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Daily Howler: You can read the truth about Matthews--but only in readers' comments
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UP FROM KNAVERY! You can read the truth about Matthews—but only in readers’ comments: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2008

DOWD HEARS A JOKE: Mental illness causes great suffering. Ideally, it shouldn’t be joked about. It shouldn’t be flippantly “diagnosed” as part of our public discourse.

But when the Times leaves Maureen Dowd in print, it’s hard to avoid such talk. Here’s why we had that reaction to her current column:

Like you, we did a double-take at the start of this piece. Was she serious? Dowd seemed to be writing about the problem of “misogyny” in the coverage of Hillary Clinton! In fact, no one has done more than Dowd to introduce various forms of gender-loathing into our political discourse. For that reason, we were surprised by her choice of topics. But we thought, once again, of mental disorder when she offered this clownish account of this vexing problem:

DOWD (2/13/08): Many women I talk to, even those who aren't particularly fond of Hillary, feel empathy for her, knowing that any woman in a world dominated by men has to walk a tightrope between femininity and masculinity, strength and vulnerability.

They see double standards they hate—when male reporters described Hillary's laugh as ''a cackle'' or her voice as ''grating,'' when Rush Limbaugh goes off on her wrinkles or when male pundits seem gleeful to write her political obituary. Several women I know, who argue with their husbands about Hillary, refer with a shudder to the ''Kill the Witch'' syndrome.

Too funny! Dowd goes out of her way to pretend that the problem belongs to “male” journalists. We thought of five-year-old children who cover their eyes, pretending the world can’t see them. Dowd, of course, isn’t five years old, and so we marveled at the childish way she tried to misdirect us. And sure enough! It wasn’t long till a certain female pundit played a new gender card:

DOWD: Those close to Hillary say she's feeling blue. It's an unbearable twist of fate to spend all those years in the shadow of one Secretariat, only to have another gallop past while you're plodding toward the finish line.

I know that the attacks against powerful women can be harsh and personal and unfair, enough to make anyone cry.

Hiss! Hiss-spit! Hiss-spit!! Mee-ow!! For a decade, Dowd has played her thick deck of (crackpot) gender cards against Major Dems, both female and male. Here, once again, she hissed and spat about the Big Dem girl who “cried.”

The Times should gently lead her away. But don’t worry—the Times never will.

At any rate: Once she’d gotten her hiss-spitting in, the “Crackpot Coquette” had some good solid fun with her own unique version of “logic.” Our question: In a nation of three hundred million souls, how can someone so vastly dumb be splayed at the top of our discourse?

DOWD (continuing directly): But Hillary is not the best test case for women. We'll never know how much of the backlash is because she's a woman or because she's this woman or because of the ick factor of returning to the old Clinton dysfunction.

[...]

As a possible first Madame President, Hillary is a flawed science experiment because you can't take Bill out of the equation. Her story is wrapped up in her marriage, and her marriage is wrapped up in a series of unappetizing compromises, arrangements and dependencies.

God, that’s stupid! Until the perfect female candidate runs, “we’ll never know” how to rate the backlash—the misogyny aimed against her. Translation: There’s no way to know if Dowd’s moron friend will tell this same joke the next time:

DOWD: In a webcast, prestidigitator Penn Jillette talks about a joke he has begun telling in his show. He thinks the thunderous reaction it gets from audiences shows that Hillary no longer has a shot.

The joke goes: ''Obama is just creaming Hillary. You know, all these primaries, you know. And Hillary says it's not fair, because they're being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there's no White Bitch Month.''

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Readers, male comedians are telling naughty jokes about Clinton! And Dowd is quick to repeat them, of course—and to suggest we can’t fully assess Jillette because of Clinton’s imperfect profile. “[E]ven Jillette admits it’s offensive,” Dowd says, speaking of her moronic friend’s sally. But we can’t quite criticize males like Jillette until the “best test case” comes along! Until we get a candidate who lacks “the ick factor”—as a five-year-old might have said.

Until then, we’ll just have to repeat Gillette’s “joke,” and wonder what’s really involved here.

