This has been alluded to a couple of times here over the past two days, mostly by the always thoughtful and analytical Bob Cesca, but as usual I’ll be the one to dispense with all the pleasantries and just come right out and say it: Fuck Glenn Greenwald and David Sirota. Fuck them because their opinions don’t deserve to be taken the least bit seriously. Their supposedly bottomless reservoir of intellectual honesty is really puddle-deep and, in fact, they’re nothing more than what their fiercest critics have always accused them of being: sanctimonious jokes who pretend to be dedicated, indignant fighters of all manner of civil liberties injustices when in reality they’ve bequeathed to themselves wide latitude to choose which sins to prosecute and which to forgive or overlook completely. They don’t care about all affronts by authority to your civil rights. They only care about the select few they’ve chosen to plant their flag in and dig deep on and if their slavish devotion to those signature issues happens to force them into a position of defending a set of civil rights offenses they care less about but which are in the grand scheme no less awful, then so be it.
By now you’re probably aware of David Sirota’s full-throated support of Rand Paul’s supposedly principled stand against the confirmation of CIA chief nominee John Brennan. (I say supposedly principled because in reality what Paul did was little more than a giant helping of PR stagecraft, one aimed at both improving his Q-Score ahead of 2016 and grabbing onto an Obama “scandal” that might actually have legs for a change.) It came a few days ago in a Salon piece called “Liberals Should Proudly Cheer on Rand Paul,” in which Sirota jumped on board the “Stand with Rand” bandwagon, calling Paul’s filibuster of Brennan “heroic” and decrying progressives’ pointing out Paul’s history of near-unparalleled paleoconservatism and disregard for civil rights protections as an “insidious” example of unforgiving partisan politics. Sirota, of course, being an enlightened being who cares about the issues rather than the people espousing them and who’s immune to such philistine notions as partisanship — he’s his own man, dammit — is willing to set aside the fact that, when not giving lip service to the drone issue, Paul is regularly speaking out against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sponsoring “personhood” amendments that would end abortion across the board, and equating his very rich self to a “slave” in the face of Obamacare (what Lawrence O’Donnell called the statement most “unhinged from reality and decency” ever uttered in the Senate).
But, you know, Rand Paul doesn’t like drones — so who gives a damn about all that other unpleasant stuff. Why let it intrude on the comfort of your very specific outrage?
If Sirota was merely jumping on the bandwagon, though, Glenn Greenwald, as you might expect, was towing it behind his 18-wheeler Prius. I’m not going to run down the various ways Greenwald has spun himself into apoplectic circles over the tendency of anyone with a brain and an appreciation of recent history to openly mock Rand Paul’s Senate floor stunt and to attempt to add context and nuance to the drone debate; Cesca’s done a mighty fine job of that over the past couple of days. I have no idea how he does it, to be honest, since I consider any attempt to penetrate Greenwald’s force-field of pious intransigence an act akin to hitting yourself repeatedly in the head with a phone book, but I applaud Cesca’s apparently involuntary need to try to reason with the unreasonable. He may not exactly be the mental patient whisperer, but he damn sure tries and that’s to be commended, I suppose. Suffice it to say, Greenwald isn’t attacking Rand Paul for basically being a racist and misogynist whose entire shtick involves pandering to the paranoiacs of the prepper crowd; he’s attacking those who dare to attack Paul, and all because he happens to agree with Paul on one single issue. But in Greenwald’s world, it’s the most important issue in the universe. The only issue. The one he’s been relentlessly, obsessively fixated on for months and months at the exclusion of all other considerations.
And that’s the thing I can’t get my head around, the thing that should give you all the permission you need to, if you haven’t already, completely disregard everything that comes out of the mouths of these two narcissistic idiots.
It comes down to this: Why is it so easy for guys like Glenn Greenwald and David Sirota to give a pass to Rand Paul’s stance on every other issue besides his phony outrage over the Obama administration’s use of drones, while never giving Obama himself an ounce of credit for any of his myriad progressive stances, instead holding him up as some kind of tyrant because of the one issue they seem to think is above all others? The easy answer, of course, is that Greenwald and Sirota have made very nice careers for themselves out of being the exhausting, screeching opposition to power, whatever that power may happen to be and no president will ever be given the benefit of the doubt, no matter what he or she has done that they should logically support. So they’re careerists, fine. The problem is that they’re careerists who wrap themselves in the flag of ultimate, dispassionate intellectual honesty — and that’s a bunch of crap. They’ve picked their battle and will now fight it to the death, regardless of whatever new information comes to light, what nuance is offered, or what self-contradictions it should by all accounts force them to face up to. They’re Greenwald and Sirota and they hate drones. GRRRR!“Dial 1-800-555-DRONES, and leave the ‘ES’ off for Endless Sanctimony!” I’m violating my own policy of not giving a damn about these two and those like them by writing about them. That’s how well their anti-Obama career track has paid off: people who genuinely don’t think they’re worth mentioning are mentioning them anyway.
Thankfully, Sirota, who in keeping with personal tradition I have to mention wrote an entire book blaming our current political climate on Ghostbusters and Die Hard, just got his ass handed to him by the person whose original piece his painfully dumb Salon column was pegged off of: Adele Stan. She destroys him in a response piece that not only highlights his hypocrisy and mindless allegiance to one pet issue, it also manages to get a retraction out of Salon. Greenwald, meanwhile, is facing the usual backlash for his special brand of condescending nihilism, but it goes without saying that any criticism fired at him will merely bounce off the adamantium hull of his monumental ego. Still, it’s important, if not exactly fun, to be reminded why the opinions of guys like Sirota and Greenwald just don’t matter.
I guess that’s one thing we can all be thankful for: they never let us forget how thoroughly ridiculous they are.
Glenn Greenwald Honorary, Not Entirely Necessary Update, 3-13-13: Needless to say, Sirota is less-than-pleased with my characterization of him. In fact, this little diatribe of mine started an entertaining “discussion” on Twitter last night between him and MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor. Feel free to read about it here.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.