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December 24, 2005

Hug a Wonk Today!

By Pepper of the Daily Pepper

Wonks rule.* Wonks do most of the heavy lifting of the blogosphere in that they are the individuals who wade through facts and pull out the information that applies to us. Essentially, wonks are nerds who specialize in politics. Instead of a pocket protector and slide rule, they arm themselves with reams of policy papers that they kindly translate for the rest of us. Those facts are repeated in "Dick-and-Jane" format by politicians, and the wonks get little to no credit.

Wonks don't get the love they so richly deserve because they aren't considered "cool." Wonks today are dismissed as being Clintonian throwbacks because we have a bunch of "cool kids" in the White House who prefer culture-war arguments. It's easier for them to make it seem that grown-up life is still one big fat high-school cafeteria - or, more appropriately, one long episode of "24." We have a party-hearty preppie in the White House, who gets off the hook for everything because the masses want to be him. Pundits don't help matters by perpetuating the myth that Bush's coolness overrides all. Even writers for supposedly "liberal" magazines like Vanity Fair - in this case, Michael Wolff - say that the liberals' real problem is that they are too uptight. The message is, "Don't listen to that wonk! He/she is uncool! And, besides, that makes my brain hurt!" As a result, self-described wonks are left in moments of crisis, wondering if their work really does matter, as you've seen below. It's all a trick. Wonkery matters so much that non-wonks on the other team try to marginalize them.

In a quotation that I've used before at the Pepper, Wolff wrote:

"... in defensive mode, and in a careful estimation of our market opportunities, we are all - we well-employed, Ivy League-ish, culturally engaged, upper-middle-class chattering types in the mainstream news media - self-serious, earnest, striving, humorless, correct people, seeking to become ever more earnest, faultless, evenhanded ... Conservative opinionists ... are, on the other hand, often facile, funny, irreverent, eccentric, jaunty, pithy, as well as aggressive and wrongheaded ... (The character note of a liberal these days is sobriety - no drinks, no carbs, no jokes. The conservatives run amok while the liberals are corporatized.)"

I asked Mr. Wolff, "Whaddya mean, we?" What's with this self-flaggellating? He's self-flaggellating even more than David Brooks! And what's wrong with being serious, striving, and earnest? I also beg to differ with the view that liberals, especially wonky liberals, are humorless. "No drinks, no carbs, no jokes" - my butt! Give me a beer, bread, and George Carlin, and I am good to go! I imagine that many of the wonks out there would say the same, too.

Perhaps the solution is for Ezra to be seen staggering drunk in public places, but I'm sure he is perfectly cool the way he is.

All wonks are cool they way they are, and what we have to do is make sure that wonks aren't treated like just another stereotype.

*I'm not a wonk. I am an entertainment writer with a sweet tooth for politics. I need wonkery like I need chocolate. So, wonks of the world, thank you for giving me ammo!

December 24, 2005 | Permalink


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I think he's trying to argue that we should get Christopher Hitchens back.

Posted by: theogon | Dec 24, 2005 5:20:47 PM


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