The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Today's weather: National Review blanketed by dense smug

Pitfalls of Conservatism #302: Smarm Coming from an acknowledged master of the topic at hand, strategic deployment of dismissive arrogance can engender a grudging respect in those present, or prevent unnecessary debate with the genuinely less-informed. A considerably less productive use of smarm is to highlight one's own record of ignorance and/or stupidity in a haughty attempt to denigrate another.

Over at The Corner, Mark Steyn, in the midst of making some easy jokes about the Larry Craig news, writes:

In 2002, after George Michael released his anti-Bush/anti-Blair video, I wrote for the Telegraph in London a satirical column on his political views set in the context of his men's room arrest. George didn't care for it and, asked about this cruel mockery on some BBC show or other, responded petulantly: "What's he saying? That just because you've been arrested in a public toilet nobody should take your views on foreign policy seriously?"

Er, well, let's just say that it doesn't help.

You know what helps even less than a men's room arrest when it comes to having your foreign policy views taken seriously? When your foreign policy views are as spectacularly wrong as Steyn's. As Geoffrey Wheatcroft helpfully pointed out in the Guardian last year:

Apart from predicting that George Bush would win the 2000 presidential election in a landslide, Steyn said at regular intervals that Osama bin Laden "will remain dead". Weeks after the invasion of Iraq he assured his readers that there would be "no widespread resentment at or resistance of the western military presence"; in December 2003 he wrote that "another six weeks of insurgency sounds about right, after which it will peter out"; and the following March he insisted that: "I don't think it's possible for anyone who looks at Iraq honestly to see it as anything other than a success story."