As something of a follow-up to yesterday's mega-successful Michele Bachmann post, I want to highlight Allison Kilkenny clapping back at full-fledged member of the Village of the Damned and revisionist historian Amity Shlaes' pearl-clutching Bloomberg column, in which the Amityville Horror plays the "Why oh why are lefty bloggers so mean?" card. What are they so mean about? Well apparently they called the version of history presented by the Bachmann Turner Overdrive to be "from another planet." Horrible, I know, yet even worse Ms. Kilkenny called Bobby Jindal, "clinically stupid," just because he is. Anyhow Shlaes cites the always reasonable Fred Hiatt, and complains that bloggers only insult and criticize, but would never actually "engage" their targets, Kilkenny then proceeds to virtually guarantee that the "gentlemanly" Shlaes will never engage her critics, or at least this one:
I am sort of disappointed that Shlaes linked to one of my cross-posted blogs because she would no doubt also enjoy my original Conservative-bashing blogs where I write that Peggy Noonan is a terrible columnist, who “practically shouts that she wants a penis inside of her” at the slightest hint of an impending conflict, Davis Brooks is “elite and clueless”, and that Douglas Feith (among other former Bush officials) are war criminals. Shlaes failed to find these other, better examples of “character assassination” either because the Jindal post really pissed her off, and she was seized by the desire to use it as example of nutty bloggers gone wild, or she was too lazy to properly search my blog for an original work. The blog post is clearly marked “Talking Points Memo” with a link to the original work at the top of the page, so I have to assume the latter is true...
Shlaes alludes to the opinion that bloggers are cowardly deviants, who are too timid to debate in real life by channeling Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor at the Washington Post. Referring to the attacks made by bloggers against columnist George Will, Hiatt stated,“I would think folks would be eager to engage in the debate, given how sure they are of their case, rather than trying to shut him down.” Meaning, bloggers are all talk on the Internet, but would cower at a chance to debate the individuals they criticize.
That’s quite a bold statement, and yet Shlaes did not contact myself, Kleefeld, or Yglesias for a comment on the accusation. Of course, we are only lowly bloggers (insert eye roll here). We never leave the house. Our families haven’t seen us for years. Why should a “serious” “journalist” have to contact us if she includes our pieces in her diatribe about our immoral behavior?
My third problem with Shlaes’s article is she seems indignant that bloggers corrected Michelle Bachmann when she erroneously referred to the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff as “Hoot-Smalley.” Admittedly, this is a minor thing to harp on, considering Bachmann is the same woman who wanted McCarthy-like witch hunts for Anti-Americans in Congress. ”Another force at work is the relevance of history,” Shlaes writes. Well…yeah. Historical accuracy is important. Unless, of course, you’re a historical revisionist like Shlaes, who makes a living making up things as she goes along.
Shlaes’s most recent book, The Forgotten Man, has drawn a slew of controversy because of its revisionist treatment of the Great Depression. John Updike called the book “a revisionist history of the Depression,” and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman accused Shlaes in the New York Times of using “misleading statistics” to make her point. Further criticism came from adjunct professor and historian, Matthew Dallek, who called Shlaes a “revisionist” with a “blind view of the New Deal,” and historian Eric Rauchway, who claimed Shlaes ignores historical GDP easily available in the Historical Statistics of the United States. The International Herald Tribune review by David Leonhardt endorsed Rauchway’s criticism that “Shlaes exaggerates joblessness in the 1930s by counting many people who worked in temporary relief programs as unemployed.” Additionally, the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, called The Forgotten Man ”self-contradictory, misleading, and inaccurate, notwithstanding its enormous popularity among conservatives.”
When an author with those kinds of reviews lectures about the relevance of history, it should inspire only chuckles. Shlaes’s weird mental contortionist act extends from her intellectually dishonest book to her smears against bloggers. Her assumptions that all bloggers must remain silent post-election, can be filed under Diehard Democrat, and fear debating are dishonest and out of touch, much like her work in The Forgotten Man.
I really love it when the organs of conventional opinion like Fred Hiatt's Washington Post or Bloomberg complain about being "smeared" by foul-mouthed bloggers. Wait, aren't you the same people that have been pimping war and torture the last eight or nine years? I wonder why they're so touchy about being "bullied." They really do imagine themselves as the arbiters of morality for America, and it goes a long way towards explaining why starting totally depraved wars for purely aggressive reasons or drowning people in our custody is okay, but making fun of George Will is not.