Crowdsource Duncan Black!

by Henry Farrell on April 12, 2012

Duncan Black – aka ‘Atrios’ – is trying to identify the wankers of the decade, and finding that reliving the trauma is hard.

bq. I’ve been a bit jokey about the difficulties of writing the wanker posts, but in truth it has been difficult, though not because it’s hard work or similar. The ESCHATON DECADE has been a pretty fucked up decade, a time when this country stopped even bothering to pretend to live up to many of its supposed ideals. We go to war and kill lots of people for no good reason, elites have eliminated any accountability for themselves for criminal wrongdoing, we’ve tortured and assassinated people, and the response to massive economic suffering and related criminal fraud has been to give lots of free money to the people who caused it all. And one premise of his blog is that all of this shit happens, in part, because of the fucking wankers who rule our public discourse. Paying too much attention to it every day can be bad enough sometimes, but reliving it all again is actually a bit painful.

I don’t know how you _could_ deal with this stuff without being jokey – it both helps you deal with the anger and gets the point across better than frustration and rage. Then, I don’t understand how he’s been able to do this day in, day out, for ten years either. Which is why I’m suggesting that people give him a hand.

We have seen seven of the ten wankers of the decade so far: in order, they’re:

9th runner up Megan McArdle.1
8th runner up Richard Cohen.
7th runner up Diane Sawyer.
6th runner up Jonah Goldberg.
5th runner up Lord Saletan.
4th runner up Mark Halperin.

This leaves three wankers yet to be chosen. I would be startled if Thomas Friedman isn’t one of them (surely, he has to be odds-on favorite to take the grand prize). I’m also hopeful that Charles Krauthammer won’t be overlooked. But there are many others who are surely worthy of consideration, and volumes and volumes of material to be gone through, all likely to cause anger and increased blood pressure. Hence my suggestion: I encourage CT readers with the time and inclination to document the _very worst_ atrocities of likely nominees, with hyperlinks and all, so as to help ease the anguish of Duncan Black’s trip down Memory Lane. The comment section is yours.

1 McMuddle must be disappointed with her poor finish behind Richard Cohen. Perhaps she’ll find consolation in the publicity for her forthcoming book, “PERMISSION TO SUCK, about “how risk aversion is sapping America of its core strengths.”” (We all have permission to suck, but Comrade McArdle abuses the privilege).



Unlearner 04.12.12 at 5:37 pm

Could there be one of those Time Man of the Year that’s not a person-type entrants, like “The Meme” or something?


Uncle Kvetch 04.12.12 at 5:39 pm

I encourage CT readers with the time and inclination to document the very worst atrocities of likely nominees, with hyperlinks and all, so as to help ease the anguish of Duncan Black’s trip down Memory Lane.

I’m feeling positively Goldbergian in my laziness today, so I’m just going to say “what Jim Henley said” and leave it at that.


Malaclypse 04.12.12 at 5:39 pm

Bill Kristol. Dear Cthulhu, that smug condescending grin all by itself makes it into the top ten.


Doctor Memory 04.12.12 at 5:39 pm

I can only hope that Atrios is planning on giving Andrew “The Poor Man” Northrup (Ret., Mrs.) proper due credit on this project.


Doctor Memory 04.12.12 at 5:42 pm

Also, if this list does not include Victor “SPARTANS! TONIGHT WE DINE IN KENNEBUNKPORT!” Hanson, or Steven “and now I’m going to re-enact the closing speech from ‘Atlas Shrugged’ only with more references to anime” it is automatically invalid.


J. Otto Pohl 04.12.12 at 5:45 pm

I do not have time for hyperlinks, but I am going to nominate Alan Dershowtiz. His support of torture is not unique and his extreme support of Israel is very common. But, his vendetta against Norman Finkelstein was seriously over the top.


FMguru 04.12.12 at 5:52 pm

Four more wankers to go (three runners-up, and the winner), not three.

Friedman is a shoo-in for the top spot, and the three runners up will be 1) Glenn Reynolds, 2) Andrew Sullivan, and…hmmmm. Krauthammer? Fred Hiatt? Bill Kristol? Judith Miller? Mauren Dowd? It’s wide open.


Malaclypse 04.12.12 at 5:58 pm

What about Ann “Onion Rings Are Symbolic” Althouse?


Substance McGravitas 04.12.12 at 5:58 pm

I’d say Hitchens but that’s beating a dead horse.


rf 04.12.12 at 6:01 pm

From a 2004 UK Spectator article headlined ‘Iraq has never had it so good’, Mark Steyn

“I don’t think it’s possible for anyone who looks at Iraq honestly to see it as anything other than a success story…. Many Iraqis are voting with their feet. The UN High Commission for Refugees, which was expecting about two million new refugees to flee from the war last year, instead found no takers. All the traffic’s the other way…. Instead of just rushing in and holding a national election, the Americans went in with a Tocquevillian plan to build representative government from the ground up”

And just so we dont remember John Derbyshire solely for his racism

“Not guilty! I am, in fact, willing to confess myself a collateral-damage armchair warrior, who would be happy to see us trade in our inventory of smart laser-guided precision munitions for lots and lots and lots of old-style iron bombs, and fleets of great big iron planes to deliver them. Remember those photographs of mid-1945 Berlin, fragments of broken wall sticking up out of vast drifts and dunes of pulverized masonry? Now that’s rubble.”

Idiots of the decade might be more fitting, wanker would just be embraced with halfwitted gusto


Watson Ladd 04.12.12 at 6:04 pm

Glenn Greenwald. Why? Because he’s wrong about nearly everything he says about the laws of war, as scores of actual lawyers have pointed out, yet manages to influence discourse about the wars even among people who should know better. here is an example. He does this by making factual assertions about the law that he knows many people disagree with and that are by no means settled. (His post below that ignores that translation is material support. Pick one at random, and odds are it is egregiously inaccurate.)


Substance McGravitas 04.12.12 at 6:07 pm

yet manages to influence discourse about the wars

This is why the US has backed off on torture and drone strikes and shut Guantanamo down.


Data Tutashkhia 04.12.12 at 6:08 pm

Anyone and everyone at Fox News. Collectively.


Barry Freed 04.12.12 at 6:10 pm

Why is Diane Sawyer on the list (or don’t I want to know)?

Some good candidates here but I’d say it’s got to be the great mustache of understanding who takes the prize or the earth isn’t flat.


roger 04.12.12 at 6:14 pm

Friedman, yes, but not your run of the mill rightwingman. To wank you need to seriously pretend to be seriously pondering. Which is why I am going for dark horse Joe Klein. Or maybe a collective Swampland award. Krauthammer and the Fox Gallery of Horror is not wanking so much as something else -ramming hot needles in the public eye? There is also Bill Keller, of course. And what about, oh what about Ignatieff? A… and George Packer. Oh so many come to mind!


Manta1976 04.12.12 at 6:15 pm

“He does this by making factual assertions about the law that he knows many people disagree with and that are by no means settled”
Watson, you mean things like that waterboarding is torture and torture is illegal (many people disagree with it, and it is by no means settled)?


Uncle Kvetch 04.12.12 at 6:16 pm

Why is Diane Sawyer on the list (or don’t I want to know)?

You’ve forgotten already? You should be ashamed.


The Bobs 04.12.12 at 6:31 pm

A Jack Vance reference! I don’t see many of those.


Henry 04.12.12 at 6:37 pm

bq. A Jack Vance reference! I don’t see many of those.

Then you probably don’t read this blog very often ;)


Anna Granfors 04.12.12 at 6:40 pm

Uh, he’s only chosen SIX so far, according to your (and his) list:

….so we have four more wankloads yet to, erm, come.


Barry Freed 04.12.12 at 6:46 pm

And so I am ashamed, UK. But while that’s certainly wankeriffic and puts her in the running for wanker of the year in 2003 (and in a very competitive field that year) it doesn’t for me rise to the level of wanker of the decade.

And shed a tear for poor Mickey Kaus, if only he had stayed at Slate he could have been a contender.


