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MATT PLAYS KISS KISS TOO! Twisting logic and language all around, Matt pretends that Bob Kagan really meant it: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9, 2006

PUBLIC EMBARRASSMENTS: So let’s see. The Lieberman campaign accuses people of crimes—although they have absolutely no evidence. The press corps dumbly recites their “charges,” routinely failing to mention the fact that they have no basis for making them. And Lanny Davis sinks into sophistry hell with that disgraceful piece for the Journal. Davis was appalling on C-SPAN a few weeks ago. Yesterday, he sank even lower. (And oh yes: Channeling Lanny, Bill O’Reilly played Joe McCarthy on The Factor last night.)

That said, we were also surprised by Connecticut voters. This morning, the Hartford Courant is saying this concerning yesterday’s turn-out:
PAZNIOKAS (8/9/06): Statewide turnout was estimated at more than 40 percent, 15 percentage points higher than the last major statewide Democratic primary, a gubernatorial contest in 1994.
More than forty percent! (We assume, from context, that this means forty percent of registered Democrats.) We know—it’s August, and it’s just a primary. But given the focus on this race—given the issues that were at stake—what in the world would it ever take to get U.S. voters to care?

MATT PLAYS KISS KISS TOO: We’d like to be more polite about this. But after eight years, it’s not possible:

We’re not sure when we’ve seen its equal. We refer to this truly ridiculous post, in which Matt Ygeslias joins the crowd playing kiss kiss kiss with Bob Kagan. It’s almost impossible to “reason” more strangely—or to be more compliant in the fourteen-year war against our Big Major Dems

Let’s not even try to recap the absurdity of Kagan’s Sunday column (for that, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/8/06). Instead, let’s go straight to the Yglesias piece, in which he tries to explain Kagan’s conduct away. How hard will career liberals struggle and strain to stay in good stead with the capital’s Big Players? Let’s watch Matt play kiss kiss kiss with the man who is sliming our leaders:
YGLESIAS (8/8/06):
NOT A LIE IF YOU BELIEVE IT. Let's return to the subject of Robert Kagan's odd column accusing people who changed their mind about Iraq—or even, in Al Gore's case, people who didn't change their minds about Iraq—of dishonesty. Commenting on the article, Eric Alterman, like Jon Chait, was particularly distressed about this because both of them thought of Kagan as a decent, honest exponent of the other side's views. I think this sort of misconstrues the situation. The whole value of reading honest adversaries like Kagan is that you get to see the genuinely ridiculous elements of their worldview. If that business had been in a Hugh Hewitt column, I would just dismiss it as typical partisan propaganda. But that's not Kagan's style—he must genuinely think that if a person is hawkish about some stuff, or hawkish some of the time, he has a duty to be hawkish about everything, all the time.
It’s not a lie if you believe it! To his credit, Matt had at least noticed, in his first post, that Kagan’s column was a bit “odd.” He’d even noticed that it was especially “odd” when it came to the matter of Gore. (But then, what else is new? This has been happening for seven years now, with barely a peep from our pipsqueaks.) But that’s pretty much where the sanity ended. How does Matt evaluate Kagan? According to Matt, we read the works of such “decent, honest” men so that we can “get to see the genuinely ridiculous elements of their world-view.” Indeed, according to Matt’s strange claims, “that’s the whole value of reading them!” We know—those claims are surpassingly strange. But then, Matt says the following too. It’s bizarre, so we’ll post it again:
YGLESIAS: If that business had been in a Hugh Hewitt column, I would just dismiss it as typical partisan propaganda. But that's not Kagan's style—he must genuinely think that if a person is hawkish about some stuff, or hawkish some of the time, he has a duty to be hawkish about everything, all the time. [Matt’s emphases]
Excuse us? According to Matt, Kagan “genuinely thinks” the following: “If a person is hawkish about some stuff, or hawkish some of the time, he has a duty to be hawkish about everything, all the time.” Let’s state the obvious: Since no one could possibly “think” such a thing, Kagan doesn’t “think” it either! If Kagan “thought” that, he’d be insane. Why then would we be reading him?

Oh that’s right—we almost forgot! We’d be reading him so we could play kiss kiss with a powerful inside player! So we could recite a few more of his “genuine thoughts”—so we could remain a sack of sh*t in good standing. Acting as if this all makes sense, Ygelsias goes on to describe one of Kagan’s books. Sorry—we’d like to edit this passage down. But as with lunacy of most kinds, this defies all attempts at summary:
YGLESIAS: [It’s] a curious book, with both an interesting and insightful component and an utterly ridiculous one. The valuable element is the observation that American and European views of international relations don't come out of vacuums. Europeans live in countries with relatively weak militaries embedded in a very strong and effective international institution, while Americans have a gigantic military and exercise hegemonic control over our continent. Thus, Americans are inclined to see problems as amenable to resolution through unilateral force, while Europeans are inclined to see them as amenable to resolution through multilateral diplomacy.

But instead of drawing from this the conclusion that Americans and Europeans alike should endeavor to check and correct for our biases, or that these contrasting perspectives are what makes transatlantic cooperation so vital and necessary, or that wise leader should seek to find a compromise position, or any number of reasonable things, [Kagan] concludes that American biases are always correct and European ones always wrong. This is basically consistent with his apparent belief that it makes no sense to be hawkish sometimes but not other times. I don't think he's smearing Gore or anyone else, I think this is genuinely the view.
Is that what Yglesias means to say? Does he mean to say that Kagan thinks that American “biases” are always correct—and that European “biases” are always wrong? From this, as from Kagan’s earlier alleged thought, we could then draw the following conclusion: Robert Kagan is out of his mind. But then, so is Matt Yglesias—unless he’s just decided to play kiss kiss kiss kiss with a powerful pundit.

