Drudge has a link up to an editorial written by Tim Burton extra Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, telling American voters to “man up,” and comparing Tuesday’s election to teenagers throwing a temper tantrum. Despite his use of words that even I find pretentious (and that’s saying something), Carter’s column is a masterpiece of disheveled reasoning. It’s remarkable, actually, that such a piece of pure fluff is still unpleasant to read, like one of those ultra-cheap chocolates that have such a weird aftertaste that you immediately regret having eaten it. How can one prominent Manhattanite magazine editor aim so low and still not even come close? Read on.
Carter kicks off by saying that Tuesday’s cold-blooded garroting of the progressive dream at the hands of the Tea Party happened because there’s a lot of anger in the American electorate–although to maintain his signature pose as an intellectual above partisanship, he notes that this anger exists across the political spectrum. (Nice try.) However, Carter concludes, because this is America, dissatisfaction with Obama’s performance is primarily due to racism. (Brilliant!!!) Carter then frets about conservatives going on (speculative) killing rampages, somehow triggered by their relatively higher rates of gun ownership–and, of course, all of that angry, angry anger.
Just to keep the non-sequitirs flowing, he then launches into his teenager analogy. He calls Christine O’Donnell “deranged” for having “no demonstrable talent for lawmaking,” as though that entire idea makes any sense whatsoever. (It must be asked: Are Vanity Fair’s owners deranged for hiring a magazine editor with no demonstrable talent for editing?) He wanders back to the angry theme for a few sentences, before detouring abruptly into an exceptionally lazy attempt to attach a crappy name to a popular movement (the Tea Party) that already has an excellent one. ”What headline writers a generation ago called the Silent Majority has become the Angry Majority,” Carter flaccidly offers up to his peers for immediate rejection. (Note the use of caps–that’s how you know this was a half-assed attempt to get a trend going.) I don’t know who coined the phrase angry white male, but they should sue for plagiarism–although Carter’s sheer blandness might prove an insurmountable defense.
Next come a few more deluded assertions of non-partisanship, followed by an enumeration of random, semi-recent news stories about conflicts involving two parties (as conflicts so often do)–British nationalists vs. Muslim immigrants, Sarkozy vs. the Gypsies, Sweden vs. the Jews, Holland vs. its own parliament. What do all these stories have in common, such that Carter would collect them all here? You know…anger ‘n’ stuff.
Seemingly apropos of nothing, Carter then begins talking about World War II, of all things, and especially how horrible it was, because people were dying–or maybe about how great it was, because it was full of heroism and meaning. It’s impossible to tell, really, and so the point of the entire exercise is unknown to the reader until this sentence, right before the very end:
Do yourself and the publishing industry a favor and buy the book after you read our excerpt, “Adrift but Unbroken.”
Ohhhh, now I get it. Everything up to this point is just the pretext for Carter to make this lame-ass promotional pitch for a book excerpt. And how blindingly awesome is that plea for readers to do his industry a favor? Carter should just tattoo “I GOT NOTHIN’” across his abdomen, 2Pac-style, and call it a day. In the meantime: hey, Vanity Fair–I’m available! And if you hire me, and I can’t think of a single remotely original idea to put on the inside cover to pitch this issue’s book excerpt, I promise I won’t beat the reader over the head with that fact by my artless prose construction. Is Vanity Fair a tax shelter or something? It’s like a publishing version of Mel Brooks’ The Producers: “…And then, to make sure we go out of business even quicker, we’ll hire an editor who can’t even write!”
Seriously, is this the kind of incisive cultural analysis a Vanity Fair subscription gets you? Isn’t Vanity Fair one of those magazines that liberals read to feel sophisticated? Maybe that partly explains the quality control issue, but if magazine publishers are already on the skids towards bankruptcy, hiring a guy like this is like getting naked and slathering yourself down with transmission grease. And as far as Carter telling American voters to “man up,” all I can say is: Graydon, I knew Sharron Angle when she was calling Harry Reid a pussy for ignoring Social Security–and you, sir, are no Sharron Angle.
As for me, I don’t know which makes me more grateful: that my politics don’t require me to pretend I enjoy reading garbage like Vanity Fair, or that this is the liberal intellegentsia’s A-Game three days after being beaten at the polls like Soveit slave laborers digging the White Sea Canal. Magazine publishing was a major part of the old liberal order. Look at it crumbling to nothing, right before our eyes. There may be hope for this country, yet.