“My assessment of the book has nothing to do with the accuracy of its accounts”

Stanley Fish descends (further) into self-parody.

You won’t learn much about Sarah Palin from Stanley Fish’s review of Going Rogue, but you’ll learn everything you need to know about Stanley Fish. Who would have guessed that Morris Zapp was actually an idealization?

My favorite passage the one where Fish brushes off the complaint that Palin’s book was ghostwritten by admitting that his own most recent volume was “put together by an editor.” But I have to give at least an honorable mention to the parenthetical in which Fish says of Palin’s discussion of energy policy that “She loves to rehearse the kind of wonkish details we associate with Hillary Clinton, whom she admires,” thus neatly eliding the difference between serious, reality-based wonkery and randomly making technical-sounding sh*t up to impress rubes and professors of literature.

When I proposed that Bush-Palin pseudo-conservatism had a strongly Post-Modern flavor, I thought I was joking.

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: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

16 thoughts on ““My assessment of the book has nothing to do with the accuracy of its accounts””

  1. "But I have to give at least an honorable mention to the parenthetical in which Fish says of Palin’s discussion of energy policy that “She loves to rehearse the kind of wonkish details we associate with Hillary Clinton, whom she admires,”… "

    Come on, I do that, also. Many people do. We 'rehearse' the devastating comeback we'll give so-and-so the next time we meet them, we 'rehearse' how we'll seduce all of the lovely ladies at the next party, and we 'rehearse' how we'll take down any muggers we run into, with the skills learned from many kung fu movies.

    Of course, unlike Palin, most of the 'rehearsing' we do is kept within our imaginations, and not put into print 🙂

  2. Stanley Fish, like Camille Paglia, is a dangerous fool. He is "post-modern" and to him this means the appearance is everything, and the reality nothing. He delights in writing foolish essays that get picked up and championed by Right Wing Zealots, even though his praise is an indictment.

    What is amazing about Fish and Paglia is that they figured out how to become wealthy and famous by being precocious senior citizens. Fish is in his 70's and Paglia is in her late 60's and yet they both hang around the soda shop pretending that the prattling of old people pretending to be teenagers is somehow charming.

    Last weekend in my home city they held a Prom for people who are 50 and over. Sad, graceless, ugly people danced and wore corsages and supposedly "relived" and "recaptured" the great nostalgic past and had "fun".

    I think of Paglia and Fish in this same light. Only the GOP take them seriously, because we have high unemployment, structural wage stagnation of some 40 year duration, intractable Global pollution, miserable poverty for over 50% of humans alive today, and many many other problems that may not even be fixable, even with intelligence and political will, which are each/both in short supply.

    Fish and Paglia, and their "look mommy, I can grab my wee-wee" exhibitionary delight in being un-serious are decadent and loathsome and sickeningly pathetic. I could have lived a happier life without seeing Fish in a Mettalica t-shirt pretending to be 13. And every time I see Paglia I shudder icily and wish she would stop pretending she is either young or smart.

  3. Fish could have portrayed Palin accurately, but also show that "the voice of small-town America" is (a) a minority voice that should not dictate national policies, (b) wrong on policies (e.g. science, economic safety-net in today's world). But he is more enchanted by the social construct Palin and others live in.

  4. "I think of Paglia and Fish in this same light. Only the GOP take them seriously…"

    I don't think that the right takes them seriously; rather, the right says "look, even the liberal [fill in the bloviator's name here] says that We're Right".

    These two people have figured out that being right-wing BS artists (and the artistry isn't much) is a neat job. They get attention, and probably get some nice money from it. What else would Paglia do that people would pay for?

  5. And there's also this, which renders me speechless, from Fish: "Do I believe any of this? It doesn’t matter."

  6. One particularly crass part of Fish's piece was his backhanded slap at those liberal elitists at the Strand Bookstore for not carrying Palin's book. The Strand sells mostly used and remaindered books.

  7. "…a Prom for people who are 50 and over. Sad, graceless, ugly people danced and wore corsages and supposedly 'relived' and 'recaptured' the great nostalgic past and had 'fun'”.

    Oh, wow. I guess I'm way past my sell-by date at age 67. No more fun for me. Time to crawl in the hole and pull it in after me.

    Sheesh. How old are you, sonny? How many years of fun you got left?

  8. I do apologize. Clearly, I should have written "The Strand sells mainly used and remaindered books and some, mostly heavily discounted, new books." Not that the clarification changes anything.

  9. Damn, Mark. You beat me to it. This was the most self-referential, autobiographical Fish piece yet. "while autobiographers certainly insist that they are telling the truth, the truth the genre promises is the truth about themselves — the kind of persons they are — and even when they are being mendacious or self-serving …, they are, necessarily, fleshing out that truth."

  10. The one thing I don't follow here is that you thought you were joking about the affinity between Bush-Cheney-Libby-Rove epistemology and post-modernism. Why would you think of that as anything other than an obvious cultural fact?

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