Anna Granfors 04.12.12 at 6:50 pm

Oops. Missed FMGuru’s comment above. Please disregard my comment.


christian_h 04.12.12 at 6:50 pm

I’d nominate Watson Ladd for being essentially Tom Friedman and Alan Dershovitz rolled into one all while presumably claiming to be a Marxist.

Otherwise I’d surely take Hiatt over any of his minions.


Steve LaBonne 04.12.12 at 6:53 pm

Surely Robert Not-An-Economist Shill For The 1% Samuelson has got to be on that list.


Bruce Baugh 04.12.12 at 7:04 pm

I feel like it’d be good to give a nod to an old-school wanker like Kim du Toit or Stephen Den Beste, but I’m really too lazy to hunt examples. (And I’d have to concede that they’d be better in a second-tier list.)


js. 04.12.12 at 7:12 pm

David Brooks has to be in there, no? And isn’t Jeffrey Goldberg a bit of a wanker as well?

(The Moustache must win, of course.)


Steve LaBonne 04.12.12 at 7:14 pm

Bobo I assume is going to be there, and surely is at least a dark horse candidate for #1 (though the Mustache would be my guy as well.).


Watson Ladd 04.12.12 at 7:24 pm

Mantra1976: I’m thinking about his talking about the legality of Guantanamo and the various cases of targeted killing while ignoring any court cases from World War II on these very topics. Notice I said nearly everything and linked to a specific, sadly not egregious example. If Glenn Greenwald had been as careful in discussing Guantanamo as he was when discussing waterboarding, he would actually be an interesting and trustable commentator on these issues. Hacks are hacks not because they are incompetent, but because they are partisan. He can do a good job, but doesn’t.


rf 04.12.12 at 7:26 pm

Since it’s the twilight of his career and the decade that stupidity eventually overcame faux sophistication, George Will should get it.


yabonn 04.12.12 at 7:26 pm

I’ve been on Althouse’s blog twice I think. It was enough to realize that’s where the children who cut the cats’ whiskers and kill the birds go when they grow up. Nominated for creepiness.

But the category is restrictive. I remember vividly an old article on how to have a good meal at a restaurant. The trick was being a jerk, in a way that gets you better food.

As the author was writing as restaurant goer, but also as econ-prof-with-a-blog-his-students-read (I think it was Mankiw?) , he was effectively teaching that you can’t really be a jerk if you can find an economisty sounding rationale for your behavior. So maybe consider “Biggest nearly inadvertent contributor to the general assholity of the world, but otherwise readable” ?


Dr. Hilarius 04.12.12 at 7:45 pm

I’ll second George Will. True, he’s irrelevant to the modern Republican Party, which no longer even pretends to any sort of intellectual coherency, but his pomposity and stick-up-his-ass killjoy disapproval of almost everything qualifies him. Or a least some sort of career award for longevity as Serious Person (insert Edmund Burke quote here).


geo 04.12.12 at 7:45 pm

Alex Pareene of Salon has annual “Top 50 [or 25] Hacks” lists that are very well-documented and well-written.

Watson, if anything could increase my perfervid admiration for and near-blind trust in Glenn Greenwald, it’s knowing that you strongly disapprove of him. Please keep it up: you’re an unfailing fount of fatuity, a bounteous beacon of bonkerism, in the often drearily sensible precincts of Crooked Timber.


geo 04.12.12 at 7:49 pm

@32: Sorry – that should have been “blazing beacon.” Beacons aren’t really bounteous, are they?


michael e sullivan 04.12.12 at 7:54 pm

Given that a whole genre of the stuff is named after him, it seems like Broder is a perfect candidate, and I’m surprised nobody has mentioned him.

We can’t seriously be avoiding him just because he died a year ago and hasn’t continued to pollute the discourse since then, can we?


Uncle Kvetch 04.12.12 at 7:57 pm

George Will […] stick-up-his-ass killjoy disapproval of almost everything qualifies him.

Well, he approves heartily of baseball — and he manages to make a game I find excruciatingly boring to begin with even more so. No mean feat.


roy belmont 04.12.12 at 8:04 pm

Amazingly these hapless figures have little or naught in common besides generic basics and personal wankhood of an exceptionalist/delusionalist nature. If only there was some thematic congruence. Some linkage of affinity and outcome, a predictable manifestation of dysfunction. So we could get a general take on the before, instead of waiting until after the wankish dysfunction appears.
Or maybe dysfunction isn’t it? Maybe it’s simply an alternate functionality. Maybe it only looks wank to those of us with liberal prejudice. The blindness inherent in vestigial humane regard.
As contradistinct the exceptionalist dogma, with its tight exclusive focus on the exceptioned and their needs and desires, to the detriment of anything and anyone that gets in their bloody way.


Dragon-King Wangchuck 04.12.12 at 8:05 pm

I’m pretty sure Tommy Friedman, aged six is taking the grand prize. But in the spirit of the post request, I’m going to suggest Fred Hiatt, and throw in Joe “neither the time nor the legal background” Klein as a longshot dark horse.


rf 04.12.12 at 8:08 pm

Daniel Drezner for a career spent glamourising job insecurity, then spending the guts of a decade in mourning for the 7 days he didnt have a job for life. Roy Keane. George Clooney for destroying love. The Stalinist academics that banished J Otto to Ghana.


otto 04.12.12 at 8:10 pm

Marty Peretz.


Barry Freed 04.12.12 at 8:19 pm

@geo @32: Sorry – that should have been “blazing beacon.” Beacons aren’t really bounteous, are they?

So I take it that’s another vote for Friedman then.


MK 04.12.12 at 8:27 pm

Greenwald should be thrown in there just for giving Ron Paul a hint of legitimacy.


Joshua W. Burton 04.12.12 at 9:15 pm

But . . . but . . . Steven Den Beste’s blog archives are still online.

Looking back on the whole decade as a cautionary tale, don’t we owe it to somebody to make sure USS Clueless is never entirely forgotten? Will no one think of the children?


Joshua W. Burton 04.12.12 at 9:17 pm

Oh, and how perfect is that? I see what he did there.

The hyperlink is, but you can’t get there from here; you’ll have to go back to the beginning of the Internet and start over.


Frank in midtown 04.12.12 at 9:22 pm

Judith made no actual contribution to her “work.”


chrismealy 04.12.12 at 9:27 pm

There’s gotta be somebody from TNR on that list. Can’t be Marty, he’s such a bad and boring writer people wrote him off years ago. I can see sprezzatura on the list but it’d have to be at the bottom. James Kirchick had a hot streak but that was years ago. Maybe just Peter Beinart then.


chrismealy 04.12.12 at 9:28 pm

I believe his name is Robert “No Relation” Samuelson.


P O'Neill 04.12.12 at 9:31 pm

It’s a shame he ruled out posthumous awards … one could at least envisage an Oscar-style montage of wankers deceased during the award period, with audience applause saying more about who they recognize than actual quality, so Tim Russert gets deafening applause while it’s more muted for Andrew Breitbart and even Michael Kelly (who was a forerunner of the 2000s media culture). But surely Roger Ailes has to be up there, lifetime achievement if not in the main group of 10.


Substance McGravitas 04.12.12 at 9:32 pm


Antti Nannimus 04.12.12 at 9:35 pm


There are at least a THOUSAND top ten wankers in the U.S alone! So many wankers, so little time. We can’t possibly have enough time to hand out all the medals. And I agree with JS. @ 26, if David Brooks is not high on the list, there is no justice in the universe, and I’ve never wanked.

Have a nice day,


rf 04.12.12 at 9:42 pm

P O Neill – And the decade we lost William Buckley

Niall Ferguson has to be there or there abouts. Pankaj Mishra captured his career nicely

“It says something about the political culture of our age that Ferguson has got away with this disgraced worldview for as long as he has.”


