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Today’s Hack Puzzle

[ 14 ] October 29, 2010 |

Many right-wing bloggers were remarkably “successful” in finding ways to justify Rand Paul’s goons stomping on a defenseless woman’s head. The Christine O’Donnell case presents a similarly difficult problem: how do you blame the Democratic Party for a story put out on an apolitical gossip website that has earned nearly universal condemnation from liberals and Democrats? Col. Mustard rises to the challenge with some Grade A hackwork:

I don’t believe for a second that the criticisms of Gawker by most of the left-blogosphere are genuine.

These are crocodile tears from people who are afraid that the backlash will help O’Donnell politically, so they are pretending to unite in her defense on this limited point. Just read almost any of their posts, and they condemn Gawker while taking pains to point out that O’Donnell still is crazy and dangerous.

The left-blogosphere and media enabled Gawker, and if there is any justice, the monster they created will come back to bite them in the voting booth on November 2.

He goes on to claim that liberals “cheered on” Gawker for sexist attacks on Sarah Palin, while carefully omitting any evidence for the assertion.

The problem here, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, is that there isn’t the slightest contradiction between believing that O’Donnell is “crazy and dangerous” (in the sense of having crazy political positions) and believing that the Gawker post was sexist. The fact that O’Donnell advances a lot of reactionary (including anti-feminist) ideas isn’t a license to engage in sexist attacks. Indeed, I would argue that people whose commitment to feminist principles (unlike that of Jacobson and most other right-wing bloggers) doesn’t begin and end with insulating female Republican politicians from both legitimate and illegitimate attacks have rather more credibility on the subject.

Relatedly, I have some further thoughts on why attempts to justify Gawker’s actions by invoking “hypocrisy” won’t fly. My position on this goes a lot farther than, for example, Jill’s; even if the story was less overtly sexist, it would still be irrelevant.

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  1. NonyNony says:

    It’s really remarkable to me how deep the tribalism is on the conservative side. When they share an opinion with “liberals” it makes many of them really, really uncomfortable. Like something is wrong with them because they believe the same thing liberals believe.

    I imagine the fact that they’re leaping to the defense of a woman being smeared makes it worse. If Christine O’Donnell were Hillary Clinton or Rachel Maddow or pick your favorite liberal woman the pile-on from the right would be ugly as hell. But she’s one of them so they have to defend her and they can’t understand why liberals would step up to defend her too. It’s like many of them really just don’t understand that some folks base their beliefs on principle not tribalism.

    • Oscar Leroy says:

      So many of them define their beliefs as “the opposite of what liberals believe”. Thus a liberal says we need to use less gasoline because buying it gives money to our enemies, and conservative morons rush out to turn on their cars and let them idle in their driveway.

  2. mark f says:

    Americans have a deep philosophical objection to the Democrats’ agenda which is why they’ll vote for O’Donnell because some guy said something mean on the internet.

  3. hv says:

    From your link…

    But even if she had intercourse with the douchebag in question, is publishing the story be justified and politically relevant?

    “is” and “be” do not parse right in that question.

  4. GeoX says:

    Because THEY never say or do anything that’s not aimed at cynical political gain, they can’t conceive how anyone else could, either. Pretty simple, really.

  5. gmack says:

    I just happen to be reading Arendt’s Human Condition and somehow this passage seems appropriate:

    “Without the disclosure of the agent in the act, action loses its specific character and becomes one form of achievement among others. It is then, indeed, no less a means to an end than making is a means to produce an object. This happens wherever human togetherness is lost, that is, when people are only for or against other people, as for instance in modern warfare, where men go into action and use means of violence in order to achieve certain objectives for their side and against he enemy. In these instances … speech becomes “mere talk,” simply one more means toward an end, whether it serves to deceive the enemy or to dazzle everybody with propaganda” (p. 180).

  6. You mean liberals are more intellectually consistent, coherent and honest than conservatives? I had NO IDEA!

  7. cpinva says:

    and so, you’re seriously suggesting that all the reports on les affaires “vitter-craig” (and others too numerous to mention) were actually sexist?

    the only thing lacking in this story of gross, public hypocrisy, is actual claimed pentration, unless you count ms. o’donnell being hoist on her own petard.

    • cpinva says:

      to be clear as day on this, i personally wouldn’t give two (or even one) nanny-goat shits who she is or isn’t having naked chastity fests with, had she not made the whole thing part of her political front.

      • Remind me — what law is she accused of breaking again?

        • Sean Peters says:

          None. But let’s not pretend that the interest in Vitter’s diaper-wearing escapades was primarily about the law. It was about a self-professed “family values man” who went around having weird sex with women other than his wife. In other words, it was very much like the O’Donnell situation.

          Remind me: when did “but it’s not illegal” become the standard for interest in a politician’s conduct?

          • Sean Peters says:

            It’s probably also worth noting that if O’Donnell had her way, HER OWN CONDUCT (fornication) very likely would be illegal.

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                bout a self-professed “family values man” who went around having weird sex with women other than his wife. In other words, it was very much like the O’Donnell situation.

                Except for the fact that O’Donnell wasn’t married, didn’t have sex, engaged in near-sex activities that couldn’t have been more banal, and didn’t break any laws, the situations couldn’t be more analogous!

                Now I will grant that the current “standard” is to find some excuse to justify a strictly prurient interest interest in politician’s sex lives — and Gawker’s attempt to claim that this was a totally serious contribution to political discourse is a classic in this genre — these standards are an embarrassment.

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