Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Profiles in Punditry, 2005

So, as you know, I'm no fan of year-end video countdown extravaganzi and similar crimes against conscience (not to mention consciousness). But that doesn't mean I scorn annual awards presentations in general. Just the ones that noticeably lower your IQ.

Every year, Andrew Sullivan gives out a series of "awards" on his blog that recognize the peaks and valleys in punditry over the previous twelve months. Readers are welcome to make nominations and Sullivan gives his own nods throughout the year, usually whenever someone writes a damn-fool thing.

True to form, Sullivan's categories are designed to leave no stuffed suit un-skewered, whether on the left or the right. The John Derbyshire Award, named in honor of the National Review's resident bigot, is awarded for "right-wing hyperbole, hate-speech or manic paranoia," while the Paul Begala Award is given to individuals in the public sphere who show an "unusual felicity for lying, exaggerating or hyping news stories to buttress the Democratic party and any and all of its officials." There's also the newish Matt Yglesias Award which is named after the left-leaning blogger and writer for The American Prospect and goes to writers "who are prepared to alienate their core readership with some unpleasant truths."

So far, Sullivan has posted the winners for only two categories, but they're biggies.

The Michael Moore Award—originally called the Susan Sontag Award but changed after her death because "it's no fun to ridicule a dead person"—is given for "moral equivalence in the war on terror." There's some stiff competition in the category as you might expect (like Salon.com's Jane Smiley calling for the execution of much of the Bush administration), but in the end, one quote stood out above the rest:
As for those in the World Trade Center, well, really, let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break.
That was University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, of course, who proved the Noam Chomsky Principle over and over in 2005: just because you have a Ph.D. doesn't mean you necessarily have the slightest idea what you're talking about.

The other big award handed out on Sullivan's blog was the Michelle Malkin Award, given to honor "hyperbolic, divisive, mean-spirited, far-right boilerplate, of the kind Malkin produces on an almost hourly basis." Aside from Malkin herself, an obvious choice for this award would be Ann Coulter, and she does nearly steal the show with her "Liberals love America like O.J. loved Nicole" line. Lucky for all the other far-right nutjobs out there, Coulter is barred from the contest on the logic that "others have got to have a chance." Instead, the Malkin Award goes to Ben Stein, who had this to say about Mark "Deep Throat" Felt in the American Spectator:
It is a terrifying chapter in betrayal and ingratitude. If he even knows what shame is, I wonder if he felt a moment's shame as he tortured the man who brought security and salvation to the land of so many of his and my fellow Jews. Somehow, as I look at his demented face, I doubt it.
That savior of Israel, by the way, is Richard "The Jews Are Born Spies" Nixon.

Stay tuned to Sullivan's blog for more award winners in the days to come and, as always, a healthy dose of deflated egos.
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