THATS WHAT WERE TALKING ABOUT: Lets be clear—this debate isnt about Garance Franke-Ruta of Tapped, and were sure that the scribe will do lots of good work before her writing career is done. (To state the obvious, The American Prospect does tons of such work.) But could anyone make our point any better than Franke-Ruta did when she responded to our Monday post? On Monday, we noted that Franke-Ruta completely inverted what Larry Summers said in the opening of his now-famous speech. And we said something else that was painfully obvious. We said that Sundays New York Times editorial about Summers was almost impossibly dumb. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/21/05, to relive all the particulars. To see Franke-Rutas response, just click here.)
So how did Franke-Ruta respond? Simple! She implied that we criticized her and the New York Times Gail Collins because—boo hoo—theyre both women. And she seemed to suggest that we must have taken Summers side on these limited points because we went to Harvard. Good God! For the record, we doubt that anyone on earth is less complimentary of Faire Harvard than we are; weve been rolling our eyes at its august leaders since halfway through our freshman year. (Ask us to tell you our Bob Nozick anecdote.) And no, we dont specialize in criticizing poor helpless women. For example, we spent last week criticizing the work of Tim Russert—most likely because hes a Catholic.
Alas! Its sad, but all-too-true—all too often, sob-sister liberals hide behind their own skirts when someone dares to criticize them. The same thing happened during Campaign 2000 when complaints were made about the ludicrous way Ceci Connolly and Kit Seelye were hammering Candidate Gore. In response, at least one sob-sister in the press elite (Jane Mayer) said it must be because Kit and Ceci are women (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/1/00). At Brills, Seth Mnookin typed up the Post-friendly foofaw. And good boy! After doing so, he found himself getting hired by the Posts sister mag, Newsweek.
So no, Franke-Ruta isnt the first to play this fly-weight game. But readers, be sure to notice one more thing about her response to our post. Be sure to notice this striking fact: Though she spills with insinuations about our deeply troubling motives, she never says a single word about the substance of our criticism! No, really— go check! Not a word! Shes offended that we would criticize Collins—but doesnt defend what Collins said. And shes offended that we would criticize her own post. But she doesnt make the slightest attempt to repeat, review or defend it.
No, this debate isnt about Franke-Ruta. But could anyone make our case any better? Could anyone show you any more clearly that your interests as liberals, progressive and centrists often lie in the hands of flyweight press elites? Why do we keep losing the nations endless Spin Wars? Because the other side has capable, well-financed, serious operatives running highly capable think tanks—think tanks which have spent the last forty years churning out convincing spin. And our response? All too often, it lies in the hands of fly-weights like this—people who stage hysterical campaigns about peripheral issues, then run to hide behind their own skirts when someone dares to critique them.
At this point, Collins is an extremely important journalist; the younger Franke-Ruta isnt. But read Franke-Rutas response to our post and understand what it helps show you. Liberals and centrists can no longer afford to put their interests in the hands of these flyweights. Tomorrow, well look at more oddball reactions to Summers speech, mostly from academic elites. You cant afford to let these weak people represent your basic interests—unless youre simply addicted to losing, unless you sing this: Born to lose.
THATS WHAT WERE TALKING ABOUT (CONTINUED): In our nations endless Spin Wars, liberals and centrists are confronted by well-funded, capable, determined opponents. If you doubt that, read Jeff Birnbaums front-page piece from yesterdays Washington Post. Birnbaum describes the 25-year process that has led to the current fight about private accounts. The other side? Its deeply organized, and its very determined. We cant afford to respond to these groups with pseudo-liberal op-ed writers and lazy, inept, flyweight pundits.
It really feels good to play the victim. But liberals and centrists can no longer afford it, unless were just Born to lose.
OUR LATEST SEXIST ANALYSIS: Congratulations to Gloria Borger for becoming the ten thousandth Big Major Pundit to type the corps Latest Requisite Script. The Dems are the new party of no, she complains in the current U. S. News. And she types the Latest Requisite Question: Why wont those nay-saying Democrats offer a plan— a plan to fix Social Security?
As she pens her sad lament, Borger fails to note an obvious point: President Bush has been pimping SS reform for five years, and he hasnt offered a plan yet either! But that point isnt part of the Current Script, so Borger is careful not to type it. After all, we wouldnt want the rubes to know that Bush isnt posting plans either.
By the way, where does Borger get her scripts? As she starts, she shows her wit and brilliance:
BORGER (2/28/05): As it turns out, Howard Dean is not the best choice to lead the Democratic National Committee. If the party is looking for a new spokesman, there is a better choice—David Spade (with apologies to his Capital One ad):Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! The Dems are always saying no—just like David Spade in that ad! But where did Borger get her idea? Like all good members of the club, shes typing a script from Karl Rove. Heres Judy Woodruff on last Wednesdays Inside Politics:
Social Security reform? No. Clear some judges? No way, Jose. Find some agreement on national security? Nyet. Sure, the Democrats are struggling to find their voice, pick their leaders, and agree on a legislative strategy. It's hard work. But it's also too bad they're allowing themselves to look like a bunch of minority naysayers—defined more by old tactics than new ideas. Sad to say, the Democrats are becoming the party of no.
WOODRUFF (2/16/05): We are going to get a Republican view of race and Social Security reform just ahead. Republicans are firing back at their Democratic critics, meantime, in a new video spoof. It plays off a popular commercial featuring actor David Spade to portray the Democrats as saying "no" to everything.Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! From the GOP conference to Borgers lips, its more liberal bias in action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (videotape): Will the Democrats help strengthen Social Security?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about pay as you no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about health care?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think I care? That would be an HM—no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about working to improve the security of our borders?
WOODRUFF: The video was played at the House GOP conference meeting today.
By the way, who was pimping this silly theme even before the GOP cadged it? Of course! Joe Klein, on that February 3 Daily Show session, the one we criticized two weeks back (to check the tape, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/14/05). But its odd—why in the world would we criticize Klein? Franke-Rutas mind began whirring. And then, of course! She finally had it! Most likely, because Klein is Jewish.