Watson Ladd 04.12.12 at 9:44 pm

geo, I also disapprove of several people whom you probably don’t want to approve of. The fundamental difference between you and me is I change my mind when I hear the evidence: I disapprove of Glen Greenwald because he is misleading, a charge I’ve shown here and which no one disputes. I also disapprove of him because he’s an apologist for the Taliban victory that will happen in 2014, and ensuing genocide. But being wrong shouldn’t get you on the hack list. Lying to your readers should.

As for a more acceptable nominee, how about our old Bell Curve friend, Charles Murray? After trying to make racism acceptable, he’s finally discovered poverty, but only for white people. I’ll put in David Brooks for helping him in this effort.


ChrisTS 04.12.12 at 10:03 pm

AH: Murray was going to be my nominee. Personally, I wold drop Sawyer to be sure of getting Brooks in.


ciaran 04.12.12 at 10:10 pm

Okay maybe Im missing out on something here but it seems like ye are ignoring the really top drawer wankers-Jean Claude Trichet, Merkozy and the dark lord himself- Dick Cheney. Their work shouldn’t go unnoticed .


Anonymous37 04.12.12 at 10:25 pm

9: I’d say Hitchens but that’s beating a dead horse.

Atrios has said that no posthumous entries will be chosen.

I think that’s a shame, because if Hitchens isn’t the winner, he’s a strong contender. Leave aside the Iraq War cheerleading, and he’d still win. His God Is Not Great book was full of howlers (he takes the case of Hoyle and turns it on its head to come up with the conclusion he desires, to name one). And his forays into Holocaust revisionism in order to defend Irving in his libel suit against Lipstadt were unforgiveable: Hitchens never really admitted just how loathesome his Vanity Fair article on Dresden was.

A few weeks after Hitchens’ death, I begged Duncan Black in e-mail to fully recount this episode on his blog (he had already done so on because I didn’t want to see it get flushed down the memory hole. Duncan never responded and never posted about it in the wake of Hitchens’ passing.


shah8 04.12.12 at 10:28 pm

My nominees for effective and subtle (or not-so-subtle) destructiveness…

Jim Cramer
Jacob Weisberg
Adam Nagourney
and I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned Gregory Mankiw.

The big difficulty is that most of really responsible people did their deeds from about ’98 to ’03, so it’s hard for me to remember.


Chris Bertram 04.12.12 at 10:32 pm

Surely Larry Summers has to be in with a shout.


christian_h 04.12.12 at 10:34 pm

Watson: a charge I’ve shown here and which no one disputes

That’s some first class trolling right there. You might throw in a “look Ma what I can do!” while you’re at it.

All that said Glenn is not always right (although he is in the case Watson links to), and like many smart people has a tendency to present his interpretation as incontrovertible fact. (In fact we can see Watson do exactly that several times in this very thread!) Glenn is also “shrill”, meaning he says things that sound outrageous since they contradict the carefully constructed common sense instead of merely saying things that actually are outrageous but don’t create any controversy since they stay within said common sense.


christian_h 04.12.12 at 10:36 pm

ciaran (53.): Politicians are in their own weight class.


Barry Freed 04.12.12 at 10:37 pm

ciaran, I think the idea is no actual criminals or perpetrators of dastardly deeds but rather sycophants, boot-lickers and other media enablers.

Some truly winning entries here, with so many world class wankers I feel like I’ve stumbled onto the circle jerk of the century.


Barry Freed 04.12.12 at 10:38 pm

I see christian_h beat me to it.


dsquared 04.12.12 at 10:47 pm

If Airmiles does not win, the prize has no credibility.


William Timberman 04.12.12 at 11:25 pm

William Bennett, anyone? Something of a has-been, perhaps, but still world-class when it comes to snarling self-righteousness. The Torquemada of the culture wars.


shah8 04.12.12 at 11:58 pm

I forgot about James Glassman, and hey, how about an honorable contempt for Alan Greenspan, specifically as an advocate, like the whole surplus is evil, adjustable mortgage rates heavenly routine he did in the beginning of the 2k’s?


The Iron-Tongued Devil 04.13.12 at 12:31 am

Wow, so many great candidates… Bobo and the Mustache must make the list. I’m glad to see Sawyer and McGarble there, but still it’s kinda one-sided genderwise, so let me make a few recommendations:

Anne Coulter, for pretty much everything
Caitlin Flanagan, for deciding what women really want based on, like, something someone said to her at a party in 1993
If we’re giving out lifetime achievement awards, surely Lynne Cheney deserves one for her contributions to the culture wars. But that was mostly in the 90s.

Finally, a personal disfavorite: Judy Woodruff, for endless streams of faux-centrist bullshit every goddamn weeknight, plus softball interviews of vile characters. Her support of the Clinton impeachment, regardless of what the stupid American people wanted, was in the 90s but her mooning over the Beloved Leader following his death in 2004 falls in our time frame.


Uncle Ebeneezer 04.13.12 at 1:04 am

If Maureen Dowd’s obsession with promoting every wingnut claim about Al Gore, wasn’t wankery of the highest order, I don’t know what is.


Dr. Hilarius 04.13.12 at 1:26 am

Uncle Kvetch at 35: OK, I’ll concede that Will is a baseball fan (and I share your lack of interest in the sport). But any pundit who can take time out from instructing the world on weighty matters, be it the economy, military tactics or foreign policy, to write against the wearing of blue jeans deserves special recognition.

An acquaintance of mine once met Will, delivering a package to his home. He didn’t know much about Will but he was struck by Will’s coldness and attempt to deny that there was a person on his doorstep. No hello, no thank you, no eye contact; just another of the little people intruding into his life.


John Quiggin 04.13.12 at 1:55 am

The top spots ought to be confined to *unmitigated* wankers which I think rules out Sullivan, Klein and a couple of others mentioned above.

Coming to mechanics, I guess that the wankery has to have been noticed at the time by Atrios, so some worthy candidates have already missed out.


SN 04.13.12 at 2:59 am

David Brooks? It has to be David Brooks. A wanker par excellence.


The Tragically Flip 04.13.12 at 3:02 am

Atrios likes to aim most of his fire at the “respectable” pundits who dominate the establishment and attempt to speak like they’re above the ideological fray, or the even-the-liberals who go out of their way to sell out liberalism at every key moment.

I think Hiatt is a very good nomination (per DKW). Also any of the Sunday hosts, Duncan hates them with special fierceness – probably David Gregory if I had to pick which one he’ll single out. Tim Russert would have a lock if not for the prohibition on posthumous winners.


The Tragically Flip 04.13.12 at 3:09 am

I’ll also put Bill Keller in for a dark horse candidate. Not sure he’s said enough wankish things personally to make the list, but like Hiatt, he’s enabled a lot of wankery. You can blame Bill Kristol for being Bill Kristol, but Keller and Hiatt put his column in their papers, one after the other. Between those two, and whoever decides the guest lists on the Sunday shows, I think we have the makings of a whole other top-10 list of wank-enablers.


parsimon 04.13.12 at 3:22 am

I’d be deeply disappointed in Duncan Black if he were to put David Gregory above McMegan in the wankery ranking.


Steve Williams 04.13.12 at 3:35 am

I’m deeply disappointed McMegan wasn’t the outright winner. She’d definitely have been my pick.


Nine 04.13.12 at 3:38 am

I was wondering about the “mechanics” too. Most on the list appear to be very minor functionaries of the equestrian order (if that) as compared to strong praetorians like Kristol, Cheney, Friedman et al. I hadn’t heard of either Saletan or Halperin & know of McCardle only coz of the very mean things people say about her on this blog. And who the f**k is Richard Cohen ? Disappointing list thus far.


plarry 04.13.12 at 4:13 am

3rd: Judith Miller
2nd: Fred Hiatt
1st: David Brooks

Winner: Thomas Friedman


John Quiggin 04.13.12 at 4:17 am

@Nine I think your complaints are a little unfair. We’re all counting on seeing Friedman in the top 3. Actual princes of evil like Cheney aren’t eligible. Kristol senior is dead and therefore ineligible, while Kristol junior is (IMHO) not a big enough wanker to make the list. I tend to agree about Richard Cohen (FYI, a longstanding “liberal” columnist for the Post), but it would be ludicrous to have a list like this without the WankPost being represented, and the archetypal candidate, Broder is ineligible.

