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OSTRICH IS STUPID! We libs still have our heads in the sand. We’ve met Stupid—and Stupid is Us: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2007

PROVING IT ALL WEEK LONG: It’s obvious how it’s going to go as the press corps pretends to discuss Al Gore’s book. Gore has said our discourse is broken—and our pundits are going to rush out to prove it. Yesterday, Dowd played cosmic clown in that inexcusably stupid Times column (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/23/07). And omigod! A few hours later, this sad discussion occurred on Tucker. No, we didn’t invent this exchange. Yes, this was actually said:
CARLSON: [Al Gore’s] book is out this week. You were in politics for many years. Like Al Gore, you are now out of politics. Why would you write a book like this if you were Al Gore?

DICK ARMEY: There are two reasons. One, I could take—my natural guess is that he is still bitter and angry because he lost the election and he is fulminating. The other is it could be a strategic move. He could be sensing that within his party, within his base, there is not a real high profile out there on the field of candidates and that if he comes out and speaks strongly of his anger against this presidency, that, in fact, there could be an emergent draft Al Gore.

CARLSON: You really think there is a political element to this.

ARMEY: Is—there’s a political element to everything Al Gore has ever done! He has politicized science. He graduated from Harvard or Yale or wherever and he had a choice, being competent or being political. He chose political. He has never been competent. He has corrupted science. He will corrupt diplomacy. And now I believe he has written a book here that is probably a guy giving vent to his anger or it is a guy saying, “I think I figured out a way I can be the nominee again.”

CARLSON: If we have a field that includes Mrs. Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards, whatever you think of them, you’ve got to regard that as a pretty strong field, for the Democrats anyway.

CLIFF MAY: Yes, and I think he believes it’s an outside chance that something could happen. They could destroy each other and he could be drafted in. It is probably something he dreams about late at night, but is not very likely. When I saw the title, The Assault on Reason, I thought, he’s written his autobiography.
All the boys enjoyed a good laugh at Clifford May’s wonderful joke.

The scripts were all completely familiar. (Several had just done time in the Outlook section.) Gore is very, very angry—and he’s soooo ambitious. Not only that, he has “corrupted science,” the idiot Armey said (as he boo-hoo-hooed about the fact that Gore went to “Harvard or Yale or wherever”). And by the way: This was the full discussion of Gore’s new book. At no point did any one of these lads attempt to explain what the book actually says. If you think any one of these losers has so much as set eyes on the book, you’re living in an absolute dream land.

Remember: Along with his boy toy, Willie Geist, Carlson made great display of the fact that he never quite bothered to see Gore’s Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth. Then, he and Geist proceeded to say what they imagined the film must be like (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/13/07). We thought of that sad discussion again after watching yesterday’s nonsense. We wondered: What’s it like to be a TV producer and watch that happen on your “news” program? You pay enormous salaries to these two empty lads—and neither one even bothered to see a documentary film that is changing world politics. Not only that—your lads were eager to rush on the air to explain what the film must be like.

What’s it like to be that producer? We’re not sure—but last evening, it happened again. Gore has said our discourse is broken. Carlson, like Dowd, ran to prove it.

Special report: We’re with Stupid!

PART 4—OSTRICH IS STUPID: Let’s face it—they luvvv to blame the voters. In the current Newsweek, Anna Quindlen transfers blame for the way we got stuck with Stupid:
QUINDLEN (5/28/07): Recent elections suggest that Americans are often interested in something quite different in a candidate than they ultimately require in a president. That's how the country wound up with a commander in chief chosen because he was the kind of guy people wanted to have a beer with, a Dude Prez who finds it appropriate to give the female German chancellor a surprise shoulder massage in the middle of a world summit.
Dumb Americans! But in fact, it was Quindlen’s colleagues, not American voters, who kept pushing that line during Campaign 2000: George Bush is more fun to drink beer with. Various news orgs kept polling the question, and loud cable talkers kept pushing the framework. No one pushed this line more during Campaign 2000 than the red-faced cable ranter, Chris Matthews. Ironically, Quindlen criticizes Matthews in this same piece—but covers up for his idiocy here.

