DRUM (3/4/07): 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.As youll recall, we expressed delight that Kevin actually included the press corps War Against Gore in his list—and we lamented the fact that, eight years later, he still was understating what happened by a factor of half.
BROOKS (3/11/07): Neoliberals often have an air of perpetual youthfulness about them, but they are now in their 40s, 50s and even their 60s, and a younger generation of bloggers set off a backlash. If you surf the Web these days, for example, you find that a horde of thousands have declared war on the Time magazine columnist Joe Klein.Huh! Brooks includes a lot of Drums list. But what winds up on the cutting-room floor? Of course! The press corps War Against Gore! Brooks cites the Florida ballot fight from Campaign 2K—but omits the twenty-month press corps scandal which made such a ballot fight possible.
Kevin Drum, who is actually older than most bloggers, says the difference is generational. Klein's mind-set, he says, was formed in the 1970s and 1980s, but ''like most lefty bloggers, I only started following politics in a serious way in the late '90s.'' Drum says he's reacting to Ken Starr, the Florida ballot fight, the Bush tax cuts, the K Street Project and the war in Iraq.
PART 1: Eight years later, a very bright liberal can only get history half right. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/8/00.Today, enjoy part 3—in which pundits sing Drawl and shout.
PART 2: Sensible citizens still cant grasp the shape of our gong-show discourse. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/9/00.
KURTZ (6/25/99): In the picture painted by the press, Vice President Gore's White House campaign is hardly off to a great start.Yes, Warren had been mocking Gores kick-off speech, on The McLaughlin Report. (Good boy!) Later, Kurtz returned to the battering Gore took in the wake of that speech. He mentioned a few of the other pundits who complained that Gore had shouted:
Interviewers have pressed him on his view of President Clinton's affair with Monica S. Lewinsky. Commentators have ridiculed his shouted oratory, with the Chicago Tribune's James Warren likening him to a "Baptist minister on amphetamines." And no report on Gore is complete without noting the early horse-race polls that show him trailing Texas Gov. George W. Bush by double-digit margins.
KURTZ: The vice president has also fared poorly among the media's theater critics. After Gore made his announcement speech in Carthage, Tenn., several commentators complained that his team had bungled the staging because supporters waving signs blocked the cameras' view of the candidate. And they gave Gore's performance a definite thumbs down. "The poor man is all but howling at the moon," wrote New York Times columnist Gail Collins. Time magazine's Margaret Carlson called him a "flailing, shouting person" on CNN's "Capital Gang."For the record, Carlson, Collins and Warren were not alone in their complaints. The criticism of Gores shouting had started on that Thursdays Hardball; by Saturdays Capital Gang, three of the pundits—including a pair of TV liberals—went on and on about the bad shouting. First, Al Hunt and Robert Novak:
HUNT (6/19/99): I was in Carthage for Gore's announcement and I thought he also got off to a pretty good start. He bridged taking credit for the great economy and also striking some distance from Clinton, as you pointed out earlier. He also spoke Spanish to Carthage's Hispanic population and both of them appreciated it. I think he made a couple of mistakes. He still confuses, as we saw on the tape there, shouting for passion and they still underestimate Bill Bradley.The shouting is terrible, Novak said. Soon, Carlson was agreeing—and she was pouring it on:
MARK SHIELDS: Bob Novak, Al Hunt's analysis?
NOVAK: If that was a good week for Al Gore, I'd hate to see a bad week because I thought—I thought it, you know, this was the first week of spring training, but I thought that Bush really outclassed him. I think the shouting is terrible.
CARLSON: Gore, you know, even though he spoke, he gave his speech better in Spanish than in English or he just couldn't tell the truth, if they let Gore be a bore, he'd be better off than this flailing shouting person and like Wagner, actually, the music is better than it sounds. And so he didn't do all that badly this week.The next day, Mary Matalin complained about Gores loud shouting on Meet the Press. On Monday night, Eleanor Clift furthered the story on Hannity & Colmes:
NOVAK: How could you say that's a draw? I mean just, I mean it doesn't mean anything they've got, it's a long way off but he was, I mean Bush looked like somebody who you could trust in the office and Gore just looked like he was shouting.
