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Caveat lector

LET THEM EAT PEANUT BUTTER! The Washington press corps is deeply disordered. Here—let the New York Times show you:


LET THEM EAT PEANUT BUTTER: Ask yourself a simple question: What kind of “letters editor” would actually publish the following text? This letter receives prominent display in today’s New York Times:

To the Editor:

As a Vietnam veteran, I know the value of serving our country in time of war. The medals are personal service decorations awarded to us by our country for serving with honor.

The medals John Kerry received represent an award earned in battle. But with only fingernail scrapes to show for his three Purple Hearts, it’s no wonder Mr. Kerry was so willing to throw medals away.

Which of our servicemen now serving overseas would want a commander in chief who has so little regard for the medals they have earned that he would throw them away, for political reasons? Truly they would have no respect for him.

Riverside, Calif., April 26, 2004

Barela, of course, is a consummate rube, of the kind found in every society. But what kind of journalist would publish this letter—a letter whose “facts” are so blatantly bogus? In fact, no one has ever so much as claimed that Kerry had “only fingernail scrapes to show for his three Purple Hearts.” Last week, the claim that he received such a scrape when he got his first Purple Heart was shown to be blatantly false. But a week later, what does the great Times do? An editor receives this idiotic letter—and incredibly, he puts the letter in print! The Times of course knows the letter is false. But how many readers will know this?

Readers, only a fool could fail to see the truth in this morning’s Times. The Washington press corps is deeply disordered—in effect, mentally ill—and the Times is quite eager to prove it. We principally speak of Maureen Dowd’s column, which plays off Jodi Wilgoren’s “profile” on the front page of yesterday’s Times (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/28/04). Why do we use the term “mentally ill?” At a time of building national peril, Dowd is concerned about this:

DOWD (pgh 1): So let’s see. What’s our swell choice here?

(2) A guy who mimed being a fighter pilot on a carrier versus a guy who mimed throwing his medals over a fence?…

(5) A president who can’t go anywhere without his vice president to give him the answers versus a candidate who can’t go anywhere without his campaign butler/buddy to give him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

Al Qaeda plots around the world, hoping to destroy your society (more below). And Maureen Dowd—at our greatest newspaper—is concerned because a White House candidate doesn’t make his own peanut putter sandwiches! She draws her inanity from the profile penned by Wilgoren, of course.

How inane—how ill—are Wilgoren and Dowd? As Wilgoren wrote in yesterday’s profile, “[e]very modern presidential candidate has a factotum, or ‘body man,’”—a guy who serves as personal assistant to the candidate himself. But for reasons only she can explain, Wilgoren zeroed in on Kerry’s assistant, painting him as Kerry’s “butler,” his “glorified valet,” who exists because John Kerry “is comfortable being catered to.” (Like Katharine Seelye’s report about Kerry’s war record, Wilgoren’s imagery mimics RNC spin. She also lards her slimy piece with homoerotic imagery.) Why, the “butler” even makes Kerry’s sandwiches, the troubled Wilgoren “reported.” Today, this screaming trivia makes its way to the top of Maureen Dowd’s worried piece.

What does Dowd have on her mind today? George Bush can’t answer questions about 9/11. And John Kerry doesn’t make his own sandwiches!

Of course, inanity has been this corps’ stock-in-trade over at least the last dozen years. When you read your paper each day, you read the work of a vacuous press which is happy to display its Millionaire Pundit Values—a press corps addicted to trivia and inanity. While Osama plotted in the summer of 2001, they rubbed their thighs about Chandra Levy. Meanwhile, they’ve turned your elections into trivia festivals, built around earth tones, Love Story, dog pills, blow-jobs. Now we’re handed our current fare. What is the headline on Dowd’s piece? “Guns and Peanut Butter,” it says.

And yes, simply put, it’s an illness. Even faced with growing peril, the Wilgorens, the Dowds—and the letters editors—simply can’t stop their incessant group clowning. Are there real topics Dowd might have explored? At one point, after all, she writes this:

DOWD: Communing with the Higher Father and the Almighty, President Bush has either stumbled into a Holy War or swaggered into one.

In their new book, “The Bushes,” Peter and Rochelle Schweizer, who interviewed many Bushes, including the president’s father and his brother Jeb, quote one unnamed relative as saying that W. sees the war on terror “as a religious war”: “He doesn’t have a P.C. view of this war. His view of this is that they are trying to kill the Christians. And we the Christians will strike back with more force and more ferocity than they will ever know.”

