FLOWERING JUDIS! Journalists threw their support to Obama, Judis says, in a vast gaffe: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2008
KLEIN PLAYS THE FOOL, POSTPONED: John Judis new piece is so astounding that were postponing all other work. Tomorrow, though, Joe Klein plays the foolthis time, on your side! But darn it! Concerning one of Kleins ludicrous blunders, Robert Novak has beaten us to it. We know, we knowVile Novak is bad. In this case, though, hes right on the facts. Klein was out there playing the foolthis time, against Saint McCain!
FLOWERING JUDIS: Weve sometimes found ourselves amazed by the work of veteran journo John Judis. But the scribes new piece for the New Republic is truly milestone political journalism. Rarely do journalists explain so clearly the shape of events which have changed all our lives. Judis does so, in a truly remarkable piece. And we dont mean that as a compliment.
Judis piece, The Autopsy Report, explor[es] the political reasons for Hillary Clinton's defeat in the ongoing Democratic campaign. He starts with her first political mistakeher failure to apologize for her vote on the war resolution. Well admit that we never quite understood the reason we were supposed to care about John Edwards apology. But just to be clear, Judis merely says that a Clinton apology would have helpedhe doesnt explicitly say that it should have. And no, this isnt the part of his piece which makes it so stunning a document.
That part of his piece comes a few grafs later, as he describes Clintons second mistake. In just a few remarkable paragraphs, he explains the way this Dem campaign was decided. We think his account of this second mistake is one of the most remarkable journalistic testimonies weve ever read. How was the nomination decided? Well start things off with this fragment:
Before we continue, might we note a familiar part of Americas broken political discoursethe casual ignorance so commonly displayed by scriveners of Judis class? When Clinton decided to go negative on Obama, she ran attack ads taking his words somewhat out of context, he says. The gentleman cites one example of this: Obama calling Reagan a transformative politician. For ourselves, we were underwhelmed by Clintons arguments and ads concerning these mattersbut at least we know what her ad actually said. In fact, Clinton explained, again and again, that she wasnt criticizing Obamas remark about Reagan being transformative; in simple point of fact, her ad criticized a second remark, Obamas remark about the GOP being the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the past ten, fifteen years. (That, of course, was the Gingrich/Bush era. Reagan had left office earlier.) No, we didnt think the ad made much of an argument. But quite literally, Judis doesnt seem to know what hes talking about, even now, as he discusses this crucial periodand this sort of thing has long been numbingly common among the satraps of his class. Readers, it wasnt just that Clintons ad didnt say anything about Ronald Reagan; at the South Carolina debate, Clinton explicitly corrected Obama when he said that shed been criticizing him for his remark about Reagan. Everyone heard the actual adand everyone saw her correct Obama. But so what? As we noted at the time, none of this made the slightest difference among the flowers of Judis class. They continued telling the story they seemed to prefer, as Judis continues to do to this dayas theyve done in so many previous White House elections. But forget about Clinton and Obama! As Judis continues his remarkable piece, he may, at last, be breaking new ground. He may be telling us why this has happened so routinely over the past many years.
Back to South Carolina: According to Judis, McCain and Romney were banging each otherand Obama did some of it to Clinton too. But hold on there! It was different when Clinton went after Obama, Judis helpfully tells us. In this truly stunning passage, the Grand Inquisitor speaks:
Truly, thats stunning. Maybe Judis was drinking or doing drugs when he committed this Washington gaffewhen he foolishly told us the truth. But in this passage, Judis explains the conduct of the press corps in this Democratic campaignand, by inference, in so much of the startling campaign coverage theyve authored, to our ruin, in the past.
Just try to believe that he said it:
According to Judis, the Clinton campaign failed to appreciate something that journalists did understand. They failed to see that Obama was history (in a good sense)that he was in a different category from all the regular pols. It was one thing to go negative on McCain/Romney/Clintonand it was a different thing to do this to Obama! And according to Judis, members of the media understood this. As Clinton began treating Obama as just another politician, they recoiled and threw their support to him.
Good God! Thats just a stunning statement. And yes, that is what he said. According to Judis, members of the media knew that Obama was a special casea more important historical figure than Clinton. And as Clinton began treating Obama as just another politician, they...threw their support to him.
Once again, go ahead. Just try to believe that he said it.