Really, the only way to deal with Hiatt’s crew would be to single out the non-wankers – I can only think of Meyerson on the actual op-ed page, and Greg Sargent and Ezra Klein among the bloggers, though I’ve doubtless missed some.


SC 04.13.12 at 4:39 am

Honorable mentions:

3: Judith Miller
2: Bill Keller
1: Thomas Freidman

Grand Wanker: Fred Hiatt


js. 04.13.12 at 5:21 am

But any pundit who can take time out from instructing the world on weighty matters, be it the economy, military tactics or foreign policy, to write against the wearing of blue jeans deserves special recognition.

Yeah, but I kinda sorta loved his blue jeans column though. It was sort of strangely sweet, in a doddering kind of way (speaking as someone who wears blue jeans every day of his life).

More seriously, IIRC, GW was one of the first Republican columnists to predict a landslide for Obama in 2008. He’s god-awful in lots of ways, but he’s just not idiotic in the way that Halperin or McArdle is.

(Wait, did I just really defend George Will?)


bad Jim 04.13.12 at 5:49 am

I’m glad to learn I’m not alone in thinking David Broder the very model of the modern centrist idiot, and since Atrios has a long history of decrying his malign influence on public discourse I’m not going to abandon any hope of his posthumous recognition.

In struggling to understand why American learned opinion was so resolutely and nearly unanimously in favor of our obviously idiotic invasion of Iraq, it took me nearly forever to realize that the Very Serious People don’t actually bother to think about things for themselves. They don’t take the time to learn facts, and it’s unlikely that they ever made the effort to acquire any expertise of their own. They simply sample the opinions of their neighbors and fall into line according to their rank. Hawks necessarily occupy a privileged position.


John Quiggin 04.13.12 at 6:08 am

I’d be happy enough with an award to Hiatt, taken as a representative of the WaPo in general, similar to Saletan for Slate.

It’s kind of sad that there’s no room in the top 10 for Glenn Reynolds (at least I assume not). Back in the day, he seemed destined for greatness in this field. Now he just looks like another Mickey Kaus, notable only as an early adopter of blog technology.


roger 04.13.12 at 6:32 am

Interestingly, I can’t think of one nomination from the California media. It is a little sad that, as big as Hollywood is, California’s media corps doesn’t count at all on the national scene. Is there a L.A. Times columnist with a reputation East of Las Vegas? Who?


roger 04.13.12 at 6:39 am

And – I feel rather sad,too, that we are forgetting the Ulysses, the Moby Dick, the Magic Mountain of wankery in the 2000s. I’m talking of course about Fred Barnes Rebel-in-Chief! Wankery is, for a good part, sycophancy, and Rebel-in-Chief, from its phalloshot of Bush the GI Joe on the cover to the licking conferred by every sentence, rates high on overall sycophancy. And I’m throwing in poems to Louis XIV and speeches in praise of Stalin! Barnes has rather disappeared, though. Maybe, like any great artist, the masterpiece has exhausted him.


Bruce Baugh 04.13.12 at 7:05 am

Roger, for California pundits with influence you’d want to look at the Reason crew, some of whom seem to do Times op-eds regularly.

How I dream of them being given the biz by vintage Paul Conrad, though to be fair Ben Sargent is an awesome worthy successor.


bad Jim 04.13.12 at 7:11 am

Considering that Black is a credentialed economist, it’s not altogether unlikely that the culprit he’s fingering is “Irrational exuberance” Greenspan or “Helicopter Ben” Bernanke.


novakant 04.13.12 at 7:39 am

The top three should be awarded to the Obama apologists who – surprise, surprise – forgot to speak truth to power as soon as their guy was in office and have since ignored, downplayed or even backed Obama’s worst offenses (cf. Glenn Greenwald for details).


Rogers 04.13.12 at 9:42 am

Don’t know if Mr. Black would concur, but I think the term should be restricted to High-Broderite Faux-Equivilance trimmers.”Out” conservatives like Krauthammer and Kristol can aspire no higher than mere Hackery, impressive levels of achievement in mendacity and shamelessness notwithstanding. Fred Hiatt would certainly be a contender if the general public knew who he is, which, happily for them they mostly do not.


Alex 04.13.12 at 9:42 am

Richard Cohen is of course the guy who says that he doesn’t feel safe now he can’t be certain somebody somewhere is being tortured on his behalf.


Alex 04.13.12 at 9:43 am

Like the Toffee Crisp ad, but with more waterboarding.


Katherine 04.13.12 at 10:10 am

I’m going to nominate Ross Douthat. He’s a late entry to be sure, but has to be considered generally for his zeigeisty misogyny, and specifically for the utter douchery of his “chunky Reese Withererspoon” freakout.


rf 04.13.12 at 10:31 am

Roger 80 – I think Jonah Goldberg writes for the LA Times, although he made his name at NR so maybe that doesnt answer your question

Talking of Goldberg, Jeffrey is as bad as any of them and has spent a decade enabling war crimes and excusing war criminals. McArdle’s Edward Murrow in comparison. Douthat’s just nasty, but he probably came to late in the game to make the final ten. Theres always 2022.


rf 04.13.12 at 10:32 am

That was cross posted rather than a disagreement


The Tragically Flip 04.13.12 at 10:37 am

Peggy Noonan deserves at least a dishonourable mention for her long and deleterious impact in mainstreaming lunacy from her permanent sunday show sinecure.

Oh, and who wrote that “he trashed the place, and it’s not his place” line about Clinton?


P O'Neill 04.13.12 at 12:13 pm

Oh, and who wrote that “he trashed the place, and it’s not his place” line about Clinton?

The aforementioned David Broder, RIP (and therefore ineligible).


vacuumslayer 04.13.12 at 1:16 pm

Imma say Michael Gerson just for funzies.


Antoine 04.13.12 at 1:23 pm

Definitely Glenn Reynolds – Iraq hawk , Bush-supporter, torture advocate, racism -denier, Swift Vets supporter , Trent Lott groupie , … . An aggravating factor is that he entirely avoids taking on the wackos in his own backyard (creationists , .. ) .


Uncle Kvetch 04.13.12 at 1:25 pm

The top spots ought to be confined to unmitigated wankers which I think rules out Sullivan

Fair enough. And yet I can’t help thinking that Brave Sir Andrew — what with the preening narcissism and delusions of grandeur (“You’re welcome”), the weird pet obsessions (Baby Trig), and the compulsive need to tart up even the most banal nuggets of conventional wisdom in the finery of faux-erudite GayCatholicTory contrarianism — really does represent the very definition of wankery.


Belle Waring 04.13.12 at 1:37 pm

I demand that Steven den Beste must be on there, and I further demand that someone else comb through the wayback machinery and find his greatest gems of 20,000 words on why Europe is like, Europe and stuff, and we’re totally, not, and everything, and MOAR INVASHUNS!!!1! [I would, but, I call headache; and, I’m too busy practicing my new reeaaallly ssllloooooow voooweels that Ihve got now.] He deprived the world of the Gayatollah abu Labs. For this, he must never be forgiven, and kids coming up these days not knowing about the early aughts must never be allowed to forget.


shah8 04.13.12 at 2:21 pm

michael ledeen


shah8 04.13.12 at 2:24 pm

And who can forget Dick Morris?


Frank in midtown 04.13.12 at 2:26 pm

Judith won the Pulitzer for her wankery (not to mention a First Amendment Award) and she knows about the Aspens.


rf 04.13.12 at 2:56 pm

In regards Iraq and the ‘war on terror’, it’s worth acknowledging those that actually did their job well the past ten years, such as Nir Rosen, Jane Mayer, Anthony Shadid and Dana Priest, then comparing that to the middle brow hackery of a Dexter Filkins.

