This unfolded on Twitter, where you can read the entire exchange (minus Podhoretz’s tweets, which, interestingly enough, he deleted). It began when Commentary senior editor Abe Greenwald rushed to the aid of dishonest “journalist” Sohrab Ahmari:
In response, I invited Greenwald to debate me; he responded that to do so would be “punching down,” whereupon I pointed out that I had sold far more books than he or Ahmari, and thus in debating me and, presumably, defeating me, he could end my baneful influence forever.
That’s when John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, columnist for the New York Post, and contributing editor of the Weekly Standard, jumped in:
What on earth set John Podhoretz off on this juvenile tantrum? Did I take his lunch money? Did I pull the football away when he was about to kick it? No, I’ve never met John Podhoretz. I’ve never had any interaction with him at all. So what accounts for his frothing-at-the-mouth, unhinged rage and hatred? Well, obviously he doesn’t like the things I say and the positions I take, although I would be surprised if he has read anything I’ve written and expect that he only knows my work from the characterizations of it by those who oppose it.
But that isn’t the point here. The point is that an increasingly large segment of the American intelligentsia — primarily on the Left but also putative conservatives such as Podhoretz — do not engage intellectually those whom they oppose, but resort only to mocking and vilifying them, as if to disagree with the positions taken by someone like Podhoretz or Greenwald, or others who do this such as Reza Aslan, is evidence not only of stupidity but of a moral failing (note Podhoretz above saying I’m a “disgrace” not only “intellectually” but “morally,” as if noting that Islam is not a religion of peace is tantamount to molesting children or stealing the savings of old ladies).
Podhoretz and others like them think that the truth of their positions, and the falsehood of mine, is self-evident and thus needs no discussion or debate: he will assert that my work is somehow destructive and obviously false, but when asked to defend his claim, contemptuously refuses. Those of us who hold the positions to which he objects, whatever they exactly are, just have to take his word for it: he is smarter than we are, he knows the subject better than anyone, and doesn’t have to demonstrate a thing or produce any evidence.
This is how political leaders and the mainstream media are behaving in all sorts of contexts these days, and people are getting fed up. The Brexit vote and the ascendancy of a man with no political experience to be the nominee of a major party are indications that growing numbers of people are tired of the elitism and contempt of people such as John Podhoretz. We don’t believe him, we don’t accept what he says at face value, and we have nothing but contempt of our own for his refusal to defend the positions he asserts with such such foul-mouthed swagger.
These emperors — John Podhoretz and so many others — have no clothes. We know it and they know it. Hence their rising fury, their static and impotent rage as their vacuity is increasingly exposed.
(Thanks to Mohamed the Atheist for the screenshots of Podhoretz’s tweets.)