Weekly Standard Childishness Watch

It is it too much to ask for someone at the Standard to have an emotional maturity greater than that of a toddler?

Recently I’ve been casting about for reviews of Gordon S. Wood’s recent volume of the Oxford History of the United States, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815.  This has been harder than expected: for such an important recent work of history, Wood’s volume has been pretty much ignored by most major newspapers and magazines (at least from what a Westlaw search reveals).

Much to my surprise, the Weekly Standard published a review by historian James Banner, and even more to my surprise, it was quite a thoughtful review.  But this is the Weekly Standard, and so we get snippets like this, when (accurately) discussing the bitter political hatreds of the early national period:

Yelling “You lie!” at the president is nothing compared (for example) with the hammer-and-tongs fight on the floor of the House between Federalist Roger Griswold and Democrat-Republican Matthew Lyon that helped inaugurate congressional history.

Emphasis mine.  You see that?  Democrat-Republican.  As far as I know, the Jeffersonians were never called the “Democrat-Republicans.”  Sometimes they were called Democrats, and sometimes Republicans, and sometimes Democratic-Republicans, but never this.

Was this Banner’s mistake?  I doubt it.  Rather, what obviously happened was that some moronic copy editor changed “Democratic” to “Democrat”, or more likely, the Standard programmed their computers to always change “Democratic” to “Democrat.”  It’s sort of like when Christian newspapers wound up referring to sprinter Tyson Gay as “Tyson Homosexual“.

Given what is now the casual stream of outright lies, support of treason, and calls to violence now spewing from American Right, this isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things.  But it would be nice if someone in the Conservative Movement had an emotional maturity greater than that of a toddler.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

12 thoughts on “Weekly Standard Childishness Watch”

  1. There is an NYT review from the previous year. "Empire of Liberty" was covered in their year-end review put out around Christmas 2009. I've read the book and listened to the audible version–this is a great text, but not one that lends itself readily to audibook format, unless one is doing nothing else.

  2. Ok, reading this in less haste, I see you were aware that Jefferson's party was called the "Democratic-Republican" party. And google is not aways your friend, it changed "Democrat-Republican party", the search string I entered, into "Democratic-Republican party" in the results, giving me numerous false positives.

    Must not comment until the tea kicks in…. Sorry.

  3. I wonder if the Weekly Standard refers to North Korea as the "DEMOCRAT People's Republic of Korea."

    Hmmm … let's see. The Weekly Standard edits Thomas Carlyle: "He who first shortened the labor of Copyists by device of Movable Types was disbanding hired Armies and cashiering most Kings and Senates and creating a whole new DEMOCRAT world: he had invented the Art of printing."

    The Weekly Standard edits Ralph Waldo Emerson: "[The] Norman has come popularly to represent in England the aristocratic,—and the Saxon the DEMOCRAT principle."

    The Weekly Standard edits James Russell Lowell: "[At the outset of the Civil War] there were moments of crisis when the firmest believer in the strength and sufficiency of the DEMOCRAT theory of government might well hold his breath in vague apprehension of disaster."

    The Weekly Standard edits Henry James: "At the end of his life, especially, he was a gentle, refined, fastidious old man, who combined consummate shrewdness with a sort of fraternising good-humour, and whose feeling about his own position in the world was quite of the DEMOCRAT sort. "

    The Weekly Standard edits Aristophanes:

    "EURIPEDES. Then from the very opening lines no idleness was shown; the mistress talked with all her might, the servant talked as much, the master talked, the maiden talked, the beldame talked.

    ÆSCHYLUS. For such an outrage was not death your due?

    EURIPEDES. No, by Apollo, no: that was my DEMOCRAT way."

    The Weekly Standard edits Plutarch: "All Greece being in suspense, and especially the affairs of the Athenians unsettled, certain persons of great families and possessions having been impoverished by the war, and seeing all their authority and reputation in the city vanished with their wealth, and others in possession of their honors and places, convened privately at a house in Platæa, and conspired for the dissolution of the DEMOCRAT government; and, if the plot should not succeed, to ruin the cause and betray all to the barbarians."

  4. Is that really supposed to be a Westlaw link for the book review?

    Empire of Liberty was good, but it did not need to be any longer. I'm a fan of the series after reading Howe's What Hath God Wrought; however, the need to be comprehensive makes some parts of each book more interesting than others. I liked Empire enough that I'm now halfway through Wood's Creation of the American Republic.

  5. Kudos to Brett Bellmore for retracting so quickly and honestly. For the record, I actually AM a historian, which is why I caught this. But I also Googled this. 😉

  6. The antipathy in some circles to the grammatically correct use of Democrat as a noun and Democratic as an adjective has long puzzled me. What is the point of channeling Joe McCarthy here? Why should anyone think that the use of non-standard English is persuasive?

    Can anyone enlighten me?

  7. John in Nashville —

    I think it's just pure Beavis-and-Butthead-ism: they do this because they can, and no one can stop them. We can call you anything we like. Nyah, nyah, nyah.

    The trick is finding something that is annoying, but still related enough that people know what you're talking about. That's why calling the Republican Party the "Confederate Party" would be accurate, but not effective, unfortunately. Maybe just always use Confederate before Republican, i.e. "Confederate Republican Party."

  8. "The antipathy in some circles to the grammatically correct use of Democrat as a noun and Democratic as an adjective has long puzzled me. What is the point of channeling Joe McCarthy here? Why should anyone think that the use of non-standard English is persuasive?

    Can anyone enlighten me?"

    The usage goes back a fair way. The antipathy is due, simply, to the belief that, in so far as "Democratic" is being used as an adjective in "Democratic party", it's not an accurate adjective. That is to say, that the party is not particularly democratic. And to the extent that "Democrat party" is being used as a compound proper noun, it's not ungrammatical.

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