Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Yep, Stuff Happens.

In a recent blog entry titled "Stuff Happens," Frere Dreher begins by criticizing the supposed nonchalance with which the Bush Administration reacts to failures in its foreign policy, before going on to criticize the administration's idealism.

Never mind that Rumsfeld's quote reflects neither idealism nor naivete, but realism in the face of the rather obvious fact that looting often follows in the aftermath of war, and never mind that the media's reaction to that particular comment was built on the ridiculous assumption that, even in war, stuff in fact doesn't happen.

Never mind all that: Dreher concludes the blog entry this way:
And now look at where our idealism has got us. Oh, and by the way? A new top-secret authoritative intelligence assessment by the US Government finds that the Iraq War -- for all the dead and maimed, and all the hundreds of billions poured down a rathole -- has made America less safe from terrorism. Stuff happens.

I don't think you'd know this from reading Rod's blog, but Bush authorized the declassification of that top-secret assessment. Apparently, the immediate context of the money quote to which Rod is referring reveals that the New York Times were either deceived by their sources or are guilty of themselves being deceitful.

There were apparently reasons to doubt the trustworthiness of the media's accounts of that assessment, even before its full release and certainly more so since then.

So -- not for the first time -- Rod has egg on his face from trusting a second-hand account from the mainstream media.

How will he handle this? Will he simply ignore the error that was made? Will he claim that he's "just" a writer?

Or will he tell us that stuff happens?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Corn dogs.

Sorry to hijack the blog for a moment, but I've been thinking...

I've never met the man, but Rod Dreher probably smells like corn dogs. Corn dogs that were organically produced by local farmers -- simple folk whose homes are old and funky and smell like a pot of organic corn dogs cooking down on the stove.

(Does his beret smell of the corn dog?)

For those who don't know, this weekend LSU visits my beloved Auburn University for a key top-ten matchup and a game that has decided the SEC West Division the last three years. With the big game approaching, I'm ribbing Rod about his unbearable aura of corndog out of a sense of good-natured fun.

(Be thankful I didn't mention Gonacoochie.)

Don't feel bad if you didn't know it was a big football weekend for LSU; Rod probably didn't realize either. Heck, LSU tailgaters imbibe so much that they hardly know what's going on by breakfast.

Thursday's breakfast.

War Damn Eagle, y'all.

(Corn dogs.)

Friday, September 08, 2006

9/11: The Day That Rod Was There

Hey everyone, let's not forget: the fifth anniversary of The Day That Rod Was There is coming up on 9/11. Of course, whether The Day That Rod Was There was also The Day That Rod Saw The Towers Fall Before His Own Eyes depends if you are reading Rod from March 2006 ("I stood on the far side of the bridge watching the tower collapse) and April 2006 ("having been a New Yorker on 9/11, and seen the south WTC tower collapse in front of my own eyes") or the Rod from 2002 ("Though I didn't see it with my own eyes, others did.") Good thing he had that handy reporter's notebook he kept writing in so he could record what he was seeing before his own eyes [cough] .... or maybe just hearing? .... But hey, details, details. What's important is that 9/11 is The Day That Rod Was There. Not that he would give you the chance to forget:

9/8/06, Beliefnet Crunchy Con blog: "I'm sitting here at my desk in downtown Dallas, almost five years and half a country away from 9/11, but I can still remember exactly how it sounded when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. I was standing on the Brooklyn Bridge, just about to run off and into Manhattan, and had just told a colleague that the towers wouldn't fall. Suddenly, the south tower fell. It fell with a faraway roar that sounded exactly like what it was: a Niagara of dust and glass."

8/06, Beliefnet: " All 9/11 did was show who they really were when put to the test.
It happened to me, in my own small way. I was a columnist for the New York Post that morning, and hustled from my waterfront apartment across the Brooklyn Bridge, notebook in hand, to cover the catastrophe. I made it as far as the Manhattan side of the bridge before I ran into a Post colleague. “Don’t go down there,” she said. “Those things are going to fall.”“Oh come on, they’re not going to fall,” I said, genuinely disbelieving her. “That’s the World Trade Center.”
Moments later, down came the south tower. I staggered backward, and held on to her to keep my knees from buckling. I scrawled these words on my reporter’s notebook, which I still have: “the building isn’t there it’s gone.”

