Marty Peretz Is Does Have [sic] a Spine


The longtime maximum leader (read: owner) of The New Republic, Martin Peretz, has just started a blog which has an even worse name than that mag's main, The Plank (rumored to be the Web's only 100 percent wooden blog).

Welcome to The Spine, boys and girls, written by "a man in his mid-sixties, a family man with children, a teacher at Harvard for almost four decades, formerly of the New Left (very important to understanding my spine) now of the center, at the helm of The New Republic (which I have deliberately maintained as undogmatic center-left) for 32 years."

Like the Visigoths and the Klingons before him, Peretz–a man in his mid-sixties who isn't afraid to heavy-pet on the first date, who has written more hit singles than multi-talented philosopher Steve Allen, and whose morning stool is filled with chunks of the Yalies he ate for dinner the previous night–takes no prisoners, as can be seen by this insight, every bit as penetrating as the notion that when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me:

One cannot grasp the meaning of the mass murders in Iraq without knowing something about the history of Mesapotamia. One cannot grasp French behavior in international affairs (and in internal social conflict, too) without seeing France as it has seen itself, the envoy of civilization to everyone in its arc. One cannot grasp the insistent religiosity of America without grasping that the colonies were religious commonwealths. And so on and on. History may be fragmented. But it is also whole.

And listen up Spicoli–the Mr. Hand of political writing is talking to you, if only you weren't too stupid and ignorant and distracted to read past his typos and take home the bigger point about history:

Contemporary journalism is afflicted by sheer amnesia. It is has no grasp of grand history. That is axiomatic. Journalists don't even pretend to know history.

And how do we know this is true? Because "every time I see Al Sharpton on television, I wonder why this great and phantasmagorical liar is being put forward as a witness to anything. Has journalism no judgement[sic]?"

Mebbe, mebbe not. But we know this much: Marty Peretz has no proofreader.

But he does have something more important: A spine that starts at the top of his back and goes all the way to the bottom.

More, much more, here.

And Lee "sprezzatura" Siegel, the comments boards is are open.

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  1. Nick, did you have to surrender to the temptation to insult Marty twice?

  2. Most sources treat “judgement” as an acceptable variant. Was the [sic] (and the gratuitous proofreading reference) meant to attack something else about that passage?

  3. “The longtime maximum leader (read: owner) of The New Republic, Martin Peretz”

    I thought his preferred title was “Peretz-for-Life”?

  4. I’ll throw the guy a couple of bones. First, the demonstrated grasp of history of most popular media is as appallingly poor as their grasp of just about every subject that bears greatly on their subjects. It is maddening how many stories are covered with the Cliffs Notes version of history, not just the first time, but the 200th time. I carefully avoid Time magazine and Newsweek out of fear of spontaneously combusting.

    Second, the blog format partly exists to both relieve the author from the specter of constant editing, but also to grant him something of a reprieve from this kind of pedantry.

    With the realization that this may be perceived as buttering your bread, one of the main reasons that I read Reason is that your writers seem to have a grasp of history and don’t act as if, for example, this is the first time that we’ve ever had a public outcry against immigration.

  5. Nick,

    Nice post!

  6. Nick,

    Maybe the Reason writer’s unusually universal grasp of history is what makes Peretz’s observation so laughably elementary to you.

  7. Nick,

    Maybe Reason’s writers’ unusually universal grasp of history is what makes Peretz’s observation so laughably elementary to you.

  8. I once had a date with a woman who knew Peretz from Harvard. She said he was ‘so brilliant it was like he had had a mental illness’ and yes, she meant that as a compliment.

  9. Is this the same Marty Peretz who said in 2000, “Vote for Gore, a President Bush would be a disaster for Israel.”?

    And then in ’04 it’s, “Vote for Bush, a President Kerry would be a disaster for Israel.”

    Aside from the laughable idea that anyone elected president of the US would ever do anything harmful to Israel, whence comes this belief that the well-being of Israel is the central concern of the American government? And why does he think that all Americans should share this belief?

  10. The big, unanswered question: in “x (read y)”, is “read” an imperative or participle?

  11. Guess who has just been named to the board of the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Fund? Why, it’s Mr. Undogmatic Center-Left himself, Martin Peretz.

    So I’m left to wonder, which of those three words is least appropriate for an Advisory Committee Member on the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Fund?

    Undogmatic, Center, or Left?

  12. Well, this is good news. Now I don’t have to be subjected to his stupidity while scanning for Ackerman’s stuff on The Plank.

  13. The Spine: Straight from Peretz’s brain to your coccyx!

  14. Joe must be celebrating Orthodox Fitzmas.

  15. Peretz: “One cannot grasp the insistent religiosity of America without grasping that the colonies were religious commonwealths”

    On fact: Yeah, like six out of thirteen original colonies could be placed into the category of “religious commonwealths.” The ratio looks even worse if you consider the colonies that didn’t join the Revolution (as you should, since the term here is “colony”). Of these, shouldn’t we consider how many did not stay with their original religion, or did not stay commonwealths prior to the revolution?

    On concept: I think you can grasp it just fine. Americans are religious. We kill each other over things like race, drugs and money, not religion. Why not be religious?

    On summary: Marty teaches this shit at Harvard?

  16. Three months ago, Martin Peretz penned a column about how terrible it was that his colleagues at Hahvahd booted Lawrence Summers.

    In that column, he blamed the outcome on…

    …wait for it…

    “anti-Jewish animus.”

    No, really. What a tool.

  17. Josh,


  18. Election Day is right after FitzSamhain.


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