He may be too close to Leon Wieseltier and Al Gore, but the New Republic’s main man Martin Peretz never fails to deliver the goods on our idea of a hero: an obscure little creature that makes our world worse than it was before he wormed into power. Thus there’s one Loren Jenkins, identified by Peretz as foreign editor of National Public Radio — the only network in America with its own blacklist, it would appear. One fellow on it is Steven Emerson, an expert on Islamic terror support networks in the U.S., the sort of voice Foreign Editor Jenkins would sooner bury under a pyramid than allow into his policed broadcasts. Jenkins and Emerson have what might be called irreconcilable differences. Back in August 1998, for instance, Jenkins wrote to knock down claims that Osama bin Laden was a terrorist planning to hit the U.S. again. These were mostly based, Jenkins claimed, on “bin Laden’s own braggadocio and the bad company he apparently keeps…. [H]e seems to be more of a spiritual leader and financier than the sort of terrorist mastermind being alleged.”
And where or where or where did Jenkins issue this clean bill of health? In Salon.com, natch’, home of the brave (much as it regards that last word as an ethnic slur) and home of the once free. Nowadays at its pumps if you need to fill up with Salon gas you have to order “premium.” They even charge if you need to clean your windshield, and they charge you with abuse if you kick your tire. Like all socialists united they long ago forgot that the best things in life are free. Now that no one pays to read their pricey prose, when they do want someone to notice their spewings they can’t wait to give the stuff away. Hence the free availability of the recent 800,000 word essay by Salon founder and strongman David Talbot. It’s a call to arms on behalf of progressive and vigilant Democrats worldwide.
To Talbot it all goes back to when the then-president of the U.S. summoned him to Camp Monica or wherever to fill him in on the vast right wing conspiracy. By his reckoning, the Arkansas Project remains a Republican state of mind. It brought us Florida, Bush, John Ashcroft, Judge Bork, the early Barry Goldwater, Attila, the late Napoleon, the Whites in the Russian Civil War, the Vichy water cartel, Jesse Helms, John Tower, Hiroshima, President Thieu, Mme. Nhu and Mme. Chiang Kai-shek. Yet somehow his prose can’t help but give aid and comfort to the enemy:
“When Al Gore blasted Bush last week, it was a painful reminder of what he and Joe Lieberman didn’t do in Florida, when GOP bullies simply ripped the presidency out of their hands.” (And kicked Gore out of Cheney’s house, he fails to add.)
“There was simply nothing that these people were incapable of saying or doing to advance their political agenda. They shamelessly and self-righteously crossed dozens of lines that marked what once were the acceptable bounds of political battle.” (Someone from San Francisco knows what’s acceptable?)
“One of the most repellent aspects of Brock’s book is his reminder of how the right-wing sleaze campaign eventually succeeded in dictating mainstream news coverage.” (Howell Raines, you’re outta here!)
“At the White House reception I attended, Clinton remarked, ‘Maybe I’ll be remembered as the president who took the poison out of American politics.’ … But this, unfortunately, is wishful thinking. The Old Testament fervor that inflamed the GOP and the conservative movement throughout the Clinton era is still very much alive.” (For once we’re speechless.)
So unchallenged is the right in its supremacy the wonder is why the world isn’t uniting to demand that it withdraw from its many West Banks.
Say what you will about Comrade Talbot, at least his posture is one of a hysterical faux fighter — not like all those small capital D Democrats who spent this past week in Washington wondering how wonderful life would be if John McCain were one of them. Don’t these people have anything else to do, like maybe toss a frisbee around Dupont Circle or order a second cup of smoke-free latte?
In a better world David Talbot would be an automatic EOW. But even Enemy Central has standards, and it refuses to confer its highest honors on anyone who turns himself in or begs too cravenly for attention. We require grace, delicacy, indelible sweetness and dignity from our laureates. Someone, say, with the class and style of Andrew Cuomo, who just the other day denounced New York Gov. George Pataki for failing to lead after 9/11. That was news to anyone who spent the months after 9/11 begging Pataki to provide maybe a little less leadership. Word on the street is that Andy remains irate that his friends in the scrap metal business were cut out of the post-9/11 cleanup.
Bad breaking news from Hollywood, where Robert Blake’s bodyguard is also under arrest. Bad news, that is, for our man of the moment, who’s acted as a self-appointed protector of one Yassir Arafat in Ramallah. An adoring New York Times profiled the guy the other day, as he expounded on his deeper beliefs: “My philosophy is that we’re all human beings, and I don’t buy into ethnicity and sectarianism.” But he does buy into suicide bombing, evidently, because the story never mentions he doesn’t. He was raised Jewish but says he’s now an atheist, as if that changes anything. Not that we can’t change anything. For one thing, Adam Shapiro is our Enemy of the Week. Okay, so it’s not that big a deal, but is might be for David Talbot. In his treatise he voices outrage that the Wall Street Journal’s editor Robert Bartley called Talbot’s inspiration, Mr. David Brock, “the John Walker Lindh of contemporary conservatism.” Will it make him any happier if we call David Brock the Adam Shapiro of contemporary conservatism?