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Klassic Kaus Revisionism


One of our commenters objects to my Mickey Kaus goat joke. For those not aware of all internet traditions, this refers to the logic Kaus frequently employed in his assertions that every bad rumor about every major Democrat must be true:

I don’t like Kaus, but wasn’t he *right* when he said that John Edwards had an affair? Did the people that mocked Kaus for being right (for once) apologize to him?

Well, first of all, as I said when Kaus and his lickspilttles first advanced this line of argument, even on its own terms this is really dumb. Kaus’s methodology, as noted, was to believe every rumor advanced about every Democrat he didn’t like whether or not he had any evidence. Obviously, sometimes this will turn out to be right by accident, just as if Dick Morris and Dean Chambers continue to pick the Republican to win every presidential race they will at some point be right. That doesn’t mean the was any actual basis for Kaus’s assertions about Edwards, and certainly he doesn’t (for obvious reasons) believe every story a tabloid spreads about a Republican.

But in addition, as Atrios notes in comments, regardless of what Kaus would prefer to think, the “goat” meme did not start with the Edwards affair he was accidentally right about. I’m not sure if this is the very first example, but from Atrios in 2004:

In my eyes, I have to say, it’s likely that it’s true. Any claims by Kaus to not have carnal knowledge of goats will just be more evidence that the man is a liar.

If you’ll click the link, you’ll note the reference has nothing to do with John Edwards but instead refers to one of Kaus’s many embarrassingly hackish failed smear jobs on John Kerry. So, no, I don’t plan to stop using the goat meme to describe baseless smears of Democratic politicians.

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  • Scott P.

    And wasn’t the original a spoof on The Men Who Stare at Goats (originally published in 2004)?

  • Manta

    I wasn’t aware of *all* internet traditions: I was wrong about the goat meme (I relied on my memory and on Wikipedia).

    • NonyNony

      I believe that not being aware of all internet traditions is in fact an internet tradition.

      (Recursion is also an internet tradition, but that’s because the internet was built by nerds.)

  • I’m just pleased to learn that Kaus’ goatluv is enshrined on Wikipedia.

  • I Like Goats… just not in that way!

    I await Loomis and a mild reproach of the Kaus chevre schmear… Not unlike his displeasure with Rubio’s Watergate. ;)

    Just own it Scott. It feels good and right to cast Kaus in goat loving light. If you’ve ever witnessed his disingenuousness and delight (bloggingheads video archive) in trashing every Democratic initiative while nominally calling himself an original OG of said party then no rationale need apply. To say nothing of the rumor filled innuendo and slander he peddles as “blogger journalism”.

  • Benjamin

    Kaus-the-goat-fucker goes back to 2004. Kaus-the-goat-pornographer goes back at least to <a href="http://tbogg.blogspot.com/2003/05/more-on-mickey-or-should-that-be-moron.html"2003.

    • Manta

      Is it my impression, or Kaus’ argument in that piece is what we hear on constant basis on this very blog from our hosts?

      • Lee Hartmann


  • Clambone

    I like to think that Kaus might have redeemed himself if he hadn’t died too young a couple of years ago. Sadly, we might never know what he could have become.

    • Joey Maloney

      Who knew the LD50 of goat semen was that low?

  • c u n d gulag

    Great photoshopping!!!

  • Manta

    A note about the large point of methodology.
    If Kaus alleged that X had an affair (based on little more that rumors) and you had the possibility to bet either pro or against it (with 1/1 odd), which way would you bet?

    • JKTHs

      I’d take the under.

      • Manta

        Sorry, I am not familiar with the terminology: under means that you would bet Kaus is wrong?

        • JKTHs

          Since you put it in betting terms, I used a betting term that had nothing to do with what you were talking about. Get it?!?!?

          But to address your question, I’d go against cause I’m pretty sure Kaus has been wrong more than half the time. The odds would rise pretty quickly to reflect that

    • I’d bet the over. Most such allegations about politicians turn out to be true.

  • efgoldman

    And, as always, it would be irresponsible not to speculate.
    (Speaking of all internet traditions.)

  • peter

    it is irresponsible not to speculate

  • Bill Murray

    So Kaus is the Austrian economist of pundits — he has predicted 23 of the last 5 Democratic scandals

  • wengler

    Who could forget the whole day of breathless coverage of an affair between Kerry and an intern that never happened? The woman in question wasn’t even in the country at the time and didn’t know what the hell they were talking about when someone got through to her.

    • Jameson Quinn

      Who indeed.

  • Aaron Baker

    I’m just sorry for those poor goats!

