Lloyd Grove wrote for the March 1995 edition of Vanity Fair:
New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier is the egghead boy toy of such glamorous powers as Barbara Streisand, Shirley MacLaine, and Tipper Gore. But has he abandoned the life of the mind to be the life of the party?
Leon Wieseltier is a pompous self-proclaimed policeman of the culture who refuses to be edited. As a result, his writing is virtually impossible to read all the way through.
Michael Kinsley, early in his tenure as editor of The New Republic, edited one of Leon's turgid essays. Leon threw a hissy fit, went over Michael's head to the owner of the magazine (Marty Peretz) and reserved for himself the right to never be edited.
After publishing his over-praised book Kaddish, again unreadable except in sections, Wieseltier was invited to Temple Sinai in Westwood by Rabbi David Wolpe to be a scholar in residence at the shul one weekend and speak about his book. Instead, Leon used all but one of his lectures to expound on his views on the Clinton and Lewinsky scandal, much to the rabbi's displeasure.
After receiving a Modern Orthodox education at the Yeshiva of Flatbush, Wieseltier led a famously dissolute life.
Dominic Lawson writes in the 11/14/94 Spectator: "...the journalist Leon Wieseltier... the literary editor of New Republic, is the nearest thing the political correctness mob have to a cultural Gauleiter. In an interview with New York magazine earlier this year Mr. Wieseltier referred grandly to 'part of my job of policing the culture'. (See the policeman wield his truncheon in this issue's letters pages.)"
Talking to The Los Angeles Times about the controversy over Gregg Easterbrook's blog about Jewish Hollywood on tnr.com, Leon attributed it in part "to the hubris of this whole blogging enterprise. There is no such thing as instant thought, which is why reflection and editing are part of serious writing and thinking, as Gregg has now discovered."
"I went to see Wieseltier speak," says a source. "He's kind of a dick. He just read his treatise on Jewish messianic thought – nothing that I didn't already know and hard to absorb what was unique about it. Then he took questions on whatever. Some of the old folks were complaining that he read in a monotone. That was the extent of his performance. The average age of the audience was 65."
I've never heard a good word about Wieseltier's public speaking. He's the most over-rated intellectual in American letters.
Feb. 9, 2010
In an article on Andrew Sullivan, The New Republic's Literary Editor Leon Wieseltier writes: "He is the master, and the prisoner, of the technology of sickly obsession: blogging–and the divine right of bloggers to exempt themselves from the interrogations of editors–is also a method of hounding."
What's with calling "blogging" the technology of sickly obsession? Why is it more sickly obsessive than cell phones? What is sick obsession? Why are you dogged and I am obsessed?
A lot of people have called me obsessed in my blogging. I know then that they lack argument and can only use cheap put-downs.
A Google search could not turn up Leon Wieseltier's email address. I guess he doesn't want to be questioned. It's so much more comfortable just to pronounce.