Good God! The vast contortions “career liberals” endure to stay on the good side of major players! No matter how daft their writing may be; no matter how indecent their attacks on our leaders; we will torture our thought and torture our language to pretend that they’re actually “decent and honest”—to insist that they “aren’t smearing Gore.” (After all—It’s not a lie if you believe it!) For ourselves, we hope this pays off big for Matt—as he sells his mind and his soul for his future success. And oh yes, concerning Kagan? Concerning those “utterly ridiculous” thoughts—the “ridiculous” thoughts he “must genuinely think?” Sorry, Matt—you’ve been self-punked! As it turns out, Kagan e-mailed Eric Alterman about his nasty, cultish column. What explains his nasty, stupid “thoughts?” Does he “genuinely think” the weird things he wrote? Sorry. Since no one could actually “think” such things, no—as a matter of fact, he does not. Instead, here’s what Kagan told Alterman about his Post column—roughly the ten millionth Washington Post column which has offered cracked slanders of Gore:
KAGAN: Dear Eric, You're right. I wasn't careful enough about the wording. I meant to say that Al Gore was once hawkish (as VP) and including on Iraq, and that was what he reversed. I didn't mean to suggest that he reversed himself on the war itself. But that is how it reads. I wrote too fast.
Perfect isn’t it? Kagan trashed only one person by name—it was Gore—for“dishonestly” flip-flopping on Iraq, even though Gore hasn’t flip-flopped at all! And how could he make such a weird (but perfectly typical) “mistake?” Of course! He wasn’t careful enough with his wording! Poor Kagan! He simply wrote too fast! Absent-mindedly, he wrote the name of the most famous Dem who hasn’t changed his mind on Iraq! At the Post, Kagan writes only one column a month—but he can’t bother to take his time with it! And what a surprise! By total coincidence, when he forgets to be careful about “his wording,” he ends up doing what they’ve all done for the past fourteen years—he ends up offering the latest nasty, stupid attack on one of our party’s best-known leaders. The good news? At last, we know why this has gone on for so long. They’ve been “writing too fast” the whole time!

Did Kagan “genuinely think” the things he wrote? Since no one could possibly think such nonsense, no—as a matter of fact, he did not. Indeed, even Kagan won’t try to defend the things he wrote! But for fourteen years, the Kagans have been very well served as they’ve lodged their slanders of Dems. The Kagans don’t have to defend what they write! Career liberals keep doing it for them!

LET’S MAKE SURE WE UNDERSTAND: Let’s make sure we understand the pattern displayed in this episode.

Since January 1992, our Big Major Dems have been endlessly trashed, by Big Major Insider Players like Kagan. Clinton was trashed for a string of pseudo-scandals which the press corps still hasn’t tried to explain. Candidate Gore was trashed for two years as “delusional”—as a big liar, just like Bill Clinton. Kerry was trashed as a feckless flip-flopper—as someone who had shamelessly lied about his war record. And Hillary Clinton has been pre-trashed, in ways we’ll plan to discuss on the morrow. (Meanwhile, John McCain has been pre-defined as The World’s Greatest Secular Saint. Everyone knows this—except the boys who serve as our bright “career liberals.”)

Simply put, these trashings have been endless, and quite potent—and they continue right up to this day. Indeed, these trashings have defined our party—and our party’s top leadrers—in the minds of millions of voters. But then, one other thing has been quite endless—the way the Good Little Boys of our career liberal press corps have pretended not to notice them. The endless attacks on Clinton and Gore came from within the mainstream press. Result? All good Career Liberals—good boys, like Matt—retreated deep inside their shells. They didn’t dare stand up and complain—and sometimes, they’re moved to defend those who trash us! Indeed, Kagan is a powerful player—and so his absurd, nasty column must be explained away. It can’t be that he’s stupid and irresponsible—no, by the rules, Kagan’s decent and honest. And so Matt twists himself like a pretzel, making ludicrous claims on Kagan’s behalf—claims that are so utterly daft that Kagan himself won’t even make them! Kagan must really believe this, Matt says. Until Kagan says, “Sorry, I don’t. I simply typed much too fast.”

Yes! This is how your Dem Party leaders have been successfully trashed for the past fourteen years. This is how Bush ended up in the White House. And for that reason, this is how we got to Iraq. We hope it all pays off for Matt, because a large human price has been paid for his cohort’s vast silence.

MATT ON TRUTH SERUM: A thought experiment! Here’s Yglesias, retyping his palaver on a good, solid dose of truth serum:
ACTUAL YGLESIAS: If that business had been in a Hugh Hewitt column, I would just dismiss it as typical partisan propaganda. But that's not Kagan's style—he must genuinely think that if a person is hawkish about some stuff, or hawkish some of the time, he has a duty to be hawkish about everything, all the time.

YGLESIAS ON SERUM: If that business had been in a Hugh Hewitt column, I would just dismiss it as typical partisan propaganda. But unlike Hewitt, Kagan's a player—so I must act like I genuinely think that his nasty, dumb comments make some sort of sense. It’s true—his column was inexcusable, even by Hewitt standards. But I must say that he’s decent.
Isn’t it great? He’s willing to come right out and tell us! If it were Hewit, I’d tell you the truth. Since it’s Kagan, I’ll have to pretend.

Yes—this is how we got to Iraq. We only hope that these helpful fellows are well-paid for their 14-year service. We’d like to be more polite about this. But after many years, it’s simply not possible.