THIRD TENOR SPEAKS: Atrios says we were unfair when we discussed his post-debate musings (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/29/08). Thats always possible, of courseand all things being equal, its better to stay away from peoples hard-to-limn motives. For what its worth, though, we have to say that his case is a bit underwhelming. And Jesus Christ! Could he possibly avoid running so fast to crouch behind his wife?
ATRIOS (9/29/08): The main reason I stopped reading Somerby awhile ago was his tendency to strongly imply/assume bad faith among nominal allies when often more innocent explanations are the correct ones.
The any judgments, in the first quoted post, referred to, in my mind, how I imagined the debate would impact the race, something which I have yet to deliver an opinion on because I never saw the debate aside from a couple of clips
And Mrs. Atrios, who Bob has yet to go after, can attest to the fact that McCain's extremely condescending attitude towards Obama was the subject of our debate discussion as we listened in the car.
We have no idea who said what to whom about what topic, in what vehicle. And the worried professor can feel quite sure that we wont go after his wife. (Truly disgraceful.) But were sick to death of fly-weights like thisof their lazy, insulting, condescending performance. Just for the record, we were talking about you, Brother Atrios. You, and your work. You alone.
Were we unfair to Atrios? We have no ultimate way of knowing, as is almost always the case when we suggest that someone may have been less than completely forthcoming. In his third post about Fridays debate, Atrios said that McCains incredibly condescending attitude towards Obama had come through loud and clear on the radio bits he heard as he rode in that car. Indeed, McCain sounded like he thought Obama was on [a] par with dog shit, he said. To us, that sounds like Atrios had a very strong reaction to what he heard in that car. And yes! It struck us as odd that, after Atrios heard such conductconduct which came through loud and clearhis first post about the debate said this. Nothing more:
ATRIOS (9/27/08): Debate
Well, due to travel hell I was in a car during the debate. Caught some of it on the radio, though it's hard to make any judgments without seeing the visuals.
I understand McCain has a wee bit of a problem looking Obama in the eye? Pretty weird.
To us, that seems like a pretty tame postif you actually thought that youd heard McCain treating Obama on a par with dog shit. (If you thought youd heard it loud and clear.) But then, we think this second post is also weird, if you really thought youd heard McCain behaving that way.
Of course, its obvious that Joe Klein was totally faking when he complained, around Saturday noon, about McCains outrageous conduct; his full report on Friday night clearly said something quite different. In the case of the ever-disintegrating Josh Marshall, it was also a bit hard to reconcile Saturdays outrage with the mild comments of Friday night, posted while live-blogging.
But then, this is a pattern weve now observed for a good many years. It surprised us when we first encountered itwhen we first saw mainstream journalists reinventing their real reactions to get in line with emerging Group Narratives. We had reached a rather late point in life before we ever so much as dreamed that any real people behaved this way; in the case of the insider press corps, we didnt know that mainstream journalists invent bogus stories, then agree to pretend that theyre true. But as weve learned in the past ten years, people behave this way all the time! And weve learned something else in the past few years: The gruesome habits of mainstream journalists are attractive to liberals too.
Sorry, Atrios. We think those Saturday posts suggest a (newly famous) crap sandwich. And you can stop pretending that this involves someone other than you.
One last point about nominal allies, for whose likely decency Atrios thoughtfully vouches.
Starting in the summer of 2002, we began to express an unfortunate theme, one we had only begun to ponder: We began suggesting to readers that their nominal allies are often not actual allies. (We tepidly mentioned E. J. Dionne first.) This takes us back to a political era which may now be nearing an end, as American institutions disintegrate. But looking ahead to what may become a vastly changed political landscape, well suggest to readers that the growing inanity of the liberal web makes that entity no ally either. Increasingly, the liberal web is written by and for fly-weights. Youre handed silly, childish talessilly tales that will make you feel good.
Youre told that you play on a team called The Shirtsand that The Shirts are very good people. Youre told about the vile team called The Skinsand youre handed endless proof of their troubling ways. Just yesterday, the Posts Shankar Vedantam did a nice job describing the general way this process works, as he has done many times in the past. (His weekly pieces are true must-reads.) But increasingly, the liberal web is written for rubes. People like Atrios serve you crap sandwiches, assuming youll wolf them straight down.
Unfair to Atrios? To tell the truth, we cant exactly say. But again, just click here to read that third post, the one about the way McCain was treating Obama on a par with dog shit. Do you really believe that Atrios thought that? Or was he just serving another thick sandwichscripting you with the words you should say? Trust us: If you believe he really thought that, there will be many fine meals ahead.
For ourselves, we cant help wondering if the Three Tenors didnt all learn a catchy new tune. Their outrage was stirringby Saturday noon. In real time, it seemed oddly muted.