BAZELON AT YALE! What has Lieberman done wrong? Dont ask Slates resident Yalie: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, JANUARY 21, 2011
Long stories short: This has been a bad week for liberal journalism. Well restrict ourselves to two rather narrow examples.
For three nights, Rachel Maddow has thumped the tub for more coverage of the Spokane bomb incident (link below). On Wednesday night, she said this:
To read that New York Times report, you can just click here.
Should Spokane be getting more coverage? So far, there really isnt a lot to coverunless you want to start thumping the tub about an incident which remains murky. But in fact, Maddow grossly misstated the basic facts about the coverage which had appeared to that point. According to Nexis, the story had already been reported in a large number of national newspapers by Wednesday morningnot just in the New York Times. Beyond that, it had been reported by Wednesday night on the Today show and on NBC Nightly News; on the Fox News Channels Special Report; on the CBS Morning News, the CBS Early Show, and the CBS Evening News (two nights); on Good Morning America, and on an array of CNN programs.
The Associated Press had filed three different reports.
Do you understand why you get handed facts like that? We dont understand either. But then, how about this post by Steve Benen, in which Benen quotes from Leslie Stahls 1999 book, Reporting Live.
Benen presents the following excerpt, in which Stahl describes President Reagans bearing at a private meeting in 1986. According to Benen, this excerpt helps us grasp his key point: I was under the impression that everyone, regardless of party or ideology, already believed Reagan's Alzheimer's symptoms were evident well before 1989. Working tribally, Benen mocks the dumb conservatives who still wont accept this obvious fact. Heres the excerpt he gave to us liberals:
Benen stops quoting Stahl at that pointright before the passage in which she describes Reagan snapping back to life and conducting a clever, informed conversation with her husband and daughter.
Irate commenters complained about Stahl, saying she should have gone on the air and announced that Reagan was senile. If you want to read Stahls full account, you can do so by clicking here, then using the search inside feature.
No, this really doesnt matter. But Benen rolls his eyes at the hapless conservatives who refuse to accept the truth of this matter. As he does so, he offers his own cuckolded readers an utterly misleading version of Stahls account. We have no idea why he did this.
Why do we seem to get treated like fools in such ways? In part, we seem to like it.
Visit our incomparable archives: In 2002, Coulter ran the rubes in a different direction concerning Reagans alleged senility. Remember when conservatives alone toyed with rubes in these ways? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/26/02.
BAZELON AT YALE (permalink): Long ago, William F. Buckley wrote a famous critique of the intellectual culture at Yale. We thought of Buckleys famous book when we read this remarkable piece at Slate, written by Emily Bazelon.
Poor Buckley! Heres how Wikipedia describes his tome, God and Man at Yale:
We have no idea what Yale was like in 1951, when Buckleys book appeared. But what could Yale be like today? What was it like in the 1990s, when Bazelon earned an undergraduate degree, then graduated from Yale Law School, having served as an editor of the Yale Law Review? What could Yale be like today, when Bazelon lives in New Haven with her husband, as assistant professor at Yale? (For Bazelon bio, click here.)
We ask these questions because of Bazelons piece at Slatea piece which represents so much of the intellectual squalor now surrounding the liberal world. And because of her bungled piece for the New York Times magazine in 2008, a piece well recall below.
Whats wrong with the upper-class liberal world? Thats a very good question! While were at it, whats wrong with mainstream press organs like Slateand with Slates owner, the Washington Post, which published that ludicrous, simpering piece by Amy Silverman last Sunday? (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/19/11.)
Is some undiscovered virus eating Americas upper-class brains? Go aheadtry to figure it out! Just take the Bazelon Challenge!
In her piece, Bazelon described her loathing for her retiring senator, Joe Lieberman. Theres a great deal to criticize about Liebermans performance in the past decade. (For a long list of possible offenses, see this post by Glenn Greenwald.) That said, critiques from the liberal world this week have been doctored, trivial, persistently hapless.
Yesterday morning, for example, Lieberman kissed the Gaffney Stone on Morning Joe; he said the Duelfer Report had concluded that Saddam Hussein had every intention particularly to develop nuclear weapons, was developing chemical and biological weapons and had a structure in place, including nuclear scientists, that he was prepared to support if he broke out of the [U.N.] sanctions, which he was inclined to do. As best we can tell, Lieberman overstated the findings of the Duelfer Report, but his overall description was probably more accurate than the instant debunking offered by Arianna Huffington, who called Liebermans statements completely unfounded. Was Ariannas factual claim correct? This is part of Dana Priests front-page report in the Washington Post when the report was first issued:
Would that be a reason to march off to war? Around here, the answer is no. But rather than debate that seminal point in the wake of Liebermans statement, we liberals began to criticize him for spelling out Duelfers name when he spoke with Ariannaand for calling her sweetheart. (We liberals can still get upset by sexist behaviorif its done by the other tribe.) Last evening, our cable hosts thundered and raged, with Chris Matthews lodging an especially ludicrous complaint about Liebermans (completely conventional) use of the term WMD. Matthews then declared that he planned to marry Josh Marshall, who had politely agreed with every word the irate cable host had said.
