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A TALE TOLD TO A PUNDIT! Matt Dowd tells a sad, silly tale—and Rutenberg types every word // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, APRIL 2, 2007

BUMMED BY OBAMA: David Broder rarely makes sense these days—except in the reliable way he pounds away at Big Major Dems. Try to believe the nonsensical claim he offered at the start of yesterday’s column:
BRODER (4/1/07): [T]he political equivalent of the Hot Stove League—the off-season chatter of die-hard fans—is going full force. On the Republican side, the unsettled picture allows for one "new star" after another—first Mitt Romney, then Rudy Giuliani, now Fred Thompson—to emerge as a real threat to Sen. John McCain, who keeps piling up endorsements from across the GOP spectrum and deepening an organization that already looks formidable.

On the Democratic side, which commands greater interest because the Democrats dominate in almost every poll on 2008 prospects, the question of the day is "What's happening to Barack Obama?”
Say what? The Democrats “dominate in almost every poll on 2008 prospects?” Broder’s statement is blatantly wrong; you can check the most recent head-to-head match-ups by just clicking here. Meanwhile, just a few weeks ago, Broder savaged the New York Times for reporting the results of a poll—a poll which showed that Republican voters were gloomy about their party’s chances. But so what? Through his current act of blatant deception, Broder moves directly from his pandering review of those “new [GOP] stars” to his latest unbalanced attack on a Dem. This time, the Dean is disturbed by the floundering conduct of the deeply-disturbing Obama.

The Dean recites the current group wisdom: Obama hasn’t offered enough specifics. But can you spot the hole in his recitation? We highlight it for you here:
BRODER (continuing directly): The freshman senator from Illinois has had the most dramatic rise of any politician in the past six months, thanks to a best-selling book and to the crowd-pulling appearances he has made on his coast-to-coast campaign travels.

But of late, Obama's soaring rhetoric has left some of his audiences hungry for more substance from the senator. That was the case at a March 24 health-care forum in Las Vegas, where Obama promised to achieve universal coverage as president but had to admit that—unlike former senator John Edwards of North Carolina—he had not yet formulated a plan for getting there. And it was the case again Wednesday, when he was one of seven candidates addressing several thousand members of the Building and Construction Trades, AFL-CIO, at their convention in Washington.
What’s wrong—misleading—about that highlighted statement? Broder forgot to mention an obvious fact; Edwards is the only Dem candidate who has “formulated a health-care plan.” Obama doesn’t have such a plan yet—but neither does anyone else! But so what? Broder nails Obama for the lack of a plan—then compares him unfavorably with Clinton and Biden, who haven’t formulated their health-care plans either! And we’d have to say that we started a bit as the Dean trashed Obama’s presentation at the Building and Construction Trades event. Go ahead—emit mordant chuckles:
BRODER: Obama never varied from a conversational monotone and, unlike Biden, expressed no gratitude to labor for past support and barely mentioned the issues of minimum-wage legislation, prevailing wage guarantees and bills to strengthen union bargaining rights that had made up the bulk of the other candidates' speeches.

The judgment of the California delegate I met walking out was: "He left me kind of flat.”
Broder can tell that Obama sucked because one delegate said so! Meanwhile, Broder scores Obama for failing to “express gratitude to labor” and for failing to tailor his speech to labor issues. LOL! We remember the million-and-one times Big Major Dems have been criticized for “pandering” to “The Groups” when they do engage in such conduct. Indeed, if Broder had wanted to go after Biden or Clinton this day, that might well have been the road taken.

How was Obama’s speech this day? We don’t have the slightest idea. (In Las Vegas, Edwards and Clinton were better.) But as usual, Broder had his thumb on the scale as he made a bum of Obama—and his description of all those “new stars” in the GOP is just flat-out laughable. “Formidable” McCain is in a free-fall—and Giuliani is spiraling downward as ol’ “Mars-is-warming,” Fred Thompson, heats up for the race. And by the way: None of them have a health care plan either! Indeed, when McCain presented his health plan in 12/99, it was such a god-awful mess that he had to take it down the next day!

Boder is a tired old man—and he’s writing now as if he were older. But then, these slackers simply luvvv their scripts! Tomorrow we’ll show you the silly thing Jeff Greenfield said when he took his turn with Obama.

TOMORROW: On Imus, Obama gets Gored.

