September 26, 2007

"My BJ for Ahmadinejad" by Dick Stengel, cub reporter

smarmstengel.jpg (Left: Time's Sultan of Smarm, Dick Stengel)

Having written You're Too Kind : A Brief History of Flattery, Time's Richard Stengel was evidently that irrelevant magazine's go-to guy when the invitations on "creamy stationery with fancy calligraphy" came around from the Iranians.

Stengel did not disappoint and, after his glittering moment, has turned in a tub of treacle that has few equals in the annals of dictator ass-kissing. It is, by any measure, a classic journo-rim job whose pleasure of giving by Stengel can only be excelled by Ahmadinejad's pleasure in receiving.

There's be a lot of chat in the last couple of days about the propaganda value of the Iranian's video-op at Columbia on Monday. But to make that work, the Iranian Ministry of Truth would have to spend a bit of time editing the tape. With Stengel's article, they have no work to do at all. Just translate and republish word-for-word.

Coyly titled My Dinner with Ahmadinejad (An homage to the classic liberal film of whining and moaning, My Dinner with Andre, get it?) Stengel's blob of prose sets out to right the wrongs done to the man who would be king of the world. That wrong, of course,was the shocking, shocking rudeness displayed earlier this week by Lee Bollinger at Columbia University when he actually, well, called a spade a spade.

Goodness, we can't have that when confronting a fanatical monster who regularly oversees the murder of his own people and American troops, thinks Stengel. No, we have to show him that we are really, really nice people. And show him Stengel does in a tour de force of velvet-tongued flattery.

I've read and edited a lot of books and articles over the past 30 years. These included many that were terrible, worse than terrible, that were downright revolting. But I can't remember one that was so bad, so baldly written in the key of a non-stop suck-up-a-thon, to top Stengel's puling, vomit inducing syllables.

First we get a smidgen of smarm with the phrase, The invitation was on creamy stationery with fancy calligraphy.... This lets you know right away that Stengel's on tap for a very special, very up-town, very exclusive little tete-a-tete. So be grateful for any scrap of information you get, plebe.

From this Stengel slides right into the name-dropping, H.E. Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad followed closely by Brian Williams across the room, and Christiane Amanpour -- ah, a real gala occasion of predictable minds, just the sort of set in which Stengel will feel comfortable.

But what party would be really stellar without, well, a star, a real star, a man so powerful that Stengel's mouth waters at just the thought of being up close and personal with him? Oh the frisson of being in the presence of a man that could have him killed with just a nod of the head, but somehow will not. How breathlessly exciting. How Sonderkommandoesque!.

A bit of wait, just like you have when the Rolling Stones play, and then there he is-- a bowing and smiling Mahmoud Admadinejad glides into the room. The panting within Stengel's prose becomes faintly audible from this point on.

Of course, Stengel, like all media fools, immediately takes steps to let you know that he is not a fool. No, he is a shrewd and sophisticated man -- a cosmopolitan with his hand on the pulsing member of the global culture:

This is now an annual ritual for the President of Iran. Every year, during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, he plots out a media campaign that -- in its shrewdness, relentlessness, and quest for attention -- would rival Angelina Jolie on a movie junket. And like any international figure, Mr. Ahmadinejad hones his performance for multiple audiences: in this case, the journalists and academics who can filter his speech and ideas for a wider American audience.
The "would rival Angelina Jolie on a movie junket" is an especially nice touch. So cool, so nuanced. And the point about "filtering" his "speech and ideas to a wider American audience" is also well taken. Stengel is about to do some really fine filtering.

But first, a bit of description to make the monster seem, well, almost elegant:

... his calm and fluent voice -- "dear friends," he calls us ...

... courtly, preternaturally calm, and fiercely articulate....

No doubt about it, that is some finely wrought ass-kissing. Who said Barbara Walters has a lock on this sort of saccharine BS? Stengel is a contender. And he follows it up with a comparison between the death dwarf and the greatest Persian poet in history:
[Our host treats us to] a half-hour ode to the relationship between man and God that might have been dictated by the Iranian poet Rumi.
Whew, that's a clip that you can bet the dwarf will have read to him over and over whenever he wants to feel the warm, moist touch of Richard Stengel.

But it is still not enough for Stengel. After all, he didn't get to his position at Time without knowing how to be a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling sycophant. No, he merely takes a deep breath and begins sucking-up anew:

...he repeats those works so often that it begins to sound like a mantra: Love. Justice. Kindness. Dignity. He speaks with the quiet zeal of a not-very-flamboyant televangelist. "The pursuit of justice through love and kindness and human dignity can end all conflicts on earth," he says. "Inshallah."

