George Will's Not Bitter

by | April 15, 2008

It's a challenge to maintain focus on just one of the various unintentionally hilarious elements of George Will's column today, but I'll give it a shot. One of the biggest goals of Will's Bittergate manifesto appears to be to perpetuate the theory that crabby liberals believe America is not "good and decent" but "downright mean," as epitomized by Obama's "diagnosis of working-class Democrats as victims," while sunny conservatives prefer to view the public as "coping -- reasonably successfully, optimistically, and harmoniously -- with life's vicissitudes." It's an old trope, liberals as victimologists. But I've found that conservatives are often just as willing to flog theories of victimhood -- it's just that, as opposed to the downtrodden, the victims they identify tend to be themselves.

One small example. I had the misfortune of reading Will's column this morning alongside another story ($) I had saved to read, "Liberal Web," National Review's John J. Miller's argument that "Wikipedia brims with liberal bias." I got interested in the politics of Wikipedia for a recent story I did on Hillary's page, and while I hadn't perceived anti-conservative bias on Wikipedia's political pages, I wanted to see if Miller had picked up on something I didn't.

To prove the existence of an anti-conservative cabal on Wikipedia, Miller cites two pieces of evidence:

1. David Vitter's sex scandal is mentioned in an earlier sentence on his Wikipedia page than Eliot Spitzer's is.

2. Jon Henke, George Allen's "new-media coordinator" during his 2006 campaign, feels that "on Wikipedia, we got our brains beat out" while, as Miller writes, "the [page] on Allen's Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, didn't suffer the same kind of treatment. 'His profile was glowing,' says Henke. In the end," Miller notes ominously, "Webb narrowly defeated Allen." 

To translate: George Allen's own staffer complained that the Wikipedia page for his candidate, who did bats**t crazy things during his campaign, was less positive than his opponent's, and therefore Miller suggests that the cataloguing of said candidate's crazy acts on Wikipedia had an actual causational relationship with the candidate's loss. In other words, Wikipedia stole the Senate. 

Aw. Sometimes the world is so unfair. Downright mean, even. Might I recommend a lesson from George Will in how to cope with life's vicissitudes more successfully, optimistically, and harmoniously.

--Eve Fairbanks

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/george-wills-not-bitter