A TALE TOLD TO A PUNDIT: Pity poor Matthew Dowd! (No relation.) Various things kept coming up to keep him from speaking his mind!

According to Jim Rutenberg’s laughable profile on the front page of Sunday’s Times, the former Bush honcho became “so disillusioned with the war” in Iraq that he “considered joining street demonstrations against it.” But darn it! His affection for Bush kept him sidelined! And not only that; Dowd wrote “an op-ed piece last spring titled ‘Kerry Was Right.’” But wouldn’t you know it! He forgot to submit it! And not only that; the only candidate who appeals to Dowd is Barack Obama, “because of what Mr. Dowd called his message of unity.” But darn it! Dowd will probably be off doing high-minded charity work during2008! And not only that: We’re supposed to feel sorry for Dowd because of his recent divorce; because of the death of one of his children; and because his oldest son in about to ship off to Iraq—although it’s not clear what any of that has to do with the claim that the “soft-spoken and somewhat melancholy” man has rethought the silly mistakes that led him to work for George Bush.

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo! Dowd has seen the errors of his ways—and Rutenberg is there to swallow the bull-sh*t! Indeed, just consider the most puzzling part of this tale—the explanation of how Matt Dowd came to work for George Bush in the first place. That’s what opens Rutenberg’s profile—a profile which is, in effect, a front-page “job search” advertisement for Dowd. Here’s the puzzling tale we’re told about the way Dowd became a top Bushie:
RUTENBERG (4/1/07): In 1999, Matthew Dowd became a symbol of George W. Bush's early success at positioning himself as a Republican with Democratic appeal.

A top strategist for the Texas Democrats who was disappointed by the Bill Clinton years, Mr. Dowd was impressed by the pledge of Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, to bring a spirit of cooperation to Washington. He switched parties, joined Mr. Bush's political brain trust and dedicated the next six years to getting him to the Oval Office and keeping him there. In 2004, he was appointed the president's chief campaign strategist.

Looking back, Mr. Dowd now says his faith in Mr. Bush was misplaced.
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo! Dowd was disappointed by Clinton—and now he’s disappointed with Bush! But readers, does the first part of that story make sense, even with the all-purpose excuse that Bill Clinton made the poor guy do it? At one point, Rutenberg specifically reports Dowd’s claim that he “decided to become a Republican in 1999"—the same year he became a top-ranking Bush aide! In short, we’re supposed to believe the following: We’re supposed to believe that Dowd had been a “top Democratic strategist” for years. And omigod! In 1999, he became a Republican—and a top Bush honcho at the same time! Since Bush’s (effective) campaign was built on hard loyalty, does that story, while pretty, make actual sense? No, it doesn’t—something is missing. But so what? Rutenberg is prepared to believe every piece of Dowd’s sad, heart-rending tale.

What’s the actual story behind Dowd’s party switch? It’s hard to provide real reporting on that; in 1999, Dowd still wasn’t a big enough player to merit profiles in Texas newspapers. But another party-switchin’ Bush honcho, Mark McKinnon, already was—and it’s easy to see, from the real-time reporting, what was actually going on when McKinnon switched from Dem to Rep in the mid-to-late 1990s. Duh! As the Texas Dem Party died on the vine, good hustlers knew it was time to switch—especially with a brand-name Texas governor leading Republican polls for the White House. Result? High-minded consultants like McKinnon and Dowd switched sides, offering silly sob stories about their high motives as they made the career-making move. Today, Dowd is offering these same sad stories—as he tries to disembark from the ship which has gone on the rocks.

How absurd was Rutenberg’s front-page profile? Read this post by Digby to explore one key part of Dowd’s current nonsense. But make no mistake: For the past fifteen years, it has been the job of scribes like Rutenberg to believe every scrap of bullsh*t handed them by Republican hustlers like Dowd. Dowd was boo-hoo-hooing this week—and Rutenberg typed every word of his story. The result was bad for Bush; good for Dowd, and bad for clear-headed journalism

Did Dowd really write that column? Think about marching? Is he really drawn to Obama? We don’t have the slightest idea. But we think you might want to see the high-minded tales that were told the last time this guy switched sides. Rutenberg typed up a bowdlerized tale. Read Digby—then read us tomorrow.

TOMORROW: The power of the silly sob story: How Mark McKinnon switched sides.