5/1/06 Beliefnet: "I remember that morning, rushing from my apartment on the Brooklyn waterfront across the Brooklyn Bridge toward the fires in lower Manhattan. Every step of the way I was in denial about what was happening in front of me. Halfway across the bridge, a man with a portable radio shouted to the crowd, "They've hit the Pentagon!" And I thought, "You jerk, quit scaring us with false rumors." On the other side of the bridge, a colleague of mine from the New York Post told me not to go down there, that those buildings were going to fall. I told her don't be silly. Within a minute or so, down came the south tower.

4/17/06, Beliefnet: "I realize in bitter retrospect that, having been a New Yorker on 9/11, and seen the south WTC tower collapse in front of my own eyes, I wanted vengeance."

3/29/06 NRO Crunchy Con blog: I’ve told the story before, so I won’t go into it in detail again, but I will never forget as long as I live the experience of that morning. When I walked out my front door on the Brooklyn waterfront and saw the towers burning, I ran for the Brooklyn Bridge, to get over to the site to cover the story. Within the hour, I stood on the far side of the bridge watching the south tower collapse. Seconds before it came down, a NYPost colleague told me not to go down there, that those things were going to fall. I looked at her with total sincerity and conviction, and said, “Come on, that’s the World Trade Center, they’re not going to fall." Nothing that ever happened to me was as traumatic as what followed”

7/05 Dallas Morning News: Over and over that morning, even as I ran with my reporter's notebook across the Brooklyn Bridge toward the burning towers, I effectively denied what was happening, literally disbelieving my own eyes. When I made it to the Manhattan side of the bridge and was about to go down into the city, I ran into a journalist colleague.
"Don't go down there," she said. "Those things are going to fall."
"They're not going to fall," I told her with utter confidence. "C'mon, that's the World Trade Center."
Seconds later, there was a terrible roar, and down came the South Tower,..."

9/04, National Review Online, the Corner: "POSTCARD FROM THE PAST [Rod Dreher]
A friend forwarded to me today the e-mail I'd sent to some friends that morning three years ago. It's startling to me to read this now. Notice the date and time stamp. I'd just walked in out of the conflagration:
Subject: Unbelievable
Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 10:09 AM
I'm not going to tie up the phone lines long, but I wanted to tell you that we're okay. My dad phoned this morning to say, "The World Trade Center is on fire. Go look out your front door." You can see them clearly across the harbor from our front door. "Oh my God! Julie come see!" I said. I ran down to grab my reporter's bag, knowing I'd have to go over to the fire. At that point, we didn't know what caused the fire. Then, while downstairs, I heard a tremendous explosion and screams.
I ran out to the street. "A plane just hit the second tower!" a man screamed.
I knew the subways would be out, so I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to get to the scene....I made it to the last pillar of the Brooklyn Bridge before going into downtown. I ran into a colleague of mine. She said, "We better not go over there. Those towers are going to blow up.
One minute later, the south tower fell in on itself. I nearly fainted. It ... well, I can't describe it now. I'm too shaken. Everybody on the bridge screamed. Some collapsed in tears. A woman started to vomit. My knees went weak, and a huge plume of soot and smoke barrelled toward us. I decided to turn around and go home."

