Praise With Faint Damning

In a Friday night post, Allahpundit followed up a dose of pure rotgut Alan Grayson insanity with a little milk of magnesia from the Atlantic Wire.  It seems “many liberals” are “rejecting” the new book from Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas.  Charmingly titled American Taliban, the book’s official description is quoted by the Atlantic Wire as follows:

America’s primary international enemy–Islamic radicalism–insists on government by theocracy, curtails civil liberties, embraces torture, represses women, wants to eradicate homosexuals from society, and insists on the use of force over diplomacy. Remind you of a certain American political party? In American Taliban, Markos Moulitsas pulls no punches as he compares how the Republican Party and Islamic radicals maintain similar worldviews and tactics. Moulitsas also challenges the media, fellow progressives, and our elected officials to call the radical right on their jihadist tactics more forcefully for the good of our nation and safety of all citizens.

It’s refreshing to hear liberals are rejecting that kind of trash, isn’t it?  Unfortunately, the condemnation from liberals quoted by the Atlantic Wire is decidedly conditional.

Jamelle Bouie of The American Prospect says:

Like Liberal Fascism, American Taliban is another entry in the tired genre of “my political opponents are monsters.” Indeed, Moulitsas begins the book with the Goldbergian declaration that “in their tactics and on the issues, our homegrown American Taliban are almost indistinguishable from the Afghan Taliban.”

Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism says nothing of the kind.  The author takes great pains to explain, repeatedly, that his purpose is not to smear contemporary liberals as neo-Nazis.  Instead, his extensively researched and footnoted book puts fascism into its proper historical context as a form of collectivism, related to communism and socialism far more closely than anything on the “right” side of the Western political spectrum.  Goldberg wrote the book because he was tired of people like Markos Moulitsas trying to shout down conservatives by calling them fascists.  He knew he was handling a conceptual hand grenade, and he begins nearly every chapter of his book by checking to ensure the pin is still firmly in place.

All of the five liberal responses to American Taliban quoted by the Atlantic Wire include a drive-by smear of Jonah Goldberg or his book.  Either none of these people has actually read Liberal Fascism, or all of them are liars.  Jamelle Bouie has apparently seen the cover, because his review notes the similarity of the cover to American Taliban.  This testifies to the limits of Moulitsas’ imagination, not the kinship of the subject matter.

Ben Crair of The Daily Beast pauses in his breathless rush to denounce American Taliban to take a swipe at some other well-known intruders running along the walls and ceiling of the liberal subconscious:

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas has long been open about his admiration for the scorched-earth tactics of the conservative movement. So it should not come as a surprise that, after a trip through the looking glass, his new book American Taliban might have just as easily been written by Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. This is a liberal’s attempt at a conservative bestseller.

Sure, Ben.  Rush Limbaugh explicitly compares liberals to murderous cave-dwelling religious fanatics all the time. Ann Coulter is second to none in her contempt for the intelligence of the Left, but she has yet to write an entire book forcefully arguing her political opponents are exactly the same as the terrorists who murdered thousands of Americans on 9/11.  (It’s worth slogging through Crair’s entire review to reach the howler where he says Al Franken “steers clear of sledgehammer rhetoric,” instead “using humor to expose the absurdity and hypocrisy of many conservative ideas.”)

Matt Yglesias, last heard offering the opinion that lying is acceptable when it advances liberal goals, cuts to the quick when he questions the effectiveness of Moulitsas’ hatemongering, rather than its legitimacy:

I tend to think that this is one of the areas where progressives aren’t just doing the right thing, but have a smarter tactical approach to politics. There are scenarios in which tagging your political opponents with smears can be effective, but I don’t see any evidence that the particular apocalyptic “my enemies are totalitarian madmen” strain of Birch/Beck/Goldberg conservatism has helped anyone win any elections. This should be differentiated from the occasional lapse into rhetorical excess that everyone does now and again. I’m talking specifically about the kind of sustained effort to seriously persuade people that Elana Kagan favors sharia or Dwight Eisenhower is a Communist that you see among loons of all stripes but that seems to be granted more respectability on the right.

See how he slipped Birch right in there with Beck and Goldberg?  That’s some clever writing right there!  This kind of casual slander is so typical of the Goebbels/Moulitsas/Yglesias doctrine of politically sanctioned lies.  It’s almost as distasteful as all those mainstream conservative websites pushing their “Red Dwight Eisenhower” scare stories.

These lefty writers spend a lot of time congratulating themselves for their high-minded dismissal of American Taliban. The truth is that Moulitsas has become an embarrassment to the Left.  His slavering diatribes are greatly impeding their efforts to push the new Narrative of Hate, which they hope will save their dying ideology from outraged voters.  By comparing the output of Beck, Limbaugh, Coulter, or Goldberg to inexcusable garbage like American Taliban, they render praise through faint damning.  They need to open a little distance between themselves and Markos, but they can’t resist taking the opportunity to slip in a few shots at the people they really disapprove of.

These liberals might have their boots planted in Moulitsas’ face, but they haven’t climbed very far out of his mud pit.

Cross-posted at

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