Report From the Front:

An MWO Reader tries to bring down The Nation

(sort of)

By Atrios

As a part of a weekend long series of events coinciding with the annual L.A. book fair, that time of year when Angelinos pretend they read, The Nation held “A Conversation with Katha Pollitt” earlier this evening.

This was my chance!  The Nation has been reticent in responding to questions about Hitchens’ connections to Larry Klayman and Richard Mellon Scaife, as well as other atrocities reported by MWO.  He wouldn’t be there, but I could confront Pollitt I could force some answers out of her, and anyone else from the magazine who would be there!  I could make them to face up to the evil in their midst!  Maybe it will be shown on C-Span! All the world will see! At least, 500 people will see!  Or, if nothing else, maybe I’d have an amusing story to share with my good friends at Media Whores Online.

I drove the 75 miles up to Santa Monica and arrived at around 6:30 – the event was scheduled to begin  at 7:00 so I had some time to case the joint.  The event was being held in an art gallery.  I did not spot any elephant dung splattered Virgin Mary pinups, but there was enough there to anger Mr. Giuliani nonetheless. Cool!

For hours I had been preparing my question.  How to be direct, but not too rude.  After all, I would probably only get one chance – if that! And, Ms. Pollitt is not Snitch’s minder.  Guilt by association only goes so far. So, I rehearsed it in my mind – wouldn’t want to mangle it like President Smirk.

 Here is what I had settled on.  “Are you aware that your colleague Christopher Hitchens has referred to The Nation as `a lying servant of power’, along with other members of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy such as N.O.W.?  Given Mr. Hitchens’ sledgehammer-like wit, as this was stated to the Pitttsburgh Tribune-Review I thought that it might be some profoundly multi-layered ironic joke.  But, apparently it wasn’t.  How do you respond to his charge?”

 Okay, it probably shouldn’t be that long.  I hate when people asking “questions” are really making speeches.  I’d cut it down a bit before the Big Moment.  But where to cut?  What I really wanted to do was add more information.  Do you know he hangs out with Larry Klayman?  David Horowitz?  Ann Coulter?  Oh, the horror! How does he live with himself? How do you live with yourself working with him? 

But, it had to be a question, not a speech.  Something had to give.

I sat down near the front so I could be heard.  The place began to fill up.  Sadly, C-Span was not there.  Oh well.  However, I was ready!  Uh-oh…a man began to pass around cards onto which we could write our questions.  This was a problem.  Well, maybe it could be a good thing.  I do not have a voice that carries well in a large room.  Having someone else read my question over a microphone might be better… however, my question would have to go through a screener.  Damn. What to do.

I wrote my question on the 3X5 card – a somewhat shorter version of the question I wrote above.  I tried to be careful.  It needed to be direct, but without scaring the screener.  Would I succeed?

 I turned it in and settled down for the Conversation.  The other side of the Conversation was a Naderite Marc Cooper.  I wasn’t familiar with him. He is a Nation contributor and radio host. 

He began by asking some questions of his own. Ms. Pollitt is a delightful woman.  She’s 20 years older than me and I wouldn’t call her beautiful, but I was charmed.  Her partner is “the last Marxist” and I don’t think I’d like him.  He apparently mocks people who vote.  But, she was charming.

What can we say about the politics of Ms. Pollitt?  Well, I am not completely familiar with her canon.  I used to read The Nation regularly in the mid-90s.  But, I was younger then and lacked the necessary perspective.  Most importantly, that was before the theft.  Before everything changed.  But, I guess that was before all that for her as well.  All of us are having to rethink our positions now.

From what I know of Ms. Pollitt, her politics are pretty good.  She suffered somewhat from the ‘90s Lefty disease – bashing Clinton rather than the true enemy.  However, her Clinton bashing, though inappropriate,was generally fair and reasonable.  No Hitchens-style cock-hunter, she.   And, like I said, that was before everything changed.

Was it wrong to criticize Clinton then?  Yes…no…maybe.  I think what many on the Left fail to realize is that Clinton succeeded in fending of a monumental attack on liberty and democracy.  The Republican juggernaut that began to roll in 1994 was prepared to destroy everything in its path.   Some, mostly disgruntled Freepers, claim that the Oklahoma City bombing derailed the fascist revolution.  I do not agree.  It was the Big Dog.  He fought off the battle incredibly well, considering the fact that SCOTUS ruled that any nutball could file a nuisance lawsuit against a sitting President.  And, that said nutballs could receive legal advice from the Independent Counsel.