And leaving the final word to Michael Totten: (In Libya)

“When you visit another country, it’s hard to get a feel for what it’s actually like until you leave your hotel room”

On trying to cross the road in Libya

“I didn’t go to Libya to see the sights — such as they are. I wanted to see a once-forbidden country as it really was. So I set out on foot on my own while I had a brief chance…. The traffic was too fast, too close and too hectic. I was pinned on a thin ribbon of sidewalk between the Mediterranean and the freeway. There was no way I could cross that river of mayhem and steel unless I found a traffic light and a crosswalk…..There wasn’t much worth seeing on the other side anyway…..So I went back to the hotel and ordered some dinner.”


christian_h 04.13.12 at 3:07 pm

Remember Michael “even the liberal” Kinsley? It’s just sad that he would be struggling to make the top 100 let alone the top 10.

As for CA: well, we’re too far from the two places that count as actual places (as opposed to mythical “real America” places) for the wanker corps, DC and NYC. Good for us, I’d say.


rf 04.13.12 at 3:41 pm

Belle 96 – I’d never heard of Steven Den Beste, and kind of wish I still hadn’t. Nonetheless, I’m quoting him verbatim, “ a list of links to some log entries I think are among the best or most important I’ve written.”

And he’s still blogging (courtesy of M Yglesias)


Katherine 04.13.12 at 3:45 pm

No worries rf, I was thinking that about him myself. Give him another eight-ten years and I fully expect him to be in the running.


Jon Moyer 04.13.12 at 3:53 pm

Can’t believe Amity Shlaes didn’t get mentioned in the first 100 c0mments


Steve LaBonne 04.13.12 at 4:54 pm

roger #15 and DKW #37 got their wish- Joke Line is the 3rd runner up.


Steve LaBonne 04.13.12 at 4:54 pm

So many wankers, so little time…


Colin Danby 04.13.12 at 5:01 pm

Is douchery wankery? Nastiness? What seems to distinguish our presumptive winner and several of the above listed is the gap between their massive self-regard and the tininess of their thinking. Formulaic repetition, cliche as first resort, a resounding hollowness. OTOH trying to distill wankery might be wankery too.


kent 04.13.12 at 5:02 pm

Based on many years of reading Atrios, my predictions for the top 4:

Tom Friedman all time champion
Bill Kristol #1 runner up
Judith Miller #2 runner up
David Brooks #3 runner up


Ralph Hitchens 04.13.12 at 5:20 pm

I had to scroll all the way down to vacuumslayer to see Michael Gerson mentioned? The very personification of sanctimony? Though anyone can see, there’s a lot of competition for those few remaining slots.


MPAVictoria 04.13.12 at 5:24 pm

David Brooks. It has to be David Brooks. He writes absolute crap every week in what is supposed to be the nation’s premiere newspaper. He pretends to be reasonable while always siding with republicans. Worst of all, as demonstrated by this latest fiasco involving Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, he is a liar.

David Brooks. There can be only one.


nick s 04.13.12 at 6:04 pm

If Airmiles does not win, the prize has no credibility.

That’s a given, since Atrios seems somewhat proud of his role in ensuring that “suck on this” was not lost to history.

I’d hope that Reynolds will make it into the top three, given that he is a terrible person who continues to say awful things while moonlighting from his well-compensated public-sector job as a tenured tosspot, and that his prominence neatly spans the ESCHATON DECADE and encompasses such a wide range of wankery. Which leaves a spot for Bobo Brooks, who is pernicious because he is now the designated NPR/PBS “reasonable conservative”.


Uncle Ebeneezer 04.13.12 at 6:10 pm

I agree that Glenn Reynolds absolutely belongs on the list (but probably won’t make it.) So does his female doppleganger, Ann Althouse.

George Will deserves to place based on his climate-denialism alone.

I wish there was a bush-league list just so Byron York and Daniel Foster could represent.


John Quiggin 04.13.12 at 7:53 pm

@novakant An Obama detention/drone apologist would be good, but who is a good example? Greenwald links to some occasionally, but they all seem fairly obscure to me. This is an issue that seems to promote more resignation (Repubs are even worse, no popular outrage except over trivia like TSA screening, no real scope for international presssure) and appeals to party loyalty than high grade wankery.


Henry 04.13.12 at 8:00 pm

bq. I wish there was a bush-league list just so Byron York and Daniel Foster could represent.

Wingnut fantasy football!


Substance McGravitas 04.13.12 at 8:22 pm

I get Limbaugh as center.


gasb 04.13.12 at 9:51 pm

I second Victor Davis Hanson (native Californian.) A second also for Amity Slays and lest we forget that esteemed editor of the National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru. Oh, and how can I have not mentioned another fellow Californian, the wanker’s wanker and my Econ 1 prof, Thomas Sowell?


LFC 04.13.12 at 10:05 pm

bad jim @78

I’m glad to learn I’m not alone in thinking David Broder the very model of the modern centrist idiot, and since Atrios has a long history of decrying his malign influence on public discourse I’m not going to abandon any hope of his posthumous recognition.

I remember when David Broder, before he became solely an op-ed columnist, was a superb political reporter. As a reporter he wrote very well, he captured the feel and atmosphere of a campaign in a way that few others did. I wasn’t old enough to vote in 1972 (’76 was the first election in which I voted), but I followed the ’72 presidential campaign very closely and Broder’s reporting (and his analytical columns) were excellent and quite indispensable. That should not be forgotten, IMHO, notwithstanding his later decline into punditry.


Antoine 04.13.12 at 10:05 pm

Glenn Reynolds, 3/25/2002 :

Victor Hanson Davis basically says that Steven Den Beste is right about the Arab world and what we have to do about it . […] When all this started, I thought that such talk was alarmist. But after paying sustained attention to what’s going on in the Arab world, I don’t feel that way any more.
And I do mean Arab, more than Islamic. Yes, there is anti-Western sentiment in the non-Arab Islamic world. But it’s much more muted — and where it’s present, there’s usually Saudi money behind it. It’s the Arabs who have taken leave of their senses. And I think, more and more, that Den Beste is right and that they need to be defeated — soundly, completely, brutally — like Germany and Japan in were World War Two, or the American Confederacy was. Defeated so that their spirit is broken, and their culture permanently and fundamentally changed despite their heartfelt wishes that it were otherwise. The good news is that for all their bluster, they’re much less formidable foes. The bad news is that the West has hamstrung itself with the absurd notion that the sovereignty of such nations is worthy of respect.

And VHD !! or Roger Simon , the whole pestilent PJ crew , can they be group-nominated?


christian_h 04.13.12 at 10:27 pm

What really singles out the Moustache as the clear winner is his incredible skill at constantly contradicting himself (practically everything he’s ever written can be argued against in his own words), and of course the fact that he’s still widely respected despite this. I honestly don’t believe anyone else even comes close.


christian_h 04.13.12 at 10:29 pm

(Also following LFC, while Broder was a good reporter, Friedman never was. Who can forget his admission that he didn’t know shit upon being appointed “chief diplomatic correspondent” of the NYT, for example?)


js. 04.13.12 at 10:39 pm

christian_h (118):

And the metaphors. Let’s not forget the mind-blowing metaphors. (Link to old but still-great Taibbi piece.)


Barry Freed 04.13.12 at 10:45 pm

Damn you christian_h but in the interest of truth you’re going to make me defend the mustache and I hates you for it I does. OK, here goes: very early in his career he did some pretty good reporting on the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon including the Sabra and Shatila massacre and even won a Pulitzer for it. His editor at the time was Abe Rosenthal who was known for his extreme pro-Israel views (even in the NY of the late 70s early 80s he was a standout). IIRC, Friedman fought Rosenthal over the phrasing he used in some of his stories such as describing the Israeli shelling of parts of Beirut as “indiscriminate” which Rosenthal objected to. Now I feel all dirty and in need of a shower. (I still think it’s Airmiles who will take home the blue ribbon though, as it rightly should be)


maidhc 04.13.12 at 11:24 pm

roger, the banner of the West in this contest is carried by the Herodotus of Fresno, Victor Davis Hanson, now ensconced in Kerensky’s Tower at Stanford University. Although, despite his recent success with illegal aliens targeting his grapevines for kamikaze attacks, I fear he is no competition for the Cabdriver’s Friend.


