Eric Alterman Is the Aging-Lefty Lindsay Lohan

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Is Eric Alterman spinning out of control? After his arrest last night at the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, where the cops cuffed him in a gymnasium “spin room” at Manchester's St. Anselm College and hauled him down to the police station for allegedly trespassing at a private party, maybe Alterman’s friends and family should be concerned that he’s becoming the aging-pundit answer to Lindsay Lohan. The lefty commentator has a taste for mayhem, if only, until now, of the verbal variety. Over the past two decades, worried Alterman watchers have felt growing alarm as his pugnacity and all-around contrariness have escalated to potentially aneurysm-inducing levels. Indeed, when this reporter once shared a subway ride with him from the Upper West Side, he announced: “I am so fucking angry about the war in Iraq, I think I’m going to explode.” This reporter’s reply: “That’s fine, Eric, but if you’re going to explode, do you mind waiting till I get off the train?”

More recently, at a cocktail party in Washington the day after the White House Correspondents Association Dinner, Alterman, a columnist for The Nation and author of the Altercation blog on the Media Matters Website, entered into a nasty quarrel with Time magazine blogger Ana Marie Cox about which of them was the better liberal — one of those disputes that was so vicious because so little was at stake. Now, fresh off that scandal, he was cuffed and taken downtown after deploying his argumentative zeal on one of the organizers of the private party, then on the police officer who was summoned to escort him out, and then on the officer’s supervisor, according to the varied and multiplying blogosphere accounts. Luckily, Alterman had the 30 bucks necessary to bail himself out, and a court date was set for later this month. Today, he’s vowing to fight the charges to the death, or at least till everyone loses interest, whichever comes first. Meantime, we'll be lining up a bed at Promises. —Lloyd Grove

Columnist/Author Released After Being Arrested in Spin Room [Political Ticker/CNN]