In defense of comedy, and of Wonkette

One funny put-down is worth a thousand angry commentaries.

Like Atrios, I was on a panel on blogging at an academic conference (not the same conference, however) with Ana Marie Cox, aka Wonkette. Her comments were focused, well prepared and presented, acute, and funny.

Of course she’s not a representative left-of-center political blogger, and isn’t Eschaton or Talking Points Memo.

But if I had to bet on the one blogger mostly likely to get off a devastatingly accurate, hilarious, and memorable put-down line about GannonGluckert at a National Press Club panel, she’d be the one.

Remember Wonkette’s debate live-blog?

Oh, yes. The rumors on the “internets.” The interweb. Whatever. You have to excuse him. . . he mainly just uses it for porn.

BREAKING: Canadians want to kill you with their pretend drugs. Even worse: There is a third world (Jupiter?) that wants to kill you with its pretend drugs. However, Bush’s plan does let you get a dimebag for just over a buck, if you’re old. . .

The voice in his ear just told him to speak more quietly.

Shorter Bush: He was against embryonic stem cell research before he was for it.

“No child left behind is really a jobs act,” says Bush.

Of course. And Social Security is really a missile defense program. And Federal Highways funding? Actually a part of the Metric Conversion Office. And clean coal legislation helps you make soup.

Nothing but “gossip and sex comedy?” I don’t think so.

There is a persistent, but grossly fallacious, belief that comedy is easier and lower than serious (i.e., grim) reportage or literature. But tell me, if you will, whose work has aged better: Walter Lippmann or Will Rogers?

Just because Wonkette doesn’t take herself too seriously is no reason for those of us who do take ourselves much too seriously (and yes, I do mean me) to belittle her work.


Even when Cox herself isn’t writing, the site has a fine way with a scalpel. Just today, for example, Wonkette links to the New York Times suck-up story on Karl Rove as a policy analyst. Guest Editor Greg Beato doesn’t bother to try to reproduce the careful analysis in Brad DeLong’s response; instead, without mentioning the topic of the Times piece at all, he just links with “Presidential Feeding Tube Still in Place.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: