An eminently more responsible argument, and one with which I certainly agree. I hope everyone understands that my resort to dark satire is a reflexive response to the depressing joke that this year's presidential campaign has become. Like I said, "a cry for help."

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