Now I know that any sensible person with a smidgen of insight and a normal human gastrointestinal tract will need to take a vomit break at this point. Go ahead. No blame. I'll wait.......

Back? Okay.

Now we get to the raw throbbing meat of the Stengel suck-up with this sterling exemplar of the Fourth Estate moving in close and personal to the dwarf in order to "filter his speech and ideas for a wider American audience." Here they come, courtesy of Stengel. Don't look for any analysis. Analysis is never the role of the intellectual eunuchs.

Iran has not violated any of the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Right. Check and double-check. Next.

He has proposed a multilateral uranium enrichment program with different nations, and can't understand why no one has taken up his offer.

Ah, our clueless dictators. Poor soul.

The US and Iran can play a positive role together in Iraq. "If the US withdraws from Iraq, good things will happen."

Yes, those waves of ethnic cleansing that will sweep the country. It's all good.

"I believe that the Iraqi people can rule themselves."

Anything to get those US troops out of the way so I can rule them.

In the Middle East, Ahmadinejad says the world must allow the Palestinians to decide their future for themselves.

Did Stengel and the dwarf sleep together through the Palestinian elections when the Palestinians decided their future would be one of blood, death, and suffering?

He refers to Israel only as "the Zionist regime" and does not mention the Holocaust.

And if Stengel wants to be invited back to these soirees he better not mention it either.

Ahmadinejad claims there are thirty newspapers published in Iran that are opposed to his government, citing that as evidence of press freedom in Iran.

Well, there you have it. Case closed. Iran, bastion of press freedom. How soon does Time plan to publish an edition from Tehran? Should have the government's ad buys locked in.

"I view Hitler's role as extremely negative, a despicably dark face."

A "dark face?" What a poet. A touch of Rumi for sure.

Iran, he says, has never invaded anyone in its history.

Can we switch "Persia" for "Iran" and take another pass at that? Same place? Wouldn't learn that from Stengel

"Mr. Bush is interested in harming Iran. But I believe there are wise politicians in America who will prevent such a war. "

Democrats, step right up and give this man the time he needs to make the bomb to blow you away. Be wise.

"We hate war. We would not welcome it. But we are prepared for every scenario. Yet I don't think war will happen."

At least not this year, we're not quite ready yet. Give us time, please.

With that, Ahmadinejad says .... that he welcomes greater dialogue like this evening.

Oh yes, let us get to dialoguing forever. Let us have more shining moments like this. Pass the treacle over to Stengel and don't forget the finger-bowl.

And then, still composed, and with the same slightly mysterious smile that never leaves his face all evening, he bows deeply and heads upstairs.

Perhaps gesturing in his "slightly mysterious" way that Stengel follow. And bring the honey.

Drenched in honey and smarm, Stengel's My Dinner with Ahmadinejad is the kind of article that leaves you wanting less; the kind of article not written by a man without any core principles; a man who has devoted his life to a carefully calibrated sycophancy. Written above all, by a man who is now ready to take the final step and become at last what he always wanted to be. Not an editor, but a court eunuch.

Stengel's got both the lack of skills and the lack of equipment to succeed at that job.

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Posted by Vanderleun at September 26, 2007 8:42 PM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Treacle and gruel. Yummy, yummy, yummy. Being exposed to the bitter truth is no substitute for tasty treacle and gruel. Top it off with some pap, shaken not stirred.

The guy must have impeccable academic credentials.

Forget the rest of the world, millions of Americans are being informed by these useful idiots.

Posted by: Dennis at September 26, 2007 10:25 PM

Guess you didn't like it. Fortunately, I let my subscription to Time lapse in 1994 because the science articles were unbearably stupid. So thanks for exploring the swamp for the rest of us.

Posted by: chuck at September 26, 2007 10:43 PM

Court eunuch?

Posturing catamite would be more appropriate.

Posted by: David McKinnis at September 27, 2007 10:15 AM

Too bad the other Stengel isn't around to take a Louisville Slugger to the cream puff that serves this guy in lieu of a head. He makes the '62 Mets look like winners.

Posted by: Connecticut Yankee at September 27, 2007 11:10 AM

What a great article. You know I must add this to the Sunday Reading List at Right Truth tomorrow.

Posted by: Debbie at September 29, 2007 9:42 PM
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