In addition to an article on the Iranian IEDs on Friday, and an article on the aluminum tubes in 2002, Michael Gordon co-wrote Cobra II, which condemened the administration’s war conduct and use of intelligence in harsh terms. Thus, it’s simply not true that Michael Gordon is “the administration’s best friend” even at the New York Times. While he may be arrogant, he is hardly a “stenographer”. While at the Times, Gordon has published many articles harshly critical and deeply skeptical of administration conduct. Did he forget that he was the administration’s best friend when he was writing them? Did he cease to be either arrogant or a stenographer?
Here’s what I wish. I wish that the blogosphere could think in less dispositional terms. When Gordon, or anyone else, writes a bad article, we tend to attack them on dispositional terms; Gordon failed because he’s a friend of the administration, an arrogant stenographer, a neocon, etc. We don’t have a vocabulary that, for lack of a better phrase, allows us to hate the sin and love the sinner. I love the blogosphere, but I loathe this aspect of it. A few weeks ago, we all had a terrific rage fest against the hack pundit Joe Klein. Then, Klein started to write things that we liked, and the declarations of hackishness and bad faith went away. I still think that Joe Klein is a hack, but that’s rather beside the point; he’s either a hack or he’s not, and just because he starts directing his hackery in directions we like doesn’t change that fact. Same thing with the various writers for the New Republic, the blogospheric reaction to whom vacillates wildly between “foul servant of Dark Lord Peretz” and “Oh, hey, that’s an interesting point”. To use a nearer and dearer example, only part of what makes me loathe Mickey Kaus is his political position; much more irritating to me is his manifest inability to convey a thought in writing and his trivial approach to political questions.
I can even see the point of this kind of thinking, the hope being that the various targets will contribute something more to our liking. I’m not asking for civility, either, or for a turn the other cheek attitude. What I’d like, I suppose, is accuracy; an effort to direct dispositional attacks against those who deserve them, and more precisely aimed barbs against the rest.