The Mickey Kaus cachet, writes R.J. Smith in the August issue of Los Angeles magazine:
Smith writes that "Kaus's reputation rests on skewering received wisdom and those who receive it." He recounts Kaus' roots -- Beverly Hills upbringing, Harvard and Harvard Law, son of state supreme court justice Otto Kaus, writer for the contrarian Washington Monthly -- to explain the Kausfiles penchant for almost exclusively chiding Democrats and liberals: he's tweaking his friends, neighbors and family. Kaus says it's not that he likes the conservatives who run things now, it's just they are outside his universe.
"If I thought the Republicans could be reformed into being a vehicle for a decent national health care system, I would concentrate my fire on the Republicans. But they are sort of hopeless, so you try to perfect the party you think has a chance of accomplishing what you want."
Weighing in from the left, Robert Scheer sees a less benign effect and suggests in the piece that Kaus should fess up and join the other side. Smith implies that Kaus, as a blogger for Slate with a daily audience in the tens of thousands and a deal that provides his posts not be edited, largely escapes criticism:
But Slate editor Jacob Weisberg and a friend give Kaus props:
"He's annoyingly smart, and he's not obnoxious." (friend)
Smith points out, finally, that Kaus' 1992 book The End of Equality influenced national welfare reform, and as a writer for Washington Monthly and The New Republic his credentials are more mainstream than outsider.
Smith, a senior editor of the magazine, writes the Media column and had previously written a piece on California columnist Jill Stewart, a buddy of Kaus's who he put forth on Kausfiles as a candidate for governor in the Gray Davis recall. The story on Kaus is available on newstands but not yet online at Los Angeles magazine.