Matt Taibbi Actually Makes Tony Snow Look Intelligent-- and That's No Easy Task
As many of you know, I generally find Bill Maher pretty entertaining and often quite intelligent-- I realize that he's frequently wrong when he talks about issues like breast feeding in public, but he's also been right about getting out of Iraq, about the Bush administration's arrogance, about the patriotic stupidity of Americans post-9/11, about the environment, and other issues. So it's with profound disappointment that I noted that Maher has hired Rolling Stone reporter/ egoist Matt Taibbi to offer political commentary and election coverage for his show Real Time this season, presumably because all of the people who actually know how to write are on strike at the moment.
Alternet's got footage of his debut, pretty heavily-edited, but I think it's still pretty obvious that Taibbi's not so much a progressive thinker as he's a self-infatuated frat boy type who's convinced people that he's "edgy" because he uses the word fuck a lot. His "insights" seem to me so patently obvious, that I can't understand why anyone thinks he has useful things to say. In fact, I don't believe anyone actually does think he has anything useful to say-- his appeal is summed up in Maher's introduction as "great entertainment... because [he's] so mean." I agree that Taibbi's mean, but he's not intelligent, insightful, or generally knowledgable about political issues. But yes... he makes retard jokes and fat jokes. He's as dumb as Rush Limbaugh, but without the manners. Fine.
Taibbi winds up arguing with Tony Snow-- no surprise there. Tony Snow's an empty-headed right-winger. Should be an interesting battle of halfwits. But instead-- and I can't believe I'm typing this-- Tony Snow actually kinda seemed to win the argument. I feel like I'd have to watch the whole discussion again-- which I'm not going to do because I'd frankly rather pour Tabasco sauce in my eyes-- but I'm pretty sure Tony Snow actually made more valid points in their exchange, mostly because Taibbi seemed preoccupied with smirking a lot and speaking in soundbytes like (regarding the Bush administration) "I wouldn't trust these guys to tell me the fucking time" (a sentiment I can get behind, but whose expression seems like a waste of precious time in any serious televised discussion). And when Tony Snow tried to argue with Taibbi about whether "the surge" is working (which basically amounts to how you define "working," but Tony Snow's too dishonest and Matt Taibbi's too dumb for that little fact to have come up), Taibbi tried-- desperately, I thought-- to change the subject to non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
Don't get me wrong-- I think as progressives we need to keep bringing up the lies that led us into this disasterous occupation. Nevertheless, Taibbi made a claim-- the surge isn't working-- that he needed to prove, that he should have been able to prove. Fuck, anyone who watched the debates a couple weeks ago should have known how to talk about the surge-- Clinton and Obama spoke about its failure quite eloquently. But Taibbi apparently couldn't do that. It's not that Tony Snow's a master rhetorician or something-- he just talked about sacrifice and support the troops and blah blah blah. But Matt Taibbi couldn't even mount a counterargument to that. All he could do was shake his head, roll his eyes, and change the subject.
I've said this before, but I'll say it again: Stupid liberals bother me more than stupid conservatives. The rightwing has been in bed with the forces of anti-intellectualism for a long time; I'm used to it. But dumbasses like Matt Taibbi-- people who supposedly have a progressive agenda, just like I do-- just make the left look bad, as far as I'm concerned. We're letting our Rolling Stone subscription lapse for the first time in years when it runs out this year, largely because of Taibbi's insipid prose-- I'm sick of reading vapid hyperbole in the magazine that used to publish insightful commentary. Now, I'm afraid I'll probably have to stop watching Bill Maher too, for the same reason.