So, I'm reading Tbogg smacking Megan McArdle around, and I'm thinking how familiar it all is. Someone on the right says something morally foul; someone on the left points out how morally foul it is; the original person claims to ignore the criticism, yet actually doubles down on the truly morally vicious stuff until finally, in a display of utter abandon, someone like Tbogg comes along and says, with all the poetry at his command, "You are a horrible fucking human being who I hope dies slowly." Readers cheer with delight.
Over the years I've read stuff far worse than, but of a kind with, the kind of thing McArdle is pushing here. I honestly believed it was possible to listen to what they have to say, offer a counter-argument, have a back-and-forth, blah-blah-blah. I have come to recognize, however, that the Megan McArdles and Jonah Goldbergs and writer's at The American Thinker and Renew America and even such dull luminaries as the op-ed writers at our flagship national newspapers, by and large, are just horrible human beings. While I do not wish to see any of them die slowly, that needs to be repeated until it has sunk in.
These are horrible human beings.
It isn't just that, say, Jonah Goldberg, who has achieved all he has in life because his mother Lucianne Goldberg, was an integral part of trying to get Bill Clinton's penis impeached; it isn't that George Will played an unethical role in the candidacy of then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, helping him prepare for a debate using papers purloined from the campaign of Pres. Carter, then adding to this lack of ethics by lying about what happened; it isn't that Charles Krauthammer has weekly visions of American and Israeli armed forces pretty much wiping out any and every non-Jew in the Middle East because that's the only way to protect Israeli, I mean American, interests.
While morally obtuse and ridiculous in and for themselves, these positions - and the hundreds, even thousands, of others - folks like this have taken, and continue to take, as well as the assumption by all involved that they are good, upstanding people who deserve to be heard all add up to the irrefutable conclusion that they are, to a person, morally vicious proponents of a vision of America at home and abroad that is violent, racist, almost demonic in its viciousness.
Rather than pretend, it is far better to just call these people out and say, "Do you have any idea that the combination of ignorance, stupidity, and moral vice in pretty much everything you write makes kittens weep?"
I know I harp on this theme more than occasionally, but the truth is simple enough. We would actually function far better as a political society without people like this sucking the life blood from our public discourse. I suppose we could just hand mirrors up - I'm guessing that neither Ann Coulter nor Ross Douthat actually cast reflections - but that just isn't good enough. It's one thing to dismiss a low-info, obviously bigoted blogger as a ridiculous scribbler who actually lowers our national IQ each time he or she publishes something on the internet. Saying the same thing about Joe Klein, while also technically accurate, is far harder to get across to people. He used to write for The New Yorker, after all. He writes for Time.
Which doesn't mean he isn't as big a douchebag as some anonymous scribbler on the internet. We just know this douchebag's real name, is all.
We just need to do more of this kind of thing. As often as possible. We need to stop pretending that these folks are being rewarded for intelligence, or hard work, or insight, or anything else. They are rewarded because they toss the chum in the waters of our political life, and the sharks come a-swimming.