Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Understanding Bob Somerby
Some people (the most recent one being a commenter over at the Tapped blog) have noted with some surprise that Bob Somerby seems to be uncharacteristically eager to defend Joe Lieberman. But if you've been following Somerby's online career over the past decade, it's not that surprising. The irony is that Somerby's latest Lieberman defense winds up proving the very point he wants to discredit: Namely, that Lieberman's 1988 action was a monumental betrayal that really did cause great harm to Clinton and, by extension, to America -- by making it politically possible for the Republicans to proceed with impeachment. Somerby says that Lieberman wasn't the only Democrat to go after Clinton. But Somerby is honest enough to admit that they didn't start attacking Clinton until Lieberman started attacking him. And that, ladies and germs, is what created the "bipartisanness" the Republicans needed to impeach Bill Clinton. (But not, luckily, to remove him.) You gotta understand the dynamic at work with Bob Somerby. Here are the rules he operates by:
I don't just take people's word for it when they criticize a reporter. If I am planning to criticize the reporter, I check it out. And for a long time, Somerby checked out every time.
And usually there's an identifiable underlying cause for when Bob goes negative. He's mad at Cynthia McKinney for saying that Al Gore had a "Negro tolerance issue." I'd hate to break to him the fact that almost every African-American might, off-the-books, say the same about every white. Race relations are at a low ebb, even inside the Democratic party. But I can see that Somerby might see McKinney as an attacker. His treatment of her hasn't been fair, but it's intelligible.
But backing Lieberman-- which, as far as I know, Al Gore has declined to do-- is weird. Just weird.
But, yeah, for the longest time, Somerby checked out every time. Either that, or his biases aligned with my own so that I didn't notice them. :-)
However, let me assure you that Bob can be even more hysterical in personal e-mail as he can be in print. So, while we all have our biases, Bob sometimes has his at a pitch just below dog whistles.
I also find most of Somerby's defenses of Gore are dual purpose. Yes, he wants justice for Al Gore. So do I. But you're ignoring the obvious fact that Somerby is using Gore as his MODEL to show you what's wrong with our modern media. The test case. the example. That media malfeasance, and educational failure, are Somerby's two obessions. Not Gore and his own ego.
Sorry, but from here, the snark fizzles.
I'm sorry, but having experienced Bob in personal e-mail, I think there is a hinge that needs oiling.
Bob wants to think that he's the sole arbiter of sanity and fact, which means that as more and more people are expressing views which don't align with his (especially bloggers) -- and who use facts in context to back up these views -- he has to resort to ever-more-ridiculous contortions to justify his stances on them. (His attacks on Joe Wilson are exquisitely-constructed masterpieces in deliberately refusing to see the forest for the trees. At least, his public attacks are; as with Howard Dean, in e-mail correspondence he doesn't even bother with constructing verbal justifications -- he just calls Wilson AND Plame "nuts" and "hysterics" and leaves it at that.)
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