Timothy Egan has had enough of these politicians who believe in things

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. 

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6 Responses to Timothy Egan has had enough of these politicians who believe in things

  1. ncfrommke says:

    Actually, no- the blame Nader narrative does have some real meat to it. Pointing out (truthfully) that the Republicans stole Florida doesn’t exonerate Nader- without his presence in the race the R’s wouldn’t have been able to steal enough votes to win. As for Nader’s contention that he peeled off an equivalent number of votes from both sides, well, that’s just laughable. In any case, far more than by FL vote rigging or Green party vote peeling, the real reason Gore lost was the total war declared on his candidacy by the “liberal” MSM, led by Kit Seeleye of the NYT, and Ceci Connolly of the WaPo, with assists from Frank Rich, Marty Peretz, Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, damn near the whole village- check out Bob Somersby at The Daily Howler and/or How He Got There. All the memes about Gore’s supposed dishonesty were and remain utter lies- he never said he invented the internet, that he inspired “Love Story”, or that he discovered Love Canal. Those falsehoods were creations of the establishment journalists that you so rightly flog, the ones that until Katrina, gave Junior Bush’s pathological fabricating a complete pass. In retrospect, a couple things are obvious: Al Gore, while no Kucinich, Sanders, or Wellstone, would have been a more Liberal president than Clinton was, or Obama is; and, had he been elected, his administration would have been under total MSM attack from the picosecond he took the oath of office. I’m not trying to pick a fight here, I agree with mostly everything you write, but I think you’re wrong- the Blame Nader meme is only simple-minded if one ignores “establishment” journalism’s role in the fiasco that gave us Bush.

    (Have you ever read the speech that Gore gave on Iraq in 2002? Tha damn thing GLEAMS, every word precient and true. Barack Obama never spoke that honestly or well. While you’re at it, check out the late Michael Kelly’s insane berserk, demented screed about that same speech- it’s vile enough to make one forget decency, and give thanks that a monster like Kelly was taken out of the punditocracy.)

    • John Knefel says:

      Fair point, and that is a helpful clarification.

      That doesn’t change the fact that the way Egan is using the Blame Nader meme here in the most reductive of ways — blame the farthest “left” person you can find for sticking to their principles.

      The idea that Nader is single-handedly responsibly for Gore’s loss — which is what Egan’s innuendo implies — is dishonest and lazy. But you’re right to say that there were many factors at play.

      Gore’s 2002 Iraq speech is really one of the few highlights of the first part of that decade. It was brave and honest, and as timely as any speech in a long time. I saw him campaigning for Kerry, and he was so funny. All I could think was, “where the hell was THIS guy three years ago?”

      • ncfrommke says:

        OK. Glad to hear that we’re on the same page. Went over to your YouTube channel, and caught episode #5. You guys are fucking adorable. Reminds me of the squalid, squandered days of my own glorious youth. You bitterness gives me hope, sort of.

  2. Pingback: Health care reformers should admit that this bill strengthens the for-profit system - John Knefel - Making a Mockery - True/Slant

  3. alibeamish says:

    Kucinich won elections all these years because the voters believed he was honest
    If all politicians were conformists we’d have even less choice than we have now. Suppose all of them have to be filtered thru Egans small mind.
    I was listening to talk radio NPR here in phoenix and the politicians were saying that only very wealthy people have a chance to win in Arizona as one needs a fortune to raise a bigger fortune to run. This was not complaining just accepted as fact.

  4. alibeamish says:

    The NYTimes has done a lousy job covering the health bill anyway
    of course they support the bill and pretty much were boosting it, while giving out few facts
    today
    :nuns like the bill
    priests hate it
    opponents are racists

    even if I had supported the bill , I wouldnt like these tactics

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