The American Punditry

Read this salon rant by Andrew Sullivan

Then read this Daily Howler rebuttal:

It seems to me that Somerby is pretty much dead on here, not just about Sullivan, but about how most punditry works: centering on nebulous claims about the motives and secret inner desires of the target of the day. Sullivan’s creative reading of Gore’s recent speech is just one great example of this.

Seems to me that Sullivan’s tactic is to first misrepresent Gore in order to label him a “left-of-Chomsky extremist,” and then whenever Gore says something that can’t easily be misrepresented as being extreme-leftist, he calls it “disingenuous,” thus making Gore out to be both an extremist and centrist-pandering liar (who decided which was the real position, and which the pandering though? Sullivan apparently “just knows”) If this were a science, we’d note that Sullivan has surrounded himself in a self-sealing claim: and and all evidence to the contrary of his portrayal is just opportunist pandering. That’s a pretty slick tactic, methinks.

Sullivan says: “Gore goes all the way to the left of Sontag in describing the United States as a greater threat to world order and peace than terrorism itself.”

Read the Salon piece, in which Sullivan quotes the odious passage from Gore. Is this a fair restatement of what Gore said? And more importantly, is Gore right on this issue? Sullivan doesn’t even bother to say (saying yes takes the wind out of his criticism, but saying no would require a defence): but not two lines later it seems convienient to concede the point so he can bash Gore for something else (not presenting a case as to why the world is wrong about the U.S.), entirely forgetting the mess that admission makes of his former attack.

It seems pretty clear to me that Gore’s position is: yes Saddam is a major threat that needs to be taken out. But not at the expense of the war on terrorism and the tenuous alliances we’ve built up, which he feels Bush is being entirely too cavalier about mangling. Whether you agree with this position or not, I don’t think this criticism is the craven lunacy that conservative pundits insist represents everything that comes out of Gore’s mouth.

Wow, dueling pundits! :smiley:

Music to duel by…

Glad you started this thread, Apos. Bob Somerby and I used to correspond. He seldom responds these days, but from time to time I send him e-mails with my take on his column. It just so happens that I sent him an e-mail earlier today on the very column you cited.

the response was

Seems to me like a comment on the perception of the United States, which Gore was careful to say he did or did not share (ha!) when he says “Now, my point is not that they’re right to feel that way, but that they do feel that way.”

In this I agree with Sullivan: what sort of point is that? “I’m jes’ sayin’, s’all.” Why bring it up? You’re not saying they’re right, you’re not saying they’re wrong, you’re just saying…? [blank out]

Sullivan again, with a Gore quote

From the quotes offered it seems to be that way. When Socrates tells his accusers they are honorable men we see sarcasm; when Gore says something, he says nothing? Well, why is he even talking, then?

Otherwise, I think the Daily Howler discussion is better.

~~eris-“I didn’t vote for Gore, but other people did”-lover :wink:

december, one might have thought it would be clear that Gore was pointing out that Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts remain unknown, after more than a year. Kelly’s criticism of Gore for pointing that out, and your defense of Kelly, are so far afield that both of your motivations must be questioned.

So Bob Somerby doesn’t reply to you anymore? Ever notice a similarity to your reception on this board?

You just did, Elvis :smiley:

eris, I’m not sure, at least for the first quote, that you really read that very carefully.
Gore is bringing it up because he blames Bush for causing that situation (as many people do). He’s not saying that the world is right to think our motivations are bad, but he is criticizing Bush for squandering the good will we once had.

No, he did have a point and that was that if these perceptions are shared by hundreds of millions of people, it becomes a solid fact that must be dealt with. The more people hate us, the greater the terrorist threat. And the more we piss off the Europeans and moderate Arabs, the less inclined they will be to defend us in the face of the radical Islamists. The latter group’s view’s abount the U.S. are unreasonable but the only way to deal with them is to improve our behaviour to the point where we can re-claim the moral high ground so they won’t have any legs to stand on.

Oh, I am sure Gore wanted to insinuate what you (Apos and sqweels) say he said; my problem is with his half-assed presentation of it.

Maybe if terrorists were normally distributeed throughout the population of the world; somehow I doubt that. I am highly suspicious of this claim and claims like it. Most people in the world never consider flying passanger planes into skyscrapers as a means of making a political point, I don’t care how many you “cause anxiety” in.

Squandering? I agree the general goodwill is gone, but that is because (IMO) we’ve carried through to the logical conclusion of the stance we adopted post 9/11. Now this makes people nervous; what has been unleashed here? And hell, I support most of our actions thus far and I am nervous. I fly for my job all the time; the last thing I want is some guy pissed at my country killing me for it.

From this behaviorist perspective, America is operating like it should be, and the only reason the goodwill is gone is not because of anything we’ve done, but because of the things that have been said by critics and supporters alike. In other words: ‘typical’ political talk, conflation, and backstabbing only brought to the forefront because the subject is so serious. When it is only taxes, who cares?

Let Bush talk smack and let Gore try and avoid making criticisms by simply bringing up “others” who have said these things and raised these issues. When America acts is when I am concerned.

What has America done wrong since 9/11? Who expects talk of war to be smiled about, discussed over beer and songs of kinship? Hasn’t Bush, in fact, been working to form a coalition with other countries? —or is war just supposed to “happen” without anyone trying to do anything about it?

I don’t get it.

Um, now you’re conflating two different subjects, using a quote from one as if it reffered to another.

I suppose America can do anything, adopt any policy, and the complaints of the world will always be unjustified. If America decides to do something, it’s the right thing to do.

I don’t think sqweels point is representative of what Gore said. Terrorism the rest of the world is fairly used to, compared to us. Its destabilizing the world political situation with a resurgance of national unilateralism, first strike policies, and basically tossing out the window any hint of comprimise and diplomacy that makes people nervous about the new U.S., not just on the War on Iraq, but jsut about everything, from barriers to trade to emissions standards.

Of course not! Merely that Gore’s criticism doesn’t seem to correspond to Bush’s attempt to garner allies in the UN, with Saudi Arabia, and so on. In other words, he is making the case. What else would you have him do?