It’s certainly possible that he’s a malicious and cynical liar, but I don’t think it could be true that he’s JUST malicious and cynical, as even someone completely disinterested in truth would probably do a better job of framing his arguments. Say what you like about William F. Buckley, for instance, but at least he didn’t usually sound like an idiot. Whether Gregory Kane is a complete bonehead, or just mostly a bonehead and otherwise a cynic, it’s pretty clear that the quality of “boneheadedness” is a central element in his analysis.
Let me explain.
At work, there’s a free newspaper called the Metro (you may have heard of it) that I pick up for the crossword. It’s not a very hard crossword, but I’m not very good at crosswords, so we have a nice relationship. But every so often, I’ll pick up the Metro and there’ll be a piece by Pulitzer-Prize Nominated Journalist Gregory Kane. It’s so far just been an editorial, plunked in there with all the dignity and legitimacy of a blog post copied from the Corner, though I think it’s actually reprinted from another paper with an easy crossword puzzle. I especially like Pulitzer Prize Nominated Journalist Gregory Kane because 1) he writes “Pulitzer Prize Nominated Journalist” right there in his byline like it’s the most important feature of his character (it probably is), and 2) in his biography it says he’s written about everything from “Brooklyn to the Sudan.” So, you guys tell me what exactly is the list that has “Brooklyn” at one end and “the Sudan” at the other end, and encompasses some reasonably large number of things in between. Does he mean he’s written about Brooklyn AND the Sudan? Is he talking about literally the places in a geographical line BETWEEN Brooklyn and the Sudan – so, mostly a lot of stuff about the Atlantic Ocean? Is he talking about an alphabetical list that just happens to start with Brooklyn, because he’s never written about anything that begins with the letter A? He’s got a swell beard, though, maybe we should cut him some slack.
Maybe we should, but yesterday’s editorial by Pulitzer Prize Nominated Journalist Gregory Kane was especially confounding – it seems that he’s saying, broadly, that liberals are a bunch of crazy idiots, and in support of this thesis he cites Madonna being weird at a concert, and a congresswoman from Brooklyn saying something dumb on the Stephen Colbert show. In his defense, Madonna was being pretty weird, and that congresswoman did say some pretty dumb things, but this whole piece is a complete mess.
In the very first place, he starts out by saying, “If conservatives wanted to go tit for tat with liberals”, as though conservatives don’t want to go tit-for-tat, despite the eight hundred words he’s about to spew out doing that very thing. This is, right out of the gate and before we’ve even gotten to the boneheadedness, the worst kind of argument that anyone ever brings up. I mean, seriously, name for me a liberal who doesn’t think that Congress (for example) is full of a bunch of dummies. Even our guys are dummies, yeah, we know, everybody knows. That Congress is full of dummies has been a truism for so long in American history that “cliché” doesn’t even begin to cover it. There’s something deeply cynical, though, about using “your guys are dumb too” as a defense against criticisms of your own idiots – it legitimizes the notion that it’s okay for everyone to be a dummy, as long as everyone is a dummy. There’s no accountability, there’s no question that the people who represent you are going to have to answer for the horseshit that they say on TV, not if your immediate response to criticism is “Nyeh! You did it too!” Seriously, if your response to, “Madonna is kind of an idiot” is anything other than, “Yeah, I know,” then you’re actively damaging the dialog.
But in the second place, seriously, as a liberal I do not have to explain Madonna. I didn’t tell her to write Obama’s name on her back, or to declare that he was a black Muslim at her concert. No liberal told her to do that, and, frankly, I’m pretty sure that most liberals would have preferred she didn’t. And let’s just take a minute here and talk about false parity: Madonna – her continued ability to bring in the crowds notwithstanding – isn’t really what you’d call “politically influential.” She’s not a legislator, no one calls her up to check with her opinion on the debt ceiling before they vote. Her opinions are not actually very important, despite the fact that you sometimes see them on TV. Unlike – oh just for example! – someone like Todd Akin, or Michele Bachmann. Even if you could effectively answer criticism against representatives from “your side” with a counterexample from “my side”, you can’t expect us to consider of equal relevance the opinions of a United States congressperson with an increasingly deranged pop singer from the eighties (remember when she thought she was British? And later when she thought she was a Jewish Kabbalist?).
