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Daily Howler: Judith Warner refuses to say who the real ''idiocracy'' is
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DON’T SEE, DON’T TELL! Judith Warner refuses to say who the real “idiocracy” is: // link // print // previous // next //

DUMB AND DUMBER: We still hope to review Monday night’s cable clowning about Clinton’s drawl and Coulter’s bad comment. But omigod! Juan Williams, perhaps the world’s biggest clown, muhcned an old chestnut on Hannity & Colmes when he spoke about Clinton’s vile drawl:
WILLIAMS (3/5/07): Well, you know, I mean, I think she—she picked up that speech pattern. I don't know that she did a great job with it. But this is a little bit like, you know, is she a Cubs fan or a Yankees fan? Depends where she's at. It really reminds me of David Geffen's critical comment about Hillary Clinton that she's over-scripted, over-produced.
But then, everything on earth “reminds” these dumb boys of their cohort’s most beloved primal scripts.

Omigod! The Cubs and the Yankees! Once they get these tales in their heads, nothing can sand-blast them out! And sure enough! On Tuesday morning, Ana Marie Cox was kiss-kissing Imus’ *ss for the nation. So she bit that old chestnut too:
COX (3/6/07): Like my husband said, next thing you know, she’s going to trot herself out as an Atlanta Braves fan. Like she was, you know, Cubs, and then Yankees, and now Braves. She’s actually, you know, an all-star fan.
How powerful is the idiocracy? Even Cox’s husband, Chris Lehmann, is willing to be trotted out as a fool! “It all seemed so calculated,” Cox said of Clinton—as she calculated what her host, a consummate dope, would like hearing.

The idiocracy luvvs these dim-wit tales—the tales they use to make us all fools. But as Clinton noted years before anyone dreamed of a run for the Senate, she did root for the Cubs and the Yankees when she was a girl in Chicago. This point came up in the Washington Post—twice. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/13/00 and 6/14/00. And pray for the souls of our idiocracy—for dumb old Juan and Ana.

DON’T SEE, DON’T TELL: Our thanks go out to the New York Times’ Judith Warner for today’s remarkable column. You can’t make the problem facing liberals and Democrats much plainer. You can’t make it too much more clear.

Let’s start by noting the way Warner’s column tracks our own Monday post (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/5/07).

On Monday, we started with the latest performance by the nasty public half-wit, Ann Coulter. And we referred to Mike Judge’s film, Idiocracy—a film which pictures a future day when idiots rule the whole planet. Hold on, though, we incomparably said—that day is already upon us! We’re already ruled by a gaggle of nitwits, we incomparably said. And then we named the actual names of some of our own current “idiocracy.” You may recall the principal name we named. That name, was, of course, Maureen Dowd’s.

Warner walks a similar path. Like us, she starts with Coulter’s “f*ggot” comment; then, she mention’s Judge’s film. And she makes the same connection we did; we’re already battered by idiots, she says. We can’t link you to her column. So we’ll give you a sizable chunk, starting in paragraph 6:
WARNER (3/7/07): [W]hat I found particularly shocking in Coulter's comments was their studied juvenility, the sheer idiocy of their language. ''Faggot'' and ''total fag,'' like other political pearls of our time—such as ''bring it on'' and ''girlie men''—are just epoch-making in their stupidity. In fact, they sound like lines out of Mike Judge's 2006 film, ''Idiocracy,'' a political satire that I rented a few months ago and can't seem to get out of my mind.

In ''Idiocracy,'' a man the Pentagon has chosen for his perfectly average intelligence is sent into the future and finds the America of 500 years hence inhabited by people so grotesquely moronic that they can barely grunt utterances greater than ''Man, whatever!''

Those future Americans have, however, held on to a full arsenal of obscenities and repeatedly tell the hero, who speaks in full sentences, ''You talk like a fag.'' As the film plays out, it's the People vs. the Fag—the very dynamic that Coulter establishes when she connects to her audience via their inner 13-year-olds.
The “very dynamic” of Idiocracy is already present today, Warner says. Like us, Warner tags this on Coulter. But after that, she refuses to say who the other real idiots are.

You see, Warner appears in the morning’s Times because “Maureen Dowd is off today.” Yes, Warner is part of Maureen Dowd’s cohort. As such, she will never tell you who the real idiots are.

Omigod! For many years, Dowd has turned her column over to her “inner 13-year-old.” She has directed every kind of childish attack at Big Dem males, who she repeatedly calls girlie-men. But Warner will never tell you that; instead, she sticks to her cohort’s prime script. The idiocracy isn’t us, they’ve long said. The idiocracy has to be them.

