Raising the Tone

RAISING THE TONE….Over at The New Republic, Ruth Franklin laments the flaccid nature of modern book reviewing (today’s critics, she says, “seem to share a tacit understanding that it is somehow indecorous ? what used to be called bad form ? to come out and say that a book is bad”). Over at The Belgravia Dispatch, the dyspeptic Greg Djerejian does his best to show that, in the world of nonfiction scribbling, at least, high snark still lives:

If the current situation weren’t so grave, one would have to chuckle at the going-ons at the Corner. Even J-Pod is having to rein in Michael Ledeen, who as is his cheery jingo wont, is getting carried away yet again (“Faster, please”, the plaintive cow-wail rings out!), positively frothing at the mouth for us to attack Iran and Syria (Ledeen: “Is this not the time to go after the terrorist training camps in Syria and Iran?” [ed. note: followed by the inevitable, and so tiresome, Chamberlain analogy, assiduously lapped up by all the Churchill wannabes at various VDH-style troughs, doubtless]. Memo to Michael: The vast majority of Israelis themselves don’t want to go into Syria, because nobody really has a clue who would replace Bashar Assad, and his successor could be even worse for the Israelis.

There is, unfortunately, nothing unfair about this (or the rest of the post, which doles out the same treatment to the rest of NRO’s staff). I’ve been trawling through both The Corner and NRO’s front-page essays more than usual lately, and the spittle-flecked hawkery has become truly Strangelovian in the past week. I don’t think anyone over there has just up and recommended the business end of a Minuteman III as a prudent and proportional response to recent provocations from Damascus and Tehran ? but then again, I’m not sure the editors would turn down an essay exploring the option either. Those nukes don’t do us any good just sitting in their silos, do they?

More here.