Bush would be more fun to have a beer with! Might this foolish framework have affected some votes during Campaign 2000? We’ll assume that it probably did. But the drive behind this idiot theme came from journalists, not from voters. And on Sunday, that ridiculous framework was back in the Post, trumpeted in its august Outlook section. Vote for Stupid! the great paper said. (In this case, “Stupid” was former “class clown” Fred Thompson.) Providing “balance” was Tinseltown Democrat Lawrence O’Donnell. John Edwards is a girlie-man, the useful contributor said.

Why in the world would intelligent journos drag out this dumb-as-rocks framework again? It was already foolish during Campaign 2000, when we seemed to be living in peace and prosperity. But in the wake of Iraq (in the wake of An Inconvenient Truth), you really have to be dumb as a hound to say we should just Vote for Stupid again—to say that we should vote for Ole Fred because he’s just more fun to be with. After all, in 2001, we got stuck with Stupid—and Stupid ended up destroying the world. But so what! There was Outlook, just this Sunday, telling us: Vote for Stupid again! (After all, Thompson looks like Worf, the hapless Liz Garrigan said.) And, seeming to emerge from some sort of time warp, Garrigan dragged out all the old themes about what a stiff faker-phony Gore is. Has Garrigan heard that Gore turned out to be right about every big issue in the known world? You can’t get dumber than that piece by Liz Garrigan. So why did John Pomfret print it?

Why do smart editors print stupid things? The answer is increasingly obvious: On the level of presidential politics, our mainstream press corps is now a Republican institution—a GOP spin machine. They invent hero tales about Major Reps—and demon tales about Major Democrats. They savaged Gore during Campaign 2000—and they’re hard at work once again, scripting our next election. Indeed, even their useful Tinseltown Democrats know that they must savage Big Dems. And this morning, here’s their Dean, the wisest of all, the far-seeing savant, Dave Broder:
BRODER (5/24/07): [Mike] Huckabee has been the source of some of the best lines at the two Republican debates, including his comment that Congress has "spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop."
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Because Huckabee didn’t say the word “f*ggot” (the way Coulter did), he has been lionized for his girlie-man jesting. But make no mistake: Where the press corps once built “idiot themes” around Big Reps and Big Dems, the framing of hopefuls now runs one way only. When Thompson first dunked his toe in the race, they couldn’t run fast enough on Hardball to drop a hero framework around him—to recite hero tales which sampled the tales formerly on loan to McCain (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/30/07). But if you are a Major Dem, you can be right about every known issue—you can be a global hero—and in this press corps, you’ll still be the “road-kill.” Dimwits like Garrigan are hauled from the swamp to report what they can’t “imagine.” And from her apartments inside Versailles, Maureen Dowd tells the world you’re too fat.

Trust us, because the pattern is clear: During Campaign 2008, hero tales will surround the GOP nominee; the Dem will be too strident, too fat, too weird or just too g*ddam girlie. Her voice—or his bangs—will trouble the press. If you don’t understand that this is where things now stand with our White House elections, you just haven’t been watching the world over the past dozen years. And yet, liberals and Democrats seem determined to avoid confronting these matters. We stick our heads in the sand, like an ostrich. But being an ostrich is really quite foolish. We’ve met Stupid—and Stupid is us.

What will it take before liberals and Democrats start to discuss the gruesome framing the press corps builds around their candidates? Just consider the remarkable thing Ezra Klein not-so-recently said. All the way back in March 2006, Klein published an American Prospect cover story about Gore. Early on, he described a speech Gore had given—and he made a remarkable statement:
KLEIN (4/06): The address was the keynote for the We Media conference, held at the Associated Press headquarters in New York last October and attended by an audience that included both old media luminaries and new media innovators. In attendance were Tom Curley, president of the AP, Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, all leading lights of a media establishment that, five years earlier, had deputized itself judge, jury, and executioner for Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, spinning each day’s events to portray the stolid, capable vice president as a wild exaggerator, ideological chameleon, and total, unforgivable bore.
What a remarkable—and remarkably accurate—statement! According to Klein, the “media establishment... deputized itself judge, jury, and executioner for Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign.” This media establishment had “sp[un] each day’s events to portray the stolid, capable vice president as a wild exaggerator, ideological chameleon, and total, unforgivable bore.” That is a truly stunning assertion—especially given the narrow way that history-changing election was decided. And note: Klein was discussing “the media establishment,” not the “right-wing noise machine;” he specifically named the AP and the New York Times. (He certainly could have thrown in the Post.) Klein had made a remarkable claim—one that happens to be perfectly accurate. The mainstream press corps waged a war against Candidate Gore. They “executed” him, Klein said. They had gone after him “each day.”

