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Weak

Andrew Sullivan's ham-handed attack on William Raspberry's defense of Fahrenheit 9-11 really makes Raspberry's column (and, by extension, the film) seem a lot better than I felt like it was when I first saw it. We're seeing here the confluence of both the very severe inherent flaws of the "fisking" genre and, apparently, a rightwing driven absolutely batty by the prospect of seeing their president get hit below the belt. Meanwhile the right threatens to establish a dictatorship if "responsible" voices on the left on the left don't restrain Moore. Well now.

June 29, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

Yeah, but your unreasoned critique of Andrew Sullivan's ham-handed attack on William Raspberry's defense of Fahrenheit 9-11 really makes Andrew Sullivan's column seem a lot better. Perhaps my blog post on your unreasoned critique of Andrew Sullivan's ham-handed attack on William Raspberry's defense of Fahrenheit 9-11 will imporve your post as well.

Posted by: old guy | Jun 29, 2004 2:20:12 PM

Old guy is just plain wrong.

They obviously need to detain M Moore, send him down to Guantanamo, and impound the films. There is an election, I mean a war going on, and polls, I mean morale on the home front is critical for our boys to torture, umm defend the new martial law, ummm....never mind

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jun 29, 2004 2:27:08 PM

This raises the question, If Matthew Yglesias can just seek out and point to enough underwhelming articles and blog posts from the right, will that eventually transmute Fahrenheit 9/11 into a good film independently of any need on MY's part to discuss its actual merits? I await the answer, breathlessly.

Posted by: Blixa | Jun 29, 2004 2:27:36 PM

What a total dick you are, Blixa. Matt just said yesterday that he'd be watching the movie tonight. He isn't avoiding anything. You're not only being snide and stupid, but also dishonest.

Posted by: JP | Jun 29, 2004 2:42:54 PM

Did Blixa try to say something?

I don't know, but when someone starts talking about Mussolini that way, what's it do to Godwin's Law? I mean, jeez -- he said it, not us.

Let's face it, the trains did run on time, and the anarchists and Commies were no longer a problem.

Posted by: Zizka | Jun 29, 2004 2:44:21 PM

Zizka -- I've heard that the trains were actually less timely during the Mussolini era because the military's need to be moving troops all about the country was highly disruptive.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Jun 29, 2004 2:45:42 PM

Well, one thing is certain. The left has been crying about Ashcroft crushing dissent and Bush being a fascist for so long now that when real fascism emerges, nobody is going to believe them. It's called crying wolf.

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Jun 29, 2004 2:56:43 PM

At the moment, it's the LEFT that's into political censorship. You call it "campaign finance reform", and make all sorts of excuses about why it isn't *really* censorship, but that's what you're doing: Silencing speech you don't like.

Personally, the only reason I have any sympathy at all for efforts to silence Moore by getting his works regulated as "electioneering communications", is that history teaches that you guys don't abandon a bad idea, (Like independent counsels.) until it bites YOU on the ass.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Jun 29, 2004 3:02:25 PM

JP,

If Matthew hasn't actually seen the film (which I did not know - sorry for not having read absolutely each and every of his posts BTW, my mistake for not having the expertise on his biography and the detailed vagaries of his day-to-day life that you apparently have) that makes it even more of a head-scratcher that Andrew Sullivan's article made "by extension, the film" "seem a lot better than I felt like it was when I first saw it". Perhaps at this rate he need *never* actually view the film to declare it Oscar-calibre on the basis of some bloggers' articles and such. Fascinating.


Posted by: Blixa | Jun 29, 2004 3:21:14 PM

It's not a right-wing driven batty by President Bush being hit under the belt. It's a group of people frustrated and angered by the callow and intellecutally dishonest defenses of the film and the remarkable fatuousness of the film itself. It's the continued descent into a politics of hate and anger where people can't debate ideas and realize that those on the other side might just be reasonable persons who happen to have come to different conclusions. It's a remarkably narrow view of politics and the world which sees it in shades of black and white and thinks that answers to policy questions come in the form of right (liberal) and wrong (conservative). (Don't get me wrong this occurs on the other side too.) It's the inability to recognize that however wrong you might find Bush and Aschroft and the whole cabal of right-wingers you might be able charitably conclude that they believe they are doing what is right and what is necessary and trying the best they can rather than assuming that some insidious motive moves them to their conclusions. It's the idea that if Bush is reelected it signals the end of the country. I think Sullivan is tapping into that and rightly so. The smugness and anger that permeates the various corners of liberal blogdom and mainline print is unbelievable and yet again another example of how unhinged from reality so many liberals are.

