COHEN (11/1/99): "The male body is home to me, my rocket, my whirlpool." So wrote Naomi Wolf in her book, "Fire With Fire" [note: Cohens statement is wrong] which will soon be required reading along the campaign trail. Wolf—sometimes a feminist, sometimes not, but always controversial—has just been revealed as a secret Al Gore campaign adviser, apparently teaching the vice president how to be a rocket and a whirlpool. Some of us, though, would settle for just plain Al Gore.It would be hard to overstate how foolish—and insulting—this whirlpool column really was. Why did Gore move his headquarters down to Nashville? Of course! Because he didnt know who he was! And of course, the facts must always be improved; in fact, the troubling hopeful had only gotten one new suit. But that one new suit was brown—and this deeply troubling fact drove people like Cohen half-crazy. And so, a story-line was adopted; the new suit had to have come from the troubling Wolf (who had been a lavishly-praised adviser to the 96 Clinton campaign). In this passage from Cohens column, we see the matchless inanity of your Washington press corps—and we see why Gore, despite his prescience on the worlds most important issues, is not a near-perfect candidate. Hint: Note the key word Cohen uses:
But it is more and more clear that no one, least of all Al Gore, knows who that is. This is why he moved his campaign headquarters from Washington to Nashville, why he has gotten some new suits (it's the whirlpool look), and often appears in leisure clothing. He is newly energetic, sometimes manic and moves like a character in some speeded-up silent movie. I suppose this is what happens when you're a rocket.
COHEN: [Wolf] also—and this is critical—reportedly advised her candidate to use more olive green, brown and shades of tan in his wardrobe. Gore has complied. The polls have yet to record the difference.How useful the word reportedly is! Indeed, its the modern pundits favorite word; it means the claim in question doesnt have to be true—someone just has to have said it! In this case, as a matter of fact, no one had actually said that Wolf advised Gore to wear earth tones, but a single person—Fox pundit Dick Morris—had speculated that this might be the case. Result? Your so-called press corps—fools like Cohen—began to pretend that it was true (saying reportedly as this did, to cover their pitiful keisters). What a sentence! It was critical that we should know that Wolf had reportedly done this vile thing! As the nonsense continued, Wolf said that she had never advised Gore on his wardrobe at all—but so what? Your press corps had the story they liked, and they just kept on repeating it. Wolfs denial was rarely mentioned, and soon, unreliable Morris was disappeared too, as major figures (Maureen Dowd, Howell Raines, Clarence Page among others) pretended that the earth tones claim had actually come from Time magazine. (It hadnt.) No, the total evidence was that one speculation—but so what! This idiotic pres corps scripts remains a treasured script to this day, repeated everywhere Gore is trashed—and even everywhere Gore is praised. Yes, every good pundit has to remember to say that Wolf told Gore to wear earth tones. And thats why Cohens claim isnt currently right—thats why Gore is not a near-perfect candidate. Why would it be hard for Gore to run? Because of prime fools—fools like Cohen.
(Note: That whirlpool quotation was bungled too; it doesnt appear in Fire with Fire, or in any of Wolfs other writings. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/5/04. Is there anything your scribes dont get wrong?)
So no, Al Gore isnt currently perfect (or near-perfect)—and sadly, his numbers show it. Your Washington press corps lost its mind (and its soul) when it heard that Bill Clinton had received those ten blow jobs. To some pundits, this was the worst thing they could imagine. It proved what they had always suspected; somewhere, someone was getting oral sex, and no, it wasnt them! Gore criticized Clintons conduct, but not lustily enough for our press corps, which was soon explaining what Gore had to say about Clinton—and what they would do to him if he refused. We want to hear him say what a terrible reprobate the president was, Roger Simon (U.S. News) told Howard Kurtz in June 1999. And if Gore wouldnt call Clinton a moral reprobate? (He had said that the conduct was indefensible. Not enough.) We're going to make him jump through the hoops, Simon said. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. In that same report by Kurtz, Jim Warren (Chicago Tribune) made similar comments about the already-savage Gore coverage—and five months later, there was Cohen, typing quotes that had never appeared and deriding what Wolf had reportedly done. His campaign's going down the drain, Cohen wrote of Gore as he finished that column. Three weeks later, he wrote another vacuous piece about the now-near-perfect man. This time, Cohen focused on Gores deeply-troubling pants:
COHEN (11/23/99): This is not your father's Al Gore.Omigod! Gore was sometimes wearing khaki pants and—even worse—cowboy boots. (Gore had worn boots throughout his career. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/4/03.) Even worse, Gore was willing to answer questions from New Hampshire citizens until ungodly hours:
This is the new model. It is leaner and sleeker, buffed by weightlifting and trimmed by diet. It comes in new colors, too—not a somber Beltway gray but a bold black shirt and khaki pants and, on occasion, cowboy boots. The vice president of the United States is no more. He is now your pal Al.
COHEN (continuing directly): Your pal Al is a determined fellow. Some candidates may swoop into an event, deliver the standard speech, take some questions and split—but not Gore. He will stay until there are no questions left to be asked—until his audiences signal with body language that they have given up, exhausted. A Gore campaign event is like a dance marathon of old. It ends when he's the last one standing.As readers of THE HOWLER will know, this was a scripted complaint about Gore at this time—he would stay too late at public events, taking too many citizens questions! No, its not possible; you just cant get dumber. But did we mention that name—Richard Cohen?
