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August 20, 2012

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hellblazer

Isn't this in the same vein as having Cristina Odone write columns in the Observer extolling America, rich people, Catholicism, and female incarnations of all three?

Alex

Jesus wept, but Trevino? The man's been an ass-hat forever.

Guano

I have no problem with columnists with different views who make sense. The problem with most contrarians is that what they write is garbage, but you feel obliged to comment on their output in an attempt to push back against the masses of garbage that ready fill the press. al

gastro george

What was the point of Julian Glover?

JamesP

I don't think Trevino even falls into the contrarian baskets; he's a straightforward example of the US nationalist right.

chris y

Cic-Atlantic readers should bear in mind that Trevino once identified Clem Attlee as one of the 10 worst people of the 20th century. Such is his judgment and understanding. Even if I were a raving Tory I could think of 10 worse without looking outside the United States.

belle le triste

I'm assuming this is related to coverage of the upcoming presidential election -- and that the Guardian has decided it doesn't just want to be running columns from people saying (of unquestioning supporters of the Romney-Ryan ticket) "look at those absurd monsters over there". So they're looking for someone who is actually uncomplicatedly unfazed by the far wing of Republican belief -- needn't be from that wing, but isn't amused/hostile etc.

Are there any potential commentators in this category who wouldn't arrive with the equivalent of Trevino's RedState baggage? Honest, non-lunatic, unbigoted brokers of the American far right? (I mean, they're absurd monsters to me too, but is there a case [insert devil's advocate klaxon] for providing us with discussion of them that isn't sweepingly hostile -- that potentially gives us glimpses inside the machinery, as it were? And if these is, who could give it?)

ajay

Are there any potential commentators in this category who wouldn't arrive with the equivalent of Trevino's RedState baggage? Honest, non-lunatic, unbigoted brokers of the American far right?

So you're looking for someone who believes that Islam is a world-girdling conspiracy to destroy our freedoms, but you don't want any bigots.

Tough ask, belle.

belle le triste

Well, *I'm* not looking, no -- I don't believe such a thing is to be found, and anyway I don't often read the Guardian, which too easily achieves the worst of both worlds (provides a platform for monsters while remaining unattractively parochial and smug). But I don't think the idea of a "glimpse into the mind of the foe when not embattled" is intrinsically a false or a deluded one: though I don't think you get anywhere near it with op-eds from them.

Alex

Perhaps they're expecting a barrage of abuse and McCarthyism, and planning to use Trevino as a beard? Token wingnut?

Leonard Hatred

Ah, I was wondering why the piece introducing Paul Ryan was so especially deranged.

Have to say my reaction is a resounding "meh". At absolute maximum the Guardian says objectionable things slightly less regularly than some of their competitors. My faltering loyalty is entirely based around an axis of Brooker/Hyde/Over By Over/Football Weekly.

redpesto

gastro george: What was the point of Julian Glover?

I think the idea was to have a 'Coalition Correspondent' or at least someone who understood 'Cameronism'. What they got was a bad partisan hack who ran out of ezxcuses as soon as cameron ran into trouble - which would explain why Glover quit to write speeches for Cameron that are clearly doing wonders for him and the Tory party.

I'd not heard of Trevino until now, but I'm assuming he's in the same tradition, but probably worse (though this guy could get a regular gig as the in-house Randroid, especially if 'Clicks Mean Cash').

belle le triste

Trevino -- writing as Tacitus -- was iirc a founder blogger at the pro-Bush, pro-war website RedState, so in "political blogosphere" terms he goes back pretty much before the dawn of time. Didn't the Guardian run columns by Glenn Reynolds (= Instapundit) during the last US presidential election? He's cut from much the same mould. Andrew Sullivan perhaps slightly more likely to link to Reynolds approvingly than Trevino: at least I remember the former now and then, the latter never.

belle le triste

Never change, wikipedia: "Having served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army, Mr. Trevino went on to found redstate.com and tacitus.org, recognized by Forbes.com as one of the "top five best warblogs" in 2003, though it now specializes exclusively in pornography[3]."

Cian

Honest, non-lunatic, unbigoted brokers of the American far right?

Well honest is asking a lot. Apostates are generally the best at this point. Michael Lind is good, though I think he left the right during the Bush administration. David Frum isn't exactly honest, and has shades of wing-nuttery still, but is certainly way better than the usual hacks. There's another guy whose name escapes me (prominent supply sider, on the WSJ editorial page for many years - ex-Reagan staffer).

Ken MacLeod

Paul Craig Roberts? Too far left for the Guardian.

Alex

Conor Friedesdorf? Bruce Thingy who DeLong links to a lot? Why bother, anyway?

belle le triste

Cian: Bruce Bartlett?

This was in my mind because I'm in the middle of Garry Wills's book John Wayne: the Politics of Celebrity, and Wills is -- precisely -- an apostate, a Chestertonian conservative groomed by William Buckley in the early 60s who broke sharply with the right over the Vietnam war, wrote a ferocious (but also subtle and insightful) book on Nixon, Nixon Agonistes, and is still, as a prominent liberal, a relatively orthodox Catholic believer (though extremely and eloquently critical of the Catholic heirarchy in respect of child abuse and such). Anyway, he writes well (and often sympathetically) about Wayne himself, his strengths as an actor and his flaws, and is good on why his films were so popular.

(Actually the Guardian should totally hire Wills.)

Alex

That's the one. Bartlett.

nick s

The Graun's US operation is admittedly in the bind that the acceptable face of American conservatism is entirely made up of apostates. Tacky is "institutional wingnut base" these days, for better or worse.

