This is a guest post by longtime LGM reader Kid Charlemagne. Every A-Frame has his number on the wall.
But contrary to what some have argued in recent days, Megan McArdle is not a failure. On the contrary, she is exactly what the people in charge of opinion journalism’s most august platforms want in a columnist. She is a one-in-a-million success.
If McArdle’s career is the kind most pundits can only dream of, however, it’s not because her work is thoughtful, informed, well-intentioned, or derived from any special expertise. And it’s not because she’s an unusually, or even marginally, gifted writer. (She’s… fine.)
No, the real reason McArdle is a success—the real reason why she’s about to assume a perch which, as Scott joked, offers the job security of a lifetime appointee—is because she has the traits that editors and publishers are really looking for when they’re evaluating a pundit.
She’s provocative, yet predictable (i.e., a troll).
She’s more than happy to pontificate about all manner of subjects, regardless of how little shes knows about them (people who don’t even know what they don’t know write the darnedest things).
She is utterly indefatigable, unwilling to change a single thing about her approach to her work—much less her priors—no matter how many embarrassing (and easily discovered; the internet is forever) mistakes she’s made.
In other words, she is shameless. And as the current president, his administration, and his bottomless well of sycophants, grifters, and bagmen has shown us, if you’re operating in a realm where basic norms of honor and decency are irrelevant, shamelessness can get you very far indeed.
So is Megan McArdle a failure? No. In her chosen field, she’s a real “blue chip” talent, as another rising star shameless bloviator might say. She’s a role model of what it takes to make it in the world of opinion journalism. It’s that world itself which is failing, abysmally, to give the rest of us anything worth a damn.