Back before the Internet, I didn’t get up early enough to watch the Sunday morning talking-head shows and I rarely read Novak’s syndicated newspaper column. It wasn’t that I held any special animus toward him; he was just one of many columnists that I usually disagreed with and didn’t bother to read regularly unless he touched on a topic of special interest to me. When I wanted a dose of conservatism, I usually read Safire, Will, or one of the local pundits carried by the Anchorage Times.
Now, my blogging colleagues save up his ever offense so that I can read about it over my brunch coffee and fume. I now know that Novak deserves to be singled out for special contempt and derision. That’s why I especially enjoyed this:
NOVAK: All right. Readers -- readers of the left wing magazine, "The Nation," might be a little shocked when they see the back page of the current issue. Even the most fanatical Bush haters might be shocked.
Yes, the drawing shows George W. Bush eating a headless child. This is inspired by a 19th century work by Francisco Goya, Saturn Devouring his Children, aimed against the Spanish monarchy.
Sitting at this table, I know how emotional and relentless and mindless is the hatred directed against George W. Bush. But in the spirit of patriotism, this Fourth of July weekend, I wonder, Paul, if you can join me in deploring this treatment of any president of the United States as over the line and unacceptable?
BEGALA: In the spirit of patriotism, let me support the first amendment, which says the nation shouldn't be censored by right- wingers. And let me ask you, Mr. Novak, with your new self-founded -- newfounded self-righteousness, are you going to retract the statement you said last week on "Meet the Press," where you implied that President Clinton was involved in people's deaths over Whitewater? That's the most outrageous things I've heard said about an American president.
NOVAK: I didn't say he was engaging -- and you're lying.
BEGALA: I'll read your words.
NOVAK: And when I said that...
BEGALA: "I don't believe that the Whitewater case was ever fully investigated. People died, and I believe Bill Clinton beat the rap on Whitewater."
NOVAK: Well, I didn't say he was involved with the thing.
BEGALA: You said...
BEGALA: ... he beat the rap and people died. Who died? Who died in Whitewater?
NOVAK: McDougal died, and...
BEGALA: He died in prison of a heart attack.
NOVAK: Well, people died (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But just a minute. You can't -- you can't say -- go on national television and accuse me of something I didn't say.
BEGALA: I read your words.
NOVAK: I did not say that, and that is a lie. And I...
BEGALA: These are your words, Mr. Novak. I read them.
NOVAK: And I'm ashamed of you for going on the air and saying that.
BEGALA: I got this from the transcript. This is the transcript from "Meet the Press", Bob.
NOVAK: That's an outrage. And it is...
BEGALA: It is an outrage. You owe Mr. Clinton an apology.
NOVAK: ... an absolute outrage because I did not say that he was responsible for those deaths. And this is not fun, Paul…. That was over the line, Mr. Begala.
He’s pious and self-righteous when he thinks he can embarrass someone else, but when they turn the tables on him it’s “over the line” behavior. When caught completely red-handed he childishly cries “you're lying” and “that is a lie.” Novak is a bully and a crybaby at the same time. It’s not an unusual combination. Take Rush Limbaugh…please.
There’s no profound point for me to make here; I just like seeing bullies exposed and humiliated.