(Translation, for those of you who are human: In New Hampshire, the press corps roots for town hall meetings to get over early, so they can return to the bar at the Wayfarer Inn and get blotto with the rest of their cohort.)
So no—Gore isnt, at present, the near-perfect candidate. Sadly, it isnt clear that he ever can be—although well never say never. He was right on Iraq; he was right on warning—but omigod! He was so wrong when he wore that black shirt, and when he wouldnt say moral reprobate—and the scripted robots inside your press corps never stop typing their treasured inanities, as theyve proven once again in recent weeks. (As one young TNR scribe proved last week, they come out of college typing them!) Surely, everyone except the Cohens and Remnicks knows what will happen if Gore runs for president. Almost surely, the alpha males of the press corps—the men like Chris Matthews—will start reciting their Gore story-lines, and the world-class cowards—the Cohens and Remnicks—will roll over and put their toes in the air, just as they did during Campaign 2000, when simple fairness toward Gore would have made the difference—would have kept the U.S. out of Iraq. We have no personal knowledge about Gores thinking, but yes—of course, the near-perfect hopeful knows all this. (Example tomorrow.) But so what? Big Pundits write columns feigning ignorance of what would happen if Gore chose to run.
Sadly, Gores numbers are now very low. He was right on warming; he was right on Iraq—but his favorables are down in the Dick Cheney range, as we noted in yesterdays post. And surely, everyone knows why that is; Gores numbers are there due to Remnick and Cohen—due to year after year of press corps misconduct! Back when it actually mattered, Cohen trashed Gore, and Remnick cowered—back when their current High Praise for Gore would have kept us all out of Iraq.
Duh! Cohen and Remnick put Bush in the White House, with twenty months of astounding misconduct. Can Gore now become that near-perfect candidate—the candidate they now say he deserves to be? Maybe—but before he could make that near-perfect run, theres something these pundits would have to do. And heres a secret: Cohen and Remnick will never do it—unless the good guys speak up.
TOMORROW—PART 3: Will Ezra and Eric speak up?
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: As we noted just a few weeks ago, the sliming of Wolf was perhaps the most remarkable episode in the press corps twenty-month War Against Gore. They were smutty; stupid; inane and profane—and they leaned hard on that one speculation (while falsely claiming that Time had said it!) Their conduct explains how Bush reached the White House—and why we find ourselves in Iraq. But they will never admit what they did—unless the good guys make them.
To revisit the astonishing sliming of Wolf, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/10/03, with links to our entire five-part series. We strongly suggest that you read all five parts. Just try to believe that this happened.
OMITTED YESTERDAY: Oh yeah! What vile attack was launched on Gore by Tucker Carlson in the spring of 1997? According to Carlson, Gore had lied when he said that hed watched his beloved sister die. Its hard to get more personal—or more nasty—than that, especially when you have your facts wrong (and when its obvious, from your own nuanced writing, that you dont really know if youre right). But when Carlsons false statement was quickly corrected, he still pretended that hed somehow been right. And how did your Washington press corps work in the years when all this happened? Simple! No one had his misstatements corrected—or paid a prize for spreading them around, no matter how vile the misstatements might be. Result? In July 2000, this story (suitably embellished, of course) was repeated by Jeff Jacoby, in loving detail, on the op-ed page of the Boston Globe, New Hampshires biggest-selling daily. (For the rundown on Carlson and Jacoby, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/21/00). (Gore lost New Hampshire narrowly, thereby losing the White House.) And that October, with the White House on the line, Mary Matalin repeated the factually bogus story on Imus. We reported this incident on October 17, 2000, at the now-defunct SpeakOut.com. The troubled soul of the press corps was on display when Mary Matalin visited Don Imus, we wrote. Heres the kind of smutty tale which was still being lovingly peddled, three years after it had been shown to be false. In effect, Mary just said reportedly:
MATALIN (10/11/00): It goes back to the—I remember talking to you about the sister thing back at the convention and forget the phoniness and exploitation of it, but the literal lie—saying I turned on tobacco when I sat there holding her hand as she drew her last breath, with Tucker Carlson reporting he wasnt even with her when she died, he was across town giving a speech at Kiwanis.Remember, Gore was liar, just like Bill Clinton! Your press corps said it again and again, making up endless bogus examples while cowards like Remnick and Cohen sucked air. And yes, this is how Bush reached the White House—and how the U.S. reached Iraq. In this case, Carlsons near-pornographic misstatement had been quickly shown to be false—three years before. But so what? In those days, no one paid a price for bogus quotations from Wolf, for saying what Wolf had reportedly done, for denouncing Gores deeply troubling black shirt—or for spreading the smuttiest possible howlers. Meanwhile, Matalin knew what Gores literal lie surely meant. You know the scripts—it meant Gore was a nut:
MATALIN (continuing directly): That kind of lying is indicative of some neediness, something that would translate in public service or under pressure I think there is something wrong there.Amazing. I think there is something wrong there, she said, as she lied about Gores non-existent lying. And of course, there was something wrong; there was something wrong with Matalin, with Carlson, with Jacoby—and with the twin cowards, Cohen and Remnick. Why are the near-perfect Gores current numbers so low? Readers, do you actually have to ask? And by the way, theres still something wrong with the soul of your press corps. Will Ezra and Eric speak up?