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Daily Howler: Eight years later, a very bright liberal can only get history half right
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A TALE OF TWO SPEECHES! Eight years later, a very bright liberal can only get history half right: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MARCH 8, 2007

NOVAK CAN TELL: In today’s Post, Robert Novak dazzles us with his vast powers:
NOVAK (3/8/07): Denis Collins, a Washington journalist on the Scooter Libby jury, described sentiments in the jury room reflecting those in the Senate Democratic cloakroom: "It was said a number of times. . . .Where's Rove? Where are these other guys?" Besides presidential adviser Karl Rove, he surely meant Vice President Cheney and maybe President Bush. Oddly, the jurors appeared uninterested in hearing from Richard Armitage, the source of the CIA leak. [Novak’s deletion]
Somehow, Novak just knows who Collins meant when he asked for “these other guys.” He “surely meant” Cheney, Novak says; “oddly,” Novak says, Collins didn’t mean Armitage. As is the custom of his high class, Novak doesn’t tell us how he can mind-read such matters so well. But long ago, your millionaire pundits agreed to pretend that they had these vast skills. Today, our pundits routinely type such dreck. And their “editors” accept it for print.

What did Collins actually mean by the comment Novak has quoted? We don’t know, and we wish that people like Collins—people “with a recently published novel to pimp” (click here)—would refrain from going out and making such spectacles of themselves. But did Collins mean, by that quoted remark, that he wanted the head of Dick Cheney? Uh-oh! Here is what he told Maureen Dowd about that very matter:

DOWD (3/8/07): I asked him how he would feel if W. pardoned Scooter.

''I would really not care,'' he replied. ''I feel like the damage has been done in terms of his reputation and the administration's reputation.''

And what about the calls for Dick Cheney to resign or get the boot?

''Here's the thing: Libby followed Cheney's instructions to go talk to reporters, but there's no evidence at all that Cheney told him to lie about it. So the question is, was Libby just kind of inept at getting this story out?''
Does that sound like the Democratic congressional line? Does it sound like the impression Novak gave, thanks to his brilliant mind-reading? We don’t know what Collins thought or meant. But neither does the brilliant Bob Novak.

But so what? We live in a world where millionaire poodles granted themselves vast powers, long ago. They believe they can look into others’ minds; they no longer seem to realize how stupid this makes them. And who else plays the fool in these matters? Their editors, who wave their dreck into print. But then, among the Antoinettes who rule you, silly mind-reading, dumbly proclaimed, is a part of their Millionaire Values.

AND SO CAN CHRIS MATTHEWS: They also think they can brilliantly see who is—and who isn’t—trustworthy, honest. For example, the hapless Chris Matthews took one look at Collins and just knew that the juror was a right guy. Yesterday morning, the red-faced ranter shared his insight with the hapless Don Imus:
MATTHEWS (3/7/07): I love this guy, Denis Collins. He seems like a guy we grew up with—a regular person.
Novak can mind-read—and Matthews can tell us who is, and who isn’t, “a regular person.” And how can he tell that Collins is “regular?” Simple! Matthews can see that Collins is “a regular person” because “he looks like someone we grew up with.”

Of course, what Matthews meant by that is the following—Collins looks like he’s Irish Catholic. In today’s column, Dowd—Matthews’ bosom friend—returns us to a mid-century world where everyone had a brother named Kevin:
DOWD (3/8/07): Listening to all the lamentations, I excitedly realized I had a potentially incestuous relationship with a source inside the Beltway.

I went to Nativity grade school in D.C. with Juror No. 9, Denis Collins. I had an unrequited crush on his brother when I was in seventh grade. His dad was my dad's lawyer, and both were Irish immigrants. My brother Kevin coached his brother Kevin in touch football. Our moms were in the Sodality together. His mom once chastised me for chatting up a little boy in church.
Very small world! And yes, this is what Matthews meant when he judged that Collins was “a regular guy” because he “seems like a guy we grew up with.”

