Patterico's Pontifications

6/15/2007

Althouse Vivisects Greenwald

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:02 pm

I’m still having a spirited discussion with Ann Althouse in the comments section to one of her AutoAdmit posts, and I’m laying into her a little bit. But just to show I’m not a completely hostile guy, I want to recognize the smashing job she did taking apart Glenn Greenwald in this post, one portion of which made me laugh out loud:

[N]obody really seems to find it odd or disturbing or objectionable at all — that day after day, Salon features a blogger who goes on and on in the most tedious way. . . .

During the last week, when I was traveling, I spent substantial time driving in a rental car…

Glenn G can’t say “last week.” It’s got to be “during the last week.” He can’t say “a long time,” he has to say “substantial time.”

…and thus had the opportunity to listen for large chunks of time to The Rush Limbaugh Show…

You know, Glenn G can’t just “listen” to the radio, he has to have “the opportunity to listen” to the radio. So you listened to the radio? Who cares if it was last week and the car was a rental car and you were not only driving you were also traveling? It’s like his little heart leaps every time he sees the opportunity to lard in a few more words, like a schoolboy assigned to write a 500-word essay.

More like a 10,000 word essay — but still: heh. That’s good stuff.

Althouse’s post has its faults, too. The Greenwald post that Althouse is criticizing contains one of the few passages in recent memory in which I have wholeheartedly agreed with Greenwald: a criticism of the inanity of Chris Matthews. Althouse says Greenwald is “tone deaf” to Matthews’s humor, whereas I agree with Greenwald that Matthews is just a buffoon who exemplifies the worst aspects of our terrible, trivial, herd-mentality, shameful excuse for a news media.

Also, Althouse reads something sinister into a Greenwald missing link that turns out simply to be misspelled, as one of her commenters points out to her (not that she bothers to correct it in the post).

But I can easily overlook these faults, because the criticism of Greenwald’s deadly and overwrought prose is just so well done. In fact, it was so much fun to read, I’m tempted to start making fun of his prose on a daily basis myself. The only thing holding me back is the realization that somebody could probably do it to me too . . .

12 Responses to “Althouse Vivisects Greenwald”

  1. At least Greenwald discovered the paragraph when he moved to Salon.

    alphie (015011)

  2. She should really stick to topics befitting People Magazine.

    jpe (425595)

  3. Oh, he’s too wordy? Yeah, I can get behind that.

    That Shakespeare guy was tedious as well.

    I find those folks who bemoan the drone of alliteration have the least imagination and just a tinge of envy.

    Semanticleo (10a7bd)

  4. The only thing holding me back is the realization that somebody could probably do it to me too . . .

    No! You think?

    Oregonian (9fa12e)

  5. The day after the trains were bombed in Spain I happened to watch Matthews.

    He opened his show like a bad sportscaster, “Three trains bombed in Spain, over 200 dead, who does it help Bush or Kerry.” I could not imagine a dumber question.

    Mark_0454 (891ada)

  6. yowzah! the woman who wrote that loooong blog post needs some kind of meds, ianad so i can’t tell you exactly what. did she “vivisect” anybody? the impression i got was toddlers fighting in a sandbox and a little girl wading in to mix it up with the guys, and the rumination on sex, war and politics suggested more than anything else that its author wished she were properly equipped to compete in the relative machismo derby. i was unfamiliar with her writing until the other day, when i followed a link from here to a disclosure that she had burst into tears when some libertarians declined to undertake to prove to her that they were not racists, so i would rate her as having outstanding comic potential.

    also: fred thompson a sex symbol? this is hard for me to imagine. do women really go for that? is there the slightest risk that he’ll be our next president because millions of women will surrender their hearts and votes to a daddy-figure with whom they’re not actually biologically related, so it’s ok to snuggle up to him as close as they can? sounds like one of the male righty pundits was snuggling up to him too; when did this achillean homoeroticism infect your grand old party? do i have to wear english leather to get elected? (and i don’t capitalize either, so there!) as a nation and a society, we’re going down the tubes.

    assistant devil's advocate (94b260)

  7. After skimming Althouse’s essay, I realized that Greenwald is indeed unnecessarily verbose. Nevertheless, I really like his work for two reasons. First, as you can tell from my comments here, I share his sense of incredulity and outrage about the Bush Administration, especially with regard to civil liberties. Second, he has taken over from the greatly lamented defunct Whiskey Bar site in its frequent comparison of what the pro-Bush crowd repeated verbatim versus reality.