Rightly or wrongly, we thought again of mental illness when Dowd referred to those “male” malefactors. Her attempt to misdirect was so transparent, we found ourselves thinking of five-year-old kids who cover their eyes as a way to hide. But by the end, Dowd drops her hands. It isn’t about male pundits now; it’s also all about her, she admits. But before she copped, we noticed how easy a female’s life can be at the glorious Times:

DOWD: Instead of carving out a separate identity for herself, she has become more entwined with Bill. She is running bolstered by his record and his muscle. She touts her experience as first lady, even though her judgment during those years on issue after issue was poor. She says she's learned from her mistakes, but that's not a compelling pitch.

As a senator, she was not a leading voice on important issues, and her Iraq vote was about her political viability.

She told New York magazine's John Heilemann that before Iowa taught her that she had to show her soft side, ''I really believed I had to prove in this race from the very beginning that a woman could be president and a woman could be commander in chief. I thought that was my primary mission.''I

If Hillary fails, it will be her failure, not ours.

Life for a pundit is very easy—when she can simply assert her facts without explanation or argument. Clinton’s judgment was poor “on issue after issue,” Dowd says—without saying what issues she means. And her vote on Iraq “was about her political viability,” she asserts, without qualification.

But at the end, Dowd drops her hands—stops pretending she can hide. You see it in her final word—“ours.” It isn’t about “male pundits” any more. Don’t blame Clinton’s loss on me, the world’s biggest gender-nut tells us.

A CERTAIN FEMALE’S ICK FACTOR: Dowd has played her thick deck of gender cards against Major Dems for many years. Just to help you understand how your nation found its way to Iraq, please understand: This is how Dowd began her column two days before we went to the polls to choose between Bush and Gore. This is how her column began on Sunday, November 5. No, we didn’t invent this:

DOWD (11/5/00): I feel stunning.

And entrancing,

Feel like running and dancing for joy . . .

O.K., enough gloating. Behave, Albert. Just look in the mirror now and put on your serious I only-care-about-the-issues face.

If I rub in a tad more of this mahogany-colored industrial mousse, the Spot will disappear...

That was girly-man Gore, of course; in Dowd’s column, he was standing before his mirror, telling himself how pretty he felt. And “the Spot,” of course, was Gore’s bald spot. For the record, this was the sixth column Dowd had written in which Gore was placed before a mirror, talking to himself about “the Spot” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/21/07). But then, Gore was so feminized he was practically lactating, as Dowd had already explained.

(Six years later, Frank Rich was still insisting that Gore was a “fearmonger,” just like Bush, because of what he’d said in his “high school movie.” If you want the bumper-sticker: These people are baldly disturbed.)
Indeed, Dowd is morally/emotionally ill. The Times should have drug her away long ago. We’re in Iraq because of these clowns—and oh yes, one more key point: To this day, our “liberal intellectuals” won’t discuss it. Have you ever seen a “liberal journal” write a profile of this screaming public nut? Dowd has been a visible crackpot for years. Go ahead—find one profile.

Dowd is powerful, as is the Times. In the face of that, you can go hang. (The dead of Iraq can go hang with you.) You see, your leaders want to write for the Times. And they want to hang at nice parties.

QUESTIONS RE KRUGMAN: Several readers have complained about Paul Krugman’s last column—a column we praised. They focused on what Krugman said about Obama supporters. We focused on what Krugman said about the press corps’ “Clinton rules.”

Since they’ve asked, we’ll answer.

In our view, Krugman has been a bit “shrill” on Obama, although he has often made valid points about various stands the hopeful has taken. Was he shrill about Obama’s supporters? Our incomparable views:

Like Krugman, we’ve been stunned and saddened at the Dem-on-Dem hatred displayed in comments around the web. (Our reaction to the South Carolina debate: Those are the three best candidates we’ve ever seen in a three-candidate forum.) We wouldn’t know how to quantify this. But, like Krugman, it’s our impression that more of this comes from Obama supporters. We can think of an obvious reason for that: There’s a sixteen-year catalogue of demonology to access about Candidate Clinton.

For our money, it’s sad to see how many Democrats have purchased this RNC-inspired, MSM-driven package. But it’s understandable that this has occurred. To amplify something Krugman said: Many Democrats also believed that Al Gore said he invented the Internet. Indeed, why wouldn’t they have purchased that tale, and so many others like it? They heard these tales a thousand times. They rarely heard them contradicted.