CLIFT (6/21/99): Al Gore has had trouble defining where he is on issues. He has had trouble defining his personality because he hasn't had the nerve to dare—Very helpful. On that same day, Collins had published her New York Times column. Shed heaped the insults on too:
HANNITY: Because he doesn't have one?
CLIFT: —to be dull. He is authentically dull. And he should quit yelling at us when he gives speeches, speak in a normal tone and just let rationality carry the day.
COLLINS (6/21/99): This is our fault. We have been carping about how boring Al Gore is, and the poor man is all but howling at the moon in an effort to sound more compelling. We are being forced to watch him go through an enormous effort to look effortless, and it is as discomfiting as looking at the underside of a swan swimming on the lake. Voters are not going to elect a President who makes them feel like nervous parents at the second-grade class play. Mr. Gore has to give up this futile attempt to become Kennedyesque and embrace the boredom.Like Clift, Collins offered what would become the pundit corps standard left-handed compliment; Gore should just embrace the boredom. Two days later, Carlson recited this script too, this time on Inside Politics:
MARGARET CARLSON (6/23/99): You know, I think Gore actually is now going to move into a new thing where he's not flailing and he's not shouting. He's just going to be boring and just let it be.Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Gore shouldnt shout—he should just be boring! As usual, your fatuous pundits were happy as clams, since they all got to say the same thing.
TUCKER CARLSON: I think that's—I think Bradley can only help Gore...In fact, watching him you almost get the sense, well gee, Bradley must be working for Bush, he must be some sort of shill meant to make Gore look better.
MARGARET CARLSON: And Gore did relax later in the week. He's coming—let Gore be Gore, which is a bore.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On that note, Margaret Carlson, Tucker Carlson, thank you both.
What is the truth about Gores speech? We watched it again a few months ago, as weve occasionally done in the past eight years. If you were to watch it, you would see what we see; in fact, Gore delivered a very dry, unexciting, 25-minute speech. For the first 24 minutes of the speech, he didnt come close to raising his voice in the manner alleged. Finally, in his closing 35 seconds, he delivered a fairly standard closing rush; he increased his pace and raised his voice, reaching a surging finish as he brought the crowd to a roar. Fourteen months later, he used this technique to extremely good effect throughout much of his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. But on this day, it comprised roughly 35 seconds of a rather boring 25-minute speech. But so what? This was the part of the speech which was played on programs like Capital Gang—as pundits took turns clucking and complaining about the way this wild, fake, phony man had yelled, screamed and shouted.
No, Gore actually hadnt shouted. In fact, his delivery has been rather dull. But so what? A Bush spokesman soon complained that he had (text below), and soon the whole gang was repeating her story. And what happened last week with Clinton was similar. Go ahead! Watch her entire speech on C-SPAN and youll see very few places where you can hear anything which even dimly resembles a drawl. But so what? The national pundit corps did what our local talk hosts did. They took that one passage involving Clevelands hymn; doctored the tape to hide Clintons attribution; then played it again and again and again, marveling at the ludicrous way Clinton had affected her speech. No, Gore hadnt shouted—and Clinton barely drawled. But our pundits fed the world Drawl and shout. They sold us a famous old story.
No, Gore didnt shout—and Clinton barely drawled. None of this was ever worth discussing. But for reasons only they can explain, our multimillionaire pundit corps has amused itself this way for years. As Carlson told Imus one day in October 2000, it was entertaining and fun to do this to Gore. It gave her gang pleasure—as sport.
Yes, these are ugly, horrible people. They should be reviled as they pass in the streets. Indeed, their techniques have changed very little in the past fifteen years—but most voters havent heard The First Word About It. To all appearances, our liberal leaders have been quite content to have our candidates slandered this way. Eight years later, we havent challenged the endless claims against Gore—including the claim that Gore shouted. So we get the claim that Clinton drawled! To state the obvious, your simpering pundits will keep this up—until theyre made to stop.
