THIS IS YOUR PARTY ON RECTITUDE! And this is how Rove wins elections: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2008
TOMORROW: Philosopher Fridays! Letting Wilt play!
In a rational world, that wouldnt be possible. According to Howard Kurtz, Matthews is paid $3 million per year to cover politics for NBC News/MSNBC—for the propaganda organization Jack Welch so irresponsibly built. And more than a year into this campaign, he seems to think that Obama and Clinton are proposing single-payer health care! He seems to suggest that they try some kind of mandated benefit...where businesses and young people have to pay their way. That, of course, is exactly what Obama and Clinton (and Edwards) have proposed.
In a rational world, youd assume that this wasnt possible—that some sort of misunderstanding had occurred. Youd assume that Matthews couldnt be as clueless as he seems to be, about such basic facts. But as weve mentioned in the past, were often stunned by Matthews factual ignorance. In late December, for example, he went on an extended rant in which he revealed a startling fact—one year into Campaign 08, he plainly thought that Barack Obamas mother and maternal grandmother were Muslims. Indeed, on a single Hardball program, he articulated some version of this mind-boggling howler four separate times. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/21/07.
Unfortunately, Matthews is such a cosmic fraud that its often hard to confirm his ignorance. In March 2000, for example, he savagely misstated elementary facts about Al Gore and the Buddhist temple, painting Gore as a fraud and a liar. The facts about this matter had long been clear—and they had just been re-established in a high-profile court case. Was Matthews simply lying again—or was he truly misinformed? In this case, as in so many others, it was hard to be certain. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/17/00.
But go ahead—visit Media Matters. Read a fuller transcript, and watch the tape of this cosmic nut-case expounding. In these moments, you see the size of the problem we have long faced as a nation. But go read Kevin—and go read Josh. Prediction: The pool boys will be silent. Once again.
Youve seen this movie! For the past dozen years, the public has been told that John McCain is an authentic straight-talking war hero straight-shooter whos exceptionally comfortable in his own skin. (And a maverick.) In our view, the public isnt likely to take him for Bush, given the silly tale theyve been sold. By way of contrast, one of the possible Democratic hopefuls has been demonized for the past sixteen years. The more likely nominee is new on the scene, and therefore susceptible to framing.
And so, even in a Democratic year, McCain is running even with Obama and Clinton. Rather, he was running even before this week—a week which hasnt seemed real good for Dems. On Monday, one member of the pseudo-liberal elite wrote a New York Times op-ed piece; it said that white Texas voters who favored Clinton had submitted to Birth of the Nation imagery. This column twinned an earlier piece in the Washington Post. That column had said that Democratic women who favor Obama are snobby, upper-class gender-traitors who are drawn to Michelle Obamas fancy shoes.
Yep! Its hard to get dumber than our liberal elites! And now, with the party locked in Ferraro-gate, things may be getting worse.
What do we think of Geraldine Ferraros comments, originally published in The Daily Breeze of Torrance, California? On balance, we dont think they were hugely worth talking about, like the vast majority of things which get discussed in what passes for our political discourse. (How dare Samantha Power say that!) But Ferraros remarks have been widely discussed—and in the usual manner.
Was something wrong with Ferraros remarks? If we pull out one part of what she said—the standard way to deal with such matters—we would tend to disagree with her statement, to the extent that we understood it. (A more humane practice: Ask a person to explain what she meant. Its also more intelligent.) Lets take the first fragment which got discussed. Standing alone, the statement is unfortunate—indeed, tragic: If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.
Standing alone, that strikes us as a very unfortunate statement (to the extent that we understand what was meant). Standing alone, that statement seems to reduce a brilliant person to his race—a tragic part of this nations history. Meanwhile, depending on how you take the statement, wed have to say that we have no way to know if its actually true. Would Obama be where he is except for race—for his remarkable personal history, which he has described in two brilliant books? We have no earthly idea. For all we know, if Barack Obama had come of age in a society which wasnt still captive to obsessions about race, then Barack Obama, a brilliant person, might have found the cure for cancer by now. Or he might have achieved some other great thing, something which would have made him an even larger public phenomenon than he already is. Unfortunately, this brilliant person came of age in a society which was still captive to race—and so, as he has described in his books, he devoted a great deal of his obvious brilliance to untangling that subjects painful mysteries.
Time and energy spent in one place cant be spent in some other. But Obamas brilliance was perfectly obvious when he addressed the Democratic Convention in 2004. And it has been obvious out on the trail, where—on balance—he has conducted a brilliant seminar on the future of race, on racial and post-racial dreaming. There has been a running thread through this campaign of both pundits and prognosticators asking first, was I black enough, then am I too black, Obama is quoted saying in this mornings Post. In our view, Obama has maintained his brief through this gauntlet quite brilliantly (perhaps until the last week or two). In our view, few candidates have ever understood any brief so thoroughly—and the brief which Obama understands so well goes to the soul of our culture. In the Maryland primary, we voted for Clinton; on balance, we dont think its a great idea to nominate someone so new. But this is why we said, during South Carolina: We never saw three candidates this good. Its why we then said, of Clinton and Obama: Its a shame that one has to lose.