Henry 04.13.12 at 11:35 pm

David Broder, before he became solely an op-ed columnist, was a superb political reporter. … Friedman fought Rosenthal over the phrasing he used in some of his stories such as describing the Israeli shelling of parts of Beirut as “indiscriminate” which Rosenthal objected to.

Even Joe Lieberman was a civil rights activist in Mississippi once upon a time. There is a “there but for the grace of god” aspect to all of this – do not gaze too long into the wank, lest the wank gaze into thee …


Doctor Slack 04.13.12 at 11:48 pm

Yes, Airmiles and Brooks look very, very strong for the top spots. Either one would be a deserving winner.

Only one wanker could possibly contend with them. Someone said above that nominating Chris Hitchens would be beating a dead horse, but surely the Hitch of all people wouldn’t want death getting in the way of good old-fashioned snark. And let’s be honest, his achievements in wankery were truly breathtaking: from the oily urbanity in which he cloaked often retrograde and xenophobic views, to the aplomb with which he could sprinkle a sweet sauce of superficial erudition over multiple reeking turds of warmongering nonsense, the Hitch was in a class of his own. The latter leg of his career, wherein he deftly reinvented himself as one of the “Four Horsemen” of lumpen atheism as his embarrassing Iraq columns swirled down the toilet bowl behind him, was the ultimate culmination of this path: a smooth continuation of profoundly ignorant and often-racist wankery that nevertheless successfully passed itself off as Sweet Reason and won him back a sprinkling of the following he’d lost.

For all these reasons, I’d cast a vote for Hitch.


Uncle Ebeneezer 04.14.12 at 12:13 am

Antoine: “they need to be defeated—soundly, completely, brutally…or the American Confederacy was.” So I guess this means that Glenn wants to see Arabs absorbed to become the Republican base! :)


rf 04.14.12 at 12:23 am

Well at least the next decade cant be any worse

I guess the NR cruise is never gonna hit that f$$king iceberg


faustusnotes 04.14.12 at 12:26 am

Are we allowed to put in a bit of an environmentalist angle on this wankery? ‘Cause a very small number of extreme wankers are responsible for delaying even minimal responses to global warming, and they’re often connected with the shadowy networks funding the wankers at places like Cato.

I would like therefore to suggest Watts from WTF is up with that?, the insane Lord Monckton who invented a cure for HIV (and, I think, has a bit of a history of wanking in a scatter-shot fashion over a range of topics), and those two guys whose names escape me who write the “papers” that all the denialists cite (the ones who run CimateAudit, maybe?) Also maybe Big Tobacco, in general.

Also, I would like to nominate Sarah Palin, just for taking up the “death panels” meme. I don’t think she’s ever succesfully achieved anything in national politics, so she qualifies.

And finally, maybe it’s a bit pesky and not fair, but I’m sure Chris Bertram will agree: Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats for being able to put a positive spin on anything David Cameron thinks up, no matter how bad it is. Sure, not much effect on America, but the UK invented the word “wank” so surely they deserve an honourable mention?


Peter Hovde 04.14.12 at 1:02 am

One more vote for David Brooks.-I think he’s earned it.


Dave Maier 04.14.12 at 1:22 am

Geez, rf #127, watch it – I clicked on that link! Gah.

Hard to disagree with the Mustache/Bobo consensus, but it does seem a bit Times-centric. Look for a dark horse for first runner-up.

Also, points to Malaclypse at #3, which had me nodding my head for a moment.


F 04.14.12 at 2:12 am


Argh. And they got him blurbs from David Mamet and Vince Vaughn.


christian_h 04.14.12 at 2:47 am

Turning things around to the positive I’d like to give a special anti-wanker award to Tom Toles for sticking out on Hiatt’s crayon page as the only one actually able to use a crayon correctly.


Barry 04.14.12 at 2:56 am

Considering Ferguson, Mankiw and Summers, I think that perhaps Harvard should be listed as wanker of the year.

Of course, that opens up the competition to U Chic, which would be fun. I have in mind some sort of reality show like ‘The Hunger Games’, but with one less winner :)


David 04.14.12 at 5:05 am

Clearly ten is too few.


gasb 04.14.12 at 5:26 am

I take exception to VDH being called the Herodotus of Fresno. As a native Fresnan, that’s an insult to me and my hometown.

Just to be clear, he’s from Fowler.


Eli Rabett 04.14.12 at 8:13 am

The Mass Media lock on the competition is dispiriting. Is this not Duncan Black in the 21st century, time for the dead tree and on the air wankers to pass into irrelevance?


Eli Rabett 04.14.12 at 8:15 am

Oh yes, it’s time to put up a poll on who will be wanker of the decade. Can CT handle this Henry? Will there be a prize drawing?


ciaran 04.14.12 at 9:57 am

I clicked on the click to(dear god……..), Jonah Goldberg really is a wanker and that’s being charitable.


roger 04.14.12 at 10:40 am

Having bet on the dark horse, Joe Klein, I’m going for broke with… Chris Matthews! He’s strong. He’s underestimated. Look at this guy, just look at him – comes from the cable wankeria, which hasn’t gotten the shout out yet. Has certain of those Klein characteristics – seventies liberal who becomes strong on defense and all the rest of the horseshit. Then: stunning moments of wankery! The mancrush on Bush in full mission accomplished regalia! And who can forget (or wants to remember) his creepy stalking of Hilary in 2008! Negatives are his rather subdued media position in the Obama years, and having to actually go back and look at his oeuvres collecto-craptacious. Postives: easy linkage. So, in comparison to some other really strong contenders, he might not look that great, but you have to remember that the Washpost is pretty much done, and the print press is pretty much fully represented. I’m putting the odds at 20 to 1 (for no good reason – it is just a Mattewsy thing to say), but I’m betting – well, not the house. The living room, maybe.


Uncle Kvetch 04.14.12 at 1:55 pm

Having bet on the dark horse, Joe Klein, I’m going for broke with… Chris Matthews!

You know, Tweety crossed my mind too. In the vast constellation of know-nothing TV bobbleheads, his star burns exceedingly bright.


Watson Ladd 04.14.12 at 2:16 pm

Chrisitan_h, Glenn Greenwald is ignoring lots of Supreme Court precedent and quite a bit of legal reasoning that goes against him. The understanding of the Obama administration is that there is a war against al-Queda, so all al-Queda members are targets, and can be killed at will. In that article he doesn’t mention this salient and important fact.


Uncle Ebeneezer 04.14.12 at 4:29 pm

Roger- I thought about Matthews too. In fact, I actually wondered why nobody had mentioned him and figured maybe I was ignorant of some sort of rule of the game like no tv hosts. I think the list is weighted more towards print/bloggers so I doubt he’ll be on there, but I totally agree. While others have more egregious offenses for sure, Matthews should be considered mostly because of the scope of his reach. Most of the people I know have know idea who McMegan is, everyone knows Matthews. To many of them, he is what they consider a real journalist (and a good one!) If his fawning over Bush in uniform and his relentless reminder of McCain’s “Maverick” status aren’t enough to guarantee him a prize then surely the “have a beer with him” meme should.


Barry 04.14.12 at 5:05 pm

Watson Ladd 04.14.12 at 2:16 pm

” Chrisitan_h, Glenn Greenwald is ignoring lots of Supreme Court precedent and quite a bit of legal reasoning that goes against him. The understanding of the Obama administration is that there is a war against al-Queda, so all al-Queda members are targets, and can be killed at will. In that article he doesn’t mention this salient and important fact.”

Where ‘Al Qaida’ means – well, anything, and ‘Al Qaida Member’ means – well, anything.

I gotta love your use of the word ‘understanding’. If I’m caught with somebody else’s car, can I acquit myself by saying that I ‘understood’ that the car was mine?


Doctor Slack 04.14.12 at 5:39 pm

Glenn Greenwald is ignoring lots of Supreme Court precedent and quite a bit of legal reasoning that goes against him.