Our liberal leaders have simply refused to warn the voters about these deceptions. They wont tell the voters what happened to Gore, so the voters dont understand when its done to Clinton. Nor will they understand later on ,when they see it done in turn to Obama. Our leaders are cowards—self-dealing, inane. The outcomes of their character flaws are there for all to gaze on.
TOMORROW—PART 4: Praising the other guys cadences!
WHERE THE STORY BEGAN: Trust us. If you read the punditry—then saw the tape of Gores speech—youd assume that you had received the wrong tape. But by that weekend, pundits were clucking about how Gore had shouted and yelled—and they were trying to top one another as to who could describe it more rudely. He was like a minister on amphetamines! No, he was like the ass of a swan! No, he was howling at the moon! The empty souls of our empty pundits made one more joke of your lives.
So where did the shouting script get its start? As usual, it seems to start with the Bush campaign. Here was part of the next-day news report of Gores speech by the Houston Chronicles Alan Bernstein:
BERNSTEIN (6/17/99): "It's going to be a long campaign if Al Gore is going to be yelling at us," said Bush campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker. "His speech sounded like a long litany of carefully tested and well-polled items in an effort to be all things to all people. It sounded as if he was previewing, coming soon to a neighborhood near you, Big Government by Al Gore."Is that where it started? With Mindy Tucker? Its hard to say. Indeed, Tucker may have been speaking metaphorically. But for unknown reasons, Bernstein also offered the following description of Gores speech—a description which simply cant be reconciled with the actual tape of the speech:
BERNSTEIN (6/17/99): [I]n introducing himself to the political world as a contender for his boss's job, Gore loaded his speech with the same preachy references to morals and ethics that are used by critics of Clinton's personal behavior with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.Yes, this was the Chronicles news report—something you might not realize as you read the complaints about Gores preachy references and notorious stiffness. But was Gore really shouting and growling with emotion throughout much of his address? Sorry—it just isnt there on the tape, which shows a rather lifeless delivery. But Bernstein soon quoted Mindy Tuckers complaint about Vile Gores yelling—and this critique was soon found all over the pundit corps, complete with that highly selective tape from the very tail-end of Gores speech.
"It is our own lives we must master if we are to have the moral authority to guide our children," Gore said, shouting and growling with emotion through much of his address in contrast to his notorious stiffness. He added that as the country looks beyond economic prosperity, "There is a hunger and thirst for goodness among us."
But as with Gores speech, so too with Clintons. There was almost no shouting—and very little drawling. But if you clip a speech in the way you want, you can support almost any critique—especially if you doctor your case by leaving out Clintons attribution. Clinton was quoting James Clevelands words—but your pundit corps didnt want you to know that. So, once again, they doctored a tape—and told us how fake Clinton is!
Liberal leaders have accepted this treatment over the course of the past fifteen years. They wont speak up; they wont fight back; they wont do their duty to American voters. They know its safer to keep their mouths shut. Lord, how Massa do laugh every night at the way he has picked his fine house slaves!
LETS NOT LEAVE ARIANNA OUT: Oh, and lets not forget Arianna! On Fox News Channels Crier Report, she pimped the scripted tale too. Cover the eyes of the children:
CATHERINE CRIER (6/25/99): Arianna, if George W. wasn't George W.—with his policies, could he get out of the Republican primary?Good God. That is just loathsome.
HUFFINGTON: You mean if he didn't have the name recognition and the money and the establishment behind him. And—
CRIER: Exactly. Because we're talking about a real centrist move. Would this be legitimate without it being George W.?
HUFFINGTON: Yes, I think it would for two reasons. First of all, because he has the record. Already he has proven that he can bring in minorities, that he got 47 percent of the Hispanic vote, 27 percent of the black vote, remarkable numbers for Republicans.
His personality is very warm, very appealing. It really sort of shows up Gore for the stiff he is. And he cannot be a stiff person screaming the message rather than speaking it, which is even less attractive.