Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Loyalty to losers

Be a political operative or be a journalist, but when you try to be both, don't think we don't notice:
NYT: Ex-Journalists New Jobs Fuel Debate on Favoritism
To which Jules Crittenden replies: "There's a debate?" (Via Instapundit.) This is a subject dear to the hearts of conservatives and, indeed, is quite nearly the raison d'etre of the conservative blogosphere. As Rush Limbaugh says, the problem with talking about liberal bias in the media is that he could do 15 hours a week and not even begin to scratch the surface.

I complained during the campaign season about certain conservative pundits who worked for various GOP primary contenders, and/or for the McCain campaign, knowing (a) what the benefit was to them for having gone through that revolving door, (b) that they would return to punditry pretending that no transaction had taken place, and (c) that upon their return, most of their readers would discount the possibility that they might make another such transaction.

If you've watched this kind of revolving-door thing as closely as I have for as long as I have, you start keeping handy a supply of salt, since everything that most political journalists and pundits write must be viewed in light of the possibility that they're angling for a campaign job, a speechwriter's gig, or some other career perk from the politicians they cover.

One of the reasons I'm always throwing elbows and raising hell is to make it clear that I have no such ambitions -- although if Bob Barr had won the White House, the Senate confirmation hearings for the ambassador-designate to Argentina would be the wildest thing ever broadcast on C-SPAN. ("Senator, I'm sorry, but I must once again assert my Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.") There were only 68.9 million votes and the threat of a bipartisan filibuster standing between me and $145K a year.

Am I objective about Bob Barr? Absolutely. Am I going to tell you everything I know about Bob Barr? Absolutely not. Why? Because nobody will pay me enough to screw Bob over like that. See, that's the thing: The big money in the 30-pieces-of-silver racket is signing up with the winners, then screwing them over by selling to a book publisher the "insider exclusive" about a job the taxpayers already paid you to do once. Public service for private advantage. Nice work if you can get it.

I write for money, and loyalty to losers doesn't pay anything, while betraying a winner can be very lucrative indeed. Betraying a loser -- the vicious stuff that "McCain campaign officials" did to Sarah Palin -- is an act so lowdown and cowardly that the only thing you might get in return is a politcal analyst job at CBS News. The "smart" thing to do as a political journalist is to keep your cards close to your chest until you think you've spotted the winner, then ass-kiss your way into a staff gig. But I'm too stupid to play that game, so the only politicians who ever want to hang out with me are the guaranteed sure-fire losers.

That probably explains why I so underestimated Michael Steele's chances to win the RNC chairmanship, because he never seemed to mind hanging out with me. So if he is not going to say anything about that December 2006 meeting where I explained my brilliant plan for him to win the 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary, then I am certainly willing to pretend that conversation never happened. And if somebody asks me if I'm just joking, well . . . what's it worth to them

Nobody trusts a guy who kids around like that (ROTFLMAO!) which is just the way I like it. Far be it from me to act all serious and responsible while I talk my way into a White House job, then sign a fat contract with a division of Simon & Schuster to backstab the guy who trusted me with that serious responsibility.

No, I'm very proud to be regarded as an irresponsible clown, a loose cannon on the deck who might start randomly firing off truth at any moment. Just a greedy capitalist who's only in it for the money, but because I'm honest about that -- and there is nothing more honest than pure capitalism -- I don't worry much about silly stuff like "conflicts of interest." I mean, there's no way in hell that anything I ever say is going to be quoted anonymously in the New York Times with an attribution to "a senior administration official," right?

It's kind of funny how two-faced backstabbers get paid big bucks to sell out their patrons, while an honest capitalist has to scrap for every dime. It's easier to be honest, if somewhat less lucrative, when you make it clear up front that you're completely untrustworthy. No "smart" person would play it that way, but when I come home at night, my wife doesn't ask, "So, honey, who did you sell out today?"

Better to be a valuable friend and a dangerous enemy than the other way around.

Indiscreet? Sometimes. But if I slip up and accidentally say the wrong thing to the wrong person, my friends can always say, "Aww, that guy's crazy," and nobody's going to argue otherwise, least of all me. (Who knows when the insanity defense might come in handy? If only G. Gordon Liddy had thought of that possibility . . .) So my friends are guaranteed "plausible deniability" up front. Suppose, hypothetically, I were to say that the Libertarian Party National Convention reminded me of a Cheech & Chong movie, nobody could possibly take that kind of remark seriously, could they?
"Senator, on the advice of counsel, I regret that I must once against assert my Fifth Amendment right . . .".
Damn. Buenos Aires is lovely this time of year.

1 comment:

  1. The Cranky Cousin McCain Manifesto! You probably are useless as a political tool, good for you. As you say, it is so much easier to be honest.

    As for your comments on the LP, I was once a member of the party. That was years ago, but unless things have changed dramatically you seriously understate things and make the LP sound far more conservative than it is.