Isn't this in the same vein as having Cristina Odone write columns in the Observer

The Obs is a different beast, which invariably causes problems online because it all gets shoved into the same template and people who've never seen a print copy assume it's a Sunday Graun. Remember that Mad Mel was once a columnist there too.

jamie

If they want a crusty conservative view of domestic and world events, the Groan should hire Colonel Lang. It would be a lot of fun seeing him interact with the CIF readership, too.

Other than that they should just cobble together a generic 'your daddy's Republican' column and illustrate it with a picture of a slide rule.

Jasper Milvain

Nick S: The Obs and the Graun are indeed different beasts, but - excuse the pedantry - Mel P has a much deeper association with the Graun than with the Obs. She was news editor there from 1983 to 1987, having joined as a reporter in 1977, and was also at other times a leader writer and a columnist. I am cribbing my details from this old New Statesman profile and from Changing Faces, the second volume of the Guardian's official history, which also lists her as a Labour loyalist at the point when the paper was most infatuated with the SDP.

cerebus

My memory of Trevino was as very conservative, quite bright - and that he had clashed with parts of the anti-immigration far-right (going back to a very hostile Tacitus post on Steve Sailer from the mists of blog time).

In the interests of muddying the narrative.

belle le triste

Semi-O/T update on an old B&T favourite: remember Mr N Ferguson's grand flounce over to a country that will honour his gifts with the respect they truly deserve? The wheels already seriously came off it.

JamesP

Ah, the ridiculous anti-Obama piece so stuffed full of lies and misstatements that it was like a pinata for critics?

Cian

The Graun's US operation is admittedly in the bind that the acceptable face of American conservatism is entirely made up of apostates. Tacky is "institutional wingnut base" these days, for better or worse.

Well maybe, but then the solution is not to hire them. At this stage the US official right are propagandists pure and simple. They lie, they make up facts and position themselves as a pure opposition (Whatever the Democrats are for, I'm against it). What's worse, at least from the perspective of a newspaper, is that they believe their own propaganda.

So you've got two options as a newspaper. Ignore the Republicans - possible, but takes a certain cojones that liberals don't have. Or hire an insider who will spout bizarre lies and stupidities, but at least those are stupidities shared by the official party of opposition. Of course by doing that you strengthen the lies. Which is nice.

I am starting to think that there is something about the US psyche/culture that makes them prone to believe propaganda. Its like they're primed in someway.

Barry Freed

I am starting to think that there is something about the US psyche/culture that makes them prone to believe propaganda. Its like they're primed in someway.

I despair of my country and its people more times than not but we gave the world Twain and Mencken and HST - all quintessentially American - so I wouldn't write us off just yet.

belle le triste

US newspapers seem still to be very much trapped in an ideology of "above-the-fray balance", a stance which has turned out to be ruinously easy for propaganists to game. The Guardian is not particularly guilty of that: I suspect its motiviation here is closer to pagehit-farming via the deliberate trolling of its own readership. I still think that pointing and laughing at the distant ridiculous enemy is not always the best way to work towards his defeat, any more than "ignoring" him is (I know Cian doesn't mean "pretending Republican villainy doesn't exist"). A lot of politics is about putting our wedge-issue cats among their unstable-coalition pigeons, and that means accurate insider information. Which is not what Reynolds or Trevino are likely to be offering.

ajay

I am starting to think that there is something about the US psyche/culture that makes them prone to believe propaganda

I think it's just that a very large proportion of the US population is made up of human beings, a species notoriously prone to believing all kinds of self-serving nonsense.

Leo Strauss (@DrLeoStrauss)

As has been mentioned, Guardian's US strategy is puzzling. Diluting their brand with already available American polarizing voices. The Washington Pot made that mistake embracing overtly neocon and paleocon personalities and lost readers from across the spectrum.

Cian

we gave the world Twain and Mencken and HST

All of whom were outsiders that were largely ignored in their own time. The Soviet Union had dissidents too. As an example of what I mean, there's the easy way people refer, when criticizing the existing system, to 'that's un-american', or the 'american dream'. Both of which are propagandistic inventions. Or the bizarre reverence you see at all levels for the constitution. Or the founding fathers, who apparently were gods.

Its possible this is changing among the young. Certainly the people I work with who are in their 20s seem more skeptical. And Cracked seems to be filled with nihilistic rage against the system. Mark Ames is definitely tapping into something there.

Cian

A lot of politics is about putting our wedge-issue cats among their unstable-coalition pigeons, and that means accurate insider information.

Maybe. Most US political coverage is either gossip about celebrities, repeating party propaganda, or sports/financial journalism covering campaigns (Obama has raised more cash, but Romney is coming up the inside). You could get rid of all of it, and I suspect things would be marginally better.

jamie

I think there are times in US history when the nativist strand of politics, which exists in some form in every country, comes close to capturing a section of the establishment - the Know Nothings, the second iteration of the Klan in the 1920's etc.

What makes this a concern for everyone else is that a)this is one of those times and b) the US is the globally dominant power and c) it seems to be on the cusp of having to come to terms with the fact that it may not be so globally dominant any more, which in turn may help explain a).

AS for the Guardian's reaching across the aisle difficulties, I don,t see why they bothered. If they wanteda centre right point of view there's really no need to reach outside the wider Democrat opinion world.

Maybe they could have got Dave Weigel, but maybe it comes down to how much they were prepared to pay. Trevino was always a second/third stringer.

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