The Grateful and the Damned
In Praise of Jon Swift
Pierre Tristam/Candide's Notebooks, February 14, 2007
Jon Swift launched his merciless blog on December 30, 2005, with predictions, among others, that “Condoleeza Rice will win the 2006 Presidential election,” that “There won’t be a single terrorist attack in Wyoming” (gas drilling in sublime neighborhoods isn’t yet a terrorist act), that “American troops will leave Iraq except for the ones necessary to keep order and prevent civil war,” and that “Robert Novak’s source will turn out to have been the Internet,” all of which proved more than less true (even the one about Condi, since Bush quit sometime in December). Swift has been extracting sunbeams out of conservatism since, reaching heights (and depths) of perfect-pitch satire along the way (“Let's Not Nuke Iran Yet,” “Don't Ask, Don't Trill” and “Declare Supreme Court Justices Enemy Combatants” are among personal favorites I linked to in these pages). His work has no parallel in the mainstream press, where satire is considered too risky (every advertiser would be offended, primarily from not knowing whether to laugh or be offended) and no parallel that I know of among the web's sevety-seven trillion blogs, all of which I read carefully daily. His stylistic skewers are second only to his marketing verve, which has him blogrolled, cited, praised and crossposted as pervasively as those pimply social-networking icons to which even I've surrendered, on web sites liberal, conservative and in between. His secret? Despite being more liberal than Warren Beatty at a union meeting he has every conservative convinced that he's one of theirs, his “moderate” monicker the kicker to every entry visa. It's admittedly not difficult to dupe Reagan-generation conservatives: they dupe themselves for sport. But Swift manages a kind of universal appeal rare in blog-eat-blog jealousies and hyper-sensitivities to the slightest crinkle in the wrong direction. If this sounds like an extended ad, it is: Somehow Jon Swift came across this web site in its earliest and rarely read incarnations (a post about the Olympics, I think, was his hook, the one that Google still insists on listing near the top of a search page by this site's name even though it's a year old) and decided to market it when and where he could—and has, in fact, more generously than I've done in return, and almost as generously as Ohdave. That explains the illustration above. Swift's latest plug was in an interview with Bloggasm's Simon Owen, no marketing slouch himself. When Owen asks his last question, "What are the five blogs you’d recommend to supplement the reading of your own?" Swift replied, in part: “I have no idea why Candide’s Notebook by Pierre Tristam is not on every liberal blogroll. Although I disagree with everything he says [...] I always have to think twice before I dismiss what he says out of hand.” My bewilderment exactly. Then again, read Swift and you'll easily detect why some writers' words travel far while others get stuck in the medium's asteroid belt.