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September 23, 2006

Sydney Blumenthal's, Lewis Lapham's Unhinged Bush-Bash Books Ripped... By a NYT Reviewer

And lo, the Seventh Seal was broken when the New York Times assigned an objective critic to review leftist political screeds, heralding the End Times;

And the sun was blotted out by the sky; and the reviews were written in Blood, and dripped with the venom of scorpions.

Yikes. Guess she's not a fan, huh?

The editor emeritus of Harper’s Magazine and its Notebook columnist for more than 25 years, Lapham compares the Bush administration to a “criminal syndicate” and Condoleezza Rice to a “capo.” He likens the United States to “a well-ordered police state” and the policies of its Air Force to those of Torquemada and Osama bin Laden. He calls Bush “a liar,” “a televangelist,” “a wastrel” and (ultimately) “a criminal — known to be armed and shown to be dangerous.”

Well. At least his point of view is unambiguous. But unless you agree with it 100 percent — and are content to see almost no original reporting or analysis in support of these claims — you may feel less inclined to throttle Lapham’s targets than to throttle Lapham himself. For this book is all about Lewis Lapham: the breathtaking lyricism of his voice, the breadth of his remarkable erudition. He goes across the street and around the corner to confirm the worst stereotypes about liberals — that they’re condescending, twee, surpassingly smug. “What I find surprising is the lack of objection,” he writes of the misguided American public. “The opinion polls show four of every five respondents saying that they gladly would give up as many of their civil rights and liberties as might be needed to pay the ransom for their illusory safety.” Wouldn’t Lapham be a more interesting columnist if he took this finding seriously? And analyzed it, perhaps, giving it its due?

Analysis is for stupid people.

The left has often complained that what it needs isn’t polite speech, but voices as pungent as those on the right. Maybe so. But even the angriest people on the right tend to be funny. Books like [Blumenthal's] are a depressing reminder of how important it is for writers to have a slight sense of humor about themselves, if they want to be taken at all seriously.

You're welcome.

I'm not sure where I got this from. I'll just put out a Generic Universal Hat Tip.

Bonus: I enjoyed reviewing hurricane-fan James Wolcott's enormously unpopular novel. The one he'd been working on since he was just a slight 300 pounder as a sophomore in college.

Ah, dreams. How sadly, and how deliciously, they die.


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posted by Ace at 05:34 PM

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