Friday, September 23, 2005

Bob Somerby tips his hand

We've long been a big fan of The Daily Howler. But lately, the Howler has lost some of its appeal for us. We think our disillusionment started in earnest when Bob Somerby was repeatedly, willfully clueless about Rafael Palmeiro's positive drug test. Although his point was never entirely clear to us, it SEEMED that he was irate with the media for not giving due weight to the possibility that the test was wrong. Or something. Like I said, it was hard to tell what exactly was pissing him off. He seemed to think it was inconceivable that an athlete would take a banned substance when the athlete knew he was subject to testing. "For the record, we still haven't seen a single scribe note the obvious problem with the Palmeiro story—the fact that you'd never takea heavy-duty roid in a year when you knew you'd be tested." Well, maybe you wouldn't, Bob, but some athletes would. If Somerby paid any attention to other large, well-publicized sporting events - like, say, the Olympics - he would know that it's not that uncommon for athletes to test positive for steroids in athletic competition EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW THEY WILL BE TESTED. Yes - as hard as it is for Somerby to believe, some athletes take big risks to win big competition. Including taking steroids even though they might get caught. Anyway. Somerby bitched sporadically about the coverage of Palmeiro for a few days, then abandoned it. His seeming cluelessness on the subject disturbed me, since practically his entire blogging career consists of lambasting pundits and politicians for being clueless.

Now he's onto something else (without losing sight of his main theme, which is how the media screwed Al Gore). Since Katrina, Somerby has been angry - bitterly angry - that liberals aren't ganging up to bash Ray Nagin. Indeed, Somerby goes beyond that, claiming that among "good liberals," Nagin can do no wrong. Unfortunately, he has declined to provide his non-Lexis-Nexis subscribing readers with any specifics, so that we're left wondering how the hell he knows this. Did a memo go out? How come we didn't get it? Today I - that is, we - emitted low, mordant chuckles when we read this bit from today's Howler:

But we’ve been amused to see Dems and libs rush to endorse [Nagin's]
Katrina performance despite his Bush-endorsing past—and to see the Times fall
all over itself with praise of his “celebrity.”

OK. First of all, we don't know which "Dems and libs" are rushing to "endorse" Nagin's performance because Somerby doesn't name them (he's right about the Times piece, though, it was lame). Second of all, what exactly is his point? Should Dems and libs rush to criticize Nagin's performance simply BECAUSE of Nagin's Bush-endorsing past? For that matter, what exactly is wrong with Nagin's performance? Well, readers, you won't know from reading The Daily Howler, because Somerby never tells you. In fact, Somerby doesn't even know! He says so!

What did Nagin and/or Blanco do that was right or wrong? At this point, we
simply can’t tell you.

Why can't he tell you? WE can! Yes, dear readers, if you want to read an actual specific criticism of Nagin's performance, you must come here, to the incomparable Rogue Planet, and read our superbly pointed criticism that I - I mean we- would have made whether or not Nagin had endorsed Bush in the past. 'Cause we're fair and balanced.

Somerby, on the other hand, has no idea what Nagin did wrong, yet he's outraged that Democrats aren't sufficiently critical of Nagin. Why is Somerby outraged by this? Because Nagin endorsed Bush in 2000.

Can't you just hear Somerby laughing? "Hey, rubes," he seems to say! Yes, readers, this is how dumb and debased your Internet discourse has become in 2005.


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