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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2009

Portrait of an era: We had to chuckle at something Howard Kurtz wrote in today’s profile of Sam Donaldson. Truly, this is dream logic:

KURTZ (2/16/09): Donaldson's detractors viewed him as a liberal blowhard, and there were certainly times when his mouth outran his brain. Donaldson encouraged Colin Powell to run for president in 1996 and kept predicting that he would. Five days after the Monica Lewinsky scandal erupted, Donaldson said of Bill Clinton: "If he's not telling the truth, he's done. . . . I think his presidency is numbered in days. This isn't going to drag out. We're not going to be here three months from now talking about this."

Funny, but historically tragic. “Donaldson's detractors viewed him as a liberal blowhard,Kurtz writes. And he quickly offers two examples—examples of what, we’re not sure! In one example, the “liberal blowhard” urges a popular Republican to run against a sitting Democratic president. In the second example, the “liberal blowhard” is prematurely insisting, two years later, that this Democrat is on the way out.

We’re not quite sure what Kurtz was thinking in assembling that slightly odd paragraph. But he neatly captures the oddball logic of the politics of the Clinton/Gore years. During that period, you could work to destroy Bill Clinton (and then Al Gore) and still be trashed as a “liberal blowhard.” It doesn’t seem to occur to Kurtz how odd his construction is.

If you want to know why E. J. Dionne refused to speak when it might have helped, an era’s logic is captured there. And of course, it wasn’t just Dionne who trembled and stared into space. Most career liberals ran and hid during the wars against Clinton, then Gore. Indeed, some of them played an active part in the assaults on these men—and as it turned out, on your history.

Today, some of them serve as liberal heroes; why, they even began to kiss Gore’s keister once he’d won enough big prizes. Insiders keep quiet about what they did—and Kurtz semi-comically types this testament to an era’s earth-shattering logic.

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