Shameful

by Henry on September 26, 2007

This bloggingheads segment features one of the nastiest political slurs that I’ve seen in a while: David Frum engaging in a public episode of histrionic soul-searching about how he and his fellow conservatives have made Mark Schmitt (Mark Schmitt! ! !) into Charles Lindbergh. The background can be found in a previous bloggingheads debate where Mark politely pointed out that it was difficult for liberals like him to fully embrace the public commemoration of September 11, however they felt about it privately, because of the way that these commemorations had been politicized by Bush and Giuliani. This apparently was sufficient to brand Mark (who is a friend of mine) as the modern incarnation of a notorious isolationist Hitler-fancying anti-Semite. I’m not sure precisely why this particular slur is so attractive to soi-disant conservative ‘public intellectuals’ – but the ease with which people like Goldberg and Frum reach for it in order to smear people whom they simply don’t agree with suggests that they are (a) vicious and deranged (b) dishonest, or (c ) some combination of the above.

{ 34 comments }

1

Chris Bertram 09.26.07 at 5:05 pm

Par for the course, Henry. Here’s Michael White, writing and article entitled “Backing the Bombers”:http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/michael_white/2007/09/backing_the_bombers.html in the Guardian, and articulating the Blairite/”decent” world-view:

bq. An irritating chap in so many ways, Martin Amis. But the novelist raises an interesting point in a new polemic published today. Why, he asks provocatively, do so many westerners on the left – “liberal relativists” he calls them – find themselves on the same side of the line as Osama bin Laden when asked to choose between the al-Qaida leader and George Bush?

2

MattF 09.26.07 at 5:23 pm

It’s the two-step smear– first, make 9/11 into a partisan issue, then second, use it to smear your political opponents. Nasty and effective. The right response is a well-chosen epithet– ‘lunatic’ is popular and accurate and doesn’t have the baggage of ‘fascist’.

3

lemuel pitkin 09.26.07 at 5:48 pm

What is the appeal of the bloggingheads format? Written blog posts are musch friendlier to the reader — they can be skimmed, glanced at, reread, searched, excerpted, etc. And they can be read in places where listening to a debate is inconvenient or impossible (like work — and where else do people read blogs?) if you were quoting a post by Frum, I’d click through and read it, but I’m not going to listen to this — and I doubt many others will either.

As for the writer, a written post gives them a chance to organize their thoughts, revise, quote, link, incorporate graphics, etc. Apart from the universal, deep-seated fantasy of being a TV talking head, I just don’t see what this format offers.

4

thag 09.26.07 at 6:42 pm

No one who has read his work could ever think of Mark Schmitt in those terms. The guy is a very responsible centrist policy-wonk.

Frum is an exceptionally nasty piece of work, and this is pretty much typical of him.

5

Mary Catherine 09.26.07 at 7:06 pm

I don’t know what Schmitt is talking about. No Republican politician has ever tried to exploit September 11 for political purposes.

(What I find most galling about Frum’s performance in that piece is his faux-mournful tone. It pains him to have to say this about Mr Schmitt, but…).

6

Steve LaBonne 09.26.07 at 7:08 pm

I vote for c.

7

Sk 09.26.07 at 7:43 pm

One of the nastiest political slurs you’ve seen in a while compares somebody to …

Charles Lindbergh?

Sk

8

Steve LaBonne 09.26.07 at 7:59 pm

Because it’s such a compliment to be compared to an anti-Semitic Nazi–sympathizing isolationist.

9

Anderson 09.26.07 at 8:40 pm

That’s why I’m so pissed off when TNR or some other “liberal” entity treats Jonah Goldberg as worthy of debate.

The guy’s an asshole, pure and simple. There are Republicans worth talking to, but he’s not one of them.

10

Grand Moff Texan 09.26.07 at 9:11 pm

Why, he asks provocatively, do so many westerners on the left … find themselves on the same side of the line as Osama bin Laden when asked to choose between the al-Qaida leader and George Bush?

Because it’s a false option. I won’t choose the side he wants me to, so he calls me a traitor.

[yawn]

It’s soooooo 2003 .
.

11

Grand Moff Texan 09.26.07 at 9:14 pm

This apparently, was sufficient to brand Mark (who is a friend of mine) as the equivalent to a notorious isolationist Hitler-fancying anti-Semite.

What isn’t? “Anti-semitism”:Frum et al.::Mayonnaise:Belgians. Discuss.

