57 varieties of…

Writing from an irreverent left-wing perspective, Matt Taibbi deconstructed John Kerry’s convention speech in a highly entertaining column for the New York Press: “The liberal case against John Kerry.” Taibbi describes his methodology as follows:

After listening to John Kerry’s acceptance address last week, I did a little experiment. I decided to remove everything that was bullshit and see what was left…
I admit to using the widest possible interpretation of bullshit. Bullshit can be outright lies, bullshit can be calculating come-ons, and bullshit can be self-aggrandizing self-mythology, which is more commonly known in this country as self-aggrandizing bullshit.
I acted on all of these varieties of bullshit, but I also went a little further.
I edited out phony religiosity (pious bullshit) and pointless political platitudes of the sort that could be used by any politician in any situation, including Hitler (i.e., “We’re the optimists”: meaningless bullshit). I also chopped out all gratuitous flag-waving (patriotic bullshit), all forced and hollow tough-talking (saber-rattling bullshit), and all draping of the clearly unworthy self in the ill-fitting cloak of the great figures of history (name-dropping bullshit).

Despite Taibbi’s obviously leftist perspective, Taibbi’s methodology is in fact highly effective. Although I use a different rationale to weed out the offending passages of Kerry’s speech, I arrive at the same result Taibbi did — with far fewer laughs along the way. (Courtesy of reader Mike Daley.)


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