The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

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Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Our Favorite Rhetorical Enemy

From the Cabalmaster:

We opinionated TransitCabalists have this to say about the "Wendell Phenomenon" -- referring, of course, to our favorite foil, Wendell Cox:

Wendell Cox is a skilled media manipulator and a shameless self-promoter who once lived in Los Angeles and probably learned those "skills" there. He seems to believe in that old entertainment-industry adage: "There's no such thing as bad publicity." Another version: "Say whatever you want, just spell my name right." Gadflies, curmudgeons and dragonslayers are positive figures in American popular culture -- and Cox plays this role to the hilt.

Wendell Cox is also very good at collecting, organizing and presenting reams of data. He deserves credit for that; the guy appears to do his homework.

Cox also has a knack for putting together anti-rail arguments, presented with just the right "spin." These sound plausible until one takes a closer look. The problem: by the time people take a closer look, Wendell moves on to something else. But Cox cannot do this indefinitely before his credibility starts to erode; this process tends to proceed very rapidly once started.

Cox appears to have an insatiable appetite for publicity; he seems to bask in the glow of the limelight although he tries his best to present a low-key image. Part of his motivation may be insecurity. If this sounds unlikely, compare Wendell's work (and "curriculum vitae") with that of other rail opponents -- John F. Kain, for example. Although skilled and polished at communications, Cox is a lightweight when it comes to analysis. Little of his work would stand up to independent critical review. Slick presentation of shallow, biased analysis is the Cox trademark. Such a "show" cannot go on forever. Wendell Cox epitomizes the phrase "self-proclaimed expert." He knows this, and this fact becomes evident to anyone who gives his critique of Weyrich and Lind ("Twelve Anti-Transit Myths: A Conservative Critique;" see: more than a cursory glance.

After his fifteen minutes are up, Wendell Cox will become just another Zsa Zsa Gabor, "famous for being famous," as they say down in L.A.

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