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Name that columnist!

Every politician, good or bad, is an ambitious opportunist. But beneath this topsoil, the ones who make a constructive dent on history have some bedrock of consistency, of fidelity to some central idea. In Obama’s case, this “idea” is the ultimate distillation of identity politics: the idea of his blackness. Those who claim that if he were white he would be cantering effortlessly into the White House do not understand that without his most salient physical characteristic Obama would be seen as a second-tier senator with unimpressive credentials.

No fair using the Google to find out!  The fun here, as in the GRE, lies in the guessing. 

Still too tough?  OK, one tiny hint:  the final sentence of the paragraph from which this passage is taken goes like so:  “His campaign treasury is now a vast hogswallow that, if it had been amassed by a Republican, would be the topic of thunderous liberal complaint.” Does that help?

Posted by on 10/28 at 09:27 AM
  1. I’m calling this one for Kristol Meth

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  10:35 AM
  2. Only Thomas Sowell could get away with that kind of bullshit.

    Posted by nikkos  on  10/28  at  10:39 AM
  3. OK, so I Googled it...wow.

    Posted by nikkos  on  10/28  at  10:41 AM
  4. Holy shit! Teh Google reveals the truth.

    But of course, he’s wrong.  Hasn’t he been following the bobbleheads?  Obama is the mostest liberalist marxist pinko commie in the history of FOREVAH!!!

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  10:44 AM
  5. Anyone who’s surprised by this hasn’t been reading the gentleman’s output for the last, um, decade at least, possibly longer.

    Not, mind you, that this isn’t an entirely defensible decision.

    Posted by Doctor Memory  on  10/28  at  10:59 AM
  6. Anyone who’s surprised by this hasn’t been reading the gentleman’s output for the last, um, decade at least, possibly longer.

    Longer.  It was at least a decade ago that I canceled my subscription because of crap like this.

    Posted by professordarkheart  on  10/28  at  11:04 AM
  7. Years of editorial page induced psychic pains have left me with a very itchy finger on the kill button when I start reading an “opinion” piece. This example barely survives its opening sentence. Only the presence of “topsoil” in the second sentence induces me to soldier on after the mal-compositing of topsoil, bedrock, and constructive dent. My reward? Barack Obama is the Donovan McNabb of national politics. On to the comics, the bridge column, the chess puzzler.

    Posted by black dog buzzkill  on  10/28  at  11:11 AM
  8. Marty Peretz?

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  11:12 AM
  9. Oh well.  I could have been a contender.  It’s been a long while since the subject writer induced starbursts or shivers up my leg.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  11:16 AM
  10. I cut and pasted a long section of the so-called quoted material into google.

    I got one result, and only one—this blog.  Therefore, it must have been written by Prof. Bérubé.  Google wouldn’t lie, would it?

    captcha: close

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  11:22 AM
  11. Sir Doughy of Pantload?

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  11:37 AM
  12. I shamefacedly admit that I was thinking George Will, even though it ran in the face of the “cancel my subscription” clue in #6. But I will console myself with the fact that I specifically called out Michael’s “trick” somewhere on the innertubes within the past 24 hours.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  11:41 AM
  13. Umm ... Westbrook Pegler?

    Another question:

    Where are the actual or might-have-been vice-presidential candidates today?

    Michael Bérubé

    “LEXINGTON, Ky.—Michael Bérubé, named one of the 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America by conservative commentator David Horowitz, will speak at Transylvania [University] Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the William T. Young Campus Center. The lecture is free and open to the public.”

    Sarah Palin

    University Park, Pennsylvania
    Penn State University
    Rec Hall
    Doors Open: 6:00 pm (EDT)
    Program Begins: 8:00 pm (EDT)

    Coincidence?  I think not.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  11:44 AM
  14. If it had been “perfidious hogswallow” then it would have been a lock for G. Will.  But since it isn’t, I’m gonna go with.....C. Hitchens.

    Now, I wait for Michael to declare, “Tell him what he’s won, Johnny!”

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  12:03 PM
  15. I thought Hitchens, too.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  10/28  at  12:06 PM
  16. Well I had a hunch it came from somewhere around that place, but I still couldn’t nail it. Haven’t been there for too long (since around January 1988, actually). And I’m curious as to whether a certain well-known former colleague of his might care to reply to this sparkling gem of profundity… we’ll see.


    Posted by gyokusai  on  10/28  at  12:06 PM
  17. Oh, man!  Anyway, xxx makes a few good points, but I prefer Marc Bousquet‘s conclusion.

    Posted by The Constructivist  on  10/28  at  12:11 PM
  18. My guess would have been Will, too, which given the above comments is obviously wrong.  Now, to the Google-tubes!

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  12:12 PM
  19. What a wanker.  I found a critique of the column saying,

    But I think XXX is wrongest about the idea that identity politics, as a black man, is what’s animating Obama.