There’s a sense of desperation to Kane’s attempts to attach weird beliefs to anyone he can, which may explain why he went to Madonna first, actually asking from “what liberal fantasyland” Madonna got the idea that Obama was a Muslim. Well, what liberal fantasyland indeed? That is something I would like to know, since the idea that Obama is a secret Muslim is one of those talking points used exclusively by conservatives as a weird slander that liberals never quite know how to answer (since, 1) he isn’t, and 2) even if he were, it’s not something we ought to be treating as a slander). Kane may just have a pretty terrible idea of what liberals actually believe, though – in his last column, he cited a Fox news article about some internet troll defacing Monica Love’s Wikipedia page after she spoke at the RNC, and a reference to a leader from the New Black Panther party using the N-word, as indicative of liberal hypocrisy (i.e., that it’s LIBERALS who really hate women, and who hate black people, because liberals somehow have a lock on the use of the N-word).
Never mind that holding liberals accountable for some troll on Wikipedia is tantamount to holding Mitt Romney accountable for the graffiti in Salt Lake City, and even never mind what I just said about how “you did it to!” is no answer to criticisms of misogyny or racism – the question is how do you get to the conclusion that it’s only liberals who relentlessly attack conservative women when that thesis is belied in the comments of the very article that you just cited? I guess “scrolling down” is not a technique they teach in Pulitzer Prize Nominee Journalism school, or something. Also, in what possible world does anyone from the New Black Panther party represent a liberal thought leader? He is not, it should be pointed out, actually running for congress, or taken seriously by anyone, anywhere, except Republicans who want to argue that the Democratic party is full of nouveau-racists, just itching to begin the Helter Skelter and see all the white people killed off, which, for God’s sake I fucking hope not.
Now back to yesterday’s article, and the other point in Pulitzer Prize Nominee Gregory Kane’s expert, “two random and unrelated things that I have combined with specious reasoning to vaguely resemble a trend” analysis: this is an appearance by Yvette Clarke (D-New York) on the Colbert show, in which the congressperson seems to not realize that there was neither slavery in 1898 in Brooklyn, nor was it still owned by the Dutch. And yeah, that’s pretty embarrassing, no argument there. (Though at least someone is finally handing out the share of blame that the Dutch have long deserved. Those fucking guys.) You’d think that any reasonable human being would be sympathetic to a constituency who’s stuck choosing a good enough candidate instead of an ideal candidate – especially a reasonable human who’s committed to voting Republican, because seriously, you can’t tell me that people like Bachmann, Gohmert, Inhofe, that those are the guys that you’d actually prefer. You were all ready to support Todd Akin until he said out loud the stuff that you wanted to ignore, come on.
Speaking of Todd Akin. Obviously, as a liberal I want a representative who has better than a kind of dumb highschooler’s grasp of American history. But going on national television with a muddy idea about Brooklyn’s 19th century timeline is probably not really the same thing as going on national television with actually demonstrably false medical information that you are trying to use to pass legislation. There’s a difference, in other words, between being an idiot and trying to build a legal system based on your idiocy, in that the first thing might be a problem, but the second is definitely a problem. It’s possible again, though, that Pulitzer Prize Nominee Gregory Kane just has a pretty limited notion of how biology works – he described Barack Obama as being “committed to infanticide” which is either delusory or an outright lie. Even accepting that abortion is actually infanticide, Obama hasn’t done anything to improve access to abortion – federal funding still can’t be used for it (thanks, the Hyde Amendment, which has been in place for nearly twenty years and can someone explain to me how Republicans keep forgetting about their single accomplishment in the last two decades?), and the improved access to contraception could only be considered abortion with the very loosest possible definition of “infant.”
All of this points to a pretty damning conclusion of “boneheaded”, at the very least, but there’s still that question of cynicism that I can’t quite shake. The arguments here are all pretty terrible, but are they terrible because Pulitzer Prize Nominee Gregory Kane is just stupid? Or are they terrible because he is a liar (and stupid)? He is a Pulitzer Prize Nominee, though – doesn’t that bespeak some kind of integrity, at the very least? Or should we use it as evidence that Pulitzer Prize Nominee Gregory Kane is maybe not as stupid as his spectacular failures of logic would seem to indicate?
Unfortunately, I’ve got no choice to conclude that not only does the Pulitzer Prize nomination fail to elevate the dignity of a journalist who can’t make up his mind between “stupid” and “liar”, but that this same journalist is – pretty maliciously, I think – dragging the dignity of the institution down with him.
Do you think the guys who give out the Pulitzer Prize ever get depressed when they realize they’ve done that?