Sunday, March 18, 2012


You know that Victor Davis Hanson is a Really Bright Guy because he writes thick books about the ancient world and sentences so convoluted that they're harder to get through than hip-deep Mississippi mud. For further proof of his brilliance, consider the provocative and astonishingly profound thought exercise that begins this Hanson post (emphasis added):

David Axelrod's moral-equivalence argument that Limbaugh's smear is worse than Maher's because the former is both more influential and more identifiable with Republican circles is a sad sort of sophistry. Limbaugh may have a larger audience, but I suspect if you googled "Rush Limbaugh" and compared it to "Bill Maher," the so-called hits would be about the same, given the latter's ability, through political profanity and contrived P.T. Barnum–like antics, to find enormous publicity and influence beyond what his mediocre talents as a comedian might otherwise earn.

Hanson suspects that "the so-called hits would be about the same"! Ever consider that possibility? I know I certainly hadn't.

If only there were a way to determine whether it's true!

... Oh, wait -- I've been informed by an eight-year-old that there actually is a way to determine whether it's true:

Google "Rush Limbaugh"
Search About 32,200,000 results (0.29 seconds)

Google "Bill Maher"
Search About 14,500,000 results (0.18 seconds)

There you go -- more than twice as many "so-called hits" for Limbaugh -- which I believe, according to wingnut math, is "about the same."


R. B. said...

Victor Davis Hanson is actually an excellent writer and a pretty good historian, but as an analyst of public opinion, he's full of beans.

The distinguishing factor between Limbaugh and Maher is that Maher only takes out after people who are well-known, willing, and regular participants in public debate, including a former GOP vice-presidential candidate. Limbaugh, by contrast, set out this time to target a law student who simply did a one-shot stint of testifying at a congressional hearing on an issue of public policy. Most people did not know anything about Sandra Fluke until Limbaugh went after her with all rhetorical guns blazing. Limbaugh has targeted other innocent bystanders as well, including the teenage Chelsea Clinton while her father was President.

As Hanson is a military historian, he should know the difference between verba combat between those accepting the risk of combat and collateral damage inflicted on civilians by an irresponsible and uncontrolled assault.

Jim Parrett said...

Hanson knows very well "the difference between verbal combat" and "collateral damage inflicted on civilians". It doesn't matter to him. As excellent a historian as he may be, he is still an ideologue whose mission is to further his ideology. It's war to him. Anything goes.

Ten Bears said...

As a "historian", like Gingrich, Hansen is either an incredibly poorly informed... or a god-damned liar.

My vote is for the later. History is, afterall, re-written by those in a position to get away with it.

Batocchio said...

The Greeks didn't have Google at Thermopylae, so Hanson doesn't believe in using it.

Batocchio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Since someone has claimed Hanson to be an "excellent writer," I think it incumbent on me once again to share this passage from his novel, No Man a Slave:

“But tell me this also farmer,” Epaminondas pressed even closer, still grinning at upping the Thespian. “Think when you have wasps with the sharp tails in your vineyard that Malgis planted. You know the terrible black ones. The ones that sting the paws of sleeping Sturax over there. Or land on the nose of Porpax. Or even in their pride jab the tall legs of your Neto or the chest of buxom Damo — do you chase them all over the orchard, flailing at one or two of them with the broom or clapping at them with your hands?”

“Of course, not!” Odd that the Theban knew of Neto and his son’s wife Damo, and of Chion and apparently Sturax and Porpax too, but at least not Gorgos as well.
“You think me a fool, Theban? To protect this household that you apparently know so well, I hunt out the nest of these stingers and then burn them out all at once with a torch of straw. Yes, I do. And so would you, had you any sense.” Melon sensed the Theban had a good lid on his own pot, and would need two or three more sticks on the fire before boiling over.

Still, Epaminondas flashed his black eyes, “Then don’t mark me a fool either, when you call me dream monger and worse. Like an old woman by the fire, you warn me that it is terrible to fight the Spartans. Maybe it is — as we both know — or maybe not. But when you fight the Spartans, you must kill their king. No one, not even our Malgis had done that. Then when you take on Sparta, you fight in Sparta, not where and when the kings slither or buzz to sting you.”

Epaminondas would play no more notes on his reed and now pointed his finger in Melon’s face.

“No, there won’t be any more sideshows here in Boiotia chasing a few wasps, beneath Helikon. No more on the farm of Malgis son of Antander as we did this morning. I am tired of swatting Spartan stingers far from their nests, as each year these Spartans flit from the farms of Thespiai to Thisbe and back to Tanagra. Or haven’t you heard them brag that they bury their own in the land of others, never others in their own? So sit here if you like until the King’s army, not eight krypts, are in your vineyard for all I care. They came to kill you because there skies are full of comets and oracles that cry out an apple will fall and end Sparta. Ask your Neto — they think you for some reason are the apple, the mĂȘlon. So they kill you and so they think will live. Silly folk, children really Spartans are, but deadly all the same.”

I evaluated this effort on Balloon Juice some months ago, and I liked what I wrote so much that I'll repeat it here:

Writing this bad requires more than garden-variety incompetence. It’s the product of a kind of anti-talent or negative genius—with which Hanson is supremely anti-gifted. I’m in awe, really, and I want the rest of you to be in awe, too.

Cereal said...

I suspect that if you googled "Hanson evil" and "Hitler evil" you'd get about the same number of so-called hits. So there you go!

Tom Hilton said...

Well, sure, but I bet if you counted the number of Democratic politicians who are completely unwilling to criticize Bill Maher and the number of Republican politicians who won't criticize Limbaugh, the numbers would be about the same.

PS: No fair counting!

Steve M. said...

Aaron, that is to prose what the Bush presidency was to politics. It's astonishing.

Jack said...

Wait. I thought you had to go to the library and the check out of one them computers to do a google search.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Why, of course Maher would NEVER deign to mock the unwashed masses and unknowns. Until such time as he does. Or delegates that fun to others. Which on a show seen by millions and organized by you and your handy staff, is what's called "difference without a real distinction".