Tuesday, July 19, 2005

100 People Who Are Screwing Up America

Kind of. I finally caught Jon Stewart's interview with Bernard Goldberg from last week. Goldberg's new book is about - well, what else? - who he thinks are the 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. Stewart didn't agree with Goldberg and argued that "the people in your book are powerless - why not write a book about people in Washington who actually make policy?" and so on. That, and according to Stewart there are only three conservatives in the book, one of whom shot up an abortion clinic. Hm....a little one sided, one might argue.

From the publisher:
A slow poison is running through America’s veins, says Bernie Goldberg. It’s a poison that is turning America into a far nastier place than it ought to be, a more selfish and cynical place, a less decent and civil place. It’s easy to believe that it’s nobody’s fault; that this is just the way society has evolved. But that’s not true. There are specific individuals who, in various ways, are screwing things up in this county - people who are changing America in ways that erode its very ethical and moral underpinnings.

Yet this isn't new. Stewart made the point that as a society, we've been having this argument "since Aristotle." And if you look at the United States specifically, it seems this argument appears every decade in the past fifty years. In the 50s, it was Elvis's hips. In the 60s, it was the Beatles, then the Counter-Culture and drugged-out hippies. In the 70s, it was gender-bending David Bowie, and later, punk. In the 80s, it was 2 Live Crew and Boy George. In the 90s, Robert Bork wrote about the Clinton Administration and friends 'Slouching towards Gomorrah.' In the 00s, it's been Laura Ingraham's 'Shut Up and Sing,' Mona Charen's 'Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help (and the Rest of Us)' and 'Useful Idiots,' and anything by Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Michael Savage.

Some bloggers compare Goldberg's book to a straw man. I think of it as beating a dead horse, a 200-page version of Mad Libs where you can change the decade but keep the same old template:
[insert name of liberal/communist/hippie/musician] is the latest threat to our moral and decent society. It hasn't been since the days of [insert other liberal/communist/hippie/musician from previous decade] that we have tolerated such filth. The good and honest words of [insert name of patriot/American/country singer] are rarely embraced by the [insert derogatory adjective] media. Ad nauseum. Presto! You've written a book. Ask your friends at Conservative Book Club or American Compass to plug it and you've got some handy bulk sales.

[poster's note - I have Goldberg's earlier books 'Bias' and 'Arrogance' and plan on buying this one, too - as soon as it hits the bargain bin]


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