MILLER RATS ON THE GUILD! Why did Zeleny fawn to Paul Ryan? Matt Miller doesnt quite say: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2011
A newspaper falls from the sky: Yesterday morning, the Washington Post ran this news report at the top of its front page. The report, by Ashley Halsey III, concerned an airplane incident involving the first lady.
Was Michelle Obama ever in danger? Below, you see the news reports first three paragraphs. According to the Post, Michelle Obamas plane came dangerously close to a cargo jet, although it was never in danger.
Remember, this appeared right at the top of the Washington Posts front page:
We know, we knowwe all make mistakes. Having said that, whats your point?
ODonnell knows all about race: It was pretty much all Trump all the time on last evenings Hardball. As we told you yesterday, the programs host likes it dumband he likes it very repetitive. Heres how the birthkrieg started:
As he closed his first segment, he teased the next: Coming up: Lets shine the klieg lights on the number one birther, Donald Trump This guy is the Pied Piper, well, of the loony bunch.
Chris has always liked it dumb, and it doesnt exactly have to be accurate. Chris will ride this hobby-horse right to the endand no, his work wont be edifying.
In truth, the rise of birtherism gives us a chance to contemplate a very important, remarkable problem in our political culture. Here it is: In our current tribalized state, we the people will believe any fool thing about The Other Side. As Digby noted yesterday, we believed that Bill Clinton was a drug-runnerand we believed all that Whitewater crap. We believed that he and his wife were killers. (Jerry Falwell said so! And Matthews gave the ludicrous Gennifer Flowers a half hour to pimp this around.) We believed Gore was a delusional liarthat he was todays man-woman, that he didnt know who he was. After that, we believed the Swift Boat crap about Candidate Kerry.
Now, we the people are birthers. We believe that damn-foolishness too.
The birther episode has been quite edifying. As recently as a few years ago, we wouldnt have believed that you could get so many people to believe so many ludicrous things. This is a terrible problem for our political culture, of course. And of course, Chris Matthews was working the other side of the room in the Clinton/Gore years. No one worked harder to help us believe all that damn-fool crap about them.
In those days, Chris was kissing the ring of Jack Welch, the man who made him quite rich.
Then too, theres Lawrence ODonnell. How many unfortunate things will we the people believe? Last night, ODonnell also devoted several segments to Trumpand he dropped the race card around the whole thing. ODonnell said he believes this:
Trump may be our biggest fool. But ODonnell isnt far behind.
In our book, ODonnell has been a fool for a very long time now. In Campaign 2000, he too was pimping the lies about Gore; he kept it up right through October 2000, reciting howlers about Big Liar Gore from the McLaughlins Groups liberal chair. In short, Matthews and ODonnell once promoted the types of lies that have them so upset today. They have been paid to repurpose themselvesor maybe theyre just stupid.
Note the way ODonnell played race and class cards in last nights speech.
To ODonnell, when people believe the birther nonsense, that seems to mean theyre racist. He forgets that they also believed all the crap about Clinton, Kerry and Gore. He even forgets that he himself believed that crapor at least, that he pretended.
The history of the past twenty years shows that people will believe any fool thing, as long as it serves their tribal view. As one example, ODonnell thrills us liberals with the race cardand we cant wait to believe it.
Please note the way these boys play. ODonnell gives a pass to Trump on the subject of race, explicitly saying that the great man himself may not be racist. Im not saying Donald Trump is racist, ODonnell grandly declared; this is the deference millionaires pay to those with even more money. But ODonnell never grants such deference to the millions of average people who believe the damn-fool things Trump says. Nowhere does ODonnell have the decency, or the intelligence, to say that many of those gullible people probably arent racist either. Were they racist when they believed the stupid crap ODonnell pimped about Gore?
Do some people believe this shit because hate Obamas race? Presumably, yes. But its very bad politics, and its dumb on the merits, to keep insisting that thats all there is. Our problem is much, much broader than that. ODonnell, playing us liberals for fools, will never tell us that.
Final point: Did you see Ed Schultzs special broadcast about racethe show that got buried at noon on a Sunday? Many blacks were offended by that.
Leading white liberals didnt say squat. Could it be that were racist?
Chris kept it up a long time: Yesterday, we reviewed a few of the ways Matthews trashed Candidate Gore during Campaign 2000. (He poured it on for twenty months.) Later, searching something on-line, we stumbled upon a performance he staged a bit later on, in June 2003 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/20/07).
Hillary Clinton had just published her autobiography, Living History. Charlie Rose invited two hyenas onto his show to laugh and make fun of the book.
By last year, Matthews had been repurposed to such an extent that he was hosting hour-long programs about the Clintons manifest greatness. Back then, he was still with the other side. This is the way this very bad person started his session with Charlie:
Matthews pimped that sort of thing for years, thus sending George Bush to the White House.
Rose chuckled as his guest compared the former first lady to a police suspect. He laughed hard as Matthews went on to compared the Clintons to a pair of famous murderers. But then, this had been Matthews stock in trade for many years.
Is anyone dumber than we liberals are? To let a man like this switch sides and lecture us about the birthersabout the same people he fooled all those years? Is anyone dumber than we liberals are? Anyone found on the earth?
Josh and Joan and David play along, as they did during Campaign 2000. Why were they so quiet back then? Were they just being too tolerant?
