2008-02-29 / Letters

Mirsky Reaction Was Priceless

Dear Editor,

Apersonal thank you to Stu Mirsky is in order, with a bit of apology attached. I needed a 'Real time - real world' lesson for my journalism class, and textbooks just don't give you the feel and flavor when you're competing in a talk-radio world. So, lacking a twice-monthly forum and seeking an opportunity to show how right-leaning columnists sometimes respond to criticism, I felt Stu's piece on Rudy Giuliani was a golden opportunity I needed to exploit. In order to provoke a printed response we added the acerbic sentence about irregular merchandise. Bingo! Of course, as I told my students, the obvious and painstaking reference must be directed at the column content, not the columnist. And, so it was.

Lord, but his reaction was priceless. He promptly characterized me personally as 'angry' full of fury and vitriol, and set up scenarios, which he then set about demolishing with aplomb. He re-created reality to his specific needs, set me up as the bogeyman and then answered all the questions he himself posed. While vividly re-creating the horrors of the attack was a dazzling device to mask the lack of substantive response, the use of fear, alarm and 'turnabout' was classic in its brilliance. 'Stoically hurrying down the street' swiftly became 'grandstanding?' If Feldman is so smart, why didn't he dial up the mayor? (my speed dial was inoperative?), 'Perhaps Mr. Feldman was too busy…' (sunbathing?, dining on crumpets?). If your critic's argument is convincing, then try to evoke an incompetent image of your critic. Imply that he thinks irrationally and then you can say he missed the point. Masterful!

Everything we predicted came to pass, even the comment about Giulani appointing Safir prior to Kerik, as if it made any real difference. Stu's resolute loyalty to Rudy was breathtaking, soundly trumping any straightforward and succinct responses. I could never, ever have achieved an equivalent lesson for my students by simply illustrating debate techniques from a textbook. 'But isn't the best defense a good offense?' asks one student, to which another replies, 'Yeah, but not if it's the ONLY defense?'

Just for the record, I am really not an 'angry' person, certainly not full of 'fury'; yes, yes, a prankster, perhaps, and obviously given to sarcasm, but only to a point. Further, labeling me as a 'liberal' or a 'lefty' doesn't offend me one whit, but some of my students, who had me pegged as a libertarian, were mystified.

My better half, Marianne, was upset; she said I frazzled you needlessly and should invite you over for dinner. She's usually correct. Why don't you and your wife give us a call - I'm in the book - and come on over; dinner is on us.


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