Let’s state the obvious. You have to be breath-takingly stupid to think you can tell who’s a “regular guy” by watching him answer six questions on television. (In fairness, because he’s a friend of Dowd, Matthews may already have known about Collins’ acceptable background.) Of course, Matthews has expressed his vast powers of insight in these murky areas before. When we watched Matthews assure the world that Denis Collins is “a regular guy,” we thought back to the ugly, disastrous judgment he once voiced to Imus about Al Gore (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/2/01):
MATTHEWS (11/2/01): He doesn’t look like one of us. He doesn’t seem very American, even.
Disgraceful. But, shortly after 9/11, Matthews was letting the whole world know who did and didn’t “seem very American.” And uh-oh! Gore “doesn’t look like one of us,” this consummate dumb-ass said.

Ah, we Irish! Back then, we were too polite to let you know what Matthews meant by that ugly remark about Gore. But make no mistake about what Matthews meant; he meant that Gore didn’t look like someone who had grown up among Matthews’ tribe. That helps explain the disastrous trashing Matthews dumped on Gore’s head during Campaign 2000—a two-year campaign of insult and slander which ended up sending Bush to the White House.

Here at THE HOWLER, we were raised Irish Catholic in mid-century ourselves. Most of us in that category managed to grow up and move on—most times remaining Catholic, sometimes not. But uh-oh! Some of our tribe retain the crabbed values which constitute the unfortunate downside of our otherwise wonderful culture. Matthews could tell that Gore wasn’t very American! Unlike the novel-pimping Collins, Gore didn’t look (or act) like someone who had grown up on Chris Matthews’ block.

You have to be the world’s biggest dope (and a closet tail-gunner) to voice a judgment like that about Gore. Again, that remark helps show you what we mean when we say that Matthews is a slightly cleaned-up William Donohue. But if you want to know how we got to Iraq, that remark by Matthews is a part of your answer. Today’s pundit corps tends to be deeply inane and vastly insular—and they’re sure of their vast, brilliant powers.

Special report: A tale of two speeches!


PART 1 (OF 2)—EIGHT YEARS LATER, HALF RIGHT: How bad are things for modern-day Dems? This week, the pundit corps was up to old tricks, trashing Hillary Clinton’s drawl and pretending to puzzle about Ann Coulter’s slur. As we’ll show you tomorrow, it harkened back to the conduct of Campaign 2000, when two years of gimmicked-up mockery of Gore ended up sending Bush to the White House. Yep! As pundits mocked Clinton’s Selma speech, we thought of how they mocked one of Gore’s early speeches. Here we go again, our analysts cried; to them, this was clearly a tale of two speeches. To them, what happened was all quite familiar. But elsewhere, liberal leaders just stared.

Yep! Eight years later, our liberal “leaders” don’t even begin to know how to deal with the work of our modern, inane pundit culture. Our modern “discourse” is built on the pattern we saw after Selma—a pattern in which inane distractions are invented, then used to mock major Dems. And major Dems are easily mocked in this way—because our liberal “leaders” don’t have a clue how to deal with this well-scripted mockery. They continue to mock us on big cable shows—and we don’t have a clue how to respond.

Alas! We thought of this lack of leadership just this Monday, when we read this post by Kevin Drum. Sadly, some of our analysts hailed this post—until we set them all straight.

When last we looked in on Drum, we were deleting unfortunate expletives about his bizarre Clinton-bashing (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/26/07). But his Monday post—about Joe Klein—struck some of our aides as superb. They especially noted one key sentence when Kevin summarized his own political history. Indeed, some of our analysts—young and foolish—came right out of their chairs:
DRUM (3/4/07): My political frame of reference is different [from Klein’s]. It's Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America; it's the insane wingnut scandal-mongering of the Clinton administration, culminating in Kenneth Starr and the Republican loonies trying to impeach a president over a blow job; it's the press beating up on Al Gore in 2000 and a conservative Supreme Court then awarding the disputed election to its favored candidate; it's a series of brazen, multi-trillion dollar tax cuts aimed at the GOP's rich donor class; it's the K Street Project; it's the 30-year stagnation of middle class wages, partly due to an unholy alliance between conservatives and neoliberals on trade and unions; it's a disastrous war in Iraq led by a president who had no clue what he was getting into (and still doesn't); and during this entire time a Democratic Party seemingly adrift and unwilling to really fight back.
“Basically, I (and most of the liberal blogosphere, I assume) think that Klein is living in the past,” Drum writes. “He just hasn't completely internalized the vast changes of the past decade.” In fact, Kevin describes the politics of the past thirteen years in the passage we have quoted. But he offers an interesting claim—Klein’s world-view is no longer current.

