By the sheerest coincidence, two spoofs of "progressives" have appeared at just the right moment for light summer reading: "The Obama Diaries" by Laura Ingraham, about the Obama team's inner thoughts as imagined by Ingraham, and "JournoList," the nonfiction novel about the inner thoughts of 400 or so liberal pundits and writers, as imagined by none but themselves.
The first takes the form of diary entries; the second of e-mails. The charm of the first is that it takes the accepted perceptions of President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and others, and ratchets them up just a tiny tic more into parody.
The charm of the second is that it takes the characters' views of themselves -- as refined, rational figures who are the creme de la creme of the pundit community -- and contrasts them with the views of themselves as revealed in the e-mails: as people in need of a) sedation, b) housebreaking, c) anger management courses and d) the long-term employment of really good shrinks.
The "books" intersect in that the people in "Diaries" are worshipped and loved by the JournoList people, who work hard to further their goals. They install one of their own at the Washington Post to cover conservatives, and he calls them "ratf
ers" and "morons" when chatting with intimates. They plot to suppress a network whose stories offend them, derail a news story that threatens their candidate, and craft a line of attack against his opponents, though some of them work for "neutral" news units and are to paid to deliver straight news.
They root for Matt Drudge to die in a fire, and for Rush Limbaugh to die of a heart attack. "I hope he fails," the Post writer says when Limbaugh is rushed to a hospital.
A producer of an NPR affiliate's "neutral" news program wants him to die in her presence, so she can "laugh ... like a maniac" as he expires. No one seems to find these things strange.
Sometimes, they move on to proactive fantasies: "What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left," writes Spencer Ackerman. "Find a right winger's [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear."
He then gets specific: "Let's just throw [Michael] Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace [sic] Dr. Alterman ... through a plate glass window. I'll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the f--k up."
As a diversion, he suggests they pick a random conservative and call him a racist. "Ask: why do they have such a deep seated problem with a black politician...? This makes them splutter with rage."
When someone protests this might damage their candidate's image, he suggests that they do his dirty work for him: "I'm not saying OBAMA should do this. I'm saying WE should." Elsewhere, Eric Alterman, distinguished professor at two universities, unloads on his critics: "F
ing NASCAR retards," he says. Ingraham makes the Obami look somewhat ridiculous, though not nearly as much as the JournoLists do to themselves.
What made them unbutton their ids to 400 people, as gaga as they were, as weirdly erratic, as ready to play fast and loose with the rules? One or more was bound to get ticked off at something, and then blow the whistle, and sure enough, one or more did.
As no readers could trust them, they could not trust each other. And neither, therefore, can we.
Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."