    No shit.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  12:16 PM
  20. Mea culpa, I googled. Thing is, I googled sometime between comment 2 and comment 3. And this here blog wasn’t mentioned at all. But now it is! Oh wondrous are the ways of google spiders.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  12:19 PM
  21. Is it Pat Buchanan?  He’s made points like this a lot on MSNBC.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  12:33 PM
  22. Help.

    I can’t get the image of cantering effortlessly through the hogswallow out of my head.

    Posted by peter ramus  on  10/28  at  12:51 PM
  23. His last name says it all for me.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  01:00 PM
  24. Is there anyone left in America (pun intended) who still cares what this guy says about anything?

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  01:02 PM
  25. #13--veery interesting, especially when you factor in that both Michael and McCain were in the Dayton area on Monday.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  01:03 PM
  26. Given the canter line I was going to say Al Campanis, but he’s not a pundit. Or alive. Then again, you could say the same for this miserable prose.

    Posted by George  on  10/28  at  01:05 PM
  27. I put two things together--the idea, already floated, that this was clearly going to be a crusty figure from the left, and the “cancel my subscription” comment above--and got it.  Really, I did.  Then I googled before posting my guess.  Can I still get a consolation prize?

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  01:24 PM
  28. Wow.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  10/28  at  01:35 PM
  29. I googled.

    A little surprised. Anyway,he’s wrong.

    Obama made himself a top-tier candidate when he took a stand against Bush and his war. Had Hillary done the same, she would’ve won the nomination.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  02:19 PM
  30. Hmmm, well, I’m thinking Will or Krauthammer based on the tone of superiority, but I’m not up on my idiot right wing apologists…

    Ok, I’ll guess Krauthammer so I can go and do the Google.

    Captcha:  standard, as in standard, boiler-plate nonsense.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  02:24 PM
  31. Yeah, Butcher Pete, it’s funny how everyone forgets that bit about Obama opposing the war.

    And Tim @ 13:  as for the hockey parent with the special-needs child in Penn State, well, you know, it’s all part of my October Surprise plan to visit Ohio, Colorado, and New Mexico, leaving McCain-Flailin’ to believe that Pennsylvania is in play.  Bwah hah hah, etc.

    I cut and pasted a long section of the so-called quoted material into google.

    I got one result, and only one—this blog.  Therefore, it must have been written by Prof. Bérubé.  Google wouldn’t lie, would it?

    Aha!  We have a winner.  In a post-postmodern sense, of course.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/28  at  02:28 PM
  32. Oh well—I know nothing.  Maybe I’m better off in this case…

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  02:29 PM
  33. Brian, wait, don’t start giving away the captchas! Who knows what kind of roboposts are waiting in the nutwings, just waiting to jump at such an opportunity!


    Posted by gyokusai  on  10/28  at  03:06 PM
  34. "his most salient physical characteristic” What? The ears?  I don’t get it.

    I was gonna guess someone from The New Republic, but cheated and googled.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  03:15 PM
  35. Wow, had me fooled.

    Posted by Bulworth  on  10/28  at  03:21 PM
  36. Amazing. I haven’t read the guy in years, thankfully, so I couldn’t place it.

    captcha: “miss,” as in “my guess was a”

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  03:23 PM
  37. Semi off-topic.

    Joe Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. “Joe the Plumber,” on Tuesday twice agreed with a claim from an audience member at a John McCain rally that “a vote for Barack Obama is a vote for the death to Israel.”

    Wow. Somehow I missed that the plan was to have the actual flesh and blood Joe the Plumber out on the trail; I thought it was just going to be a Joe the Plumber Tribute Tour. Honest to God, the 2nd headline in the FoxNews political section is “Joe the Plumber: Obama Would Bring ‘Death to Israel’”. (I wonder if he has finally made up his mind who he is voting for.)

    I have now unashamedly become Brad Majors in Rocky Horror.

    It’s beyond me
    Help me mommy
    I’ll be good you’ll see
    Take this dream away

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  03:48 PM
  38. Those old lefties can really make me furious. He wrote an article defending pedophiles once (You know, poor old senile confused granddad who put his hand up his little granddaughter’s skirt?) When I e-mailed my objections to this piece, St. Clair wrote me back saying that I had suggested Cockburn was a pedophile. I said nothing of the sort. My point was that pedophiles don’t go around advertising their propensities and so they are not likely to tell you what their tastes are. That means that naive folks will sometimes believe people who say they are not into little kids when they in fact are. My feeling was that Cockburn was taken in by these folks. I had a lot of experience working with pedophiles as a prison educator, so I knew what I was talking about.
    Here is my main objection to Cockburn, Hayden, and a few others:
    What they think is that left politics is their racket and no one else has the right to horn in on their game. They hotly defend libertines and extremely poor people. Everyone else is just a tool of the capitalists. At the same time, they themselves are doing just great, with their writing and speaking engagements and so on.
    I seem to be getting worked up. I will stop now.

