Tuesday, March 29

Jealous much?

In case you don't know who R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is -- try not to hurt yourself grieving over it -- he is the publisher of The American Spectator, a conservative political magazine that sort of gives you a glimpse of what National Review would look like if its writers weren't secretly aware of just how inane they are. The very first time I ever read anything by ol' R., he referred to a certain group of Democrats as "popinjays," a word I thought only Montgomery Burns and Stewie from "Family Guy" used these days, so that was pretty much all the reason I needed to dismiss him as a hack and move on. When reading his columns -- featured regularly at TownHall.com, big surprise -- you can't help but hear them being read in a Frasier Crane voice; R. is the kind of guy you get stuck sitting next to on an airplane or at a coffee shop whose idea of "conversation" is to list all the things (chain restaurants, domestic cars, tap water, blue jeans) he thinks he's too good for, which basically makes him the right wing's own Comic Book Guy. You just know he's the kind of prick who picks up chicks at bars by not only regaling them with all the clever bons mots he used around his buddies in the past few days but even referring to them as "bons mots" in the retelling.

Anyway, R. is the kind of guy who just can't stand the thought that anyone, especially a liberal, might be considered cleverer than he is, so he felt compelled to give America: The Book his "J. Gordon Coogler Award" for worst book of the year (link via Wonkette), along with some especially pointed jabs toward Jon Stewart. R. couldn't resist using the ten-dollar words "marmoreal" and "pasquinade" in the course of this condemnation, so I'll leave it to you to determine for yourselves who's the really funny guy and who's the pretentious blowhard -- but in case you're still on the fence, let the record show that it wasn't Jon Stewart who penned the following bit of obnoxiousness:

Yet the Coogler Committee has its standards. Its distinguished judges will not consider a writer who has been found guilty of journalistic irregularity, and being a plagiarist certainly constitutes journalistic irregularity as does working for the New York Times. Okay, okay all you New York Times journalists out there, that was just an easy joke. There is no reason for those scowls. I am just having a little fun . . .

See, therein lies the difference between the actual funny of "The Daily Show" and the faux-funny of stuffed shirts like Tyrrell. Jon Stewart plays a clip of some politician saying something moronic, he makes his joke at the guy's expense, and moves on; sometimes he doesn't even make a joke at all, he just sits there with a heavenly little grin on his face and trusts us to get how frickin' stupid this all is. Contrast that with ol' R., who not only drops the same kind of The-New-York-Times-sucks joke Ann Coulter has been making ever since she came out of the womb, but then chuckles at himself in print for having said it. Look, I'm not downgrading the man's achievement; you have to work pretty damn hard to be so pretentious you make George Will look like a man of the people. I'm just saying I'm sick of hearing liberals derided as elitists when fancypants conservatives like this are spouting off right and left. Note that at the beginning of his column, R. feigns excitement over the anticipation of who the NFL's Most Valuable Player "will be," despite the fact that Peyton Manning had been announced the winner nearly a month before this column was published; this is precisely the kind of thing that John Kerry got pilloried for during the presidential campaign, yet Tyrrell, a learned gentleman with no time for such common pursuits, gets to wear his NFL apathy proudly on his sleeve.

R.'s own contribution to The World of Letters, in case you were curious, is a book called Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House. This is a "road," you'll note, that Hillary has not actually taken, so we have to wonder why a smartypants like R. would go to such lengths to sound like one of those backwoods survivalists who call into right-wing radio shows demanding to know why nobody has investigated Hillary's role in the space shuttle Columbia disaster.

Yet somehow it's the "Daily Show" book that's a crock. Sorry, not a crock, a pasquinade (which means a satire posted in a public place, so put that in your Scrabble rack and smoke it). But hey, it's spring, the time of year when a man's fancy turns to love -- and if the object of that affection is the sound of one's own voice, who am I to judge?


Cassie Schoon said...

Is there a patron saint for people like Tyrell who chronically miss the point?

Anonymous said...

Yes-Saint Polycarp

Anonymous said...

The patron saint is St. Douglas

lindsey said...

chuckles at himself in print -classic. love the blog