I AM, officially, fascinated by "Ross" "Douthat's" "new" "blog" in the "Newspaper" "of Record", at least until the new Kitchenaid™ Pro 5 Plus stand mixer (imperial gray), with ice cream and sausage-making accessories (guaranteed delivery between November 25-27!) arrives. For a socialist I sure am made giddy by the prospect of my new toys. On the other hand, this is a fine, American-made product with a motor an' gears an' steel an' stuff, and it doesn't kill people, at least not intentionally. So I think it's at least a wash.
Douthat is not nearly so much fun as a mixer, not of cookies, young Singles, nor cement, nor does he do anything remotely as useful. His lethality is open to interpretation, I suppose, and I do feel safe in assuming he consumes more electricity.
He is, though, suddenly rated to turn out tens of dozens, if uncomestible, words per day, or roughly his weekly output as of two weeks previous. I find this curious. Was he holding out for more money? Is there something about blogging, noun or verb, that revs the man up? Or like he can't perform for adults, or with the bathroom door open? Listen, it's not like there's a question of quality here; his "blogging" is, well, blogging: link Megan, link Matt, link Ramesh; or link some other piece he's read on some topic of wingnut importance, an act which is supposed to show he's done his homework, or peered deeply into the pressing issue of Trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York City, or Why Liberals Should Actually Be on the Other Side of an Issue, or Something Else That's Wrong With Pro-Choice Ratiocination, or something, generally followed by a few dozen words of his own which demonstrate that he's done no thinking at all, or none beyond the well-worn wagon ruts of Thoughtful Conservative Careerist Lane. Is this supposed to be fooling someone? Am those someones spose t'be the readers of the New York Times? It reads like a goddam junior-varsity debate practice, complete with fucking Clique.
I wound up there yesterday in order to fact-check what I'd said about him, and I find Khalid Sheik Mohammed ("KSM", of course), Part Umpteen, and Why Liberals Really Ought To Reconsider What Ross Douthat ("DS") Says They Think About The Trial, which turns out to be that according to Someone Else ("SE"), what Holder ("AGEH") is doing is just what Bush ("GWB") did, so naturally Liberals should oppose it. So in other words ("OW"), right off the top, right from the grand outline, the argument runs like this: if someone Ross can find to link to says trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed in US courts is in line with whatever Bush administration action he found to compare it to, then the people who are not working themselves into a foaming fit at the very thought of a Terraist being brought onto actual US soil should switch their position. Or, more accurately, the opposition Douthat assigns to them for purposes of his "argument".
Now, just for starters, Harvard should rescind his diploma for that, and in a better world, the Times would have been so embarrassed by the thing it would have gone back to being a news source. But we're not finished! We're not even finished starting! Because the story the Linkmaster leeched onto, this Jim Comey and Jack Goldsmith piece from last Friday's WaPo, is actually making the reverse argument: critics of the "Holder-Obama" approach ignore the fact that the Bush administration did precisely the same thing. So now--this goddam vertigo is gonna kill me someday--if someone, somewhere, replies to critics (who really exist) that their objections are hypocritical, at least, in that they (in their actual existence) made no complaint when their side took comparable action, the theoretical opponents of the actual complainants are obliged to reconsider their own (fiat) positions.
Wait! Don't call yet--if you pay separate Shipping & Handling we'll double it! Douthat proceeds to try to finesse Comey and Goldsmith's examples ("all save Lindh were arrested by domestic law enforcement rather than the military or the C.I.A., and only Lindh and Padilla were ever actually held as 'enemy combatants' "),
[I'm sorry. There are only two contrary examples! Jesus wept.]
before giving up one sentence later, ["Padilla probably should have been tried as a civilian, since he was a U.S. citizen apprehended by the F.B.I. on American soil — but he only ended up in civilian court because the White House wanted to avoid a Supreme Court ruling on the legitimacy of classifying him as an enemy combatant (and holding him without trial for several years)."] So now Imaginary Liberals should reconsider a position they might possibly have, assuming their position is determined in toto by opposition to whatever the wingnuts are screaming about on FOX at this moment, because if you equivocate about somebody's claims of comparable Bush administration actions without actually paying attention to what 1) they said, or 2) you're saying, you can prove that Bush actually had other motives for what he did. Meaning, if we can just sit long enough for the swirling to abate so we can go back to the start again, that Liberals should reconsider their support for "Obama-Holder", because Bush did exactly the same thing, except that wasn't what he was doing. So Q.E.D., K.S.M! It's just shock. Try to work through it!
And this will be refined, if that's not too big a giggle, by the next 'graph:
Instead, they look like examples of a White House essentially making things up as it goes along, moving detainees back and forth across the criminal defendant/enemy combatant divide for reasons of expedience, rather than principle. And now the Obama administration is … doing exactly the same thing.
Look, I was gonna pass on that altogether, but I was afraid someone would figure I'd done a Bill Holden and call 911. Douthat has begun with a sort of playground Rubber/Glue comparison, and in the space of two paragraphs--paragraphs dashed off, compared to his usual careful constructions--he's made the thing about ten times stupider. Liberals yadda yadda reconsider splork splash because one can manufacture a categorical abstraction which encompasses both Bush and Obama administration actions. And, forgive me, this is not Ross Douthat drunk blogging, squeezed by deadline, or hitting Send prematurely; this is Ross Douthat's fucking MO. He writes for the Times! He went to Harvard! He graduated from high school! and presumably on time! And now he's paid, presumably on time! to argue that the Obama administration's decision--after six years of Bush administration actions which could only be portrayed as legal shenanigans if the term included an almost cosmic sense of shame, disgust, and betrayal of principle--to try the 9/11 mastermind in a court of law, rather than dither around until he became someone else's problem, should be equally repellant to the Left, on the grounds that both men play golf.