I’m not sure precisely why this particular slur is so attractive to soi-disant conservative ‘public intellectuals’

Uh, I’ll take “because they have nothing intelligent to say” for five-thousand quatloos, Alex.

When are these fainting little fops going to realize that they don’t intimidate anyone?
.

12

Rich B. 09.26.07 at 9:15 pm

Assumedly, Lindbergh is the slur du jour because he was the “Evil President” in Phillip Roth’s alt-history novel.

13

Grand Moff Texan 09.26.07 at 9:16 pm

Weird. Your blog just inserted code into my post that I didn’t type there, creating a link. What I originally wrote was:

“anti-semitism”:Frum et al.::Mayonnaise:Belgians
.

14

Grand Moff Texan 09.26.07 at 9:16 pm

AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!! It did it again!!!

I give up.
.

15

Henry 09.26.07 at 9:28 pm

the blog uses textile, which thinks that stuff in quotes followed by colon followed by text is a hyperlink.

16

Grand Moff Texan 09.26.07 at 10:04 pm

Thanks, Henry, but that also means that PREVIEW LIES!!!
.

17

Kieran Healy 09.26.07 at 10:09 pm

Preview tells you it cannot be trusted if you use Textile.

18

Anderson 09.26.07 at 10:20 pm

Uh-huh, but that doesn’t explain why Preview said there were WMD’s in Iraq.

19

sglover 09.27.07 at 12:18 am

So why isn’t this little shit Frum walking patrol in Baghdad, anyway?

20

brad the impaler 09.27.07 at 12:49 am

David Frum. Mark Steyn. Conrad Black.
Self-hating Canadians.

21

bob mcmanus 09.27.07 at 1:28 am

Cmon. Why Charles Lindbergh as a slur at this moment in American politics?

Possibly because of his America First activity?

In other words, the Republicans are not preparing the Dolchstoss, but are preparing the political ground for the next war.

22

nick s 09.27.07 at 6:19 am

Frum is a shit. He seems to have periods when he’s quiet, then emerges for a brief barrage of pundit trolling, before running back to the safe confines of Mordor the AEI.

You’ll be doing no more bloggingheads, then, Henry?

23

jonst 09.27.07 at 10:58 am

Listen to the neocons long enough, and you’ll see that all roads lead back to Munich. On one side is Neville Chamberlain, in a silly (in fashion retrospect, of course) homburg hat, waving some piece of paper in one hand, limply hanging over the wrist of the other hand, an umbrella that conjures up a hectoring, but loving wife reminding a dour civil servant to take his umbrella with him this morning ‘because it might rain’. And on the other side….in his study, in front of a roaring fireplace, with pictures of his warrior ancestors surrounding him, sits Churchill. He’s brooding over the perceived weakness of his nation (read lack a manly sprirt)…sipping aged scotch, and smoking a immense Cuban cigar.

It works every time….and it works to this day.

24

richard 09.27.07 at 12:42 pm

I wonder if anyone has written an alt history in which Churchill’s reputation is not rescued by Hitler and he goes on to ignominy as an intolerant, alcoholic imperialist who can’t be trusted with the economy?

25

Anderson 09.27.07 at 1:28 pm

I wonder if anyone has written an alt history in which Churchill’s reputation is not rescued by Hitler and he goes on to ignominy as an intolerant, alcoholic imperialist who can’t be trusted with the economy?

He was in exile in Canada in Harris’s Fatherland, tho it’s just an offhand mention.

C’s alcoholism seems to be greatly exaggerated; he mixed a good bit of water with his scotch, and ate more than enough to help soak up the spirits.

26

Bobcat 09.27.07 at 3:05 pm

I know I’m going to get super-flamed for this, but didn’t Frum say, something like, “don’t let it [i.e, your antipathy for the right-wing reaction to and use of 9/11] turn you into a Charles Lindbergh?

Obviously, this isn’t much better — to suggest that you’re on the road to Lindbergh isn’t quite as bad as saying you’re Lindbergh, but it’s still bad.

27

John Emerson 09.27.07 at 4:05 pm

Lindbergh is my homie and basically came from Lake Wobegon. So did Sinclair Lewis.

Minnesota politics 1930-1940 was really quite a positive story. The Farmer-Labor Party during that period was run by populist socialists. They were as successful as any American left group has ever been, and their heritage is almost entirely positive (except to right-libertarian scum like the Powerline shits).

