Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Patron Saint of Mediocrity

Daniel Larison writes, of the decision to send Joe the Plumber to Israel:
First, this does say something important about the miserable state of the conservative blogosphere as a journalistic medium, and it also tells us something about the thorough Palinification of the right. Palin was praised and embraced because of her perceved ordinariness, and her lack of expertise was regarded by her admirers as an advantage and a desirable trait, and now we are treated to the journalistic equivalent of Palin’s qualifications for the position she sought. In journalism as in politics, standards, qualifications and expertise are now to be thrown out; average-ness, ordinariness and ignorance are to be prized as proof of one’s authenticity. Like Palin’s pseudo-populism, which actually helps preserve and strengthen the hold the establishment has by making populism idiotic, this sort of “amateur” journalism does more to discredit amateurs and reinforce the pretensions of professional journalists than anything else. Far from marking the beginning of a serious rivalry with such outfits as TPM, this heralds the irrelevance of the conservative blogosphere as a vehicle for journalism.
This is important. Not only is the conservative movement entering a phase of "idiotic" populism, driven largely by mediocrity (there is a vast difference between "the common man" who happens to be extraordinarily qualified and "the common man" that is completely out of their league, as was Palin) but the very most populist efforts any political group can hope for these days--independent journalism and blogging--are becoming crippled in the process.

Save for a few good sites, and Larison's blog is among them, the conservative blogosphere is mainly just a lot of shouting. The tone is almost invariably angry or resentful or full of self-pity or indignant accusatory harangues.

So it comes as no surprise that Joe is on his way to becoming a sort of indie-journalist sensation, much as Palin was poised to take the second-highest seat in the Land...

Which calls to mind the final scene in Amadeus, as Salieri rolls through the insane asylum, the Patron Saint of Mediocrity:
Goodbye, Father. I'll speak for you. I speak for all mediocrities
in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint. On
their behalf I deny Him, your God of no mercy. Your God who
tortures men with longings they can never fulfill. He may forgive
me: I shall never forgive Him.

Mediocrities everywhere, now and to come: I absolve you all!
Amen! Amen! Amen!