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GARDEN PARTY! Bob Novak describes a swish dinner party, the kind “liberal spokesmen” just luvv to attend: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 2005

THERE IS A FREE LUNCH—AND WE’RE EATING IT: Free food has long been our favorite cuisine. And today, we munch free lunch from the Maryland Press Club as we take part in a panel discussion concerning a range of press issues. No, they couldn’t afford Wonkette. But we’ll struggle for Deep Insight anyway.

At any rate, before we head off to engage in these wars, we’ll let you visit an insider dinner party—the very kind of swish soiree “liberal spokesmen” just luvv to attend.

GARDEN PARTY: A few weeks back, Josh Marshall referred to the “right-leaning dinner-party centrism” of establishment Washington (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/21/05). In this morning’s column, Robert Novak lets us visit one of those parties. He discusses the feelings now roiling Washington about the Schiavo affair:

NOVAK (3/24/05): In Washington, I was engaged during a Saturday night dinner party in debate at a level of intensity I had not seen since the bitter 1960s and '70s. My dining companions, mostly mainstream Washington journalists a generation younger than I, were passionately opposed to the congressional intervention [in the Schiavo matter].
Novak continues to stress the intensity of the journalists’ feelings:
NOVAK: The intensity was brought home to me at the Saturday dinner party. A fellow journalist asked me what I thought about the congressional intervention. When I responded that I approved, several colleagues asked how in the world I, of all people, could approve of federal intervention in local affairs. I told them I did not care about that issue but wondered why they were so anxious to end Terri Schiavo's life. They responded that Republicans in Congress were only interested in politics. I had not engaged in such a heated debate with colleagues since the Vietnam War.
Novak notes that congressional voting on the Schiavo matter moved outside normal partisan lines. But not since Vietnam, he says, have his colleagues in the mainstream press staged such a heated debate at such a fine dinner party.

At THE HOWLER, we don’t doubt Novak’s account, and we think you should ponder what it means. According to Novak, the Schiavo matter has his mainstream press colleagues more upset than anything since Vietnam! Translation: They didn’t care this much about Iraq. They didn’t care this much about Bush’s tax cuts. They don’t care this much about Social Security. They didn’t care this much about the Bush-Gore election—the election which totally changed our politics—or about that crackpot book by those Swift Boat Veterans. No—more than all else, they care about this. It’s a confession we find most illustrative.

Who are the opinion leaders of your mainstream Washington “press corps?” As we’ve told you for years and years, they’re a gang of perfumed millionaires, and no, they don’t give a good goldarn about Bush’s budget follies. Indeed, because they’re multimillionaires, they gain from everything Bush has done in that area, and no, they don’t care if you don’t. But there’s one thing these people still aren’t—they still aren’t a group of Christian conservatives. They get upset when the Christian right takes the stage. They don’t care much about anything else.

Not since the days of Vietnam has your powered press corps been so upset! They were willing to roll with Iraq—and with Bush’s endless gifts to the rich. This is the one thing that gets them upset. We think you should ponder that deeply.

JOSH MARSHALL’S ATTACK ON THE LITTLE GUY: MSNBC is hopeless. During this morning’s Imus program, the following “flash news” appeared on the screen:

TRUSTEES SAY SOCIAL SECURITY WILL RUN OUT OF CASH BY 2041
Of course, the trustees have said no such thing. The SS trust fund will expire in 2041, according to the trustees’ most recent report. But duh! The system itself will have oodles of cash coming in from the ongoing payroll tax. According to the trustees, SS will still be able to pay 74 percent of scheduled benefits in 2042 even if no changes are made in the interim. As we have endlessly observed, it would be fairly easy to guarantee full benefits with increases in SS revenues.

So yes, some low-level nitwit at MSNBC was typing up a false “news flash.” But then, should this be surprising? After all, on Tuesday, the most honest man in American history said the same thing, at a Big Bush Event! Yes, it was Senator Self-Praise (sorry—John McCain) who peddled the pap which that nameless scribe wrote. Popping his jersey, the great honest man made a joke of your discourse and interests:

MCCAIN (3/22/05): I'd like to give a little straight talk here.

One, working Americans will not see the same benefits that retired Americans are experiencing today under this present system. Fact.

The other salient facts are that we must fix the issue sooner or later. The longer we wait, the more draconian the remedies will have to be.

Some of our friends who are opposing this idea say, "Oh, you don't have to worry until 2042." We wait until 2042 when we stop paying people Social Security? That's not what this is all about.

As we noted in yesterday’s HOWLER, Senator Self-Praise had done it again! While claiming to give “a little straight talk,” he baldly lied in the face of the voters! So is it surprising that some low-level schmuck at MSNBC thinks SS is “running out of cash in 2041?" Is it surprising, when a great man like Self-Praise makes this equivalent statement?

Which brings us to Josh Marshall’s postings this morning. Josh complains about headlines on MSNBC’s web site, correctly noting that they are inaccurate. Daringly, he refers to them as “more great moments in media whoredom.” But those web-site headlines are hugely trivial, and Senator Self-Praise is hugely important! And yet, we’ve searched Marshall site for his slam at Self-Praise. But so far, no word about him! (Note: Josh also complains about inaccurate headlines—at unnamed American newspapers.)

So let’s give Josh a few important names he can cite when he complains about MSNBC. Rick Kaplan is the man who puts this garbage on the air, over and over and over again; and Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough are the significant hos engaged in this endless process. Why does Marshall rail at nameless low-level staffers but fail to mention the names that matter? Like the rest of your “liberal spokesmen,” why won’t he name the actual big-name players who are making a joke of your discourse?

As we’ve noted many times, Marshall does brilliant work about policy and politics. But when he wrote about that “right-leaning dinner party centrism,” he noted that he hasn’t discussed it for years. Disillusioned young analysts stood before us. “We’ve noticed,” they sadly declared.

FLASH NEWS! REAL NAMES ARE AVAILABLE: Here are the names of some major players. So go ahead, Josh. Lay off the nameless headline writers. Try to be a man about this! Try naming these big, major people:

  1. Senator Self-Praise (sorry—John McCain)
  2. Rick Kaplan, head of MSNBC
  3. Chris Matthews—he’s the host of Hardball
  4. Joe Scarborough, of the eponymous Country
MSNBC is a sick joke—has been for years. But why won’t “liberal spokesmen” like Marshall lay off the weak and the helpless? Why won’t he name the “establishment right-leaning dinner-party centrists” who have made a sick joke of your interests?

BANG THE DRUM SOFTLY: Note the courage of insider liberal spokesman Kevin Drum. He complains that Bush's events are described as "town hall meetings." But he forgets to say that John McCain is standing up and lying at them.