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October 26, 2005

The Mystery of Michelle Malkin, Explained At Last

On several occasions recently, Tom Tomorrow has asked the Eternal Question about America's giant flock of shrieking right wing pundits:

Are they lying, or simply so stupid that it's a wonder they manage to get up out of bed in the morning without hurting themselves?

Specifically, Mr. Tomorrow was wondering about why Michelle Malkin claimed that the vigils today for the 2,000+ U.S. troops killed in Iraq consist of "partying over their deaths." Obviously you'd have to be an extraordinary cretin to believe such a thing. And Malkin at least has the intelligence to dress herself and find her way to television studios. So she must be lying. And yet...can people really lie like this all the time without their brains exploding? So she must be an idiot. But... and round and round you go.

The troops thing, of course, is just one example, of which there are literally millions. It truly is confusing: are Bill O'Reilly & William Kristol & William Safire & Sean Hannity & Ann Coulter & Rush Limbaugh & Instapundit & Powerline & Jonah Goldberg and their numberless ilk morons, or are they liars?

I believe I have the answer. It is found, like all answers to the world's conundrums, in Life and How to Survive It by John Cleese and Robin Skynner.

Cleese and Skynner spend a great deal of the book discussing moral values. Their main points are these:

(1) Everyone everywhere shares the same values: loyalty, honesty, caring for others, etc.
(2) BUT -- people interpret these values according to their level of mental health.

"Mental health," as Cleese and Skynner define it, is a measure of how in touch you are with reality. Thus, people more in touch with reality interpret these values in healthier ways. Those less in touch with reality interpret them in unhealthy ways. (If you want more details on this, I recommend the chunk of the book I excerpted here.)

Here's how Skynner explains point number 2 about how people interpret values:

They talk for a while about different interpretations of loyalty, and then come to the paydirt as far as Malkin et al are concerned: how people interpret the value (that everyone shares) of "telling the truth":

Posted at October 26, 2005 01:25 PM | TrackBack

Surely constipation plays a role, as well? I know in the Senate we all tend to become sanctimonious, mendacious and aggressive whenever we're irregular. Tell me you can look at Bill O'Reilly without wanting to send him a bushel or two of prunes.

Posted by: Joe Biden at October 26, 2005 05:28 PM

Whatever. One thing's clear, though: perjury and obstruction of justice are not crimes. No, really, think about it: isn't it just making a mountain out of a molehill?

Posted by: abb1 at October 26, 2005 05:39 PM

Who needs Bush on the Couch?

Posted by: slim at October 26, 2005 05:48 PM


Excellent point. By the way, I thought it was courageous of you to make your own Senatorial struggles in this area the focus of your autobiography. Truly, the hand that administers the courtesy enema rules the world.


Agreed. I hear the terms perjury and obstruction of justice don't even appear in the so-called "legal code" that Paul Krugman is constantly whining about.


You are not allowed to put any member of the Bush family on the couch. They said it, I heard it, that settles it.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 26, 2005 06:11 PM

I don't know about the mid-level fantasists/liars (the 2 are not exclusive), but Kristol and many of the other neocons believe in Plato's self-conscious myth of the 'noble lie.' They're lying to us for our own good.

That and they love blowing stuff up from a safe distance.

Posted by: Cal at October 26, 2005 06:12 PM

And they'd be right, too.

Michelle Malkin missed out on a great party tonight. There's nothing like the recognition of massive human tragedy to get the rock'n'roll juices flowing.

Posted by: Sully at October 26, 2005 07:44 PM

A casual observer might look at all the ruling cliques and their claques around the world and reasonably conclude that wingnuttery is part of a successful strategy for gaining power and/or security. Groveling, bullying and seeking status in the pecking order, done correctly, can guarantee quality of life. In the world they've created, wingnuts are well-adjusted, happy crusaders. They're unhealthy for everyone else.

On a cheerful note, when they finally run out of enemies to vanquish they'll seek comfort in fratricide.

Posted by: Joe Biden at October 27, 2005 01:13 AM

Very insightful.

It would be very interesting and fairly easy to design a psychological test to measure this effect.

Posted by: Malooga at October 29, 2005 01:25 AM


Really? How would you go about doing that? I'd really be interested to learn more.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 29, 2005 05:09 PM