Friday, December 4, 2009

Slow day for Howard Kurtz

The Washington Post's media critic decided to fill up a column by recycling Andrew Sullivan and Charles Johnson, and compounded the error by adding his own political analysis:
The split on the right first became apparent during the Bush years, especially in the second term, when some of those devoted to limited government were appalled by the burgeoning spending and some who had backed the Iraq invasion were disgusted by its bungling.
The divide deepened during last year's campaign when some of the right's most prominent writers and talkers revolted over John McCain's choice of Palin. A few intellectuals such as Christopher Buckley even announced they were voting for Barack Obama.
The dawn of the Obama era might have erased some of these fissures, but the arguments, at least in some quarters, seem to be getting louder. What might seem like a writerly squabble is, to some, a battle for the soul of a movement. . . .
Sigh. Where to begin? Let's get one thing out of the way: Opportunism.

There, I've said it. After Obama beat Hillary for the Democratic nomination and especially after it became apparent John McCain was doomed -- his bailout panic sealed his fate -- some Republicans decided to enhance their images as sophisticated and enlightened beings.

Beholding the evident tsunami for Obama, and supposing that his election heralded an FDR-style paradigm shift in American politics, these opportunists jumped onto the Obama bandwagon. In order to justify the shift, they latched onto a convenient pretext: Sarah Palin.

More fisking is possible and arguably necessary. However (a) I feel like taking a nap, and (b) why should I have all the fun?

Y'all fisk Howard's analysis in the comments. Or not. Maybe you feel like taking a nap, too.


  1. Howard Kurtz is still around? Man, I thought he was retired or dead or something. I don't believe you. Next thing you'll be telling me that The Boston Globe is still in business.

  2. Some thought it cool to vote Obama.
    Some thought he was a fool.
    Looks like the fool side is winning.

  3. Seems to me that excitable Andy veered left back in 2004 when Bush came out against gay marriage. Suddenly Sully the uber-hawk was crying about Abu Ghraib, torture, Rumsfeld's bad planning, etc.

    Now if you really want to talk about opportunism, you can find it in 2003 when Andy slimed a better writer than he will ever be in order to get back at the man who fired him from the NY Times gig. Sadly, the dextosphere played along and attacked Howell Raines on all fronts.

    Raines is gone, Andy has some sweet MSM gigs, and the NY TImes is as liberal as ever.

    (And yes, i am still ticked off by the attacks on Rick Bragg and the knee-jerk reaction of righty bloggers).

  4. And yes, i am still ticked off by the attacks on Rick Bragg and the knee-jerk reaction of righty bloggers.

    Not me. I went to college with Rick Bragg. He's a fine writer. Many have suggested that what happened to Bragg was that NYT felt it had to overcompensate after the Jayson Blair imbroglio.

    The "toe-touch dateline" and the perhaps-too-extensive use of an anonymous stringer for basic reporting, each taken separately, were near the edge if you're going to be a nitpicker ethics-wise -- which I'm not. My basic rule is, just get the facts right and to heck with everything else.

    However, as Bragg pointed out at the time, his editors knew and approved of his use of uncredited stringers, and other reporters did the same thing. Making a big deal about the purity of datelines I'll leave to the Ethics Commissars. During the Bush presidency, there were lots of stories filed from hotels in Waco with "Crawford, Texas" datelines. The more "ethical" reporters made a point to drive out the highway past the Crawford city limits and make a U-turn back toward Waco before they filed their stories.

    After the Jayson Blair scandal, the NYT editors went overboard and Bragg was the scapegoat. It was unfair. Bragg is a brilliant writer, a genuine wordsmith who worked hard and paid his dues -- unlike Blair, a relative rookie who got fast-tracked by Howell Raines despite repeated warnings from desk editors.

    You are correct that many conservatives gloated over Bragg's downfall. I wasn't one of them.

    To add a minor sequel, I know people who know Bragg, and they all say he's arrogant. To which my response is: (a) if I was as good as Rick Bragg, I'd be arrogant, too, and (b) I'm pretty doggone arrogant as it is.

  5. "I cannot support a movement that sees climate change as a hoax and offers domestic oil exploration as the core plank of an energy policy.

    Um. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

    And Kathleen Parker? Kathleen "GOP-has-surrendered-its-high-ground-to-its-lowest-brows" Parker? The woman who has Godphobia? Give me a break.

    It makes me laugh when people start whipping out the intellectual label, as though it means anything. It doesn't. People know when they're getting swindled. At least Kurtz got something right early on. And I remember it as though it was yesterday. It was the day Ken Mehlman said that the GOP was no longer about "small government" and acted as though big government was inevitable and preferred. That was the day I became a political orphan. No longer did the Republican Party represent me or what I considered the values of the Founding Fathers.

    Freedom is in danger. The more government (and it's sniveling defenders) insist it has all the answers, the more independence receives one more shackle. The GOP lost its way for several reasons and amusingly, intellectual prowess, or lack thereof, had nothing to do with it. The GOP lost its heart, which is the bulk of the American people - or "fly-over country" as they like to call it.

    I say bring it. Go ahead and belittle the little people. Mock the Tea Party protesters. Hate on Rush and Beck all you want. We'll see what happens on November 2, 2010.

  6. I thought one of the most unfair attacks on Bragg was Sully's oft repeated charge that Raines only hired him because he was from Alabama. Only a fool or a jerk refuses to admit that Bragg had talent.

    Oh, that's right, he did not go to Harvard, so Bragg must be a hack.

    Maybe Bragg is arrogant. I would be too if i could right like that. On the other hand, that never comes across at his book signings and readings.