Let's take a ride on Takedown Hwy.
One of the most devastating kinds of journalism out there is the full-frontal ad hominem and in-your face assault, with choice references to the physical appearance and lifestyle of the victim. The best I've read are usually when one author savages another, but straight up attacks on politicians or cultural figures are often just as good. Of course, it's not a very nice thing to do. People get hurt, especially when the writing is crisp and seasoned.
So many folks out there have put together lists of this or that for the end of the year. So I'm picking out some of my favorite attack articles of all time, and I've spread them over a long stretch of highway. What I love about this is that lefty writers are the more consistent producers of the gold-standard personal attacks. When authors on the right try it out, they tend to suck. Your chauffeur on this ride is that grizzled, fully-strapped killer machine who tried to blow away Nicholas Cage in Raising Arizona. He has clusters of hand grenades at the ready and multiple shotguns stuffed in the saddlebags of his Harley Davidson -- I think his name was Cobb. You are going to sit at the front of the motorcycle, in that baby seat, which has been adapted to fit your size. Note: If you don't feel like going for a ride on Takedown Hwy, you can get off the bike right nowÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ there's a lot of craters in the road, so it's going to be a long -- extended entry -- rideÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Ã¢â‚¬Â¦but you've decided to stay on. You get in. Cobb starts the chopper, and away we go!
The first bump in the road is in fact an unexploded bomb -- a dud. It's a review of that novel by Senator Barbara Boxer that came out this year: "A Time to Run." Capitol Hill intrigue with sex scenes by one of the most liberal Senators in Congress. E-Z pickins in the hands of a skilled conservative political journalist, right? You'd think, but check out this feckless piece by John J. Miller, National Review's "national political reporter." Miller makes it clear at the start that he's trying to be cruel:
"Have you ever watched a movie trailer that's amusing, but which also leaves you with the sense that you've just seen all the good parts? Think of what you're reading now as the same sort of thing, except that it covers the bad partsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦"
Geddit? Miller's going to tell us about the bad parts. So let's see those claws:
"Writing authentic dialogue can be a challenge for even the best authors. Boxer, however, mangles the language in unprecedented ways."
Here's Miller's sendoff:
"In a note at the front of the book, Boxer says that she wrote A Time To Run to describe 'the true world of politics in all its glory and all of its ugliness.' Even this sentence is a bad one: The phrasing should be either 'all of its glory and all of its ugliness' or 'all its glory and all its ugliness.'
One thing's for sure: Boxer has the ugliness part down pat."
Cobb breaks the silence on the highway. He quotes a passage to you from the Inferno where Virgil advises to Dante as they observe the mediocre sinners in the "lukewarm" part of hell, "Let us not speak of them, but look and pass on." And you pass on.
A few clicks down the road and we come across our first smoking crater, in the rough outline of Steven Spielberg's body. eXile editor Mark Ames shot this missile all the way from Russia, and left nothing but a hole in the ground: