Babbling Brooks

31 Jul ’06

Editor and Publisher editor Greg Mitchell writes a stinging criticism of David Brook’s piece in the Sunday NYT (“Cease-Fire to Nowhere”) against a ceasefire in the Israeli attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon. It’s a well-written critique, but obviously written in the heat of the moment:

But all this appears lost on our Mr. Brooks, who babbles: “Lebanon is a chance to show that the death cult is not invincible…..To its enormous credit, the Bush administration has kept its focus on that core reality, and it has developed a strategy to reverse the momentum.”

Either of Brooks or Mitchell could be correct – no one knows or can know, including them, and certainly not me. That’s why they call it “opinion”. And the topic is the Middle East, after all, which, at least in politics and international relations, has been more or less utterly lacking in rationality for over half a century. But I was struck by Mitchell’s gratuitous use of a mocking tone to make his argument – a tone that serves no purpose, other than to discredit his argument, to my mind. Which is a shame, because I read E&P every day (right after watching zefrank :) ) precisely because it features intelligent, sensible and mature opinion that is in too short supply in the ‘sphere. As I read the piece, I was struck by the disservice that the immediacy of blogging (E&P is a very ‘bloggy’ site) can do to reasoned, temperate debate, particularly at a time when it seems to be in short supply. There’s just no question now that with the unravelling of U.S. policy in the Middle East, and the mounting death toll in Iraq, debate in the U.S. has become particularly shrill and divisive. (Does anyone ever truly hear what the other side of a debate is saying, any longer?) Has the blogification of opinion hastened the demise of civilized debate? Does it aggravate polarization? I wonder …

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