Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Other Primrose Path

One can be corrupted to virtue as well as to vice. An example: the minority of political commentators who oppose the Conservative take over of the United States are often far more scrupulous about the truth than either their ideological opponents or the mainstream press. Joe Conason, Gene Lyons, Eric Alterman, Joshua Micah Marshall, and Paul Krugman check facts, worry about being fair to individuals, and admit error. There is no such thing and probably could not be such a thing as a right-wing Bob Somersby. It does not necessarily follow, however, that these individuals are intrinsically more honorable or honest than other writers. Even a born fabulist would find it hard to resist the siren call of integrity in a rhetorical situation where the reduction of discourse to a passionless recital of facts is such an effective tack against one’s enemies.

There’s a converse to this thought: those dedicated to craft are well advised to join the Republican Party. William Safire would only be wasting his very real literary and polemical gifts by going straight; and a similar point could be made, albeit with decreased force, about the merely talented Andy Sullivan or the merely glib Mickey Kaus

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