Judis makes several remarkable statements in this striking passage. First, he makes it explicit: In his view, its more important that Obama become the first African-American president than that Clinton become the first woman. Race is the deepest and oldest and most bitter conflict in American history, he writesthe cause of our great Civil War and of the upheavals of the 1950s and '60s. We dont disagree with that quoted statement. (Though, of course, there were other upheavals during the 1950s and 60s.) Still, its striking when a high-ranking scribe states the conclusion which Judis statesthat our tortured racial history makes Obamas candidacy more important than Clintons. But its where that judgment takes Faire Judis that makes his piece so remarkable.
In the sweep of American history, Judis thinks Obamas candidacy is more important than Clintons. We dont necessarily share that viewon balance, wed vote for the most capable candidatebut we certainly dont have a problem with some pundit expressing that viewpoint. But according to Judis, members of the media didnt express that view during South Carolina. According to Judis, they did something quite different; they threw their support to Obama! As far as we know, they didnt tell you they were doing thatnor did they tell you why they had done it. Indeed, Judis is carefulas these fellows always arewhen he describes what this entailed. How did journalists throw their support to Obama? As usual, the bird flies very far from the nest when he offers his lone example:
Poor sad Hamlet, unable to act, forced to leave the voting booth without exercising his franchise! But note the way Judis withholds the names that might really matter, directing us many miles away to an editorial in St. Louis. Though he heard the same refrain from journalists, he doesnt tell us who those journalists werenor does he tell us what they did in the course of throwing their support to Obama. Did they perhaps decide to lie about Clintons ad in South Carolina? Judis is still misstating its content, as so many did back then. Is that the sort of thing they did when they threw their support to Obama? Pointing instead to distant St. Louis, Judis forgets to say.
Perhaps these journalists did nothing wrong, though Judis language is truly astounding. But if recent history serves as a guide, they did what theyve done many times before, dishonestly, gruesomely, showing off their cosmic bad judgment. We all know what theyve done in the past: Having decided which hopeful was different, theyve put their collective thumb on the scale, tilting endless stories and themes to help their champion prosper. Its what they did during Campaign 2000, when Judis and other fixers like him decided that Bradley was the great good manand that Vile Gore was a monster. Its perfectly obvious how they behaved during that campaign; indeed, in June 1999, one of their members committed an earlier gaffe, explaining the game to Howard Kurtz. Were going to make [Gore] jump through the hoops until he says what a terrible reprobate [Bill Clinton] was. I dont think theres anything wrong with that. That was Roger Simon, describing astounding press corps misconductmisconduct they maintained for two solid years, even when the opponent was Bush. Now, were told that theyve thrown their support again. They didnt tell us they had done thisbut Judis is telling us now.
Judis must have been drinking or drugging when he committed this Washington gaffe. Now watch the good boys and girls of the career liberal world pretend that he never said it! They kept their traps shuts during Campaign 2000 as Judis inexcusable cohort threw their support to Bradley, then trashed Gore all through the general. Now, Judis seems to suggest that his brilliant group has chosen a winner again. He needs to step forward and tell us much more. But good career liberals know how the world works, and theyll keep their traps shut tight all day long.
Should journalists throw their support to a candidate? In the recent past, theyve done an amazingly terrible job in their assessments of presidential character. By their own admission, they swooned for Bradley; they swooned for McCainand, of course, they hated Vile Gore. Anyone can see from this how cosmically bad their judgment has been. But nothing will stop them from playing this game, from their endless and grievous misconduct.
DOUGLASS THROWS HER SUPPORT: In todays Times, Jim Rutenberg reports the latest; Linda Douglass is leaving journalism to work for the Obama campaign.
Quite literally, Douglass is throwing her support to the candidateand of course, theres no reason why she shouldnt. But then too, heres where the humor comes in. Despite the protestations of National Journals know-nothing headman, Douglass plainly threw her support to Obama long ago, in her hatched-hearted analyses of Clinton during her endless Hardball spots. To state the obvious, theres nothing wrong with preferring Obama to Clinton; tens of millions of Democrats do. But Douglass support was thrown long ago; this fact was quite obvious watching those programs. Despite her boss know-nothing posture, there was something wrong with that.
Is this what Judis has in mind when he says his colleagues threw their support? Or did it just happen out in St. Louis, where none of his name colleagues lives? Judis has offered astounding constructions. He needs to stand up and explain them.
On the ball: Josh Marshall, ever vigilant, offers his thoughts about Douglass. Lets say it, folksrust never sleeps.
Of course, Josh played the fool on behalf of Joe Klein. More on this gong-show tomorrow.