BUT what Minnesota had achieved was a united right-left populist-extremist popular front, united against the Republicans (the Democrats almost disappeared — they’d always been weak in Minnesota because Minnesota was founded by Union civil War veterans.)

In 1936 the only Congressman voting to support the Spanish Republican cause was John Bernard of the Duluth area, who later admitted to being a Communist. But in 1942 FL Senator Lundeen was implicated in Nazi propaganda efforts.

This is a very big tent, and when you consider that small-town bankers were important early FL supporters, you have to wonder whether it wasn’t the biggest tent EVER.

Many FL supporters were first or second-generation Scandinavian or German immigrants (though Bernard was a Corsican, of all things.) The geographical isolation of the Midwest during the early XXc was also a factor — people were aware that their lives were decided by events taking place very far away.

I still think that people around here are more willing than elsewhere to make their political commitments based on their own thinking, rather than by triangulating public opinion or deciding which kingpin will be able to deliver them the goods. People who do their own thinking tend to be erratic.

So anyway, moderation is the titraton of extremes.

28

John Emerson 09.27.07 at 4:10 pm

Lindbergh is my homie and basically came from Lake Wobegon. So did Sinclair Lewis.

Minnesota politics 1930-1940 was really quite a positive story. The Farmer-Labor Party during that period was run by populist soc1411ists. They were as successful as any American left group has ever been, and their heritage is almost entirely positive (except to right-libertarian scum like the Powerline shits).

BUT what Minnesota had achieved was a united right-left populist-extremist popular front, united against the Republicans (the Democrats almost disappeared—they’d always been weak in Minnesota because Minnesota was founded by Union civil War veterans.)

In 1936 the only Congressman voting to support the Spanish Republican cause was John Bernard of the Duluth area, who later admitted to being a Communist. But in 1940 FL Senator Lundeen was implicated in Nazi propaganda efforts (dying mysteriously in a plane crash.)

This was a very big tent, and when you consider that small-town bankers were important early FL supporters, you have to wonder whether it wasn’t the biggest tent EVER.

Many FL supporters were first or second-generation Scandinavian or German immigrants (though Bernard was a Corsican, of all things.) The geographical isolation of the Midwest during the early XXc was also a factor—people were aware that their lives were decided by events taking place very far away, something which induces paranoia.

I still think that people around here are more willing than elsewhere to make their political commitments based on their own thinking, rather than by triangulating public opinion or deciding which kingpin will be able to deliver them the goods. People who do their own thinking tend to be erratic.

So anyway, moderation is the titration of extremes. I really think that Hofstadter’s version of populism was all wrong.

NOTE: Y’all really have to tweak your stupid spam filter. It should be possible to use the word soc1411sm here, of all places.

29

Ralph Hitchens 09.27.07 at 6:34 pm

The politicization of patriotism by “conservatives” is shameful. A few years ago, when I was an inside-the-beltway government bureaucrat, I began to feel conspicuous about my reluctance to wear the obligatory American flag pin in my lapel. I’m feeling the same way about neglecting to sport a “Support Our Troops” bumper sticker on my car. I’ve been opposed to the Iraq War from the start, and I fear that bumper sticker is, for the most part, a right-wing flag. It really bothers me that anyone should feel the need to display such a slogan.

30

BillCinSD 09.27.07 at 6:59 pm

given that minnesota was granted statehood in 1858, it seems quite unlikely that minnesota was founded by civil war vets

31

Sk 09.27.07 at 8:46 pm

“It really bothers me that anyone should feel the need to display such a slogan.”

We don’t feel the need to. We do it because we want to.

Sk

32

John Emerson 09.27.07 at 9:35 pm

OK, settled. Much of the state was depopulated during the Civil Wars because of Sioux attacks.

33

WakeUp 09.28.07 at 8:07 pm

Henry, you’re the one who’s shameless. I saw Frum on theat second Bloggingheads segment and you haven’t got the vaguest idea what you’re talking about. Frum in his blog has just responded to your smear, where he essentially says: There’s a difference in saying “You’re going to hit someone someday if you keep driving like that” and “You’ve just hit someone.” If you had an ounce of good faith mixed in with your malice, you’d have put two and two together and realized that’s what he meant. Instead, with glee, you jump to the most damning interpretation. If you’re going to comment on public affairs, try not to be a public nuisance.

34

Eli Rabett 10.01.07 at 2:50 am

Yeah, its called implausible deniability and the proper response is bullshit.

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