Roger L. Simon

Sidney vs. Charles

I noticed today via LGF that Sidney Blumenthal is inadvertently taking off after Charles Johnson. I say inadvertently, because I doubt even Sidney is so ideologically straight-jacketed to think that Charles works with Karl Rove. So I’m not certain who Sidney was talking about (he doesn’t name anyone naturally) when, in his impassioned defense of Dan Rather, of all people, on Salon today, Blumenthal writes:

Within minutes of the conclusion of the broadcast, conservative bloggers launched a counterattack. The chief of these critics was a Republican Party activist in Georgia. Almost certainly, these bloggers, who had been part of meetings or conference calls organized by Karl Rove’s political operation, coordinated their actions with Rove’s office.

Charles – perhaps the pivotal blogger in the unmasking of Rather for having duplicated the forged document, supposedly written on a period Selectric, with Microsoft Word and then matching his creation and the copy perfectly with a gif file – appropriately laughs off Blumenthal’s accusation with the back of the hand.

But I would like to add a bit more – because I am probably among the few people on the planet who actually knows both men. I had dinner with Blumenthal back in the Eighties when a mutual friend, thinking we had things in common (we did then), introduced us. Charles, as many reading this are aware, I came to know through blogging and the formation of Pajamas Media.

So here’s my take:

What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the most classical cases of projection I have ever read. Sidney Blumenthal – the consummate insider, a man who has not changed his world view or Beltway allegiances for decades – cannot conceive independent citizens like Charles Johnson exist. It has to be some kind of orchestrated plot, some nefarious clandestine campaign, because that is the way Sidney knows life to be. But, luckily for the rest of us, it’s not.

Charles Johnson is a lone wolf and far more bohemian and original than Sidney Blumenthal. He is, in fact, one of the more interesting people I have ever met and, despite what some have written about him, one of the least racist (and not just because he spent most of his life playing backup for black jazz musicians.) The idea that Charles works with or even knows Karl Rove is ludicrous.

As for the larger theme of Blumenthal’s piece, the implication that Rather should be exonerated because of the greater truth that Bush was a National Guard slacker even if the documents were fake, it is such a pathetic argument I can’t believe anyone wants to make it. But Sidney does. Talk about reification.