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RAH FOR REHM! Martin Walker called the Dem “dwarfs.” Diane Rehm told him to stuff it:


A HUNDRED CHEERS FOR DIANE REHM: A hundred cheers for Diane Rehm for her work on last Thursday’s Diane Rehm Show. A caller complained about guest Martin Walker’s reference to Dem hopefuls as “seven dwarfs” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/7/03). For the record, the caller said that Republican candidates deserved be treated respectfully, too. Here’s the exchange which followed:

REHM: You know, I do hope that in the coming two years we can kind of keep the conversation focussed on a high plane and not denigrate the people who are going to put themselves forward. They’re going to have enough trouble dealing with each other.

WALKER: Well, I think the phrase “seven dwarves” is one of those phrases that has entered the political lexicon. It’s a direct echo of the campaign of 1988—

REHM: Why don’t we get rid of it in the process?

WALKER: Well fine, but—

REHM: Let’s try.

A hundred cheers for Diane Rehm! And many cheers to her polite but pointed caller. But sadly, Dems have to start asking the Martin Walkers who the f*ck they think they are when they blithely denigrate respected pols—pols who have been put in office by the judgment of American voters. Readers, a phrase has entered our lexicon, too; that phrase is “worthless, flyweight pundit.” Pundits like Walker need to hear it quite often. A hundred cheers for Diane Rehm for telling the sputtering Martin Walker that he could take his bloated ego, his attitude and his Millionaire Pundit Values and pretty much give them all a big shove.

YOU TOO CAN BE A TALK-SHOW PUNDIT: You too can be a conservative pundit. First, memorize these two-word phrases. Then interject them in discussions as needed:

  1. Liberal bias
  2. Political correctness
  3. Class warfare
  4. Moral equivalence
With sagacious use of these four fuzzy phrases, you can stop discussion dead in its tracks, just like the professionals do it.

Of course, the phrase of the hour is “class warfare.” Can anyone say what the fuzzy phrase means? In American politics, everyone agrees with the notion of progressive taxation; everyone—Rep and Dem alike—agrees that, as a matter of fairness, the rich should be taxed at higher rates than the poor (see below). But when Dems examine the Bush tax plans, they are now attacked—it’s Hard Pundit Law—for performing an act of “class warfare.” No one knows what the fuzzy phrase means. It’s just a great way to change a rough subject.

Everyone knows it; it’s Hard Pundit Law. If Democrats dare to question Bush, pundits must instantly shout out “class warfare.” In fact, given your pundit corps’ Millionaire Pundit Values, even those hired to play the “liberal” know they must mouth the key point. Here was Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) on yesterday’s Press & Buchanan:

PRESS: Don’t Democrats run into the risk of being accused of “class warfare” by taking on the president because this does benefit mainly the rich?

DORGAN: Listen, the “class warfare” are those who propose let’s exempt people who get their income from dividends, but let’s keep taxing people who dress in the mornings and take a shower and then go to work and work hard all day. I mean it seems to me that’s where the class warfare is.

BUCHANAN: OK, we’re going to talk a little bit more about class warfare when we come back to Senator Byron Dorgan.

Hay-yo! And that’s the way our discourse now works. The conservative accuses the Dem of “class warfare.” The liberal merely asks the Dem if he hasn’t brought on the charge.

That’s right, folks. With your press corps observing Millionaire Pundit Values, everyone knows how to be a con pundit. To our pundits, once Dear Leader has spoken on taxes, any discussion beyond that point is a shameless, vile act of class war.

WHEN STEVE FORBES ENGAGED IN CLASS WARFARE: Readers may recoil at the troubling claim that Reps and Dems like progressive taxation. What about Steve Forbes, you ask? What about flat taxes?

In fact, no mainstream pol has ever suggested doing away with progressive taxation. Under Forbes’ oddly-named “flat tax” proposal, the first $36,000 of income would have been exempted from taxation (family of four). That is, even under this so-called “flat tax,” families would have been taxed at varying rates. Some would have paid up to 17 percent. Others would have paid no tax at all.

In Dick Armey’s comical book, The Flat Tax, the Texan insisted, again and again, that “the flat tax is progressive.” Remember: Cons are allowed to tax the rich more. But if you plan to become a Rich Pundit, you must learn to yell “class warfare” when Dems try to check what they’ve done.

DIONNE FIGHTS BACK: Many cheers for E. J. Dionne, who took on “class warfare” in yesterday’s column. Basically, Dionne called Bush a fake and a fraud for the selective way he has played this slick card. Hard to believe, but with Dionne’s emergence, our “liberal press corps” now has two liberals—Dionne and Paul Krugman. We have waited a long, long time to see liberal columnists start to fight back. Here at THE HOWLER, we cheer on Dionne. We’re glad that Achilles has put down his lyre, emerged from his tents, and placed himself right in the battle.

AND THREE CHEERS FOR HEROIC AL FRANKEN: Is there a bigger faker than Bernie Goldberg, who cut-and-pasted his fraudulent best-seller, Bias, from a well-known conservative media site? Last January, we penned a set of articles about the book’s risible rantings. On Monday night’s Donahue, Franken revealed another of Goldberg’s phony claims—another case where Goldberg couldn’t even begin to explain a claim from his book. Scan down through the Donahue transcript to see the Franken and Goldberg exchanges. By the way, at one point Franken offers this opaque remark about the topic in question:

FRANKEN: The point here is, Bernie, you regurgitated a quote that you got from some right-wing media watch group. And you did not care to look at the context of it.
What does Al mean? As we noted last year, it’s clear that Goldberg cut-and-pasted Vile Liberal Quotes from the archives of the Media Research Center—perhaps not realizing how absurd and phony the MRC’s work often is. We noted one of Goldberg’s most ludicrous entries (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/12/02); at one point, he bitterly complained about a quote by Natalie Angier of the New York Times, seeming to think that the vile Angier had disrespected us hard-working men. The problem? Angier is a science writer, and the quote in question came from a piece about insect reproduction. The quote had nothing to do with politics or the gender wars; indeed, it had nothing to do with people! But the MRC had placed it on its site, and it found its way into Bias, too. On Monday, Franken gave us the latest case where Goldberg couldn’t explain his own rantings.

But remember—Democrats have to take the lead in driving these fakers from public life. When Bias and Ann Coulter’s Slander came out, mainstream reviewers—with their “who-gives-a-sh*t” Millionaire Pundit Values and their deep-dish fear of the talk-show right—often praised them for their research and scholarship (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/22/02). Will this kind of fakery ever end? There’s no sign that pundits will do it. Let’s recall that relevant quote: “They have an increasingly right-wing and bellicose conservative press. And we have an increasingly docile establishment press.” Congratulations to Franken and Phil for making Bill Clinton a liar.