When I've had the opportunity, I've been trying to follow the story of TNR's recent foray into Glassworks, redux.
I'm beginning to pity the poor young man, Scott Thomas Beauchamp. It can't have been easy to have grandiose dreams of being the next Jack Kerouac-cum-Phillip Caputo, but suffer from having been born an unexceptional person with unexceptional skills and one moderately exceptional personal connection.
By his own admission, he chose to enlist in the U.S. military not to serve, but to have it serve his ambitions. (It seems to me, he'd have had better luck if he'd chosen to harness a glacier to serve him a little crushed ice for his weak lemonade.) Beauchamp intended to use the United States Army as "background" for his life story, knowing full well he did not believe in the rightness or righteousness of the men and their cause.
Of course, once he was on the inside of the big bad war machine, he believed he could tell any whopper, relate any fish tale, and the gullible reader would accept it, because he presented it while wearing the uniform of the most trusted group of men and women in the world. The uniform gave him a veneer of credibility, he rightly believed, that he would otherwise have lacked. It was his hope he could libel his own brothers, and nobody would be the wiser, because, well, it sounded plausible, didn't it?
Unfortunately for him, the connection Beauchamp made was with his betrothed, and her boss runs a major media outlet.
If he'd been satisfied to write his absurd, vainglorious fictions and fantasies for a quiet little blog alone, unread by the bulk of the blogosphere (like so many of us do), he could have continued to tell his little stories to his heart's content, and that scant handful of readers might still continue to say, in awestruck gasps, "Reeeeeeeeeeeally?" and another few would snort, "what does this jerk know?"
No real harm, except to his little ego.
Unfortunately, Beauchamp got exposure. Too much, too soon, as they say.
He may eventually get a book out of this. Possibly, even a movie contract will spill forth. But it won't be Pyle or Caputo or Bierce or even Kerouac he'll be compared to, over the long haul. It'll be Stephen Glass.
And that should bring young Franklin Foer real shame, for putting this spoilt brat in the driver's seat of this vehicle of self-humiliation, and for using him in an attempt to malign the many thousands of honorable people who wear the uniform proudly. Not that I expect an editor of TNR ever to have acquired a sense of decency about this sort of thing. That would be asking too much.
Update: Dean Barnett seems to me leaning the same direction I am.
OTOH: at NRO, Jonah Goldberg has no sympathy for the little man.