I Picked Up a Copy of Esquire and Now I Regret It.

The good news is, I didn’t pay for it.

Here’s a mostly-fun article by Dwight Garner, about the joy of having enemies:

This is a column, however, about that old-fashioned word—enemies. Today we more often speak of “rivals” or “competitors.” Richard Nixon would have been vastly duller had he compiled a rivals list instead of an enemies list. “Nothing produces such exhilaration, zest for daily life, and all-around gratification as a protracted, ugly, bitter-end vendetta that rages for years and exhausts both sides, often bringing one to ruin,” wrote the muckraking journalist Jack Anderson, one of Nixon’s crucial enemies. They don’t make guys like Nixon and Anderson anymore. Their feud was not Boeing versus Airbus. It was Montague versus Capulet.

It goes on in that vein, droll and assured, refreshingly un-screechy. But then it tacks on this hot garbage at the end:

We are living in a surreal time in America, a moment in which a president and a political party have made an enemy out of knowledge itself. Science, ethics, economics, art, politics: These things are linked, like climbers lashed together near the top of a vertiginous mountain. It’s a mountain that has taken centuries to ascend. If one of these things falls, all are imperiled. I’m grateful to the quasi-enemies in my daily life for keeping me on my toes and in fighting trim. But it may be time to let those things go. In terms of this political era, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Yes, can’t miss an opportunity to put our marker down and let everyone know that We Do Not Approve of this boorish Trump mountebank, can we? We must drag him into everything, and never mind the fact that forty years from now some writer will doubtless give Trump the same backhanded praise that Garner just gave Nixon (another boorish mountebank). Perspective? This is Esquire.

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is the online headline: “I’ve Relished Having Enemies In My Life. But Am I Wasting My Time?” with concomitant tagline “Even though holding a grudge keeps us on our toes, I’m considering letting go.” That’s not what the article is about. At all. That’s what the narrative-signaling final graph is about. That’s an utter butchery of the tone and intent of the piece.

How do I know this?

Because the dead-tree version has the Headline “Best Served Cold”, with “Every man needs a feud. Our author ponders the pleasures of maintaining an Enemies List.”

The internet ruins everything (he said, on the internet).


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