Monday, October 19, 2009


One of the more morally repulsive pieces to go online recently is from a right-winger who isn't a paranoid, hyperbolic Beckite frother -- Noemie Emery of The Weekly Standard. Her piece isn't conspiratorial or RedState-purist. It's just ugly.

Emery's subjects are the Roman Polanski rape arrest, the David Letterman sex scandal, and Barack Obama's Nobel. What's her opening paragraph? This:

Three times in the past several weeks, fortune has seemed to beam on conservatives, in unexpected and unprompted ways. Not that they've won much, but their tormentors keep losing. Three days in fall 2009 damaged or neutralized three liberal institutions, whose powers have now been curtailed.

Set aside the Nobel story, and leave the Letterman story for later. This is Noemie Emery's reaction the Polanski arrest? It's a victory not for an underage victim (her current reluctance to pursue the case notwithstanding), or for rape victims in general, or women and girls in general, or for the idea that privilege should not put someone above the law? It's a victory for Emery's side?

Yup. That's the meaning, and it's also what's important about Letterman's troubles, not the fact that he abused his power as a boss:

Letterman will doubtless survive as a comic (and now as a punchline for other comedians), and Polanski's defenders will not lose jobs or money, but this is just part of the tale. Hollywood and the late-night comedians have been sizable assets for Democrats, and their clout is now diminished. Letterman was not just an entertainer, but a political force, who judged politicians, pressed them on issues, and controlled their access to a fairly large audience. Candidates launched campaigns on Letterman's program. Barack Obama went on his show a few weeks ago to try to revive his stalled health care agenda; it was political news when Letterman threw a tantrum because John McCain cancelled an appearance on his program during the financial implosion last fall. But politicians do not count creeps as their buddies, at least not in public: The McCains and Obamas will no longer seek Letterman out. He has lost his power to help--or to hurt--politicians, and lost the ability to joke about their failings without having the joke be on him. In the past year, as Howard Kurtz said, "Letterman has been more openly political, and tilted more to the left," so this is good news for the other persuasion.

The "fact" that "politicians do not count creeps as their buddies" will be news to anyone who's ever listened to or watched Don Imus, much less Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh, but never mind. The clear implication of this is that if Letterman hadn't "tilted more to the left," if he were still the guy who once described Rudy Giuliani on the air as "the personification of courage," Emery (and all right-thinking conservatives) would be supremely uninterested in his troubles. It's a moral issue only because making it a moral issue helps her side -- and the same goes for Polanski.

The right used to argue that our side hated Bush more than we loved America. Emery, to judge from this, hates liberals more than she loves ... any moral good (or anything whatsoever). No surprise really, but disturbing to see it declared so baldly.

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