Did he win every battle?  No.  Did he fail to veto some legislation that was repugnant? Yes.  Could he have won some of those battles?  Yes, probably.  But, hey, cut the guy a little slack.  It is hard to run the country effectively when the FBI is searching your wife’s underwear drawer for…Koresh, I cannot even remember.  What were they searching for?  Vince Foster’s semen?   I bet they cannot even remember anymore.

Anyway, back to the Conversation.  As I said, Ms. Pollitt is charming.  She’s also witty and funny.  Some gems from the evening (I’ll quote her, although I don’t vouch for 100% accuracy) – “People tell pollsters that they want things like national health care.  However, white people feel that if black people are going to get something than they’d rather it not happen.” ha ha, as Bartcop would say.  So true.

What else?  When asked about the conservatism of Americans, she stated  that Americans have a “conservative position on christ.”  When asked to clarify, she said “the conservative position on Christ is that Christ wants you to vote for Republicans.” ha ha again.

It was a great Lefty love-in.  Refreshing.  Like Bartcop and MWO, only live and in-person.  Though it is amazing what you don’t know unless you’re searching alternative media sites 24/7.  For example, when Katha mentioned the fact that Pat Robertson is a big fan of Chinese abortions, most of the audience appeared shocked.  News to them.  Next time I’ll bring Bartcop and MWO and Buzzflash  fliers.  Time to educate the masses.

Then it was time to take audience questions.  Only 10-15 cards were turned in.  Mine had to be picked! There was enough time for that many questions.  I watched carefully as Cooper quickly scanned each card.  Did he read mine?  Did he like it?  I saw him laugh – that had to have been mine?  It was pretty funny, really, my question.  Ha ha.

The questions commenced.  Most were pretty good, and most were answered quite well.  Suddenly, the big moment came.  Cooper, the questioner, said with a little smile, “Here’s the question that Katha told me that someone would definitely ask.”  This had to be my question!  It had to be!

Cooper started, “The Questioner wants to know..why Nation columnists spend so much time criticizing each other?”  Hey…that wasn’t my question.  Maybe someone else wrote that question, or maybe that was how it came out the other side of the screener’s filter.  I’ll never know.  Fuck.

Well, I still had hope.  There was plenty of time… until, there was no more time.  My question was ignored or sanitized by the screener.  Crap.  Mission failed.  What to do?

I can’t leave empty handed.  I need to ask The Question.  I can’t be another pink tutu Dem.

I could confront Cooper.  I didn’t much like that Naderite moron.  Besides, he spiked my question.  Prick.  But, what was the point?

I could confront the Nation’s publisher (owner? Couldn’t quite tell…one of those).   But, I just couldn’t.  Why? I don’t know.  Maybe I’m a pink tutu Dem.  Maybe I just didn’t know what to say…

I couldn’t leave without saying something.  Okay, I need to talk to Ms. Pollitt.  Earlier, I had purchased her book, and now she was signing them.  I felt bad.  As I said, it was a great Lefty love-in.  It was nice.  Refreshing.  I felt bad wanting to add a bit of negativity to the event.   But, I had to complete my mission.

Okay, I was determined. I’d bought her book, that bought me some access too.  I’d get it signed, and then ask the question.

I stood in line, figuring out how to ask politely.  I did it.  She kind of chuckled and said “what did he say?”  I said “he said the Nation was the lying servant of power.”  She chuckled again and said “You’ll have to ask him about that.  Everywhere I go people ask me `Why did Christopher say this?  Why did Christopher say that?’”.   And, then she suggested I go see his Nation event on Sunday.  (Strange how Cooper, who announced all of the Nation events for the weekend, didn’t announce Snitch’s).

That wasn’t enough.  Still trying to be polite, I asked “Well, how do you feel about that? Personally?”.

She said “I feel really bad about it…. You should ask him about it on Sunday.”

Maybe I will, although I think I need some reinforcements.  I’m scared that pacifist fascist will punch me if I tell people that Larry Klayman pays his salary.  Anyone from the Los Angeles area want to join me on Sunday?

Anyway, I didn’t bring The Nation down.  Or get any answers.  But, I did have an enjoyable evening with a witty woman.

The moral of this story? No idea. 

I’m just trying to get up the nerve to go head-to-head with the Snitch.  I’ll report back on Monday.

--Atrios