For our money, Krugman has been a bit shrill about Obama. (That’s a subjective assessment, of course.) On the other hand, the Obama campaign has sometimes sought to ride this old wave of Clinton-hatred. We think that’s a very bad thing to have done—but sadly, it’s a part of our politics. (Bradley did it too, against Gore.) And oh yes! You’ll never hear a word about it in the mainstream press. The silence they’ve maintained about this is part of the “Clinton rules,” too.

Indeed, the Times has published nine letters today about Krugman’s column. All nine concern the Dem-on-Dem hatred. None (zero) concern what Krugman said about the noxious “Clinton rules” long employed by the mainstream press.

But then, it’s just as we have told you: When you discuss the mainstream press, what you say will be disappeared. That’s the way this cohort plays it—much like a small, stupid mafia.

FRANKLY, WHAT ABOUT RICH: We expect to continue tomorrow. There’s one more point to be made.

Special report: Long-standing mess!

PART 3—UP FROM KNAVERY: In our view, Salon’s Joan Walsh makes some very good points in this post about David Shuster.

Has Shuster become a scapegoat at MSNBC? On the one hand, you could think so. Over time, Chris Matthews’ conduct has been much more egregious, but only Shuster has been suspended. But when Matthews was forced to apologize for his endless gender-trashing, Shuster rushed to say how outrageous it was that Poor Brilliant Chris could have been so abused. And then, even after Matthews’ tumble, Shuster continued his net’s stupid conduct—then wildly misstated some basic facts when he delivered his own apologia. Chronology plays a part here too; quite commonly, lesser offenses receive harsher treatment as the offenses keep piling up. For the record, we’ve met David a time or two in the past, and consider him to be a very nice person (most people are); beyond that, we have a dear mutual friend. But MSNBC has engaged in endless gender-trashing ever since the Clinton campaign began—and this conduct is layered atop a decade of destructive Clinton/Gore-hatred. When the channel keeps failing to get its act straight, Dems should keep pushing—that much harder.

Joan makes several good points in her piece, but we think one point is somewhat off base. We’re sure that people say this to Joan, but we think it misses the point:

WALSH (2/12/08): I've been criticized for continuing to appear on MSNBC, but I always tell people that if I boycotted every institution afflicted by sexism, I'd have been jobless my whole life; I'd rather continue to accept their invitations to talk politics and say what I think, on MSNBC and on Salon. I hope others, men and women, continue to speak out about the frat-house atmosphere that's taken over MSNBC of late.

We agree. (Except for the final words. “of late.” Matthews has been blatantly rude to liberal women going back to the 1990s.) There’s no reason why Joan, or anyone else, should refuse to appear on MSNBC (although the need to self-edit can be a problem). But we think we’ve asked a more salient question: When will journals like Salon start printing frank profiles of Matthews? This brings us back to the recent profile of Matthews in the New York Observer—and to the “comments” it produced.

As we noted yesterday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/12/08), the Observer’s Felix Gillette followed Matthews around on Super Tuesday; his profile certainly wasn’t a hit piece, but it did begin to give us a look at Matthews’ loud grandiosity—and at his obvious, outsized biases regarding the current Dem candidates. (At least he didn’t say of Clinton, “I hate her. I hate her. I hate all that she stands for,” as the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted him saying in 2002. Just click here.) But we were struck by something else about Gillette’s profile; we were struck by the well-informed “comments” it drew. These comments were written by the Observer’s readers—by the great unwashed, by the “person in the street.” But omigod! Many of these comments were much better-informed about Matthews and the work of the press corps than anything we’ve read in our fiery “liberal journals.” To this day, you can’t get this news from your liberal journals. But it has started to bubble up from below.

For what it’s worth, we noticed the very same thing when we read the readers’ comments to Frank Rich’s noxious column this Sunday. Many readers had lots of knowledge about Rich’s noxious history. Why do we never read such things in our fiery “liberal journals?”

Felix Gillette did a pretty good job with his profile of Matthews, although he had a limited assignment. But his readers seemed to know a great deal about the history of the past dozen years. Our question: When will The Nation, The New Republic, the Prospect, the Monthly finally get off their fat perfumed asses and offer this basic news to their readers? We’re fine with Joan Walsh playing Hardball (and we think her posts have been excellent lately). But: When will Salon publish the history of the endless harm done by this man?

He was made a multimillionaire—by Jack Welch, for crying out loud! When will Salon’s readers get to read it? When will liberals get to stop combing through readers’ comments in search of the news of this world?