National Review 3/03: "And there was one of the towers, billowing smoke and paper, which was being carried by the wind right over our house in Brooklyn. While I was downstairs gathering my notepad so I could run across the bridge to cover the fire, I heard the explosion of the second plane hitting. It shook our building. I opened the door, saw the second tower burning, kissed Julie goodbye, and told her, "I'm going to get as close as I can. ...There was an exodus of workers crossing the bridge out of Manhattan. I stopped to talk to some of them. They were gasping and sobbing, talking about having seen people jumping to their deaths from the upper floors. I have never seen that kind of trauma in anyone. They were very nearly in shock. I am fortunate that I stopped to talk to them, because I had plenty of time to have made it to the south tower. As it was, I was standing on the bridge watching the fire, about to begin my descent into Manhattan, when the south tower collapsed. My knees nearly buckled. I was sure I had just seen tens of thousands of people die. I turned back toward home, because there was no getting into Manhattan now."

National Review 9/02: " Nor shall I forget the sound of my voice telling a New York Post colleague I was trying to coax to follow me off the Brooklyn Bridge and into lower Manhattan, "Oh, come on, they're not going to fall." I believed it. Thirty seconds later, the south tower fell. Though I didn't see it with my own eyes, others did..."

Crisis Magazine, 11/01: "I live on the Brooklyn waterfront, just across the harbor from lower Manhattan. On that horrible morning on September 11, my father phoned me from Louisiana to tell me to look out my front door, the World Trade Center was on fire. It was, and I ran down to the basement to grab my reporter’s pad. Then I heard the explosion from the second crash and scrambled upstairs and out my front door. A stunned and cursing plumber from the hospital next door screamed, "It was a passenger plane!" He must have that wrong, I thought. But he wasn’t wrong. None of us was conditioned to understand what was happening. Twenty minutes later, I was hustling across the Brooklyn Bridge toward the calamity—wending my way through the exodus out of the city—when a man with a radio screamed, "They’ve hit the Pentagon!" That can’t be true, I thought; it’s too cinematic. I am a professional movie critic, and I tend to think of movies as simile and metaphor. Don’t most of us? The movies are our common language, the only interpretative framework any of us have for a disaster this spectacular. And as we all know—or knew until recently—real life isn’t like the movies. Eight minutes later, I watched the first tower come tumbling down in a cataclysm of flame, concrete, and glass"
Everyone, please note: do not assume that Rod writing in great detail, month after month, year after year, about The Day That Rod Was There means that he is exploiting it to further his own career. As Rod wrote in August about The Day That Rod Was There, in a blog post poignantly entitled THE MOMENT ON THE BRIDGE, "I chose my family over my career, knowing that I might regret that choice for the rest of my life." Hear that? Rod is not the type of mainsream capitalist who would exploit 9/11 in furtherance of his own career. Glad we got that cleared up!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Friends and Faux.

Who could have guessed that Rod Dreher so liked people who define themselves by their affectations? First there was his defense of Dan Rather -- "Courage" -- and now we learn that Dreher loves Borat.

(Though superficially similar, one can see a stark contrast between Rather and Borat by noting that Borat's comedic value is deliberate and that even Dreher knows that Borat isn't a real journalist.)

In the comments, Dreher asks us implicitly to forget his love of Cuban music and California wines, his disinterest in college football and other sports, and his old job as a New York movie critic when he assures us that he is -- and I quote -- "a Southerner to [his] fingertips."

How Southern is he?
Southerners are really impossibly nice people, but I can understand why it's so difficult for Yankees to deal with us because in general, we will bend over backwards to avoid being unpleasant -- even to the point of not telling you what you need to know. [emphasis mine]

What's the "we" business?

In reading his accusing mainstream conservatives of being godless materialists and his accusing rank-and-file Republicans of being homophobes for holding the exact same position he does, and in watching him first ignore then insult those who offer substantive criticism, it never occurred to me that Dreher was trying to avoid being unpleasant.

On the contrary, it's quite obvious that at best he doesn't care about civility -- and, at worst, he outright indulges in contempt -- when encountering those on the right with whom he disagrees.

But, gosh, he's as Southern as SEC football, and doesn't his genteel demeanor just prove that?

I think I now understand why he defends Rather and loves Borat; he is in awe of those who are actually successful at creating an artificial persona, which is a funny goal for a man who apparently so values authenticity.