Does Bush have some sort of religious view which Americans ought to know more about? We don’t know, but this passage from the Schweizers’ book is hardly the first indication. Bush has made several odd statements recently, including those made to Bob Woodward, statements which produced this exchange when the author did 60 Minutes:
WOODWARD: The president still believes, with some conviction, that this was absolutely the right thing, that he has the duty to free people, to liberate people, and this was his moment.

MIKE WALLACE: Who gave George Bush the duty to free people around the world?

WOODWARD: That’s a really good question. The Constitution doesn’t say that’s part of the commander-in-chief’s duties.

WALLACE: The president of the United States, without a great deal of background in foreign policy, makes up his mind and believes he was sent by somebody to free the people, not just in Iraq, but around the world?

WOODWARD: That’s his stated purpose.


WOODWARD: It is far-reaching and ambitious, and I think will cause many people to tremble.

It will cause many people to tremble! But what has made Bush believe that “he was sent by somebody to free the people, not just in Iraq, but around the world?” It was fairly clear that Woodward and Wallace believed—based on Bush’s statement about serving a “higher father”—that the president might feel a religious calling when he makes these surprising statements. At any rate, Bush’s new belief is quite a shift from his “humble foreign policy” of Campaign 2000, and when he talks about “the duty to free people around the world,” that seems to suggest a different mission than ridding the world of WMD. Does George Bush feel a religious mission which Americans need to hear discussed? We don’t know, and we never will, because your press corps will never dare ask him. Instead, Dowd’s headline talks about peanut butter. Is she concerned about global war? Yes, but she’s also concerned about John Kerry’s sandwich, the one we read about on page one on yesterday’s inane New York Times..

Their focus on trivia is an addiction—a raging, millionaire’s mental illness. Their opinion leaders are multimillionaires, and they do behave like a perfumed court—like Marie Antoinette’s inner circle. As they’ve long shown, they are impervious to serious thought, as their class has always been. And they continue to clown at a dangerous time, at a time that imperils the world.

While they clowned about Gary Condit, Osama’s men were tooling those planes. And now, as they clown about peanut butter, Osama’s men are still at work. And what will happen to your country because Wilgoren and Dowd set the tone? Let us finally tell you your future: Osama’s men will come with a bomb (see below), and they’ll destroy an American city. American society will end on that day. And when it does, you can think of Wilgoren and Dowd—and you can think of the “letters editor” who laughed in your face with that letter today. They’ve made a joke of your discourse for years—while your enemies hunt for a bomb. There is little chance those enemies won’t succeed, because screaming idiots—screaming idiots—have long been in charge of your discourse.

History makes it crystal clear—those who clown will be destroyed. Marie Antoinette’s posse lost their fine heads. A larger disaster awaits you and yours. Let them eat peanut butter, the Times says.

REMEMBER, CASSANDRA WAS RIGHT: Richard Gephardt, on Hardball last November:

GEPHARDT: What are we worried about? We’re worried about an A-bomb in a Ryder truck in Washington, in St. Louis, in L.A. It can’t happen. We have to prevent it from happening. It cannot happen.
“We have to prevent it from happening,” Gephardt said. But readers, it won’t be prevented from happening if we clown about peanut butter! We can’t put idiots in charge of vital functions—and idiots currently run our press corps. Go out and spend a dollar today. Let the Times show you it’s true.

TINA BROWN, FULLY SANE: Yes! This disordered discussion really occurred on last night’s Hardball. Chris Matthews rapped about medals v. ribbons with RNC chief Ed Gillespie (MSNBC transcript, including quotation marks):

MATTHEWS: It turns out later that they were not his—they were his service ribbons, which he now says last night were the same as medals. What’s wrong with him saying they’re medals if they’re ribbons, or they’re both the same thing?

GILLESPIE: Because what he said was, he said, “Well, I never implied that I threw my own medals.”

MATTHEWS: But he threw his ribbons, though.

GILLESPIE: He did. But hang on one second. Because he said, I never implied that I threw my own medals. And then he said on an interview on television—

MATTHEWS: Channel 4.

GILLESPIE: Yes. He said, “I threw my medals.” So there—

MATTHEWS: OK. What happened was—I agree with you. I’m with you on this but here’s the problem.

GILLESPIE: Can I finish the rest?

MATTHEWS: You’re arguing—you’re arguing about a third of a century ago and a local Channel 4 reporter here in Washington, WRC, saying you threw your bronze and your star and he said beyond that and then he said other ribbons, other medals, right? But he didn’t actually say, “I threw my bronze and my—and my silver.”

GILLESPIE: What she said was, you threw your Bronze Star, your Purple Heart and your Silver Star, and he said, “That’s right, and then a few other medals.” And so the fact is he said—

MATTHEWS: But he said he threw away those ribbons.

