TYPE THE RIGHT THING! Broder typed a standard scripta script which is highly high-minded: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2009
More from the brain invaders: On Saturday, we asked if you are really sure that they arent a gang of space invaders (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/7/09). But their nonsense continued over the weekend. We wondered again and again:
For the Outlook sections page-one piece on the marvels of Barbie, click here. (Synopsis: I took off all her clothes and sent her looking for love. My Barbie got AROUND.)
To see whats on a Slate editors mind, just click this. (Warning: This editor loses her buzz in fancy hotelswhen shes asked if shell volunteer to use towels more than once.)
For the New York Times requisite piece about Barbie, just click here. (Why did my Barbies end up dismembered, naked, pierced and slashed in the toy-dregs mausoleum of dusty closet crates?)
(Note: This is Barbies fiftieth anniversary. The press corps uses every such milestone as an excuse for such blather. In 2004, it was Kens demise. Two years later, it was Kens resurrection.)
To see Maureen Dowd devote her whole column to Michelle Obamas arms, just click this. (In the taxi, when I asked David Brooks about her amazing arms, he indicated it was time for her to cover up.)
(As weve often noted, its endlessly clear that Dowd is out of her mind. But are you sure the press corps is human? Its clear that they never will notice.)
Those four pieces all came from the press corps ladies, as your world was melting down. Sheer nonsense spilled from the gentlemen too, a point well explore as the week progresses. About that New York Times op-ed page: Today, it includes a giant presentation on Barbie, complete with a very large visual. (The piece consumes roughly half the page.) Two weeks ago, on the morning of Obamas address to Congress, it filled a very large hole with a searching piece about the way Obama says I when he ought to say me. This piece carried a large illustration too. It took two people to write it.
Also from the land of the invaders, these comments about earmarks from yesterdays shows. The first excerpt comes from Meet the Press, the second from Fox News Sunday:
Needless to say, McCain misstated his larger figure. But lets think about the figures he used. Does anyone know how a $480 billion bill could be loaded down with $8 billion of something? Returning to Gregory: Does anyone know how a bill is full of pork, full of pet projects when the projects in question constitute less than 1.9 percent of the bill? (When no one has made any real attempt to show how much of that 1.9 percent is actually wasteful?)
The smarter folk wasted their time on earmarks; the laggards talked about Barbie, and towels. Then, there was that remarkable Conversation With James K. Glassman! (Tune in tomorrow.) Are you sure how you want to answer the question we so incomparably posed?
When they arent kings: On CNN, John King framed the earmark question thusly:
According to King, the huge spending bill was packed with earmarks. (Was full or earmarks.) Semantic question: Can a bill really be packed with X when X comprises less than 1.9 percent of the bill? CNN viewers didnt have to askthey werent given the overall numbers.
By the way: Did Obama promise to get rid of all such projects? That statement is fact-challenged too.
Final note: King didnt say these projects were pork-barrel spending. People would say that, he said. Soon, he spoke for us all:
The American people dont like some of this, King said, trying hard not to overstate.
TYPE THE RIGHT THING [permalink]: David Broder will do and say anything about public schoolsas long as he s voicing a High-Minded Scripts. Three years ago, he even got conned into this, in the Washington Post (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/27/06):
Of course! Millions of kids drop out every yearbecause they arent assigned enough Plato! But so it goes when our mainstream press keeps agreeing to type the right thing.
Yesterday, Broder was at it again; this time recalling the Posts recent session with new Ed Sec Arne Duncan. What Broder typed was high-minded again. But did he have the slightest idea what he was talking about?
Important! According to Broder, Duncan may begin leveraging the school reforms that could lift the prospects for an entire generation of kids. That was our emphasisheres our question: Does The Dean have any idea what hes talking about?
Frankly, we doubt it. Soon, he was typing a famous old scripta script which sounds good, but makes little sense. (Of all Pundit Scripts, its simplest to type.) You see, The Dean supports lofty standardsmore specifically, the kind of national educational standards most other advanced countries employ:
That sounds good, but on its face, it doesnt really make sense. Why are youngsters consigned to failure when Delawares standards differ from Utahs? Presumably, Norways standards differ from Belgiumsbut Broder says those (differing) standards are helping kids in those lands advance. You can dream up an answer to this questionand for the record, wed probably favor national standards in reading and math (reason below). But Broders presentation doesnt make massive sense. And Broder doesnt seem to have noticed.
Soon, though, Broder offered a stronger statement. It isnt just uniform standards he seeksits higher uniform standards. This formulation always sounds goodbut it doesnt make massive sense either:
Broder wants high (world-class) standardsand he wants to measure progress in meeting them. But he doesnt see the obvious problem with this standard idea.
Could higher standards help in some schools? Possibly, though the claim needs explaining. But as everyone knows, our country has a lot of kids who lag way behind current traditional standardskids who may be reading at third- or fourth-grade level in high school, kids who proceed to drop out. Uh-oh! These kids arent close to meeting the standards we already have; how will raising those standards help them? This is the worlds most obvious question. It has never occurred to this Dean.
What good does it do to invent higher standards, if kids cant meet the standards we have? Long ago, at the start of that standards revolution, we asked that question in the Baltimore Sun, responding to the first President Bushs call for higher standards. Its like no one can high-jump six feet, we saidand President Bush wants to raise the bar to seven! Eight years later, in the Sunday Sun, we asked the same questions when President Clinton proposed higher standards too:
Yesterday, Broder said well set higher standards, then test to see if kids are meeting them. Did he realize that he had skipped past the key part of this game?
Again, wed be inclined to favor national standards and tests, at least in reading and math. In part, wed do so for journalistic reasons. Theres a chance that journalists would be able to critique a single set of national tests. If the tests were dumbed dumb for political reasons, they might even notice the change. With our current fifty-one sets of tests, we dont have a chance. The public will never know whats going on with our current blizzard of tests.
But how exactly do higher standards help kids who lag far behind current standards? Weve asked that question for twenty years. Have we ever seen it addressed?
Actually, nowe dont think we have. But yesterday, Broder typed the right thing. He loftily typed a Standard Scripta script which is highly high-minded.