Are viruses eating American brains? You can say no if you want to.
Back to Bazelon, lounging near Yale: For the record, her piece was posted one day before Lieberman kissed the Gaffney Stone. That said, she quickly displayed the fatuous frameworks which have virtually come to define upper-class liberal culture:
Bazelon is a graduate of Yale Law School; her husband is a Yale professor. But so what? Instantly, she adopted the fashionable upper-class pose in which we delight in the fact that our judgments are largely irrational. (In fairness, this is a growing pose in the world of certain upper-class women, who follow the Ladies Dowd and Collins in chasing the once-abandoned tone of the mid-century womens pages.) How silly is Bazelon willing to be? This is the way a ranking Yale graduate now talks about Major Issues:
Lazily lounging in her upper-class aerie, Bazelon offers a speculation about Liebermans motives in the 1970s, based on the fact that a fatuous friend has voiced this speculation. She then quotes another friend describing a game the lazy libs of this upper-class world very much like to play.
And uh-oh! When Bazelon finally seems to speak for herself, she displays the fashionable ignorance which characterized her hapless work in the Times magazine, four summers ago. Theres a great deal to criticize in Liebermans performance. But this was the first offence which popped into Bazelons mind:
Caleb was mind-reading once againand Bazelon leaped to report it. But what about the one complaint Bazelon seemed to conjure all by herself? In the world of bug-eaten liberal brains, we tend to recite the highlighted tale, in which Lieberman becomes a demon for criticizing Bill Clinton. But is that really the way it happened? Does that represent a sensible criticism? Years ago, we provided the wider record, in which a long string of major Democratic senators instantly echoed what Lieberman said, including such major liberals as Feingold, Boxer and Durbin (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/24/06). We even recalled what the late Senator Wellstone had said about Clintons conduct, one week before Demon Lieberman spoke. (It's reprehensible," Wellstone had said. "I don't support it. It's not defensible.) But so what! The Bazelons lounge in university towns, dispensing their memorized fairy tales and praising themselves for the transparent fact that their judgments are fairly irrational.
For whatever reason, by whatever means, this represents the reigning culture of upper-class liberal America. This culture leads a rag like Slate to post Bazelons silly yammering; this culture led the parent company, the Washington Post, to print that ludicrous piece by Silverman, in which she offered a set of ridiculous reasons to make a truly repellent claim: The state of Arizona is ripe for a copy-cat killing.
This week, Bazelon has merely been silly as she interrupts her other duties at Slate. (Reviewing the TV show Friday Night Lights; musing on the glories of yoga.) But this culture doesnt restrict itself to the silly popping of bon-bons. In the summer of 2008, Bazelon committed a very serious act, writing this massively bungled, know-nothing piece for the New York Times magazine.
Long story short:
For unknown reasons, the Times had asked Bazelon, then a legal writer, to review the large public school system in Wake County, North Carolina (Raleigh and environs). By this time, Wake County had been conning the public for yearsand the public deserved to be told that. But Bazelon got totally tooken by the powers that were.
So much for that Yale education!
Long story short: Passing rates in the Wake County schools had been dramatically rising, for years; Wake County kept claiming that this resulted from the way it balanced (integrated) its school populations according to social class. But uh-oh! In fact, passing rates had been rising all over the state, by almost precisely the same amounts; anyone with an ounce of technical skillanyone with an ounce of sensewould have seen how silly it was to act as if Wake Countys improved passing rates needed a special explanation. By now, almost everyone has come to see what was blindingly obvious even then; almost certainly, the states passing rates had been rising so dramatically because the statewide tests had been getting easier. (Prefiguring what happened in New York State this past year, North Carolina has introduced new statewide tests in recent yearsand passing rates went into free fall, once again all over the state.
Bazelon went off to North Carolina and got herself totally tooken. But then, it was only the lives of black kids which were at stakeand who gives a crap about them? At one time, we liberals said we didbut that was a very long time ago. Today, graduates of the Yale Law School lounge about New Haven eating bon-bons and boasting that their judgments are silly, irrational.
For our first post about Bazelons blunder, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/25/08. To see the sad state of the upper-class liberal world, read her piece from this week. Bazelon doesnt seem to know squat about Lieberman, whose conduct calls for a serious review. But then, insects are eating the brains of the upper-class. Has there ever been a week when this was so blindingly obvious?
Buckley scalded Yale in 1951! Thank God he cant be here today!
What followed: Bazelon is still upset about the way Lieberman criticized Clinton. For the next two years, the whole press corps made up crap about Gore. This conduct sent George Bush to the White House! Bazelon didnt notice or say.