That said, Obama—and his campaign and supporters—havent necessarily done the right thing in every instance as the campaign has unfolded. (These things can be hard to evaluate.) And that statement by Ferraro was only part of what she told the Breeze. Careful, readers! When you read a newspaper profile, youre only reading the statements which have been included in the report. That said, here is a larger selection of the things Ferraro said. The following quotations all appear in the Breeze piece before that remark about Obama—the remark which has been picked out for discussion. In these excerpts, Ferraro was telling Jim Farber, a reporter who seemed to be playing things straight, about a speech shed be giving in Torrance:
Ferraro is quoted saying these things before she makes that remark about Obama—the remark which was singled out first.
Here are some thoughts that came to mind when we reviewed what Ferraro said:
This is a very emotional campaign for me, she said. As she said this, she described a problem which has plagued this Democratic campaign on various sides. Beyond that, we disagree with a few of the things she said in these excerpts—but then, we strongly agree with some others. And we think these remarks present a context for her other remarks—a context which has been tossed away this week, as so often occurs in what we call our political discourse.
What do we disagree with here? Along with many other Democrats, Ferraro has been living on Mars if she believes (we dont doubt that she does) that the press has been uniquely hard on Clinton in this campaign—if she believes that the role of the media has been far larger than anything Ive seen before. We agree that the press corps has gone after Clinton, especially after October, often in ways which have been inexcusable. But starting in March 1999, they went after Candidate Gore much longer and a bit harder. We believe Ferraro when she suggests that she doesnt understand that history. In our experience, most Big Dems and Big Liberals dont.
So Ferraro is wrong about that point—but shes right about others. For example, we have seen a very sexist media during this campaign. Though we ourselves avoid that term (more heat than light), weve been writing about the gender-trashing of Clinton since late 2006. The gender-trashing was nasty and endless, and it came from familiar press elements—elements which have been destroying Big Dems ever since they went after Gore. (Chris Matthews, you big f*cking tool, come on down!) But so what? All around the pseudo-liberal world, high-minded boys looked contentedly on. Today, theyre troubled by all that racism! Sorry. Many times, if you pick-and-choose that way, you end up with emotional people complaining about your candidate.
We wouldnt have said the things Ferraro said; nor would we have trashed her for them. But many people have gotten emotional (sometimes counter-productively so) as theyve seen their candidate get gender-trashed. (Bill Clinton would be one example.) Then, there are those who didnt speak up during this long, inexcusable process. Last night, Keith set aside his usual practice of mocking young women to offer one of his phony rants about the way the Clinton campaign is now of a piece with David Duke! For our money, Keith became unwatchable long ago, when his self-impressed rants were still aimed at Bush. (As the Church Lady might have said: Arent his comments special!) But now, you can add his self-impressed (pro-Obama) noise to that foolish (pro-Clinton) insult about those Jimmy Choo shoes.
Obama supporters just like Jimmy Choos! No: The Clinton campaign sounds like David Duke! And that ad was like Birth of a Nation! Readers, you cant get dumber than our liberal elites! Therefore, we think you have two choices: You can choose to be dumb your whole life, or you can choose to reject them. In our view, this is your party on rectitude, a party in love with the sound of its dumbness. Self-impressed boys who let Chris Matthews rave on are now sooo deeply upset with Ferraro! In the process, an authentic straight-talking war hero straight-shooter may be getting that much more comfortable in his own skin.
Many people have said and done stupid (or perhaps dishonest) things during this campaign. On Monday, we spoke about shirts and skins, a way we fellows divide the world when we play pick-up basketball. But then, the human brain is wired that way; it was wired, during many years of prehistory, to see the world as us and them. As long as you submit to that wiring, youll feel the insults aimed at your tribe—and youll gaze dumbly at the emotions of others. Youll understand your own teams sense of offense—and be puzzled by Ferraros.
When youre a shirt, youre a shirt all the way, if we may quote the old musical.
And when youre a shirt, only skins commit fouls! We fellows have seen how it works on the court—but it becomes a lot more harmful when its exported to political battles. In this campaign, major players on various sides have said dumb things—or behaved dishonestly. Race cards have been—or may have been—played on various sides. And no, it isnt easy to know when these cards are being deliberately dealt. Although, of course, it always feels good to pretend we do know—to rant histrionically.
Some of you will now compose e-mails, describing the outrageous offenses committed against your virtuous side. You might find yourself talking about things which offended you; you might not find yourself wondering about the things which may have offended someone else. You may even find yourself explaining somebodys motives—where motive may be hard to detect. You may find yourself in the grip of a high level of certainty.
In short, you may find yourself repping the shirts, railing about what the vile skins have done. You may be emotional too! When youre a shirt, youre a shirt all the way! Well suggest thats how Rove wins elections.
BY THE WAY: Earth to Olbermann: Nothing is dumber than pretending that advisers force candidates to behave as they do. (For some reason, pseudo-liberals adore this game.) Those advisers are hired by the candidates! Its the candidate who accepts—or rejects—the advisers advice.
We know, we know—he was trying to keep Clinton out of it! If only he decided to do the same for David Duke!
[Summarizing the liberal consensus: Obama voters just like Jimmy Choos; Clinton sounds like David Duke.]