Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Is He Kidding?

Sometimes I think there are two huge problems with The Colbert Report: first, it gives right-wing shills and wackjobs pointers in fact-minimization techniques and, second, it encourages people to think (or hope) that the shills and the wackos are actually speaking tongue in cheek.

The National Review online has just posted a perfect example of this. In an opinion column, contributing editor James S. Robbins argues that global warming is great. If it's happening. Which it's probably not. Because capitalism is good and liberals fear change. Sez Robbins:
Personally, I don't know what all the shouting is about. Global warming is great. Granted, maybe it isn't really happening, and if it is there are strong reasons to doubt that humans have anything to do with it. But if the world is warming, I say "bravo." People in most parts of the globe should have no objection to a warmer, wetter climate. If the aliens were watching they'd conclude we were making our planet more habitable on purpose.
I'm far from the first to pick up on Robbins article. And, like many bloggers, I don't know how to respond to it. It really does read like a Stephen Colbert argument, so it very possibly is a joke. I mean, I doubt it. Not from The National Review, which is seldom deliberately funny. On the other hand, it's hard to shake the feeling that if aliens were reading it, they'd conclude that he was making his case laughable on purpose.

In case Robbins is making the case to be taken seriously, I thought about critiquing the column's logical and factual errors. But the article makes that unnecessary by completely foregoing logic and fact. (It's usually a warning sign when somebody tells you that "there are strong reasons to doubt" something and then doesn't so much as mention a single one of them.) All we get are one-liners, goofily irrelevant anecdotal evidence, and unconvincing use of quasi-scientific jargon.

So, gentle reader(s), please have a look at the piece for yourselves and tell me whether you think a) he's kidding or b) he wants his readers to take him seriously but is undercut how hilarious anyone will sound when simultaneously arguing that global warming doesn't exist and that global warming is totally awesome.

2 Comments:

At 11:33 PM , Anonymous Emily said...

I think it's something like "if global warming existed (which we're not saying it does!) it would be pretty cool. Or hot, as the case may be." Not so much a joke as the kind of weird ponderousness you get when conservatives are trying to be light-hearted.

 
At 8:20 AM , Blogger Mike M. said...

Of course he's not kidding. And that's the subject of tonight's word: "Balmy..."

 

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