Monday, April 09, 2012

WANKER OF THE DECADE Runner Up #5

Lord Will Saletan.

Choosing which of the Lords of Slate would make this list was a bit tough. Weisberg's had more overall responsibility for the years long wankfest that is Slate, and a fine practitioner of the Art of Wanking himself, but Saletan still edged him out.

The Lords of Slate, including Saletan, come from the waning days of the era of High Punditry, where people with no particular knowledge or skills, but who are truly the right sort of people, from the right schools, with the right friends, would send their pronouncements down from the mountain onto the grateful population below. They are for some reason granted the magic power of punditry, the ability to survey the entire body of knowledge on a particular topic, and issue their final infallible decree in time for their deadline. All the experts in the world be damned, give The Lords an afternoon and an intern and The Truth can be determined, usually by determining that The Partisans On Both Sides Are Wrong, while arriving at their proclamations without nasty partisan preconceptions or agenda involved.

The problem with politics for the Lords is that people actually disagree about stuff. The solution to this problem is that everybody should agree with them about everything. Problem solved! And so much tidier.

This last trait comes out with Saletan in his endless writing about how the real problem with the abortion issue is that liberals don't think abortion is icky enough. If only liberals would, indeed, acknowledge that it is icky, that some abortions are really really really icky, that we all die a little bit on the inside when someone gets an abortion, that if only the wimmenfolk knew what horrible monsters they are when they do the sexytime that might eventually cause them to get pregnant and have an abortion, if stupid liberals would get behind education and contraception, and maybe a little shaming, and a bunch of moral prudery for Other People, instead of focusing all of our efforts on fetus killing, then we could put the whole issue behind us and abortion could be legal. Otherwise, well, your fault liberals for not agreeing with Saletan. Those back alley abortion deaths are on your consciences liberals! Also, too, dead doctors.

A few years back Saletan decided to direct his attentions to the most important question of our time, "Are Black People Stupid?" This is a question that's floated up several times during the DECADE OF ESCHATON, playing out in roughly the same way. Someone rediscovers crackpot racist pseudoscience. People like me with some familiarity with the stuff who have been around this block before point out it's crackpot racist pseudoscience by and for racists. A people with a bit more expertise chime in. The Bold And Noble And Brilliant pundit concedes, perhaps, that there are some racists here, but on careful review of the evidence, it is, in fact, likely that black people are stupid.

One doesn't need even need to ask if he supported the Iraq war. Duh. To Saletan, the real tragedy of the Iraq mistake (that he supported, of course) is that it's now harder to repeat the whole mess in Iran. After writing that in his entry in the "how could somebody so noble, bold, and smart as me have gotten that whole war thing wrong" genre so loved by "liberal hawks", he concluded:

I wish I'd absorbed these lessons before the war. The best I can do now is remember them before the next one.

You already forgot!

And, finally, the last paragraph in this column is like The Funniest Joke In The World in the old Monty Python sketch. You are unlikely to survive reading it. I warned you.