    Posted by Hattie  on  10/28  at  03:48 PM
  39. Actually, this article is something of a classic. It does not seem to be exactly the article I remember.

    Posted by Hattie  on  10/28  at  04:19 PM
  40. He prefers Bob Barr and Ralph Nader.  ‘Nuff said.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  04:26 PM
  41. Yeah, it has been more than a decade.

    Actually, come to think of it, I’ve always thought he was an asshole.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  05:07 PM
  42. I miss Theory Tuesday.

    “power,” as in “power/knowledge”.

    Posted by Dave M  on  10/28  at  05:24 PM
  43. OK, now that this little gem has been up here all day (and I have a break from my guesting duties here at Transylvania, which have been great fun so far), I might as well tip my hand.  I’ll say more about this tomorrow, but my problem with this column isn’t merely that it sounds, at points, as if it were written by Krauthammer or Buchanan (though that would be bad enough); it’s also that the left-of-Obama position in The Nation is being occupied by a crank—a climate-change-denying crank, at that.  Better left-of-Obama positions, please.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/28  at  05:26 PM
  44. Better left-of-Obama positions, please.
    Eric Alterman, John Nichols, Barbara Ehrenreich, Katha Pollitt, Naomi Klein????  Eeek the captcha word is “low,” as in how deep in the septic tank Mr C has been crawling.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  05:39 PM
  45. "The fun here, as in the GRE, lies in the guessing.”

    I sooo ♥♥♥ this blog.

    Posted by tikistitch  on  10/28  at  07:23 PM
  46. He’s a PUMA!!!

    I really thought it was Hitchens or Michael Wolffe.

    Posted by  on  10/28  at  07:53 PM
  47. True confession: I Googled to find the writer’s name and had two responses.

    1. Did I miss something? I have no idea who this guy is.

    2. Tight kerning can have funny results sometimes. Funny, say, if you’re a 14-year-old boy. Or maybe a 42-year-old woman.

    And then! My captcha, aptly enough given what I was just saying, is “top.”

    Posted by Orange  on  10/28  at  07:59 PM
  48. Name that columnist!

    hmmmmm, how about “Trig”?
    Or, if it’s a girl, “Pittipat”?


    Posted by  on  10/28  at  08:59 PM
  49. old lefty?  it’s got to be horowitz, tho i was going to say kristol first, instapundit second.

    now i will google.

    Posted by skippy  on  10/28  at  11:30 PM
  50. (after googlesmile

    lol!  i should have guessed!

    Posted by skippy  on  10/28  at  11:31 PM
  51. double lol!  i tried to put a colon inside a paranthesis and got a smiley face!

    smile smile smile smile smile

    way kewl!

    Posted by skippy  on  10/28  at  11:32 PM
  52. Haven’t read him in years, and haven’t read anything interesting from him in much longer.  Always sounded as though he was trying to be cute, or intentionally against the grain only for the exercise; there doesn’t seem to be much “there” there.  Though his prose is not objectionable, it is no “Rhetorical Occasions”, a volume I recently completed and thoroughly enjoyed.  (Michael: Did I say it like you wanted?)

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  01:05 AM
  53. What’s a hogswallow?

    Anything you put in its mouth!

    knock knock…

    Posted by joe  on  10/29  at  06:09 AM
  54. I would have guessed Marty Peretz, except for the lack of any reference to Israel (but then, maybe Michael omitted it in order for it not to be a dead giveaway). 

    Anyhow, Cockburn makes sense.  There’s a certain kind of pundit who is professionally vested in not having enthusiasm for anyone and seeing everything that happens as further evidence of the decline of the western world. I think that description fits Cockburn pretty well.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  09:02 AM
  55. Ah Orange, you are too young to know what a self-righteous lefty poseur intellectualist Mr. C was back in the day. He was, you know, like--DEEP. Or an asshole. Take your pick.

    Posted by  on  10/29  at  09:09 AM
  56. I liked Cocky in the Eighties and am trying to figure out what, in the past fifteen or twenty years, he’s written worth mentioning.  I think Michael alluded on this here blog to some actual journalism, perhaps on the nurses’ strike and other California labor issues, that AC’d done well of late.  Maybe he’s okay on down-to-earth, concrete reportorial stuff?

    Alterman, I’m afraid, rarely impresses me with his intellect either; and his “Cockburn’s an anti-Semite” column (adducing as evidence that one can find a bunch of anti-Semites who like his work, which is true of anyone who reports news that can be spun as anti-Israel) was pretty appalling --ditto his dismissal of Chomsky and of female guitar players.  But there are indeed enough perfectly fine Left-of-Obama writers in The Nation and the blogosphere (including here) that we can ignore Little Alex.

    Posted by  on  10/30  at  01:19 AM





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