One Way to Save Time [Jay Nordlinger]
Few weeks ago, The New Republic had a long, long piece on how Obama and the Democrats got Obamacare through. It was called “How They Did It: The inside account of health care reform’s triumph.” Don’t you love that “health care reform”? Isn’t it interesting how conservatives’ proposals — liberalizing ones — aren’t called “reform”? Only socialization is? Anyway, this was a very long piece, sort of a little book. Someone gave it to me to read. And I thought I’d give it a try.
Before settling in to read it, I sort of scanned it — and my eyes fell on this sentence: “Conservative protesters descended upon Capitol Hill, marching on the lawn and through the House office buildings, hurling racial and homophobic epithets, and — in one case — saliva at Democrats.”
First of all, the punctuation is wrong; there should be a comma after “saliva.” But that’s not the point. I have read quite a bit about this matter: about how the protesters allegedly screamed, or uttered, the “N-word,” and how one of them spat. (Someone did make an anti-gay remark.) And I happen to know these allegations are baloney — or at least very, very much in dispute. Yet this author presented them as fact.
The rest of his article might have been 100 percent accurate — but I didn’t read it. Once you’ve read something like the passage I’ve quoted, you just can’t trust the rest. You know? If he was willing to say that — what else was he willing to say?
Yesterday, I turned to a piece in The Spectator — one of those “realist critiques” they like to run. This one was called “Obama is in hock to the hawks.” And, before really reading, I happened to light on this: “Bush sought to eliminate terrorism by pursuing his ‘freedom agenda’ (liberty imposed at the point of bayonet).” Oh, I see. That was the freedom agenda. Nothing to do with aid to civil-society groups in Egypt and so on (aid that Obama has drastically cut). I could not read the article. Maybe you could have.
P.S. You think the New Republic writer should try to collect Andrew Breitbart’s 100 grand — the money he is offering for proof that the protesters used a racial epithet? You see, liberals need this to be true: because they are invested in the belief that the “tea party” is racist. It’s not just that tea-party activists have a different view of the economy and government. They hate blacks. And if the protesters didn’t use the N-word — well, they should have, according to liberal belief.
Jay hits on something that has been bugging me for a long time. When a writer introduces an allegation as settled fact, makes a claim that insults my intelligence, or throws in a gratuitous insult without bearing as a way of beginning an article - why does that author think I would be willing to waste my time reading the rest of it? It demonstrates a deliberate disrespect for one's potential audience, a lack of seriousness about your writing, and a pandering to low tastes. And where are these people's editors?
It's one thing to expose oneself to contrary views; quite another to slam your head against the wall.