Friday, June 06, 2008

Swampland Hijinks: Hail to the Queen

"I'm willing to lose a friend over something I write but I'd like to know it was worth it."

Saving the best for last. Searching here for "Ana" (and "Anna" -- I'll go back and fix that at some point I swear) reveals plenty of choice quotes, so rather than rehash them I'll take a slightly different tack.

Both Ana Marie Cox and Michael Scherer possess two different critical writing styles -- normal and McCain. Normal is short, to the point and pithy; McCain is labored, labyrinthine and full of disclaimers, written in a way that turns criticism into compliments. According to Scherer the heat McCain has taken for surrounding himself with lobbyists while decrying their influence is The Downside of Doing the Right Thing -- as opposed to the downside of blatant hypocrisy. And according to Cox, the problem with McCain's Tortured Position is that sometimes McCain is slightly less awesome than his normal full-on awesomeness.

McCain's "tortured position" is that he claims opposition to torture while continuously enabling it. In Cox's typical style that would be a two sentence post, but when the subject is McCain she goes into sprawling, "fair and balanced" mode, writing six paragraphs to explain, or rather confuse, the issue. The final and longest paragraph is a gem (emph. added):

To be sure, McCain's self-scrutiny is withering. (And the estimation of others can be wrong.) If McCain is not always his own worst critic, he is still a vicious and constant one. The level of achievement, honesty and duty to his country that he sets for himself is incredibly high -- higher than most people's, perhaps even "towering." And I am sympathetic to his aides' point that he shouldn't be punished every time his actions meet "normal" standards but fail his own. (This is the obverse of Clinton's claim that since she didn't promise to, for instance, conduct a clean campaign, you can't blame her if she plays dirty.) The problem lies not in the standards themselves, but in his certainty about them, a conviction that may sometimes blind him to even the question of whether he has, even by accident or mistake, blurred them in order to meet them.

This is Cox in microcosm -- six paragraphs to explain away McCain's hypocrisy on torture while heaping superlatives on him. And one parenthetical aside to pick at Clinton while mischaracterizing her position.

Ana Marie Cox likes McCain, something she fully admits to. (In comments in this post.) She also admitted to being biased but bizarrely claimed her "transparency" counterbalances that -- in a post fessing up to the fact that she vacationed at McCain's ranch that she wrote only after commenters caught wind of it through other channels and called her out. Why are even her criticisms of McCain so glowing? She told us:

I think of socializing as part of the larger project: I get to know people and then can then write about them with more depth, and it means that when I do write something critical about them, I take EXTRA care to get it right... I'm willing to lose a friend over something I write but I'd like to know it was worth it.

When it comes to criticizing McCain she takes EXTRA care -- EXTRA parsing, EXTRA benefit of the doubt and EXTRA praise.

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