    You should look more closely, too, at the details of Althouse’s attack on the content of this particular Greenwald article. Given that you (and I) agree with at least one of Greenwald’s points, the fascination of the mass media punditocracy with unimportant nonsense like after shave, it’s worth exploring why or in what way Althouse—herself no friend of the “MSM”—reaches her negative conclusions.

    Most of Greenwald’s essay is about the particular choice of trivium that Matthews was discussing: the ascription of masculinity to Republicans and conservatives, the converse insinuation that liberals and Democrats are wimps who will not protect you from terrorists and are turning America into a nation of wimps, which he shows has become an obsession of Reynolds, Limbaugh, and others. Greenwald shows the photo evidence: the conservative pundits calling Democrats wimps are a collection of flaccid, often-bloated, totally unathletic mouse potatoes not one of whom you’d want covering your back in a bar fight, much less armed combat (which, of course, few of them have ever seen). The fact that this theme has worked splendidly for Republican candidates (see under: Kerry) means that the Democrats have to engage it, e.g. by recruiting military veterans to run, out of self-defense. The trivialization of politics is the issue, not something that can be ignored.

    Althouse’s analysis misses this point (on purpose), aiming for a nearby but different target.

    Greenwald started out by mocking Chris Matthews for the analysis of sexual feeling in politics, and then he ended up analyzing sexual feelings in politics.

    Whether it’s right or wrong, Greenwald’s analysis of how “masculinity” plays out in current American politics is not trivial. I don’t think you can say that about Matthews’ talking about after shave in the throes of his latest man-crush. Althouse again

    He mocks Glenn Reynolds for talking about what a geek he is, but self-examination and self-deprecation are good — and are not evidence of someone with a “pervasive and insecure craving for artificial masculinity [that] supplants rational and substantive political considerations.”

    But this completely misrepresents Greenwald’s point. Nothing Greenwald says is against self-examination, and I don’t think at any point Greenwald (who is openly gay and whom Althouse referred to as ‘lolglenn’ under his photo) is claiming to be more macho than Reynolds, et. al.— he’s talking about their obsession with machismo and its implications for both political discourse and foreign policy.

    This would be a good place for me to reiterate my standard belief about “chicken hawk” arguments: the fact that a pro-war supporter has no military service is irrelevant. We couldn’t send Limbaugh to Vietnam, ass-pimple or otherwise, since we still adhered back then to the Geneva Conventions and they prohibit poison gas. However, war supporters who have never served don’t get to call anti-war advocates cowardly, wimpy, etc. History shows that it’s cheap courage to send other families’ children off to die. I had thought the British WWI poets had settled this.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (11c8d5)

  8. Ann Althouse is not my favorite blogger but I agree that her post on Glenn Greenwald is excellent. In fact, she fisked him.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  9. I can’t understand why everyone is so astonished by Gweenwawd’s verbosity. The answer is clear: Salon pays him by the word.

    Kevin R.C. O'Brien (ae83cd)

  10. Hey Andrew, didn’t British poets also establish that their girlfriends were nothing like roses, that Satan travels by a kind of solar surfing mechanism, and that old sailors get really, really thirsty if they happen to intemperately kill sea birds? I mean as long as we’re citing English poetry as moral and empirical authority…

    Al Maviva (89d0b6)

  11. So it’s not cheap courage to send other families’ children off to die.

    …ok then.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  12. [...] if Greenwald gets three stars, his internet critics — including two bloggers not even worth quoting — barely rise to the level of junk food. This Althouse character [...]

    Why Blogging is Not Writing (3d8fbd)


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