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Daily Howler: When Franke-Ruta ''responded'' to our critique, she showed what we're talking about
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THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT! When Franke-Ruta “responded” to our critique, she showed what we’re talking about: // link // print // previous // next //

STILL PENDING: Sorry—we spent most of yesterday at the car repair shop, waiting to be told, at the of the day, that “Oops—we painted the wrong rear-view mirror!” So we’ll complete our look at Gene Robinson’s C-SPAN appearance tomorrow. It’s all about a serious question: Just what kind of fiery “liberal” covers for Condi but slams Barbara Boxer? The answer, we think, is fairly clear: The kind who mainly recites toned-down GOP spin, and therefore looks good inside Washington.

THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT: Let’s be clear—this debate isn’t about Garance Franke-Ruta of Tapped, and we’re 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 Sunday’s 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-Ruta’s “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—they’re 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; we’ve 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 don’t specialize in criticizing poor helpless women. For example, we spent last week criticizing the work of Tim Russert—most likely because he’s a Catholic.

Alas! It’s 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 Brill’s, Seth Mnookin typed up the Post-friendly foofaw. And good boy! After doing so, he found himself getting hired by the Post’s sister mag, Newsweek.

So no, Franke-Ruta isn’t 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! She’s offended that we would criticize Collins—but doesn’t defend what Collins said. And she’s offended that we would criticize her own post. But she doesn’t make the slightest attempt to repeat, review or defend it.

No, this debate isn’t 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 nation’s 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 isn’t. But read Franke-Ruta’s 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, we’ll look at more oddball reactions to Summers’ speech, mostly from academic elites. You can’t afford to let these weak people represent your basic interests—unless you’re simply addicted to losing, unless you sing this: Born to lose.

THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT (CONTINUED): In our nation’s endless Spin Wars, liberals and centrists are confronted by well-funded, capable, determined opponents. If you doubt that, read Jeff Birnbaum’s front-page piece from yesterday’s Washington Post. Birnbaum describes the 25-year process that has led to the current fight about private accounts. The other side? It’s deeply organized, and it’s very determined. We can’t 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 we’re 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 won’t 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 hasn’t offered a plan yet either! But that point isn’t part of the Current Script, so Borger is careful not to type it. After all, we wouldn’t want the rubes to know that Bush isn’t 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):

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.

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, she’s typing a script from Karl Rove. Here’s Judy Woodruff on last Wednesday’s Inside Politics:
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.

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.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! From the GOP conference to Borger’s lips, it’s more “liberal bias” in action.

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 it’s odd—why in the world would we criticize Klein? Franke-Ruta’s mind began whirring. And then, of course! She finally had it! Most likely, because Klein is Jewish.