Questioning Whether Bush Bashers Actually Hurt The President
The reviewer, Jennifer Senior, a contributing editor at New York magazine who writes about politics, points out what should be obvious: Johnny One Notes generally do in themselves, because they screech so loudly that few listen to them.
It's become clear that President Bush, to some extent, benefits from all the criticism directed at him. I remember one night, during the 2004 presidential debates, when I was present, in Hanover, N.H., watching one of the debates between Mr. Bush and Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee. Every time the President spoke, a man in the audience made an insulting remark about him. I thought to myself at the time that every time this critic spoke, he was, in fact, steering votes to Mr. Bush.
Now, just for the record, I'm an admirer of the President, although I think nonetheless that he has made many mistakes in his conduct of the War on Terror. I think some correctives are in order, but at the same time I like Mr. Bush for the same reason I like the Notre Dame football team: They continue to fight, as the Irish did last night in their game against Michigan State, regardless how heavily the odds seem to be against them.
Ms. Senior clearly thinks for herself, and I wish the editors of the New York Times, who have allowed their commentary pages to become overly liberalized, would pay some attention to what she says. At least, thank goodness, the editor of the NYT Book Review is paying attention, because he not only has hired her four times to write reviews, but he even gives her a complimentary blurb at the beginning of the Book Review today.
Of Lapham's book, a constant assault on Mr. Bush, Ms. Senior writes, "Well, at least his (Lapham's) point of view is unambiguous. But unless you agree with it 100 percent -- and are content to see almost no original reporting or analysis in support of these claims -- you may feel less inclined to throttle Lapham's targets than to throttle Lapham himself."
Later, she adds, "People who are serious about politics don't just preen. They report, explain, explore contradictions, struggle with ideas, perhaps even propose suggestions. If they do none of these things, they're simply heckling, and if the best Lapham can do is come up with 50 inventive new ways to call Bush an imbecilic oligarch, that's all he's doing: heckling."
The reviewer compares Lapham to Ann Coulter, the right wing polemicist. "He's just another talk show host really -- only this time by way of Yale and Mensa," she writes.
As for Blumenthal, Senior finds that his columns for Salon and The Guardian newspaper in London, are "hardly pitched to win over undecided voters" either.
Senior admires certain things about Blumenthal's writing. "These columns have a certain cumulative power," she writes. "But their content has also been curated with one aim in mind, and that's to cast the Bush Administration in the grimmest possible light."
Senior concludes, "It's hard to trust a narrator who only and always assumes the worst...The left has often complained that what it needs isn't polite speech, but voices as pungent as those on the right. Maybe so. But even the angriest people on the right tend to be funny. Books like this one are a depressing reminder of how important it is for writers to have a slight sense of humor about themselves, if they want to be taken at all seriously."
How great it would be if the New York Times substituted Senior for one of its polemnical left wing columnists, Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert or Frank Rich. It would certainly improve the newspaper.
Labels: War Politics