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.
Andy Divine is America’s favorite ‘Drama Queen’ and nothing proves his status than his recent comments on the 2017 Virginia Election. I’ve selected just the opening paragraphs of his column of Friday November 10, 2017 from the pages of New York Magazine. Be prepared for Andy at his most hyperbolic, when it come to manufactured melodrama he can’t resist its temptations.
I was wrong! Thank God Almighty, I was wrong!
You probably felt the same thing I did last Tuesday night: a euphoric whiplash as deepening dread turned suddenly into a wave of intense relief in the off-year results from Virginia. I’m still riding it. I hope you are too. Almost every surprise since last November has been a soul-crushing one. I feared yet another one. But Tuesday night’s string of decisive victories by Democrats dispelled the gloom and was the first time since Trump’s election that hope appeared a little more realistic than despair. So let’s take a moment to soak it in.
But I do owe you an account of why and how I misjudged this one, and failed to see the glimmer of dawn on the horizon. I didn’t predict anything. But I feared Northam might fall short — and what that would portend. I’ll stick by much of my analysis. I don’t think anyone suddenly believes that Ralph Northam, now governor-elect of Virginia, ran a great campaign. He didn’t. Nor is anyone reevaluating him as a charismatic, inspirational figure. He is who he is — a regular, normal candidate, with a mushy message. The good news is that he won convincingly anyway.
There is so much more of Andy on this crucial election, a winning combination of self-criticism, about what he missed, and hosannas for the victory, while not being impressed by candidate Northam: ‘a regular, normal candidate, with a mushy message.’
Andy then comments on the Pope’s admonitions to the faithful on ‘cell phones’ , and his own comments on those who wished to capture sunsets on their phones. The human desire to capture important, indeed, beautiful moments in their lives escapes the attention of both the Pope and Andy: each moralizing scolds!
Not to forget Andy, making concrete in the minds of his readership, his status as a New Cold Warrior, commenting on: Professor Joseph Mifsud, the Kremlin-affiliated academic who met with Papadopoulos in London, cannot now be found.
Gore Vidal once opined that Time Magazine was the chronicler of the fictional lives of real people, in the age of Luce. Andy proves beyond doubt that he too specializes in this genre of ersatz journalism!