Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Glenn Greenwald: True Hypocrite

It's interesting that Glenn Greenwald, in his new book, Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics, takes down John Wayne as the template for the prancing, hypocritcal he-man Republican.

I live in Orange County, California, where Wayne lived. On occasion I stop by
his resting place, to sit under the tree by his headstone, and reflect aloud about life in the United States today. It's pieceful there; and while Wayne wasn't my favorite actor, I've always appreciated the "True Grit" he brought to his roles.

I don't think I've ever mentioned this before, but I was reminded of my Wayne visits in reading Dean Barnett's review of Greenwald over at the
Weekly Standard, especially this passage:

Greenwald posits John Wayne as the archetypal Republican - a guy who acted tough and noble but whose personal life was ignoble and at times pathetic. Greenwald acidly notes, "John Wayne flamboyantly paraded around as the embodiment of courage, masculinity, patriotism, wholesomeness and warrior virtues" when in fact he was a Lothario who went to great lengths to avoid military service during World War II. (Worse still, Wayne inflicted "The Green Berets" on the movie-going nation in the 1960s, a cinematic crime that can never be fully forgiven.)

You'll want to take special note of Greenwald's none-too-subtle code language that has the Duke "flamboyantly parading." Throughout "Great American Hypocrites," neocons and other Republicans are reliably "prancing" or perambulating in some less than manful way. Greenwald stretches with both holding up John Wayne as a Republican idol and all his talk of prancing. For what it's worth, in my conversations with neocons, I've never heard a single one of them mention John Wayne. I've also noticed that they seldom "prance" let alone "flamboyantly parade." Well, maybe a couple do, but they are the exceptions.
I can't vouch for too many neocons, but I doubt Wayne's the biggest model for aspiring prancing-warmongers out there, but hey, easy strawman-ish case selection for Greenwald I suppose.

Barnett, interestingly, says that Greenwald's a good guy:

I KNOW THIS WON'T endear me to many of my fellow conservatives, but I like Glenn Greenwald. I've spoken to him a few times on the radio and have enjoyed our jousts.
I simply can't imagine having a rousing intellectual exchange with the guy, but at least Barnett's fair-minded when he notes:

The sad fact is that Greenwald often opts for personal attacks rather than reasoned argument.
It's sad because, frankly, Greenwald does have some intellectual firepower, but his ad hominems are so grating that one wants to let him have it upside the head.

But check
Jules Crittenden as well:

There is no indication ... [that this is] in fact a serious book, or anything but a partisan bid for money and attention. You’re welcome, by the way, Glenn, for this bit of gratuitous attention. It’s my pleasure. However infantile the book is … [Barnett's] review itself is worth a read. Given Greenwald’s boundless self-admiration, I presume the cover has a big picture of the sockpuppet himself on it.

No, apparently it doesn’t. Astonishing. I would have thought the unself-conscious self-adoration would have trumped other artistic, marketing, humility, self-mockery concerns, etc.

You can admire Glenn and his curriculum vitae at the link, and also observe how busy he is going to be promoting himself and his latest great contribution to western civilization. It’s already got one, but for the second edition, here’s a suggested edit on the subtitle: Takes One to Know One.

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner, shrewdly wasting less time and space on this than I did, proclaims Greenwald “one of the most easily and profitably ignored voices in the blogosphere.” Considering the competition, that’s no insignificant accomplishment.

Prior Greenwald scholarship, with links to the important work others have done in the study of Greenwald:

Lacking Even the Ethics of a Journalist.

Here's this from book's blurb at Barnes and Noble:

More a partisan screed than a reasoned argument meant to persuade undecided readers, this repetitive text frequently devolves into personal attacks and vast generalizations.

But also note Barnett's conclusion:

Great American Hypocrites will likely be a big hit. Whatever the equivalent of red meat is for the angry left, this book is it.

That sounds about right.