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Daily Howler: Naomi Klein mocked Larry Summers--and a question popped into our heads
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DISAPPEARING KLEIN! Naomi Klein mocked Larry Summers—and a question popped into our heads: // link // print // previous // next //

A vastly changed world: Last Saturday, we were struck by Ellen McCarthy’s front-page piece in the Washington Post. And we’ll admit it: We were moved by the piece again as we reread it this morning. It deals with the Washington area’s (admittedly silly) children—in particular, with its “tween girls.” Yes, those kids can be pretty silly. But we think the piece is worth pondering.

We wouldn’t have published this piece ourselves; we’d be concerned that it would do harm to the two children who lie at its core. That said, the piece was publishedand we thought it described a vastly changed world.

“Race” is rarely mentioned here—but for us, the topic informed our reactions. McCarthy discusses a bunch of area girls—some of them “white” and some of them “black.” Perusing the tidbits in her report, we’d guess that their worlds are all vastly changed from the worlds of their parents and grandparents.

A note about Caprice Humphreys, the fifth-grade poet who lists some of the ways she has been inspired. (On-line, her actual poem has been dumped.) Silly though such kids may be, fifth-graders long for inspiration. We wish the stars of our pseudo-prog world would give them a bit more to shoot for.

Disappearing Klein: In Sunday’s Outlook section, the Washington Post featured a special “spring cleaning” feature. Ten prominent people were asked to name something the world could afford to throw out.

We were struck by Naomi Klein’s selection—she wants to throw out Larry Summers! Here’s how she started:

KLEIN (4/19/09): I vote to banish Larry Summers. Not from the planet. That wouldn't be nice. Just from public life.

The criticisms of President Obama's chief economic adviser are well known. He's too close to Wall Street. And he's a frightful bully, of both people and countries. Still, we're told we shouldn't care about such minor infractions. Why? Because Summers is brilliant, and the world needs his big brain.

And this brings us to a central and often overlooked cause of the global financial crisis: Brain Bubbles. This is the process wherein the intelligence of an inarguably intelligent person is inflated and valued beyond all reason, creating a dangerous accumulation of unhedged risk. Larry Summers is the biggest Brain Bubble we've got.

In the course of a short, witty piece, Klein’s reviews a string of major bungles she attributes to bubble-brain Summers. “And that's the problem with Larry,” she writes. “For all his appeals to absolute truths, he has been spectacularly wrong again and again.”

Is Klein right about Summers? Here at THE HOWLER, we aren’t really sure. But as we read Klein’s piece, a question wormed its way into our mind: How often has Naomi Klein been featured on our “progressive” news programs? Why don’t we ever seem to see her on Countdown? On the Maddow show?

With respect to that initial question, the answer would seem to be: “Once.” According to the Nexis archives, Klein has never appeared on the Maddow show. She has appeared on Countdown exactly once—on November 29, 2007, when she appeared to discuss her new book, The Shock Doctrine. You may recall the odd, sad moment mid-way through as Olbermann teased two reports:

OLBERMANN (11/29/07): The Iraq war as economic reset, as described by our guest, the author of The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein.

And Paris Hilton finally responds to the misquoted story that suggested she was taking up the cause of drunken elephants in Africa. Just when you thought she couldn’t make a bigger fool out of herself, she does.

Look who’s talking, our analysts mordantly said. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/30/07.

At any rate, Olbermann did a short segment with Klein—and she’s never been seen on his program again. For the record, here’s how that segment ended:

OLBERMANN: Naomi Klein. The book is Shock Doctrine. Congratulations on it and great thanks for coming in.

KLEIN: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: It’s been too long since there’s been a controversy involving basketball coach Bob Knight. The wait is over. There are guns. There is videotape. Let the party begin!

Let the party begin! There he went again.

We have no idea why Klein hasn’t been back on either of our “progressive” news programs. (We have no idea if she has been asked.) But her Post piece dealt with a serious topic. We’d love to see qualified people like Klein asked to discuss Summers’ record—and the possible meaning of his prominence within the Obama Admin.

Klein’s Outlook piece was witty, but it dealt with a serious topic. Then too, we got this piece of hackneyed pap from the brilliant Ana Marie Cox, whose fatuous nonsense you get served about twice a week now on Maddow. You see, regarding that spring cleaning chore, Cox would throw out the White House press corps! In her piece, she makes a modestly valid but hackneyed point. Indeed, her point has been modestly valid but hackneyed for years, as various hacks keep retyping it.

You never see Klein—but you always see Cox! Is there any chance you don’t see Klein because she’s just too g*ddamn smart? Because she isn’t good with dick jokes? Won’t stoop to the level of “juvenile” insult? Because she isn’t a clowning Potemkin—an entertainer, of the kind GE likes?

Because she won’t stuff her pockets with corporate cash by pretending to stage real discussions?

Why hasn’t Klein been back? We don’t have the slightest idea.

Our “progressive” programs disgraced themselves in the past two weeks, as the clan gazed silently on. Next week, we plan to start a series of posts on the people behind this rank clowning. Who is Bill Wolff, we’ll incomparably ask. How about their own Richard Wolffe? And perhaps even this: What sorts of things might a skeptic notice in the world’s many profiles of Maddow?

Meanwhile, what’s the story with Larry Summers? What might his current prominence tell us about Obama? For ourselves, we have no real idea. Beyond that, we don’t expect to see this topic discussed on our clowning “news” programs.

Ana Marie will be back, of course—full of her “risque” inanity. So it goes as we liberal rubes get sold the illusion of discourse.

Who is Bill Wolff, we’ll incomparably ask. Whose vision is shaping these programs?

(Note: Based on our past observations, Bill Wolff has a good sense of humor.)