@Mondoweiss, Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn) & @BretStephensNYT: a Political/Moral Phantasmagoria. American Writer ponders

I read this Mondoweiss essay yesterday (January 10,2018)  and looked at the New York Times site today: for ex-Jerusalem Post editor @BretStephensNYT possible comments on Ms. Goldberg’s essay:  an imperious public humiliation of the Zionist Apostate, in the charmed circle of New York Times Pundits? But Stephens is in the thrall of the Wolff book, “Fire and Fury”. Or call it by its real name of crude political melodrama, and its many ‘revelations’ , that appeals to his prejudices about the Great Unreasoning Trump: the irony of a Staussian accusing another of irrationalism, of any stripe, is lost on the supercilious Mr. Stephens. Or will the public shaming of Ms. Goldberg be assigned to Our Man from Opus Dei Ross Douthat?

But later in his essay Stephens recognizes the the character of the Wolff book, even though he celebrates its many ‘insights’:

The book also comes from a writer already accused of playing it fast and loose with the facts. Wolff may fancy that he stands alongside Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein by exposing the hidden intrigues of power. In truth, his book is like a movie “based on real events,” an exercise in the art of pleasingly plausible storytelling.

This last sentence fragment could be a generous, not to say saccharine, assessment of Mr. Stephens’ opinionating,  with some editing in the name of a necessary candor: an exercise in the art of pleasingly plausible storytelling.

But Mr. Stephens doesn’t know when to stop: But if the anti-Trump movement has a crippling defect, it’s smugness, and Wolff’s book reflects and richly feeds it. Smugness, more Stephens self-description? Or call it self-parody?

But on to the last self-congratulatory paragraph of Mr. Stephens essay:

Misunderestimation has already been the political stock in trade of one two-term Republican president. I believe that Trump is ignorant, incurious, vain, gauche, bigoted, intemperate, bullying, suggestible, reckless and morally unfit for his office. But he’s not deficient in cunning, and that cunning deserves healthy respect from his political opponents. That Michael Wolff fails to appreciate it only shows who’s the biggest dope in “Fire and Fury.”

Will this example of the Stephens ability to judge the ‘character’ of Trump be indicative of his possible moral/political evaluation of Ms. Goldberg’s Deviationism?

American Writer





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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