This is a disingenuous objection to Greenwald, who is not “ignoring” the “War on Terror” argument at all, but specifically disputing it. That in fact is the basic foundation of his objections, and those of many others (it’s not an objection he invented), to what has been done to American jurisprudence and compliance with international law in the past decade.


roger 04.14.12 at 5:55 pm

I am spending way too much mental time on this contest. One thing bugs me, though. We know, all of us who have read Atrios, that Thomas Friedman is the no. 1 wanker. It is an almost self-evident proposition, like all men are mortal. And this really deflates the whole contest. So, casting around for a solution, I came up with one that is simple, brutal and clear: simply expell Friedman from the running. Make the criteria: neither dead people nor Tom Friedman can be candidates. Of course, this might be difficult to justify. I’d go for the Olympic excuse. While the others are surely excellent wankers, only Friedman is a professional wanker. That is, he never stops, he is a wanker week after week, he doesn’t let any non-wankerishness peep in. He, in other words, tries too fucking hard! Once Friedman is excluded, we have a much more exciting field for top honors.
So please,Mr. Black – exclude Friedman! Give him, perhaps, the God of Wankers award. There is nothing us punters hate more than a sure thing!


Watson Ladd 04.14.12 at 6:08 pm

Doctor Slack, the following facts are not in dispute: There is an AUMF, pursuant to that AUMF al-Queda members can be killed. Greenwald could say there are all sorts of undesirable things that this could do. He could even say that the WWII era cases dealing with detention are distinguished on certain grounds. But what he cannot do is simply declare it illegal while ignoring the arguments against his position. He could argue that this shouldn’t be considered a war on pragmatic or legal grounds, making the precedents moot. But as far I know he doesn’t do that, but ignores any possible other explanation before condemning the United States. Every event in viewed as though it happened in peacetime, even the death of bin Laden! This isn’t contestation or disputation, but denial.


IM 04.14.12 at 6:14 pm

Nobody from TNR has yet been honored, so I think Peter “prime fighting age” Beinart is still strong in the running. Andrew “fifth column” Sullivan, “not a relation” Samuelson and Kevin “Dow 36000” Hasset should be still in the race too.

I think the criteria are: Pundit, not politician and not really conservative. but “centrist” oder “liberal”.

What about Arthur Laffer? Or some Iraq war expert, like Pollack or Michael O’Hanlon.


Doctor Slack 04.14.12 at 6:31 pm

There is an AUMF, pursuant to that AUMF al-Queda members can be killed. Greenwald could say there are all sorts of undesirable things that this could do . . . But what he cannot do is simply declare it illegal while ignoring the arguments against his position.

He has not “simply declared it illegal,” Watson. He has argued, pretty consistently AFAICS, that the AUMF was issued unwisely against a vague target to promote a state of interminable war. Those are not the same thing. You may think his argument is wrong, that’s up to you, but it won’t do to pretend he hasn’t made the argument.


LFC 04.14.12 at 6:39 pm

Re Watson L.:
I don’t read Greenwald very often, not nec. b/c I disagree w him but just b/c I never got into the habit.

I would think Greenwald has distinguished the WW2 precedents on the ground (among others) that WW2 was a declared war of the traditional sort in which an end to hostilities could be foreseen and identified. No end to hostilities can be identified with any clarity w/r/t the so-called ‘war on terror’. Plus the traditional definition of ‘unprivileged combatant’ was hopelessly fuzzed up by the Bush admin, which insisted on inventing its own categories. Greenwald is too good a lawyer not to have made these points.

Anyway these issues have been churned through before at CT more than once and I’m not sure why Watson wants to churn through them again.


LFC 04.14.12 at 6:41 pm

Posted the above before I saw Dr. Slack’s 148.


John Milton XIV 04.14.12 at 6:46 pm

Firstly in the true spirit of narcissism , I’d like to nominate myself for the wanky internet pseudonym that I have grown fond of (though it contains a papist and royalist in-joke about Milton).

-The very self-regarding Slavoj Zizek who is seemingly determined to make “the Left” appear as insane as is intergalatically possible. (Lacan the student molester gets a honorable posthumous mention.)

-Bernand Henri-Levy: a total do-nothing lightweight poseur and serial exposer of chest hair who thinks he’s the goddess of Democracy herself; A neo-Kantian Andre Rieu.

Jeffrey Archer: no explanation needed.

Francis Fukuyama: people who think Niall Fergusson is bad should remember Fukuyama’s supremacist attempt to petrify History for the material gains of his kleptocratic neo-liberal power elite.

– Christopher Monckton is waaaay beyond mere wankery and well into far more clinical realms

Happily for the rest of the planet Earth, he is unknown outside of Australia, but dear absent Lord, Cardinal George Pell is a solipsistic half-wit and spiritual non-starter!

And if you gonna dump on Jack Vance why does J. K. Rowling get away scot-free? Ditto Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.


JP Stormcrow 04.14.12 at 6:51 pm

re: LFC@117 and Henry@124 on Broder.

In following Broder’s descent into wankery I always use William Greider as a checkpoint/contrast. In the early ’70s* they had somewhat similar stature (Broder somewhat more senior and respected) but after the early ’80s there was a big divergence (Broder taking the path that most of the MSM followed).

*Timothy Crouse’s 1972 campaign book The Boys on the Bus is good on the two of them.


JP Stormcrow 04.14.12 at 6:55 pm

And anytime anyone mentions “he trashed the place, and it’s not his place” I am contractually obligated to point out that that was only the second most fatuously arrogant quote from Broder in that piece.

“The judgment is harsher in Washington,” says The Post’s Broder. “We don’t like being lied to.”


Bruce Baugh 04.14.12 at 7:04 pm

Watson also seems to feel that Greenwald has had the slightest influence on action in Washington, and I can’t begin to get why. The folks Duncan is talking about are all enthusiastic boosters of dominant strains of “thought” and action, occasionally instigators and always endorsers of moves toward greater death, misery, and waste. If we were to take Greenwald as our prophet and implement all his policy suggestions…we wouldn’t be doing that.


John Milton XIV 04.14.12 at 7:30 pm

Oh silly slow-witted me. I just got the Jack Vance joke.

And yes, that is very funny.

Couple more nominees: Donald Trump (probably too Freidmanite obvious however)

Melanie Phillips


LFC 04.14.12 at 7:43 pm

JP Stormcrow:
Interesting re Broder/Greider. Did they hang out together during the ’72 campaign? (I’ve haven’t read Crouse’s The Boys on the Bus.)


JP Stormcrow 04.14.12 at 8:46 pm

Did they hang out together during the ‘72 campaign?

Don’t think so. Both were at The Washington Post, but Greider was assigned specifically to the McGovern campaign while Broder was national politics in general. And going back and looking at a few passages, it looks like Broder was much more senior than Greider. Broder was also not as comfortable with the whole Rolling Stone/ Hunter S. Thompson scene that Crouse was part of.

It did remind me of a couple of items which Broder’s later carrier made me look at with a new, more jaundiced eye. His 1969 “Breaking of the President” column (reprinted here by Digby) and his story on Muskie’s melting snowflakes speech being the one which really highlighted that detail, while other stories barely mentioned it. Recounted here (1/3 of the way in). The lede:

With tears streaming down his face and his voice choked with emotion, Sen. Edmund S. Muskie (D-Maine) stood in the snow outside the Manchester Union Leader this morning and accused its publisher of making vicious attacks on him and his wife, Jane.

To be fair, Broder himself admitted he was later uncomfortable with the role his story played in the whole thing.


Castorp 04.15.12 at 2:58 am

“Really, the only way to deal with Hiatt’s crew would be to single out the non-wankers – I can only think of Meyerson on the actual op-ed page, and Greg Sargent and Ezra Klein among the bloggers, though I’ve doubtless missed some.”

E.J. Dionne too.


R.Mutt 04.15.12 at 2:09 pm

I would think Greenwald has distinguished the WW2 precedents on the ground (among others) that WW2 was a declared war of the traditional sort in which an end to hostilities could be foreseen and identified.

