One of the blessings of an unpaid-content site with many contributors like the Huffington Post is that its writers often stridently disagree with one another. There are political debates, humorous riffs, and, occasionally (like today), nasty fights. This little scuffle began yesterday when writer and feminist Erica Jong got mad about the way that male journalists describe Hillary Clinton’s appearance. She singled out Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi as a perpetrator of this crime, as he once described Hillary’s arms as “flabby.” Jong called this, and other examples like it, “idiotic name-calling, which only reflects badly on the name-caller.” (Her eventual point, conversely, is that it actually reflects poorly on all of America.) She also called journalists like him a Momist. “Momism is a kind of Oedipal obsession with the bad mother,” she explains, “to counter a boy’s attraction to his good mother.” Taibbi, for his part, did not let this criticism go unchallenged. “I mean, wow,” he writes in a riposte on the same Website today. “And I thought I was a hack.”
Calling Jong an “eight-hundred-year-old sex novelist,” he argues that he frequently describes male politicos in much less flattering terms, thereby deflating Jong’s argument. It’s an angry response, worth reading for its comic bitterness and also for the ruthless descriptions of people like Mark Penn, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee, he recounts: Penn “looks like Karl Rove, only he’s fatter and more disgusting.” Giuliani has “the vestigial stoop of a once-chubby kid who grew up hiding tittie pictures from nuns.” And Huckabee looks like “an oversize Muppet.” Okay, okay, Matt, we get it. But where’s the description of Erica Jong? Cop-out!