Posted by: Conor Dugan | Jun 29, 2004 3:25:24 PM

"The left has been crying about Ashcroft crushing dissent and Bush being a fascist for so long now that when real fascism emerges, nobody is going to believe them."

See, my theory about the use of the term "the left" by wingnuts is that it's totally independent of a person's actual politics. It's the only way to explain the kind of moron who thinks, when Ashcroft and Bush ride roughshod over the constitution and (in Bush's case) try to have themselves declared inherently above the law so they can get away with torturing people, concern is or should be limited to "the left." To these people, "the left" is just a blanket term for everyone who isn't in Bush's corner mindlessly chanting "go team!" on every talking point.

Of course, tongue-in-cheek Hitler comparisons aside (if you can't figure out what "tongue-in-cheek" means, consult miscellaneous Repug references to "Hitlery" and "feminazis"), many have pointed out that government officials declaring themselves above the law and political parties trying to intimidate their opponents with threats of violence and dictatorial rule are pretty important components of fascism. And they're absolutely right.

Now, there is what I think of as The Lileks Defense: if nobody's broken YOUR door down today, everything must be a-okay. But then (uh-oh! Godwin's law alert!), the average German citizen really never had anything to fear from the Gestapo, did they? So they must have been a-okay, too.

Posted by: Doctor Slack | Jun 29, 2004 3:32:14 PM

Matt,
All those arguments you make to prove you point were excellent. You adressed each and every one of Sullivan's criticisms in an intelligent and well thought out matter. Bravo.

Posted by: Dave | Jun 29, 2004 3:42:45 PM

"It's the continued descent into a politics of hate and anger where people can't debate ideas and realize that those on the other side might just be reasonable persons who happen to have come to different conclusions. "

See, those on the liberal side of the fence would be more sympathetic if the right hadn't spent a decade eating up the likes of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, people who make Moore (sloppy as he sometimes is) look pretty damned good by comparison. But, given that you've done so and continue to do so, the only appropriate response to sentence above is:

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

That's not to say that there aren't responsible conservatives who can and should be respected for holding reasoned viewpoints. These are an increasingly rare specimen in the rightwing media, which is mostly dominated by fact-free hacks, but they're still out there in the Republican Party -- there are Republicans who are not yet Repugs, so to speak. Unfortunately for the outraged-by-Moore crowd, most of these people have also figured out by this point that there's something disastrously wrong with the Bush Administration.

Far as Moore himself goes, I myself disagree with people who excuse his sloppier moments on the basis of "fighting fire with fire", and I think his ambush interview schtick has worn thin. I can't call myself a fan. Luckily, F-911 lets the circumstances (and the Bushies and their various Democrat enablers) speak for themselves often enough that it's worth a look... and I can't disagree with people who are disinclined to form a circular firing squad around Moore at the behest of the right. Message to wingnuts: time to start worrying about the log in your own eye.

Posted by: Doctor Slack | Jun 29, 2004 3:50:01 PM

Not that you're obligated to say more, MY, but your post strikes me as ineffective on account of laziness. To the weak-minded, Sully's article probably holds together; I think some more detail to back up the "ham" word and the "limits of fisking" comment, with perhaps an example or two, would really help. Though I'm wary of suggesting that you fisk the fisk-exposing fisk.

Like I said, if you just wanted to point out Sully's article and register your opinion without further comment, your prerogative. I just think you're missing out. And while you're at it, demand that Andrew opine on Rush and Hannity...

Posted by: me | Jun 29, 2004 3:51:07 PM

Since Sully made one glaring factual error in his column (that all Florida recount scenarios would have resulted in a Bush win) does this mean that we can now dismiss everything he says, the way 'the right' does with Moore? Yay!

As for their little Pirahna Brothers protection racket ("It'd be shame if anything happened to this nice democracy..."), I don't suppose it occured to any of them that Moore, Air America et al *were* nature's response to their own rogue's gallery of patron lunatics?

Posted by: Erik | Jun 29, 2004 4:09:52 PM

I particuarly like the line about how any criticism of Bush. v. Gore is inherently "irrational." Make sure to remember that the next time you hear a conservative complaining about such legally adjudicated opinions as Roe v. Wade! (Not, of course, that I believe that the latter is anything like as unprincipled as the former...)

Posted by: Scott | Jun 29, 2004 4:28:03 PM

Good lord, Matt, your troll-to-normal-respondent ratio here is nuts.

The thing I've found about the right is that the more you call them fascists... the more they act like fascists.

Posted by: Bgno64 | Jun 29, 2004 4:31:55 PM

I love how commenters call anyone who they disagree with "trolls" and "wingnuts", by the way. Thanks for the love.