MILLER RATS ON THE GUILD (permalink): On-line at the Washington Post, Matt Miller presents a truly superlative column concerning Republican opposition to raising the federal debt limit.
Miller recalls the famous scene from The Shining where we learn that the Jack Nicholson character is stark raving mad. Instead of writing an actual novel, he has been typing a single phrase over and over again. According to Miller, the GOP stance on raising the debt limit has left him equally crazed:
Miller nails this inanity very well. Under terms of the Ryan plan, debt will continue to rise for decades. For good or for ill, Ryans plan would require raising the limit again and again. And yet the GOP, from its leaders on down, rails against the very idea of raising the debt limit next month. The Democrats plans are no better on the debt, Miller writes. But at least Democrats arent rattling markets by hypocritically holding the debt limit hostage while planning to add trillions in fresh debt themselves.
Miller presents a clear exposition of the current foolishness. We think his column is truly superbuntil he offers the following passage, in which he covers for the guild.
The GOP is behaving like fools. But uh-oh! Miller says he cant understand why his press corps colleagues wont say so! Except, as his excellent column continues, its fairly clear that he does understand. He understands very well:
Early in his column, Miller says he doesnt understand why the press corps wont criticize Republicans on this point. He doesnt understand why they present Ryan as courageous, as visionary. And then, a mere six paragraphs later, Miller shows that he does understand! He says theres a meme, a hunk of conventional wisdom, driving the press corps conduct. Miller doesnt explain just what this meme is, nor does he explain how it got established as conventional wisdom. But presumably, he is referring to the Standard Press Novel in which Republican budget cutters like Ryan are inevitably said to be courageous, bold and honestin which their contradictions and errors, no matter how severe, end up on the cutting-room floor.
These memes have been ruling much of our journalism for a good many years. To see this Standard Press Novel at work, just read through Jeff Zelenys Political Memo in todays New York Times.
In this mornings Political Memo, Zeleny goes on the road with the true honest Ryanand the piece he creates is pure hackwork. Zeleny tramps though Wisconsin with modest pure Ryan, watching as constituents shower praise on his humble bowed head. (As the memo begins, one constituent begs Ryan to run for the White House. Modestly, Ryan blushes.) As he proceeds, Zeleny describes Ryan draw[ing] applause when he explains that Medicare would not immediately end for older citizens; he says the solon received far more praise than grief at his various town meetings. (Zeleny doesnt mention the way Ryan was hooted down at one such meeting, though video of the incident has been all over the web.)
But the most remarkable fawning concerns the way the scribe adopts Ryans perspective about Obamas impolite conduct. Brutish Obama has been very partisan; high-minded Ryan has been very noble. A long-standing meme is in effect as Zeleny produces this scutwork:
So noble! In that passage, Zeleny types the self-pitying tale Republicans have told for a weeka tale in which noble, well-intentioned, well-mannered Ryan was insulted by Obama. Its public-spirited Ryans hope that Obama will drop all the partisan broadsides. Meanwhile, Zeleny agrees not to mention the heavy-handed partisan bombast Ryan included in his own budget plan, before Obamas speech.
On Monday, Kevin Drum went through some of the partisan bombast found in Ryans plan, mocking the way poor noble Ryan has complained about Obamas criticism. (To read Kevin post, click this.) According to the high-minded Ryan, Obama proposed a reckless spending spree in his previous budget plan. Earlier, Obama exploited acute economic hardship to enact unprecedented expansions of government power. In the energy sector, Obama has promoted a heavy-handed compliance culture, brimming with regulations and reckless spending. He has placed burdensome and ineffective regulations on businesses in the service of dubious goals. He has insisted on spending money the government does not have, committing this nation to a crushing burden of debt.
Goodness! As Kevin notes, theres nothing wrong with such tough talk. (Though Ryans budget plan also commits this nation to a [large] burden of debt.) But there is something wrong when a prissy little nut-cake turns around and boo-hoo-hoos about the way that Very Bad Man made bad complaints about him. And theres something very wrong when journalists wont report that Ryan has done this, even as they quote him saying that we should avoid such terrible partisan bombast.
By normal standards, a journalist should note this contradiction. Zeleny, typing from deep in a bag, simply recites noble Ryans complaints. He fails to let readers enjoy the high comedy of Ryans rather plain double standard.
Alas! Zelenys working from a meme, from a bit of conventional wisdom. Beyond that, its just as Miller says: Once theyre established, such memes are almost impossible to dislodge, however at odds they are with the facts. Zelenys Ryan-friendly piece recalls the Political Memos of Elisabeth Bumiller during the 2004 campaignpolitical memos in which Bumiller would fawn to Candidate Bushs winning personality and noble intentions.
These memes have been widespread for a long time. They have driven the portraits of an array of straight-talking, plain-spoken, well-intentioned Republicanssolons who stood in opposition to a long string of Democratic dissemblers. Although he says much more about this practice than his colleagues ever will, Miller surely knows much more about this than he is willing to say.
Miller goes much farther in his column than his colleagues tend to do. These memes have been driving our journalism for the past several decades; everyone in the press corps knows it. But E. J. Dionne has never been willing to tattle; for the most part, neither has anyone else. The guild doesnt talk about the guild. People! It just isnt done!
Why did Zeleny fawn to Ryan? I dont understand it, Miller says.
Sorrywe dont believe that. But the guild doesnt rat on the guild.