Matt Taibbi says that Sarah Palin’s speeches are “…usually a tired succession of half-coherent one-liners dumped on ravenous audiences like chum to sharks.” He says that he can’t imagine a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents than “a hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries …” and goes on to say that Tea Partyers are “…full of shit. All of them.” “At the voter level”, he says, “the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending – only [his words] the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry’s medals and Barack Obama’s Sixties associations.”
Oh, is that so? And how many of the hundreds or thousands of members of each of the hundreds of Tea Party groups did he interview in order to accurately draw these sweeping conclusions? And just who the hell is this little puke with the Arab-sounding name who dares, from the pinnacle of intellectual glory that is Rolling Stone magazine, to describe Tea Partyers as “…earth-shatteringly stupid [and] willing to believe the fantasy that white people are some sort of oppressed minority”
Well, for one thing, he’s not all that intellectual – or at least not all that well-educated: Despite his statement that he “…went to Bard College [and] finished school in Leningrad” there’s no evidence that he ever got a degree, and his stay in ”Leningrad” (at St. Petersburg Polytechnic) was for only one year, after which he started freelancing as a journalist in St. Petersburg and Uzbekistan, but then, because he “…never really wanted to be a journalist…” he quit and became a professional basketball player in Mongolia.
Basketball player? Mongolia? I dunno, but that sure doesn’t sound like one of the intellectual elite to me. He must be, one, though: Otherwise, how could he ever have had either the nerve or the credentials to call Michelle Malkin “A mean little dunce who’s wedged herself into a nicely paying career as a GOP spokesclown” or be so arrogant, so mean-spirited, and so just plain potty-mouthed vicious as to go on that “When I read her stuff, I imagine her narrating her text, book-on-tape style, with a big, hairy set of balls in her mouth. It vastly improves her prose.” How, also, if he cannot, himself, boast great intellectual stature, could he have dared, in that same spirit, to have graced the ending of his Tea Party diatribe in Rolling Stone (Issue 1115 October 14, 2010) with a description of Tea Partyers as “…an assortment of nativist freaks, village idiots and Internet Hitlers” plucked out of thin air and trained by the Republican Party “…into a giant ball of incoherent resentment just in time for the 2010 mid-terms.”
The most interesting things about all this are that Taibbi claims not to be a (his word) “lefty”, and I believe him.
In an interview with reason.com (November 9, 2007) he’s quoted by interviewer Marty Beckerman as saying: “I’m never comfortable when people call me a lefty. If anyone were to ever ask, I’d say I’m probably more of a libertarian than anything else. I believe in capitalism, small government, etc.” He picks up from there by saying: ”My political views shouldn’t be important. I’m more comfortable describing other people than talking about what I really think.”
Here’s an example of Matt Taibbi being “comfortable. It’s from the Smirking Chimp (September 27, 2008): “Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV -and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation.
So now we can finally answer the question “Who the hell is Matt Taibbi?” Just as he said, his political views aren’t important. Comments in Mother Jones (November 30, 2007), tell it nicely: He’s “vicious… an equal opportunity hater…” who “…rips milquetoast Democrats as often as he hits right-wing Republicans.”
The politics don’t matter. He’s not a political commentator; the lack of research and the utter unconcern for truth apparent in virtually everything he writes make that abundantly clear. As Mother Jones said, “If you like name-calling hyperbole, Matt Taibbi has always been your guy.” But that makes him an entertainer, and not a serious source of political information.
In fact, he’s just the last in a long line of Rolling Stone/Hunter S. Thompson “gonzo” jerks who seek, by flinging words around in wretched and purposeful excess to, like filth thrown at a wall, make their mark even though they have nothing of value to offer. As an entertainer, he’s the equivalent of that whole class of stand-up comedians who, having nothing funny to say, go “blue” and get their laughs just by a show of innuendo, foul language, and hatred.
I regret – at least for purposes of this article – that I’m not nearly as good at senseless vituperation as Matt Taibbi. I, for example, could never come up with a description of him to match or even compete with the fanciful exuberance of his own description of Sarah Palin as “…a new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of puppeteers like Karl Rove.” All I can do is to say that he’s an offensive potty-mouthed pipsqueak-wannabe who has no thoughts, and apparently no style of his own.
As to the second question; “Who the hell cares?” I hope no one. There’s nothing there to care about.
Roger E. Skoff