George Will is well-read (for a journalist), writes competent and occasionally witty prose, is just unpredictable enough so that you have to read his stuff to know what he thinks, and not a bigot, an obscurantist, or a violence-worshipper. That puts him well into the top percentile of conservative columnists. It does not, however, keep him from being A Very Bad Man, with a nasty habit of bullying and a streak of intellectual dishonesty a mile wide.
For once, Will has picked more of a fight than he was ready for. As long as Tom Edsall was just one of the best daily journalists in the country, Will could have mischaracterized Edsall’s book to his heart’s content, and Edsall would have had no effective way to hit back.
But now that the Post has been foolish enough to offer Edsall a buyout, he has outlets: for instance, TNR Online. And Edsall calmly and methodically tears Will a new one. Good for him!
It wouldn’t have been appropriate for Edsall to say it, but I will: Will’s reference to Edsall’s “anger” is about the least plausible lie I’ve read this week; Edsall, as all his acquaintances know, is what shows up in the Pictionary under “flat affect.”
Go read Building Red America. I don’t agree with all of it; I think Edsall could have been a little more critical of the substance of the right-wing talking-points whose political effectiveness he so clearly describes. But he clearly lays out both the Rovian ambition to achieve permanent power and the problems the Democrats face in fighting it off.
And compare what Will says Edsall said with what Edsall actually said, and adjust your opinion of Will’s veracity accordingly.