Also, the relevant Geneva Conventions are mostly from 1949.


Alicia Hayle 04.15.12 at 4:59 pm

David Broder
Pseudo-intellectual false equivalence, always ends up supporting Republican twaddle in the most unctuous manner.


Salient 04.15.12 at 5:35 pm

I nominate Eric “Son of Erick” Erickson, CNN Contributor.

Matt Drudge deserves some kind of wanker category all to his own. Dark Lord of Wankerdom?


Andrew Burton 04.15.12 at 7:14 pm

I don’t know if everyone’s moved on, but we do have a second runner-up: Andrew Sullivan

Well played, Duncan.


rf 04.15.12 at 7:35 pm

Well deserved, especially considering his latest stuff is even worse than what he was producing during the Bush Years


Dave Maier 04.15.12 at 8:43 pm

I know Douthat hasn’t built up the same impressive body of wank that our main candidates have, but after getting through half of today’s effort I must insist that this is the guy to watch in the future. He’s got all the tools.


Uncle Kvetch 04.15.12 at 9:46 pm

Well played, Duncan

Truly…and the trip down memory lane to Neal Pollack’s old blog was a nice bonus.


Henry 04.16.12 at 1:17 am

bq. Oh yes, it’s time to put up a poll on who will be wanker of the decade. Can CT handle this Henry? Will there be a prize drawing?

As Roger says though, I just can’t imagine it being other than the Moustache, unless Duncan is really trying to screw with us all. And, in memoriam John M. Ford:

Much have I travell’d on the feet of gold,
And many tumbled walls and maidens seen,
Round many horny Africs have I been
Which bards like bosoms in their welkins hold,
Oft of a spare expanse had I been told
That fence-swung Homer looked on as demesne;
Yet never did I breathe its mountains clean
Till I heard Friedman speak out uncontrolled,
Then felt I like some Cousteau of the skies
When a new bubble undermines his ken,
Or sack-like Falstaff, when with precast eyes
He stared at echoes—and his fellow men
Harked back in multitudes like single spies
Silent, past their peak in Darien.



Louis 04.16.12 at 1:38 am

Don’t leave big Dick out of the race.


Bemused 04.16.12 at 3:41 am

To be a genuine wanker, mere insufferable and unsupported superiority and condescension are not enough. The candidate must have an awesome body of cringe-inducing performances, where it is painfully obvious that the wanker has no clue that all around him/her, people are groaning silently, or just slack-jawed with appalled disbelief. By that standard, Tom Friedman wins hands down. David Brooks is high on the list, but his occasional flashes of humour relegate him to runner-up status.


Thers 04.16.12 at 8:10 am

My sentimental pick for #1 would be Josh Trevino. A longshot, but a wanking champion.


Miracle Max 04.16.12 at 1:39 pm

Re: Broder and Greider, I recall them both being on Meet the Press (or maybe it was the other one), and Broder describing himself as a big fan of Greider.


gman 04.16.12 at 3:47 pm

Peggy the “Where is Sally?” homage to George Bush Jr.


MPAVictoria 04.16.12 at 5:34 pm

With only one left to announce it does not look good for my pick Mr. Brooks.


Steve LaBonne 04.16.12 at 7:31 pm

Yeah, I’ll be really shocked if the Mustache of Understanding isn’t the grand prize winner. Brooks would have been a great choice for this list, but there are a lot more than 10 world-class wankers of the last decade, sadly.


Dragon-King Wangchuck 04.16.12 at 7:47 pm

Yeah, I’ll be really shocked if the Mustache of Understanding isn’t the grand prize winner.

Yay for me! Except for stealing roger’s “dark horse” phrase for Joe Klein, although I honestly didn’t see it when I posted my comment. I wouldn;t have guessed Sully though.


John Quiggin 04.16.12 at 8:08 pm

Hiatt, representing WaPo, a popular choice for first runner-up. All that’s left now is the possibility of a stunning surprise tomorrow –


Anonymous37 04.16.12 at 8:54 pm

Given that he isn’t one of the runners-up (and all 10 have been named), Tom Friedman is going to be chosen as Wanker of the Eschaton decade.

Of course, there’s no way that Black’s entry can possibly be more enjoyable than Taibbi’s book review. But that’s not a reason not to pile on anyway.


JP Stormcrow 04.17.12 at 2:25 am

This deep into the thread I will engage in a bit of self-indulgence in honor of the very appropriate naming of Fred Hiatt: a somewhat dated appreciation of some of the main movers at the WaPo (the semi-original piece here with actual links to some of the supporting quotes and stories).

Outlined against the troubles of a nation, the Four Postmen wrote again. In internet lore they are known as arrogance, pomposity, cluelessness and idiocy. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Broder, Woodward, Howell and Hiatt. They formed the crest of the cyclone before which the reputation of the Washington Post was swept over the precipice these past ten years as a million readers peered at the bewildering panorama spread out on their breakfast tables and computer screens.

And then on to more ancient sources:

9. [Broder] And I saw when the rabid lamb opened one of the links, and I heard, as it were the sound of wankery, one of the four courtiers saying, Come and read.

10. And I read, and beheld two fatuous quotes: and he that spoke them knew not his hypocrisy; and many spots on Sunday morning television were given unto him: and he went forth being arrogant, and to show all that he well and truly was a dick.

11.[Woodward] And when he had opened the second link, I heard the second courtier say, Come and read.

12. And there I read another work of stenography: and power was given to him that wrote therein to transcribe the thoughts of the mighty, and that they should flatter one another: and there was given unto him great riches for his efforts.

13.[Howell] And after she had someone help her open the third link, I heard the third courtier say, Come and read. And I read, and lo, she that wrote it had a pair of balances in her hand.

14. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four courtiers say, A measure of column space for a Democrat, and three measures of column space for a Republican; unless the news is bad and then the measures shall be reversed; and see that thou hurt not the status quo.

15.[Hiatt] And when he had opened the fourth link, I heard the voice of the fourth courtier say, Come and read.

16. And I read, and beheld a mass of distortions and lies: and his name that edited it was Idiocy, and the neocons followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the estate, to mislead with pen, and with words, and with images, and with the shameful iniquity of their lies.


MPAVictoria 04.17.12 at 2:47 am




Dave Maier 04.17.12 at 3:58 am

“Iniquity” is like the best word, ever.


nnyhav 04.17.12 at 4:20 am


Dan 04.17.12 at 4:53 pm

Wow Friedman’s wiki page already lists his most recent honor.


Barry Freed 04.17.12 at 5:21 pm


Salient 04.17.12 at 5:24 pm

Friedman takes the prize.



Barry Freed 04.17.12 at 5:35 pm


Just ask any cabdriver.


Dave Maier 04.17.12 at 9:59 pm

Well, that was fun. How about some hockey blogging? Michael?


rf 04.17.12 at 10:26 pm

I dont know, I’m feeling kind of downbeat after reliving all that stupidity. And to think they’re all still working (well the ones I know) There is no hope


rf 04.17.12 at 10:31 pm

That should obviously be downcast, but I guess it doesnt really matter. Considering were all doomed


P O'Neill 04.18.12 at 5:09 pm

It looks like the Moustache wasn’t sure he’d get the award because today’s column reads like the insurance goal.


Barry Freed 04.18.12 at 6:25 pm

Well played.


js. 04.18.12 at 10:24 pm


Wow. Just wow.


Antti Nannimus 04.19.12 at 1:41 am


Okay, regular wanking may now resume. That is all.



Dave Maier 04.19.12 at 2:16 am

We need to weatherproof our American house — and fast — in order to ensure that America remains a rock of stability for the world.

Better luck next time, Bobo. This is how it’s done.


rf 04.19.12 at 7:57 pm

Now this is ‘wanking’


SC 04.20.12 at 9:54 am


Douthat does’t have half the, um, chops that Sullivan has, but he’s clearly working on his fundamentals and uping his game for consideration next year. All could think of while watching that was “Poor Atrios.”

Comments on this entry are closed.