Tim Egan, man, I don’t know much about this guy, but his post today on the New York Times’ website is really idiotic. He argues that Dennis Kucinich is as crazy as Michele Bachmann — a dismissive tactic the media often employs to discredit someone deemed “too far left” — because Kucinich hasn’t been a cheerleader for the philosophically confused health care bill. And also Dennis said he saw a flying saucer once, which, yes, that is something you shouldn’t say in a presidential debate, but who cares. I’d take that over Egan’s Super Serious Analysis any day.
Just to give you a taste of where Egan’s going to take us, here’s his lede, bursting at the seams with childish conventional wisdom:
Quite a week for Dennis Kucinich, the liberal Democratic congressman who had been threatening to do to health care what Ralph Nader did to Al Gore in 2000.
The “Blame Nader” narrative is too simple-minded to deserve rebuttal, and any “journalist” who employs it should be embarrassed at himself. It signals to the reader: Hey, I’m not going to challenge any assumptions here; instead, I’ll just amplify the accepted, officially sanctioned narrative. Oh, no need to thank me — that’s my job.
From there the reader is treated to glib dismissals of “the purists” — which is also the name of Egan’s post — as though Kucinich’s stance on issues is too self-evidently moronic to warrant analysis:
Obama may not yet have the defining legislation of his presidency on his desk, but he’s already pulled off a small miracle: getting the holier-than-thou purists of his party to realize that they have to govern every now and then.
Oh how clever. Why of course any liberal legislator who doesn’t instantly kneel before the lobbyists who own our government is a “holier-than-thou purist” who deserves to be mocked.
And then there’s the following passage, which should be taught in J-School as the Platonic ideal of the fallacy of false equivalency:
Ah, to be among the true believers, breathing only the clean air of sanctimony. Nothing is ever done, no lives improved, no laws passed. No messy deals tarnished by the poison of compromise. The public hates you — every poll shows that voters want both sides to legislate with a mix of ideas. But, oh, how good it must feel to be right all the time.
Come to think of it, that passage exemplifies what it means to be a Serious journalist. It’s dismissive, condescending, and factually doubious — the public option polls far higher than the rest of the health care bill, but only a “holier-than-thou” liberal would fight for that.
Luckily for the American public, the Tim Egans of the world will do their best to remind politicians that to hold on to liberal beliefs is very unserious. That, in a nutshell, is the job of the establishment journalist.