In the interest of full disclosure you should know that I've met Rick Perlstein in real life. I've had a beer with him. Blue Gal and I have had a bite to eat with him. He has not confided to me every secret of his life, but we chatted amiably about lots of stuff. He is a terrific writer and a bulldog of a historian.
So now that I have impugned his reputation beyond repair, let me say three things.
First, amen to this:
...The bottom line is that there’s an attitude out there that anything bad anyone says about the NSA must be a priori true, and that anything bad anyone says about the NSA must have already been said by Glenn Greenwald, and that anyone who questions Greenwald about anything must be questioning Greenwald about everything, and thus thinks the NSA (and its boss Barack Obama) is swell.And where might someone get that idea? By thinking like Greenwald, actually.As I noted on Friday, Greenwald writes in “On PRISM, Partisanship, and Propaganda,” “Rick Perlstein falsely accuses me of not having addressed the questions about the PRISM story”; but I didn’t accuse him of not having addressed “the questions” but instead a single question—whether Internet companies give the National Security Agency “direct access” to all their data as opposed to carefully controlled access to a very limited amount of data—a question he still did not address, including in the interview he linked to in order to claim he had addressed it “at least half-a-dozen” times...
Second, you can proudly add me to the list -- Perlstein, Charles Pierce, Dave Neiwert -- and the sentiment -- "a spirited exchange about these issues, maybe even change each others’ minds somewhat" -- Rick lists here. I would be glad of the excellent conversation.
Me, I’d rather not see [Glenn Greenwald] discredit himself. And that’s what’s happening. It’s happening even among those who want to be his supporters. As one of them wrote on Facebook, “Here’s the thing: I suspect Perlstein, Charles Pierce, Dave Neiwert, and I—to mention the commenters here I’ve actually met—could have a spirited exchange about these issues, maybe even change each others’ minds somewhat. That can’t happen with Greenwald, whom I’ve never met, because the FIRST thing he does out of the box is accuse anybody who disagrees with him of bad faith. That not only makes him a poor advocate, it weakens one’s trust in his reporting.”
Third, I predict that no matter how hard he tries, no matter how supple his words, no matter how righteous his record, no matter how solid his credentials or how self-deprecating his presentation, Rick will never budge Mr. Greenwald or his horde one inch. You're either with them 100% right down the line or you are a dupe, a monster, an Obot, a cultist, a fascist, a hypocrite and so forth. Period.
The final irony is, of course, that the temple they have raised to the One True Messenger and the army they have raised to bury even the slightest deviation from the One True Message under an avalanche of bile is all being done in the name of free-thinking anti-authoritarianism.
Because what's more fun than human nature?