I think 60 minutes releasing pictures of Abu Graib has damaged Bush's candidacy far more than F911 ever will. There's enough facts on the ground out there to go after this administration. Moore's film does the rest of the opposition a disservice 'cause it's such an easy target AND because prominent Democrats are latching onto it... It's kind of like the protests in NYC this summer. The wackier the unhinged portion of the opposition becomes, the more normal Bush looks. Defending Moore doesn't help you folks at all.

Peace. --scott

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Jun 29, 2004 4:43:10 PM

This one, I think, deserves its own little documentary. I can't believe I'm reading this and it's not The Onion:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4259085,00.html

Justice: Can't Share Foreign Lobby Data

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a request seeking the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system.

``Implementing such a request risks a crash that cannot be fixed and could result in a major loss of data, which would be devastating,'' wrote Thomas J. McIntyre, chief in the Justice Department's office for information requests.
...

Posted by: abb1 | Jun 29, 2004 4:55:21 PM

"I love how commenters call anyone who they disagree with "trolls" and "wingnuts", by the way. "

Oh, not anyone. Just the ones who act like trolls and wingnuts. (To dittoheads complaining about how "the left" has damaged the tone of the discourse: this means you.)

I think Dick Cheney said it best, really... you know the rest.

Posted by: Doctor Slack | Jun 29, 2004 4:58:00 PM

Matt: "the prospect of seeing their president get hit below the belt."

Ambiguity is disruptive. I read this as MY saying the hit is below the belt.

It isn't, by any means - and certainly not by comparison with the rightist commentators and BushCo flacks who talk about 'undermining the troops' and 'aiding al Qaeda' because they oppose why and how this Iraq war has come to be.

But maybe Matt doesn't think it is below the belt, just that others think so. Benefit of the doubt.

The movie speaks for itself, and the audiences are coming out of the theater saying it does deliver a powerful message that they agree with or has caused them to rethink support for Bush.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jun 29, 2004 7:12:05 PM

"and the audiences are coming out of the theater saying it does deliver a powerful message that they agree with or has caused them to rethink support for Bush."

And THAT, of course, is what's driving the right-wing flacks batty.

Posted by: Doctor Slack | Jun 29, 2004 7:31:57 PM

Hey Matt, could you do us a favor and actually tell us what you think is wrong with Sullivan's column? Other than that it's "weak"?

I'm not (just) being a smart-ass. I'm really curious.

Posted by: steve | Jun 29, 2004 7:38:38 PM

Thanks for proving my point, Blixa, you total dick.

The previous post is right there at the bottom of the page. All you have to do is scroll down and have a memory that goes back to yesterday.

When Sullivan writes a critique that is self-evidently based on nothing but crappy internal logic and bravado, it makes the movie look better. This obviously has nothing to do with whether or not you've seen the movie itself.

I feel like I'm debating a fucking tenth grader on usenet. All you've got is a snide and obnoxious attitude with no content to back it up. That's why nobody here has any respect for you, whereas that's not the case for other conservatives.

Posted by: JP | Jun 29, 2004 8:22:03 PM

Moore's rhteoric will cause massive leftist labor stikes, police powerlessness, and the trains to not run on time, will create Italy c. 1922? I doubt Engel believes that. He was waiting for the moment to drop this one. There's plenty more where that column came from, and would be if we all locked Moore in a basement at Hyannisport for the rest of his life.

The question is when, not if, an openly anti-constitutional coup will be attempted, and if it will be reversed quickly. The attitudes of military officers who are now 22-40 years old, and of the generation of noncoms and enlisted serving when it happens, will be decisive. I'm very cautiously optimistic about liberal democracy's chances. The Iraq debacle might poison the crop of now-young officers against the proto-fascist elements of the right, and we've been a liberal society for so long that's it's hard to see us taking to an authoritarian state for long.

2013 seems about right, but who knows. If we see some combination of a financial meltdown, a nuclear terrorist event, and a war with China over Taiwan (which we might lose, as fast as China's tech sector is developing), it could be sooner. And I forgot Musharraf; please throw an Islamist Pakistan in the mix. None of these scenarios are kooky-unlikely in the next ten years, and the development of even one would test our politics severely.

What's next? I wonder when we'll see publication of an article by some rising young Federalist Society type calling for the repeal of that noxious wellspring of judicial activism, Marbury v. Madison. "Emphatically the province and duty..." God, the arrogance. The Marshall Court may have meant well, but they just weren't that smart. Maybe something like that is already out. If not, surely before mid-2006.

Dark, challenging days are ahead.

Posted by: Sean Flaherty | Jun 29, 2004 8:33:49 PM

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