SO-CALLED LIBERAL BOOK REVIEWERS
I suppose I should be grateful that, in today's New York Times, Janet Maslin said she sort of liked Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, or liked parts of it at least, and in yesterday's Times Book Review Michael Janeway spent fifteen paragraphs bashing Dick Morris's Off with Their Heads, then spent a mere three paragraphs using the same cudgel to bash Joe Conason's Big Lies. My first instinct was to be disappointed in these reviews, but all the right-wingers assure me that the Times is the house organ for left-wing propaganda, so I guess the lukewarm response to Franken and Conason must be some sort of mysterious form of lefty thought control.
Seriously, though: I don't really expect Times reviewers to lavish praise on every liberal book, but could Times reviewers at least make an effort to understand the way politics has been discussed over the last decade or so? Janeway is a former congressional aide and newspaper editor who now teaches journalism, yet he doesn't seem to have the slightest idea that Morris, in his book, is parroting shrill riffs popularized for years by Limbaugh, Coulter, Bernard Goldberg, and others of that ilk, while Conason is responding in kind to these folks, to Democrat-bashing cable pundits, to the Wall Street Journal editorial page -- you know the list, even though Janeway clearly doesn't. Maslin, at least, has a vague awareness of the nature of contemporary political rhetoric -- but when she refers to "the kicking, spitting spirit of current all-star political discourse," she suggests that only celebrities talk trash when they talk politics, rather than nearly every radio host on every all-talk station in America, 24 hours a day, for the past ten years or so. Maslin thinks we're "at the start of a brand new mud-slinging season, with books by Michael Moore, [Bill] O'Reilly, Molly Ivins and others in the wings" -- as if two liberals and one conservative constitutes a representative sampling of non-genteel political commentary today. Someone send this woman a CARE package of Regnery books, pronto.
Janeway, in damning Conason's book, sniffs, "stridency depletes itself fast." The hell it does. Try turning on your radio, Professor.