Liberals Just Too Darn Nice to Play Politics
Glenn Greenwald chides The Politico for continually featuring a “vapid, petty, and inane” stories like John Edwards’ expensive haircut and Mitt Romney’s makeup consulting on its front page. He’s right, I think, as far as it goes. These stories are amusing and make sense from a business standpoint, but they’re hardly cutting edge journalism or worthy of front page treatment.
Greenwald then makes a less defensible point:
One of the reasons why vapid petty-personality “journalism” of this sort has so disadvantaged liberals and so advantaged right-wing fanatics is because the latter are not only willing, but droolingly eager, to exploit these sorts of themes, while liberals in general are highly reluctant, almost embarrassed, to do so.
Now, c’mon. It’s true that many right-of-center blogs, including this one, have had some fun at John Edwards’ expense. Then again, many of us have put his haircut spending in proper context and a large number of us rallied to condemn Ann Coulter for questioning Edwards’ manhood. The Romney makeup story probably won’t have legs. But that’s only because there’s no video.
Surely, it’s not because there’s some higher code of intellectual honesty on the left. I give you Michael Moore, ladies and gentlemen. How about the totally unfounded insinuations that Rush Limbaugh was having sex with underage prostitutes? Or the ridiculous claims that Mark Foley represented “the real face of the ruling Republican party”?
The fact of the matter is that partisans on both sides take a less critical look at stories that embarrass the opposition. Personal scandals that happen across the aisle show the hypocrisy and moral degeneracy of the other side whereas those amongst ones confederates are the personal faults of a single man and talking about them at all is the shameful politics of personal destruction.
Several of us, Greenwald included, make an honest effort to be fair minded about these mini-scandals and break from the herd on occasion. Sometimes, though, it’s just too tempting to fall for the really juicy or funny ones. Especially if the object of derision is someone you don’t like that much to begin with. That’s human nature, though, and not an especial tendency of either side.
UPDATE: Greenwald has updated his post in response. I answer in a follow-up: “Democrats and the Wimp Factor.”