Monday, September 03, 2007

Bedtime for Bobo

Labor Day is typically when lip service is paid to workers and organizers of the past, before we all get ready to head back to the grind. I'd like to take a slightly different tack and spare a thought for those people who, in a rational world, would be practically unemployable, yet are well-compensated for producing practically nothing at all. Many come to mind; we'll look at just one, one we haven't picked on in some time.

Let's get something straight -- Bobo is not a sophist. A hack, a shill, a toady to the worst strains of American political boobism, and a situational ethicist, sure, but sophistry implies a coherent tack, a plan, a vision beyond "once bought, stays bought".

The real question, as I have beating on more than usual lately, is how and why people such as Bobo manage to keep getting face time.

We've been seeing, hearing and reading a lot of pseudo-funny churlishness from Brooks – a lot of Brooks, period. Maybe NPR, PBS, and Times audiences have been calling in, demanding, "More David Brooks!" More likely, editors and producers think him a conservative congenial to liberals like themselves. It doesn't hurt that many conservatives think him a traitor.

I think he's right; I can't imagine what kind of asshole would be calling/writing in begging for more Bobo. It's editorial -- and not in the "congenial to liberals like themselves" sense, either, which is highly speculative at best. It's just that Bobo's comparatively diffident bromides put a more user-friendly face on the intellectual offal normally produced by the Coulter/Limbaugh/Hannity cretin wing. But that's not intellectual probity, it's a corporate hack's idea of "balance".

The distinction seems utterly lost on the decision-makers, so enamored as they appear to be of Bobo's woolly aphorisms and sloppy thinking. "See folks," they seem to say, "they're not all assholes." No, they're not. But they are all wrong, and have been for some time, and don't seem to be in any rush to get their shit straight. They are not entitled to their own facts, no matter how much they would like to selectively squint at things.

The article is full of evidence at Bobo's intellectual dishonesty, which abounds like Devil Dogs at Rosie O'Donnell's breakfast table. It's such an easy mark, it misses the point by belaboring the obvious -- again, why is a proven hack clogging up so much air time? Because the defense contractors that own the networks, and the pharma/insurance companies that buy advertising, would rather push the breezy familiarity of an amiable dork than someone who might actually give up the game. It's important to keep the Pepsi vs. Coke dynamic going, above all else.

So it's all noteworthy, but this one passage may explain the situation more than anything else:

On the News Hour in 2004, [Brooks] announced that John Kerry had flunked "the Joshua test" by meeting Brooks' young son Joshua and turning him off. "Anyone who can't relate to a 10-year-old boy can't relate to the American electorate," Brooks opined, but if he was right, why does he disparage Westen for saying pretty much the same, with regret, not a smirk?

Because, as the author notes, it's not in Bobo's portfolio to actually inform anyone of much of anything. He's a vested member of the machine that prefers to treat adults like mushrooms (keep 'em in the dark, feed 'em lots of bullshit), which has deliberately infantilized the dialogue and its participants. It makes perfect sense that Brooks would claim to disqualify Kerry simply for being awkward in talking to Brooks' son.

It's also complete bullshit -- even Kerry had been smooth and adept, even genuinely so, in engaging young Joshua, Brooks would have presumed it to be a limo-lib contrivance. Worst-case scenario, he'd have decided after much solemn consideration that even if Kerry had passed Bobo's reg'lar-guy quals (as if Bobo himself would not come across as a preening hard-on at virtually any blue-collar gathering), Bobo just could not have changed horses from Preznit "He fergot Poland!!1!! in mid fuck-up.

One presumes that, come enlistment age in a few years, Bobo will not exactly be exhorting his son to risk life and limb for Junior's folly. That's for the hallowed Wal-Mart-economy heartlanders Bobo worships in print. In the meantime, putatively liberal media outlets are happy to give Bobo face-time, and Bobo is more than happy to return the favor, milking his rhetorical straying from the conservatard reservation for all its artificial worth.

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