Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The junkie's lament

Forgive me, for I'm about to rant. But I, Internet junkie that I am, can't help it.

I'll be blunt. Why do bloggers and MSM publications keep talking to and giving space to people who spout total nonsense? I don't mean opinion blowhards, although god knows there are way too many of them. My peeve is against pundits who say/write things that are objectively, evidently, painfully wrong.

The object of my wrath is this interview of Newt Gingrich by William Saletan in Slate. One paragraph is enough to illustrate my point:

The problem with regulation and taxes, he argues, is that they drive business overseas. Our auto emissions standards shift car sales to foreign manufacturers. European carbon caps push industries to Africa. But Gingrich is cursed with a brain that can see the big picture. He recognizes that overfishing, for example, requires collective action, since one or two countries can ruin the ocean for everyone. We have to think of the whole planet, he observes. Which raises the question: If undercutting by other nations foils unilateral regulation, isn't multilateral regulation the answer? Business can't flee emissions caps in one country if the same caps apply elsewhere. To this question, Gingrich clarifies that he's not against international remedies, as long as they're "functional."

It's amazing. The man reels of three, count them, completely false statements in a row, followed by several painfully obvious observations masquerading as profound insights. European carbon caps driving industries to Africa? I still can't believe I read that.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not angry at Gingrich. In a way, I admire a man who, being little more than a pompous nitwit, manages to convince others that he's a profound thinker. I guess that's what narcissism can do for you!

But how is it possible that the interviewer let all of this pass unquestioned? And how did an editor publish this?