Fri, Apr 29, 2005 at 8:34:57 am
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. exposes one of the VRWC’s most insidious dirty tricks: An arsenal of cruelest quotes. (Hat tip: Geepers.)
Allow me to point out that “the right” not only indulges in jarring invective but also has adopted very disturbing polemical techniques.
For several years, its writers have engaged in discrediting their opponents by quoting them. Yes, they simply hurl back into a person’s face things the person has said, without any regard as to how this cruel quoting coarsens our society.
Actually, I quite inadvertently found myself accused of this cheap trick in the middle 1990s. A year after I was scorned for publishing stories revealing Bill Clinton has an eye for the ladies (and other parts of his anatomy for the ladies as well), it became apparent I was right. Other writers had just published the same findings. The Wall Street Journal’s David Brooks asked me if I would like to “gloat” about this subsequent vindication.
Alas, I committed an egregious journalistic excess. I quoted the writers who a year before had insisted on Mr. Clinton’s near virginal condition and on the “dishonesty” of those of us arguing otherwise. “Dishonesty” was the word Michael Kinsley leveled at us. Joe Klein, now of Time, was equally critical. And after my Journal piece appeared he told me to my face I had dealt him “a low blow.” My innocent response was something to the effect, “But Joe, all I did was quote you.”
Today I realize how treacherous it is for writers to remind others of their prior timorousness or imbecility. Mr. Kinsley explained how unfair it is sometime ago when he noted liberals were having their foolish statements thrown back at them because of the advent of so many Internet search machines making it easy to retrieve a public person’s errors.