GILLESPIE: But then fine. Then later on he said…

In a dangerous world, that discussion is insane. But Matthews has hosted discussions like this for year after year after year. By the way: True to the way your discourse works, neither Matthews nor Gillespie had a transcript of Kerry’s 33-year-old comments. Each man kept misstating Kerry’s remarks. This is the way the clowning clown Matthews has treated your lives for seven years. (Happy anniversary, Chris!}

Yes, this is a form of illness, but they insist on indulging it. They’ve built your discourse around this nonsense for at least the past dozen years. Four years ago, it was earth tones, Love Story, dog pills and Love Canal, with RNC shills like Katharine Seelye coming up with strange “misquotations,” and with screaming mimis like Matthews lying in your face each night (for one extended example, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/18/02). You must see this for what it is. And you must understand that this bizarre group will never go away until forced.

But one person—one—is quite sane today. In this morning’s Washington Post, Tina Brown lays it out nice and clear:

BROWN: The Republican attack machine—again—has made the right calculation: Hit ’em with trivia. Bait the hook with the absurd “issue” of whether it was medals or ribbons that Kerry hurled over the wall when he was a 27-year-old hothead. Then watch the media bite—they’ll do it every time—and let Kerry rise to it and blow it. Presto, a thrice-wounded, decorated war hero running against a president who went missing from the National Guard is suddenly muddying up his own record on the morning talk shows. Shades of 2000, when Bush jokily bowled oranges down the aisle of his campaign plane while Gore argued about whether he did or didn’t say he invented the Internet.
Tina is wrong on one point; Gore almost never discussed the endless inanity about invented the Internet. (Gore was criticized for not taking on the endless trivia. Today, Kerry is being criticized for having done so.) But the press corps flogged invented the Internet for two solid years, feigning concern about Gore’s troubling character, and they flogged other fake inventions—Love Story, Love Canal, doggy pills, earth tones—as they made a vast joke of your lives.

“Hit ’em with trivia,” Brown derides. But why does the press corps luv such talk? In October 2000, Margaret Carlson explained. Carlson appeared on the Imus show to discuss press coverage of Bush and Gore’s first debate. As she noted, Gore was being slammed as a liar because of a few exceptionally trivial misstatements. (To state the obvious, most of Gore’s alleged “misstatements” weren’t misstatements at all.) Meanwhile, much larger howlers were being ignored—misstatements by Bush about policy matters. Speaking with Imus, Carlson explained the double standard. Here she was, explaining why Bush’s groaners were being ignored:

CARLSON (10/10/00): You can actually disprove some of what Bush is saying if you really get in the weeds and get out your calculator or you look at his record in Texas. But it’s really easy, and it’s fun, to disprove Gore.
Amazing, isn’t it? (And perhaps you can sense the “liberal bias.”) According to Carlson, the press was trashing Gore over trivia because it was “easy” and “fun” to do so! The millionaire pundit kept talking:
CARLSON: I actually happen to know people who need government, and so they would care more about the programs, and [less] about the things we kind of make fun of…But as sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us. And we can disprove it in a way we can’t disprove these other things.
The press was chasing trivial errors because it was “greatly entertaining.” Meanwhile, they were ignoring Bush’s serious errors because they weren’t as easy to disprove! According to Carlson, Candidate Gore was being flogged because it was “entertaining” and “fun.” The coverage of this election was “sport,” Carlson amazingly said.

Much of what Carlson said this day was disingenuous, of course. In fact, it was perfectly easy to “disprove” much of what Bush was saying (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/4/03). But on this day, Carlson gave an idea of why you’re reading fake letters in today’s Times, and why you’re reading about peanut butter. Brown is quite sane, but she’s also polite, so let us say it one more time: Your Washington press corps is deeply disordered. Wilgoren and Dowd are eager to prove it. There’s no sign they ever will stop.

TODAY’S OTHER CONSUMMATE FOOL: Today’s other consummate fool is the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen. Peanut butter makes his lead paragraph. Cohen is part of a vacuous elite—pampered, perfumed, overpaid, fat and happy. These people can’t grasp the damage done by the trivialization of your discourse. And Cohen, of course, is scolding Kerry because he dared fight back this week. Understand how these people “think.” Gore is wrong when he doesn’t fight. Kerry is wrong when he does.

Cohen is a screaming fool. But it’s good to be Cohen, squire of New York, overpaid and over-praised. As a matter of fact, it will be good to be Richard Cohen until al Qaeda comes to New York and puts an end to all New Yorkers’ lives.

TOMORROW: Why your favorites won’t tell you