You know Glenn Greenwald’s about to write something particularly stupid when his first line includes a descriptor like “extremely pro-war, neoconservative.” (Why not just “pro-war”? Why must it be bookended between “extremely” and “neoconservative”?)
In the case of Greenwald’s latest emission at Salon, the elaborate descriptor is applied to the defunct New York Sun, two of whose former staffers have recently contributed to the New Republic. One of them, Jacob Gerhsman, published an article expressing surprise toward Eliot Spitzer’s early attempt at political rehabilitation. This article — “a finger-wagging sermon,” per Greenwald — inspires a counterblast comparing Spitzer’s crimes (hiring high-priced call girls) with the crimes alleged against Dick Cheney who, Greenwald says, “literally admitted, brazenly and unapologetically, to committing war crimes; blithely justified the atrocities that were committed as part of our attack on Iraq; and glorified the whole slew of illegal surveillance programs he ordered.”
Greenwald’s a one-trick pony. Being outraged at Republican “war crimes” is his shtick, and God knows how he’ll fill his days when the Bush administration leaves office. The man certainly doesn’t get work on the basis of his engaging prose. A single sentence as sample:
The reason the American political establishment tenaciously refuses to acknowledge the devastation and crimes that have been unleashed during the Bush era is obvious: aside from the generalized belief that Americans are inherently good and thus incapable of meriting terms such as “aggressive wars” and “war criminals” no matter what they actually do (those phrases are applicable only to lesser foreigners), most of the establishment supported these crimes and the criminals who unleashed them.
Seventy-four words, in case you were counting, and not much real meaning except: “Boy, do I hate Bush!” If you share Greenwald’s outrage, perhaps it’s satisfying to watch him reiterate it endlessly — a sort of online Olbermann rant to tide you over until you can go home and watch “Countdown.” If you aren’t outraged, however, there’s no reason to read Greenwald except as a species of grim duty.
Anti-Bush indignation is his stock in trade, and the sell-by date of that particular commodity has probably already passed. No one, however, has told this to Greenwald. He’s like one of those guys who got on the “who killed Vince Foster?” bandwagon in 1993 and kept peddling it long after the public had lost interest.
Expect Greenwald to keep chasing his idee fixe. He won’t change his tune, he’ll just look for new excuses to sing it. Some member of the Obama administration will be caught in a minor scandal, and Greenwald will trot out his obligatory column saying that whatever the administration official did, it can’t possibly be compared to “the devastation and crimes that have been unleashed during the Bush era.”
By 2010, this method of argumentation will be known as the Greenwald Defense, and will be widely employed throughout society: “Yes, officer, I realize I was doing 83 mph in a 55 mph zone, but is this really worth a traffic citation, when you consider the devastation and crimes that have been unleashed during the Bush era?”
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