Monday, April 17, 2006

Behind the Fred Hiatt mask is . . . Ted Kooser!!!

Roger says to me this evening that he can't believe what a right-wing rag the Washington Post is becoming. I tell him that I had thought it had been more centrist or neutral over the last few months. (FYI, I canceled my subscription for close to a year after the Post issued a long column, the whole right hand side of editorials, backing and then justifying ad nauseum why it was so right to endorse the Iraq War.)

He mentions to me that the Post has come out supporting the right of the President to leak the classified information relative to the Valerie Plame thing. This rather astounds me as, and there is no other word so juvenile yet so adequate and necessary, a rather dumb thing. When we all take the long view of history, the big picture, and we step back from the canvas that is our own particular era, I think that the President leaking some information he claims to have declassified in the midst of telling us how sensitive an issue national security is, in the midst of a war, in the process outing a CIA agent (in the midst of a war), and then acting for months as though he had no idea who had leaked the information, in fact claiming to bring the leaker to some kind of Texas-style justice--this is going to seem like a whole lot of dumbness--as well as shamelessness, partisan scavenging, and other more sophisticated sorts of what not and emotional this and that.

It's only if you become, as the Post editorial writers often do, so enmeshed in the fine details, so bound to move itty-bitty point by itty-bitty point--and, I presume, so besieged by ravenous, snarling, slavering, etc., partisan hacks who jump on every little thing you say and do--this is when you launch yourself into extreme dumbness. Fred Hiatt, whom I have long suspected of being a partisan hack, but am not now so convinced, and Anne Applebaum (columnist and mother of one of the kids in Edith's preschool classes) are the two people who write most of the Post's editorials. (I know this because in complimenting Anne on her column, which I do genuinely like, she mentioned this to me in conversation--and, no, I am not buds with Anne Applebaum--we had, I think, two conversations during the time Edith was at ASAD.)

Anne's columns are very sensible, which I like. Fred, I think, leans a little to the right, but seems very caught up in his responsibility to be a decent journalist in the midst of, no, not a nation at war, but a town with a rancorous partisan divide. I think they both think too much, something I'm trying to get myself out of the habit of doing. That's how they're ending up not seeing the forest for the trees. It's a dense forest here in WDC. I'm surprised anyone finds their way back to sanity and normalcy intact these days.

Isn't it surprising how often hyper-intellectualism can lead to a sort of dumbness? Do you think that happens with poetry? I'm not necessarily thinking of those cutting edge poets a large portion of the (well, relatively small) audience for poetry would immediately jump at. I'm thinking more of that closeted hyper-intellectualism of someone like Ted Kooser. I actually gave away my Folger Series tickets to his reading this month. I don't know why I just can't stand his work--perhaps I should read more of it before I start raving. The little that I've heard/read he just seems to be one of those folksy types who pretends he's really just one of the masses or something, but, oh, hell, he's not, he's been to college, graduate school probably. Or he wanted to go. He's over-thinking all that simplistic crap he writes. I just know it.

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