The idiocracy has to be “them!” Indeed, when Warner starts naming the other idiots, the first name she picks is just stunning:
WARNER (continuing directly):All this led me this week to think of Frank Luntz, the hot political consultant and wordsmith who wrote the lyrics for the 1994 Republican revolution. In his new book, ''Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear,'' Luntz puts forth the argument that using the ''uplifting, ennobling tone'' of famed political scribes like Ted Sorenson and Peggy Noonan is not the best way to capture the attention of Americans today. Instead, to communicate with the people—the real people of ''small town, middle America''—and to speak straight to their hearts, minds and entrails, you've got to put ''yourself right into your listener's shoes.''

In other words, think small. ''Use Small Words'' is Rule 1 of his strategy for successful communication. Rule 2: ''Use Short Sentences.”
The idiocracy is Frank Luntz! Readers, that has to be one of the most idiotic statement we’ve read in our natural lives.

As Warner notes, Luntz was the most important Republican pollster of the 1990s—the guy who helped shape the poll-tested provisions of the “Contract with America.” And guess what? He’s also a brilliant analyst of communication; he has largely broken his connection with the GOP, and we Democrats will be screaming fools if we don’t try to learn from the things he’s currently saying and writing. Luntz has nothing to do with the ludicrous Coulter, nor does he play the nasty fool, as she so relentlessly does. Indeed, as Warner continues, she relates what Luntz recently told her when she tried to link him to Coulter. Warner’s account is skillfully murky. But again, a fairly large chunk:
WARNER (continuing directly): Luntz has a doctorate from Oxford; Coulter has degrees from Cornell and the University of Michigan Law School. Conservatives generally like to run with the idea that liberals are elitists, living ''in a world of only Malibu and East Hampton,'' as Coulter's recent blog posting on the ''crock'' of global warming put it. But isn't there something elitist, if not wrong, I wondered aloud to Luntz, about condescending to—or coddling or enabling—the imagined verbal limitations of the less-educated ''other''?

Luntz did not much appreciate the question.

''It's not condescending—it's pandering,'' he said of Coulter's most recent performance. "Everything about the book says what she did was not just wrong but reprehensible. Those aren't words that work. She broke every rule.''

''God, I really hate it every time she speaks,'' he fumed. And, he added, if I were to even think of mentioning him in the same breath as her, ''I will really, seriously raise hell.''

Coulter’s comment was “reprehensible,” Luntz said. “I hate it every time she speaks.” But so what? For some reason, Warner wants you to think of Luntz when you start listing idiots other than Coulter. After all, “f*g” is a three-letter word. And Luntz recommends short words and sentences!

When we heard Coulter’s comment last week, we thought of someone else—we thought of Dowd. But Warner suggests you should think of Frank Luntz. What explains those different reactions? The answer to that is perfectly obvious. And it has driven our discourse for years.

As we explained on Monday, Dowd is very much like Coulter. She has been calling Dem males “girlie men” for years; she just uses more presentable language. But over the course of the past fifteen years, members of the mainstream press elite keep directing you away from such obvious facts. As we’ve told you many times, they tell you that it’s really “late night comedians” who are slandering Dems—or it’s “the right-wing noise machine.” Simply put, they never admit that it’s really their very own cohort! And just like that, Warner does it again as she ends today’s laughable piece:
WARNER (continuing directly): At a Conservative Women's Network lunch at the Heritage Foundation last week, a question was raised, over dessert, about how conservative women should deal, ''as women,'' if Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination for president. The guest speaker, Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer in Washington, hemmed and hawed, shared some thoughts about Wellesley College and Barbara Bush, blushed, then concluded, ''We'll let the redneck guys who just aren't ready to vote for a female commander in chief take care of the woman thing.''

Sounds like a plan. Sounds to me, too, as if the Republican noise machine may just have a monkey wrench in its machinery.
According to Warner, Cleta Mitchell—and “the right-wing noise machine”—plan to mount sexist attacks against Clinton. We’ll skip past Mitchell—we don’t trust Warner’s reporting—but that’s surely true about many loud-mouth pseudo-conservatives from that “Republican machine.” But Warner forgets to note a more salient fact; on Tuesday morning, her own newspaper, the New York Times, published a baldly sexist attack against Clinton on page one, above the fold. Why, in Mike Leibovich’s ludicrous telling, the castrating bitch even made a misused male aide hold her purse while she spoke to some women! You could hardly imagine a more clownish attack of the type that Warner describes. But because it appeared on page one of the Times, the Judith Warners will never discuss it. When it comes to their own, it’s: Don’t see, don’t tell. The Judith Warners will always blame it on “them.” The sexist attacks are being launched by that tribe. The idiocracy is them—over there.

Warner’s column today is astoundingly stupid. But it represents fifteen years of aggressive framing, in which an upper-class mainstream press corps misdirects your attention away from the most important aspects of modern journalism. Let’s be clear! In Campaign 2000,George Bush didn’t reach the White House because the “right-wing machine” played the fool about Gore. George Bush ended up in the White House because the New York Times and the Washington Post led a two-year war against Gore—and Maureen Dowd was at the heart of that warfare, calling Gore a girlie-man again and again—and again. But people like Warner have spent many years trying to keep you from grasping such facts. Her column today is a perfect example of the way they throw sand in your eyes.

