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Caveat lector

LET’S PLAY AIRBALL! Bush looked manly in his flight suit. And Chris Matthews knew he should notice:


SUPER-DUB’S DEBUT: Was that President Bush—or Super Dave Osborne—who addressed us from the Abraham Lincoln Thursday night? Bush’s Knievel-style clowning was a sight to behold. But cable pundits knew how to act. On Hardball, they indulged in a bit of deep clowning themselves, helping us see the deep dysfunction of what some still pretend is our “press corps.”

A bit of background: As you know, Chris Matthews opposed the war in Iraq. For the first time in the past six years, he actually said what he thought about something, and it cost him dearly with cable’s core audience. For that reason, the tough-talking pundit is pandering hard to get back in this cohort’s good graces. That explains the consummate foolishness displayed on his program Thursday night. We never thought we’d see the day when Ann Coulter could come off as the sane one in a group of three pundits. But given Thursday’s performances by Matthews and “Hardball Democrat” Pat Caddell, we’ve now seen the miraculous happen.

As you read this Hardball transcript, note the astounding immaturity of Matthews and Caddell, who might as well just go on TV and play with their G. I. Joe toys. We’ve now reached the point where our millionaire pundits will spend entire segments on national TV discussing which candidate looks good in a flight suit. And don’t fail to notice the slimy behavior when Hillary Clinton becomes the topic. A sad-but-true fact emerged long ago; Chris Matthews, at heart, is a thigh-rubbing man. When will Americans tell this strange man that he simply must stop discussing our female public figures in this slimy manner?

Two final points. First, we know who won’t tell Matthews to stop. E. J. Dionne won’t tell him to stop. Al Hunt won’t tell him. Mark Shields won’t tell him. Peter Beinart won’t tell him. Jeff Greenfield won’t tell him. Matthews has degraded our discourse for years; he lied and slandered all through Campaign 2000, for example. There isn’t a chance on the face of the earth that his colleagues in the press corps don’t know this. But have you ever seen a negative profile, anywhere in the mainstream press? The store-bought butt-boys who make up our “press corps” would rather eat live worms in hell than speak truth to power within their own cohort. They are extremely well paid—and plan to keep it that way. For example, how is it possible that the New Republic has never reviewed Matthews’ ludicrous work? You know the answer as well as we do. The Beinarts will give you good policy work—and they’ll angle for powerful jobs in the future. You will never read critiques of the “press corps” inside TNR’s store-bought pages.

Final point: Coulter, of course, is simply lying about Bush’s military record. Whatever one thinks of Bush’s service, there was never the slightest chance that he would end up in Vietnam. But to see a store-bought butt-boy change the subject when Bush’s military record is mentioned, see the transcript of Matthews’ appearance on Thursday’s Countdown. Watch Keith Olbermann ask an obvious question—and watch a store-bought “press corps” butt-boy slither off, slide-slip and squirm.

Readers, you no longer live in the world you grew up in—the world described in your civics texts. Those civics texts described your free press. But what you have now is these store-bought clowns. We dare you: Try to believe that these infantile conversations are really taking place in your country.

READ EM AND WEEP: On Thursday night’s Hardball, Ann Coulter and Pat Caddell joined Matthews for a lively session of clowning. They discussed who looks good in a flight suit, and whether Bill Clinton would rather fuck Coulter or his own wife. For amusement purposes, watch Caddell try to have it all ways about Bush. If your stomach is strong, just click here.

The next hour, Matthews guested on MSNBC’s Countdown. Enjoy more of the consummate clowning about which hopeful looks good in a flight suit. Then, watch Matthews squirm and slither away when asked about Bush’s war record. Question: Did your civics text describe “journalists” like this? Actually, yes—your civics text did. At the time, he was called “Father Coughlin.”

MONDAY: We’ve never discussed this topic before: Basic facts about the “press corps’” coverage of Bush’s military record.

The Daily update

WHO HE FAWNS TO: Andrew Sullivan also thought Bush’s entrance was a bit over-the-top. “I agree with Glenn Reynolds that the whole backdrop, including the fighter-pilot entrance, was—how do I put this politely—hubristic,” he wrote on his eponymous dotcom Friday morning. “It made it look as if the president was using the military for partisan purposes—and that’s not right.” But you know what happens in modern “America” when even mild comments like this are made. Later, Sully wrote this:

OKAY, OKAY: Like Glenn Reynolds, I’m besieged by people who think I’m wrong about the tone of Bush’s campaign speech last night. Fair enough. It’s a subjective judgment call, and I certainly respect those who took it otherwise. But what amazes me is the vituperative tone, and how many then accuse me of being anti-war, anti-Bush and anti-American. Me? Are politics so polarized that you have to either engage in hagiography or hatred of our leaders? Is there nothing permissible in between?
Just like that, Sully became the fourth Dixie Chick for his intolerable behavior.

But in answer to Sullivan’s question: Yes! Yes, our politics are that “polarized”—and Sullivan has done everything he could, for the past several years, to create the corps of crackpots who turned on him for his mild comments about Bush. But of course, that’s the very group to whom Matthews has pandered over the past six years And that’s the group to whom Matthews was fawning with his absurd work Thursday night.

Why does Matthews fawn to this crowd? Duh! Because he wants to be rich and famous! There is nothing he won’t say and do to make himself right again with this crowd. Watch him sliming a female Senator if you retain any doubt about that. And don’t bother waiting for “good guy” pundits to notice. They’ve made it clear—they don’t plan to speak. They like being rich/famous too.