What is constructive criticism? If you came up sometime in the last 40-odd years, you probably think it means something like: criticism that doesn’t make you an asshole. In other words, all legitimate criticism is necessarily constructive criticism. But if that’s the case, why not just call it criticism–why add the clunky prefix? It’s as if someone were trying to convince you that vegan nachos are the only form of nachos. And, like with vegan nachos, you might wonder if the unmodified version were not more satisfying altogether.
Sunday is, I think, the biggest day for newspapers, so the NYT’s “Sunday Review” was surprisingly slim pickings, even for satire. Of course there’s the Friedman’s latest evacuation, in which he explains that all recent events are because “the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected”; but this lucid prose mainly made me go from bored to hyper-bored. It any event, it feels a bit de trop to make fun of something that is practically making fun of itself.
In desperation I even looked at Maureen Dowd’s column. Dowd I consider perhaps the battiest political writer with a national audience, a person who kind of publicly free-associates in paragraphs of one to two sentences. You imagine her slightly (or not-so-slightly) tipsy in a fashionable Manhattan apartment, aggressively paragraphinating her text in order to make it fill the requisite column-inches. The purpose of today’s contribution seems to lie exclusively in letting the country know that Mitt Romney once “put Seamus, his Irish setter, in a dog carrier strapped to the roof of the family station wagon for a 12-hour drive from Boston to Ontario.” I guess Dowd is trying to suggest that this is animal cruelty, which sounds right, although it also sounds like about as much fun as a dog could possibly have.
The New York Times today published two pieces in its Sunday Review, each of which directly contradicted the other foundationally and prescriptively. The first piece is by Prof. Drew Westen and asks “What Happened to Obama?” (but don’t decide it’s frightfully boring just yet). The second piece is by one of the NYT’s newbie columnists, Frank Bruni: “True Believers, All of Us.”
The Westen is definitely part of that raft of liberal whining that breaks out whenever Obama does something particularly depraved, that the White House seems to have more and more trouble stifling, though there’s no reason to think that they won’t eventually. Admittedly one feels slightly, darkly sympathetic to Obama Mission Control, which can’t be held entirely responsible for the gullibility of America’s liberals. It’s like a person who buys a car from a well-known notorious crook, and then gets furious angry when it turns out to be a lemon. Well, what did he expect?