On the Emeritus status of Leslie Gelb by Political Cynic: Episode CCXLI of The American Political Melodrama

Just in case you missed Leslie Gelb’s column of December 14,2011 column titled Leslie H. Gelb on a World in Crisis—and What Obama Should Do, a breezy little travelogue of the world’s problems likely to manifest themselves in 2012, or a meditation on the dangers facing America and his proposal for how the president should deal with them. Although the tone of this article borders on the rhetoric of gossip, it is almost lighthearted, to say the least an inappropriate stance given the gravity of the subject matter. Perhaps you might even judge this essay as the most recent incarnation of the magazine cliché of the prognostications of an expert, although Mr. Gelb is more descriptive than prescriptive. The cast of characters is large, even rather unwieldy: Putin, Russia, Israel, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Europe, China, Peru,Occupy Wall Street, and Newt Gingrich. Mr. Gelb manages to say nothing very revelatory in this essay. Now I bring this up as relevant to Mr. Gelb’s latest in Newsweek,dated December 19, 2011 entitled Joe Biden On Iraq, Iran, China and the Taliban an interview with the Vice President. To call this interview brief, stilted and baldly edited is generous, but it manages to be a bookend to last week’s World Crisis essay as an example of journalism as practiced at Newsweek and The Daily Beast under Tina Brown. Newsweek, that old competitor of Time, both relics of another age in American Journalism and the putative vision of Henry R. Luce, has reached the end of the age of print and must transition to the internet,however falteringly. Now, is the question of the lack of seriousness of Mr. Gelb as journalist and seer, and purveyor of an ethically vacuous opinionating, wedded to the question of the success or failure of the Weinstein/Diller/Brown triad, and their bid to redeem their heavy investment in a journalism of an age passing away before our eyes? Or is Mr. Gelb just another neo-imperialist hack and apologist with emeritus status? These questions remain tantalizingly open.

Political Cynic


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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