Friday, February 17, 2006

feb 13&20th issue: goldberg on gerson

I thought this would be interesting, boy was I wrong.

Any interest we might feel in Gerson is supposed to predicated on the appeal of his rhetorical mastery. Goldberg quotes Hertzberg praising Gerson's work on a 2002 Bush speech "taken as a whole and judged purely as a piece of writing, was shockingly good." Funny, I don't remember that. I remember years and years of lies and bad decisions, justified by bombastic, violent and manchiestic tongue-rolling. (Tongue rolling? Not a real phrase, I made that up. Tongue flapping, I've heard that. Hand waving, I've heard that. Holy rolling. This is something between tongue flapping and holy rolling.)

[And if I'm supposed to respect Gerson because he brings a sincerity to his work, and he feels that "African Americans might like Bush better if they knew him better. 'The President I know is a very tolerant man, he told me. 'The President I know is a very compassionate man.'" What, the president tolerates African Americans? I'm sure "they" would like that. It's so nice to be tolerated in the US in this day and age. What the fuck?]

The article seems to be trying to play with a tension - you expect to hate Gerson, but really he's not that bad. Only the article seems to give a whole lot of evidence that he is that bad: paternalistic, moralistic, mislead, manipulated, compromising and compromised. A real representative (in the sense of he's the epitome of) of the Christian right voters, and in that sense, it's key that this representative, "The Believer," then gets the opportunity to frame the President's oil war as a moral struggle.

In a way, this article works a lot like Konigsburg on Bremmer, as a backhanded endictment of Gerson. I mean, if anyone's tolerated, it looks like Gerson's compassionate conservatism is tolerated in the White House because he sells the president's economic interests (ie, the war, but his other economic policies as well) to the American people as a moral crusade. It's almost funny to read the article backwards, and find Bush wooing Gerson to make him believe they are on the same team.

I like it better when Mark Danner just marshalls evidence and goes for the jugular.

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Blogger EL said...

Good catch. I've noticed this phenomenon a lot in liberal "profile" journalism lately. Basically, since the 2004 election, when it was decided that, despite being an actually rather small percentage of the population (not to mention a percentage unlikely to embrace Democrats' philosophies, such as they are), Dems were going to reach out the so-called "evangelicals". As such, in order to criticize people in power who also happen to have these beliefs, a lot of these journalists profile them in an almost overly "compassionate" way, all the while undermining them quietly.

12:51 PM  
Blogger zp said...

thanks a bunch. I wanted to begin this post with those very thoughts on the media.

10:27 AM  

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