But the thing that struck our analysts about Kevin’s post was the brief sentence fragment we’ve highlighted. Omigod! In summarizing the history of the past thirteen years, Kevin included what so many liberals omit; he included the press corps’ trashing of Candidate Gore, the journalistic event that (as things turned out) has changed the course of world history. It’s amazing how often liberals summarize the Clinton-Bush years without even mentioning this seminal episode. Indeed, liberals routinely summarize the events of Campaign 2000 itself without mentioning the press corps’ astounding misconduct. If you want to see liberals do such a thing, just wander over to HuffPo.

But omigod! We had to reign in our tender young helpers, showing them how low their standards have fallen in the course of the past dozen years. After all,
even Kevin understates the story, by half, as we were forced to remind them! In fact, the press corps beat the shit out of Candidate Gore in 1999 as well as in 2000. By January 1, 2000, we had already been through the following episodes—episodes which defined the coverage of the full campaign:
*Al Gore said he invented the Internet.
*Al Gore said he inspired Love Story.
*Al Gore said he grew up on a farm. *Al Gore said he discovered Love Canal.
*Naomi Wolf told Al Gore to wear earth tones.
*Naomi Wolf told Al Gore to be an alpha male.(OR: Al Gore hired a woman to teach him how to be a man.)
*Al Gore introduced Willie Horton to the American public.
*Al Gore wears very disturbing (boots; suits; polo shirts). Al Gore’s suits have (two; three; four) buttons.
*Al Gore lied about Bill Bradley’s health plan.
Those narratives were all firmly in place before we reached the year 2000. So were the following talking-points:
*Al Gore is delusional.
*Al Gore doesn’t know who he is.
*Al Gore is willing to say and do anything.
*Al Gore is a liar—just like Bill Clinton.
Those last four words are perhaps most important; obviously, these attacks were really all about the press corps’ ongoing war against Clinton. But make no mistake: George Bush would never have reached the White House if the mainstream press corps—not the right-wing machine—hadn’t worked so hard, during 1999, to establish those bogus story-lines and these punishing talking-points. When we say they beat up on Gore in 2000, we are doing what liberals so often do. We are understating what happened by half as we make our pitch to the public.

We can’t expect voters to understand history if we refuse to state it ourselves. The following words are easy to say, and they are actually accurate:
The mainstream press beat the sh*t out of Gore for two solid years during Campaign 2000.
We have to learn to tell voters that. And no, we can’t clean the truth up by half. To show you how bad things have been in the past, some of our analysts were thoroughly thrilled to see that Kevin, eight years later, had managed to get things half right!

Kevin is one of our brightest analysts. But eight years later, he still misstates by half when he describes our crushing history. The other side endlessly over-states claims. And us? When we bother telling truth at all, we under-cut it, by half.

When a group is so thoroughly hapless—so unable to state its own case—that group will be crushed by the work of its foes. And that’s why those pundit could do to Clinton’s speech the same thing they had once done to Gore’s. We immediately thought back to that speech by Gore as we watched Clinton’s speech getting mocked. But our liberal “leaders” have been endlessly weak and stupid. U. S. soldiers keep paying with their lives.

TOMORROW—PART 2: We look at the mocking of those two speeches! Sadly, our liberal “leaders” are too f*cking stupid to have learned from the mocking of Gore’s.