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By Michael J. Smith on Saturday February 10, 2007 09:21 PM

From the Overdue Posts Queue:

Every so often a contraband copy of the New York Times will be left lying around, like a basking copperhead, on my kitchen table, and my bleary morning eye will land upon it before I've had enough coffee to realize the danger. Once I start reading, of course, it's too late.

I got bit this way a few days ago by a review, from the busy pen of Michigan Kakufoni, or whatever her name is, that Carlos the Jackal among book-assassins. Michigan was dealing very severely with the ludicrous Dinesh D'Souza. "Willfully incendiary... preposterous... embarrassing," she called Dinesh's latest flight of fancy, The Enemy At Home, a "partisan screed... of illogical arguments, distorted and cherry-picked information, ridiculous generalizations and nutty asides." This from a woman who, the week before, treated "Chucky" Schumer's partisan screed with the greatest deference, though all the strictures just quoted might be applied with equal justice to it.

Michigan and her editors gave the clownish D'Souza thirty column inches of detailed refutation, plus a rather endearing author photo, credited to one Dixie D'Souza -- sounds like a Carl Hiaasen heroine, doesn't it? -- that makes jug-earned Dinesh look like Rowan Atkinson in the role of Mr Bean.

What cries out for explanation here is why the Times would pay so much attention to such a silly book. Evidently, even though Dinesh is a raving loony, he's still enough of a somebody to merit attention, and his ideas, crazy as they are, must be taken seriously enough to argue with.

Michigan's lede establishes Dinesh's credentials as "the Rishwain research scholar at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University" -- honest, she put that whole jawbreaker into her first sentence. And she allows as how John Philip D'Souza's 1991 Illiberal Education "did have some illuminating points... about the excesses of political correctness on college campuses." But now, she says, the former illuminator has turned himself into "the Ann Coulter of the think-tank set," and, most damning of all, he has written a book that is -- brace yourself -- "irresponsible."

Dinesh, I think, has constituted himself, in Michigan's eyes, as something like a rogue cop. While he was plying his nightstick against the vagaries of the campus left, such as it is, he had a useful, if modest, MP's berth in the American ideological fleet -- whose flagship is the mighty dreadnought wherein Michigan herself sails the seas of thought. But now Dinesh has gone for a buccaneer, popgunning at "mainstream politicians like Hillary Clinton, Robert Byrd and Jimmy Carter," at Garry Wills and Seymour Hersh, and at -- oho! -- "several New York Times columnists."

It's amazing, really, how many levels of gatekeepers we seem to need. Those must be some very vulnerable gates. Let's not even mention the educational gatekeepers; but even after you've squeaked through the sheepskin gate, like Giles Goat-Boy, there are agents, and editors, and publishers, all of whom have the thumb down by default. And if you get through that crowd -- if, for example, Bill Buckley is taken with your dusky, sloe-eyed, moon-faced charm -- you still have to deal with the Millikan Cacafuegoes.

Of course, the Mulligans are a comparatively small peril after all your other adventures. It's as if Odysseus should pass through Scylla and Charybdis and storm and shipwreck and finally crawl ashore to confront the fangs of a really angry miniature poodle, yapping on and on through thirty column inches of who-cares prose.

I don't suppose McGillicuddy will have much effect on Dinesh's bottom line -- in fact, her carpet-chewing will probably stand him in good stead among his reference group. Come to think of it, I greatly envy old Dinesh. If only I could make Miching Millecho that angry!

On the other hand -- if I'd have to cozy up to Bill Buckley to get there -- well, I'd consider it. But surely, surely! there's another way?

Comments (2)

owen paine:

btw Dini here is a member of the catholic leagues board of alderman

ties the last two posts together eh ???

those Goans are still goin'

owen paine:

"It's as if Odysseus should pass through Scylla and Charybdis and storm and shipwreck and finally crawl ashore to confront the fangs of a really angry miniature poodle, yapping on and on through thirty column inches of who-cares prose.'

if no one else dares write this i will....
that passage is NOT who cares prose

nice work chief

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