Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bomb Throwers
Yesterday, Columbia Journalism Review's website published a jaw-dropping interview with John Cloud, the writer who did the Coulter piece for Time, in which he suggests that what Coulter does on the right, Eric Alterman does on the left. His criticism of Alterman seems to be based on the fact that Alterman has used the same kind of language Coulter has, which is a little like equating Albert Einstein with Kramer because they both had frizzy hair.

The interview has a rather odd tone. Cloud's response to the controversy surrounding the article has an airy, "oh, don't worry about it" quality, as if Ann Coulter were a movie star or celebrity chef who's more sidebar than main event. It's not his job, apparently, to think about the politically and culturally corrosive effect of the level of discourse Coulter represents--in fact, he basically tells CJR that very thing:
This is the point of my article. This is the way politics is engaged in debate now. And I think that his response to my article proves our point that this kind of dialogue, which is the Ann Coulter kind of dialogue, now holds sway.
Well. As news, the revelation that political debate is nasty and partisan ranks right up there with "sun rises in east" and "man bitten by dog." And to equate Alterman, a professor of English whose writing generally shows evidence of thought, with Coulter, who writes like she's got Tourette's Syndrome, indicates that he hasn't really read either one of them.

(Digression: Regarding the reader whose comment yesterday seemed to indicate that he thought that I was being cruel to Coulter by saying she sucks as a writer, I'd like to apologize. Not to him, however. To say that Coulter merely sucks is an affront to everything else that sucks, so I apologize to everything else that sucks.)

Recommended Reading: The inestimable Orcinus, whose beat is right-wing extremism, doesn't have to inflitrate secluded Idaho compounds anymore. His post from last night is one of the best you'll read about the mainstreaming of the sort of thing that was fringe lunacy only a few years ago. The "nuclear option" lights the fuse; the Constitution Restoration Act is the real bomb.

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