  • MikeJake

    Mraaaaaah!“, his face always seems to be saying.

  • Anonymous37

    Incidentally, I sent Mickey Kaus an e-mail after one of his “you shouldn’t discount it just because it’s a rumor appearing in a media outlet with a sleazy reputation” screeds involving Monicagate. And my take was similar to Manta’s: look, the specific rumor (I believe it was about the blue dress and The National Enquirer) turned out to be true, so although I could take issue with the general rule, I couldn’t argue that its application in this case was wrong.

    So when Bush 43 took office, there was a book (I forget the title) which claimed that Dubya (when he was younger) procured an abortion after he impregnated his girlfriend. Kaus was writing for Slate at the time, so I sent him an e-mail asking him if he was willing to give some credence to the claim in the book. I should mention that the e-mail was 100% earnest — I was actually interested in his answer to the question. No points for correctly guessing that Kaus never replied.

    There’s something else that people who slam Kaus on a regular basis never mention: completely leaving aside the content of his writing, he is a terrible writer. I mean he comes close to being literally unreadable. Usually when I read the works of people on the other side of the ideological divide, I get angry, but the jackass has my complete attention. But with Kaus, my eyes slide off the screen while in the middle of one of his blog posts and I have to make an effort to get to the end.

    • Anonymous37

      Man, I always mess up the that/which rule. I swear to God I’ll be fucking that up until I die.

      • Rob

        That Kaus is a fine, fine writer (at least when compared to that other blog titan Marshall Whitman–Ed.)

      • anon

        That rule is made up like yellowcake, yo. Nobody observes it, nobody needs it, nobody thinks about it unless a prim grammarian stops by, and it’s never been a Real Thing in English.


    • swearyanthony

      For a long time one of the few blogs Josh Marshall linked to in his sidebar was Kausfiles. I recall sending him a late night drunk email of “why on earth do you link to that horrid little scandal monger”.

      Last I saw Kaus was at the daily tucker. That must sting. The only place to fall from there is WND or Big Dead Andy.

    • Manta

      I was never able to get to the end of a Kausfile.

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    If you rob a bank they don’t call you Raul the Bank Robber for the rest of your life. If you steal peaches from the grocery, they don’t call you the peach thief for the rest of your lie. but you people won’t let me be. I was young and curious. I made one mistake and I gotta live with it for the rest of my life. Even crooked Mayor Schwartz isn’t called Schwartz the liar or Schwartz the philanderer, No, he’s called Schwartz the mayor, real nice. BUT Fuck one Goat in your life, one stupid, ignorant goat and it’s like the world has to know. Forever after they call you Raul the GoatFucker

    That was before Raul changed his name to “Micky Kaus”.

  • G

    Manta, don’t feel too bad these mistakes are common. In fact even the great Erick Erickson once at a party mistook Kaus for David Souter, which caused him no shortage of grief later on. We’re all only human.

  • I don’t think Lemieux knows what point he wants to make. That Kaus is biased? Sure. That he trafficks rumors? True enough.

    But that he made an absolutely true claim about Edwards that a lot of credulous idiots on my side of the political spectrum shot down because they liked Edwards and refused to believe it?

    I think Kaus still comes out of that looking much better than his critics.

    • commie atheist

      No, the point is that Kaus has a long history, which preceded the Edwards thing, of pushing rumors about Democratic politicians, no matter how poorly sourced, and the fact that he got it right on Edwards does not change that.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I don’t think Lemieux knows what point he wants to make

      My point is perfectly clear. When you say that every Democratic politician you don’t like is a liar and a cheat without any evidence, you don’t get credit for guessing right after multiple times when you’ve been wrong. He didn’t actually have any real evidence that Edwards was cheating; he got lucky.

      Shorter Esper: if someone picked at random by Joe McCarthy turned out to be a Communist, McCarthy was vindicated!

      But that he made an absolutely true claim about Edwards that a lot of credulous idiots on my side of the political spectrum shot down because they liked Edwards and refused to believe it?

      I wasn’t an Edwards supporter, and I certainly never said it was impossible that Edwards was cheating on his wife. I did say that Kaus had no credible evidence that Edwards was cheating at the time, because in fact he didn’t.

      • Manta

        “When you say that every […] politician […] is a liar and a cheat without any evidence” you are likely to be right.

        • Scott Lemieux

          When, like Kaus, you limit this to Democrats who might win an election, such assumptions are less useful.

          • Manta

            No argument there: if you (for “you” = Kaus) don’t apply the same assumptions to republicans, you are a hack.

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