As we noted on Monday, Maureen Dowd has expressed her “inner 13-year-old” for many years (more below). Repeatedly, she calls John Edwards “the Breck Girl”—and she said that Gore was “practically lactating.” “I feel pretty,” she had him saying (in her headline), just two days before that 2000 vote. And now, Barack Obama is “Obambi”—and, in her headline, he’s “legally blonde.” Yep! When you read Maureen Dowd, you’re riding with Coulter; their messages are remarkably similar. But fixers like Warner will never explain that. They misdirect you away from their cohort. They point to a neighboring tribe.

Omigod! Frank Luntz is like Coulter! As we told you, the “idiocracy” is already here. And one of their names is “J. Warner.”

STILL RIDING WITH COULTER: We were pleased to see Atrios refer in this post to “the basic Coulter/Dowd storyline.” And we’re very grateful that Glenn Greenwald and Digby linked to our Monday post on this subject. Here’s why: It’s very important for liberals, progressives and Democrats to come to understand these facts:

Chris Matthews is just a slightly more presentable version of red-faced ranter William Donohue.

Maureen Dowd is just a slightly more presentable version of crackpot hater Ann Coulter.
As we said Monday, Dowd and Coulter have been delivering the same basic message for years. But Coulter delivers it to the real crackpots; she gets it to a political underclass, which the GOP has learned to address through her type. Dowd sends the same basic message to readers of the New York Times, who may not even understand that a message is being sent. After all, this is their darling Dowd. Their wonderful Pulitzer winner.

But make no mistake—Matthews/Dowd are only slightly less kooky than the visibly kooky Donohue/Coulter. When we say that, we don’t mean to suggest that Dowd and Matthews play the same role at their respective news orgs. We’d guess that Matthews was advanced by Jack Welch because Welch knew exactly what he was buying; embarrassingly, we’d assume that Dowd advanced at the Times because the swells there thought she was smart. Long ago, we excerpted Gay Jervey’s profile of Dowd in Brill’s Content (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/14/99). In the following passage, Jervey explained how brilliant Dowd seemed to her former Times editor, Bill Kovach. This takes us back to the 1984 Dem Convention. What follows is a very sad profile of the emerging mind-set of an emerging millionaire mainstream press corps:
JERVEY (6/99): Even as a young reporter Dowd had an eye for telling detail and nuance...“We were on deadline,” Kovach explains. “Mondale and Ferraro had just been nominated...As the candidates stood on the platform, Maureen jumped up and grabbed me and said, ‘Look! Look! There is the story. Mondale doesn’t know whether to hug his wife or Ferraro. He doesn’t know what to do.’ She saw that signaled a new era, with women playing a whole new role in politics and men not quite knowing what to do.” That keen observation...crystallized for Kovach just how clairvoyant a reporter she was.
Even then, Dowd was all about trivial aspects of gender—and Kovach thought that showed her rare genius. “There is the story,” Dowd cried out—as she noted a point of sheer trivia.

Supposedly, Mondale didn’t know who he should hug. We have no idea if that really occurred—but that was Dowd’s idea of a story. Needless to say, there are serious issues of gender fairness that drive a good deal of our politics. (The current sexist trashing of Clinton, for example—by people like Dowd and her colleague Mike Leibovich.) But Dowd is too stupid for serious matters; instead, she zeroes in on trivia. And her Times colleagues—Antoinettes all—think that this makes her very smart.

The fact that Kovach found Dowd “clairvoyant” tells a good deal about where this press came from. Kovach is considered one of the bright guys—but, in fact, our modern mainstream press corps is almost painfully daft. That pitiful moment from 1984 showed the shape of what would be coming.

For years now, Dowd and Coulter have told the same story. But readers, here’s the critical difference—it takes Dowd’s readers to tip an election. Coulter makes crackpot elements mad; Dowd convinces sane, middle-class people that major Dem males are just big girlie-men. Coulter and Dowd are both serious nuts—but it’s Dowd who has done the more serious damage. In Campaign 2000, it was Dowd and the Times who got Bush to the White House. Coulter and Rush couldn’t do that.

At THE HOWLER, we’re very eager to see the day when Dems and progressives understand that. We Dems and progressives have to go after Dowd at least as much as we go after Coulter. We have to explain Maureen Dowd to the public. We’re very glad that Greenwald and Digby are trying to help liberals see that.

No, it wasn’t the “right-wing noise machine” which sent George W. Bush to the White House. It was the mainstream press corps—people like Dowd! Judith Warner doesn’t want you to know that. Her kind will never tell you.

POSTSCRIPT—DUMBEST EVER: This must be the dumbest post we’ve ever read on the web.