That is a remarkable statement. If true, it describes an astonishing fact—the mainstream press corps savaged Gore, thereby changing world history. But perhaps you recall what became of this statement—a statement which is, of course, perfectly accurate. We don’t know what possessed Klein to put such an accurate claim into print, but shortly after his story appeared, he walked away from that statement. He went on C-SPAN to discuss his Prospect piece—and never mentioned this remarkable thesis, which he had placed in his second paragraph (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/21/06). Has Klein ever said a word like this since then? Perhaps he has, but we can’t recall it. Amazingly, Klein had actually told the truth about the way our White House elections now work. And, for some reason, he never told it again.

In this way, liberal writers keep voters dumb about the real shape of their politics.

Or consider one of our most productive liberal leaders, Josh Marshall, who has done so much superlative work. (When Josh appeared on the March 13 Countdown, the intellectual caliber of that program went up by about a thousand percent. Why on earth have they not had him back?) Way back in August 2002, Josh told Howard Kurtz, on Reliable Sources, the truth about Campaign 2000. True, he said “eighteen months” when he should have said twenty. But the rest is perfectly accurate:
MARSHALL (8/10/00): I think deep down most reporters just have contempt for Al Gore. I don’t even think it’s dislike. It’s more like a disdain and contempt.


MARSHALL: That’s a good question, and I’m not sure I have the answer for it entirely, or at least not one that you’d let me run on long enough to make clear here.

KURTZ: He’s never been successful in the courtship of the press.

MARSHALL: No, not at all, and this was, you know, a year-and-a-half before the election, I think you could say this. This wasn’t something that happened because he ran a bad campaign. If he did, it was something that predated it.
All of that was perfectly accurate. Klein’s later statement was a bit tougher—a bit more on the mark—but Marshall’s statement was profoundly accurate too. But how often do you see Josh discuss this? How often do any of us discuss the burgeoning hero/demon tales about current contender—tales that are the clear successor to this undiscussed trashing of Gore? We know—Josh brought the excellent Greg Sargent on board, and Greg talks (sometimes) about these matters. But Josh is a very important figure—and this is how modern White House elections actually do get decided. When liberals refuse to talk about this, we pave the way for another defeat. For seven years, we’ve refused to discuss what happened to Gore—and that allows your millionaire press corps to construct the hero/demon tales that will let them play executioner once again.

If you still can’t see the pattern behind last Sunday’s Outlook section, then you really need to leave the stage and stop discussing American politics. No one would publish such idiot work unless there was an agenda behind it, and that agenda has been increasingly clear over the past fifteen years. When it comes to the election of presidents, our multimillionaire mainstream press corps is now a Republican/Republican-leaning institution; they have hero tales for Republican candidates, and girlie-man tales for Big Dems. On Hardball, they simply couldn’t run fast enough to tell us how smart and handsome Ole Fred was (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/30/07). This was just a taste of the nonsense when it emerged that Ole Fred just might run:
MATTHEWS (3/29/07): You know what I like about him? I interviewed him when he was running for the Senate. He was the underdog out in Tennessee, in Nashville. I said, “What hotel are you staying at?” He said, “What hotel are you staying at?” We were both at three-star hotels. He comes over, meets me for breakfast, no entourage, not another single person with him. This is when you fall in love with politicians. Maybe it`s rehearsed, but—and I said, “Well”—I’m doing a column in those days. I said, “What about your divorce? You want me to write about that?” He said, “I prefer you wouldn’t.” I mean, I just like the fact that he has a little unhappiness in his past, maybe some misbehavior problems, but he just says, you know, “I`d rather you didn’t.”

MARGARET CARLSON: For the press, he would be The New McCain, because he does seem honest and open.
Could anything be dumber than that sad Matthews story? And could any conclusion be more predictable? He does seem honest and open! “For the press, he would be The New McCain!” And Matthews, of course, said he’d fallen in love. The following Monday, Matthews amplified his cohort’s new hero tale. This is exactly what Jack Welch must have known he was buying:
MATTHEWS (4/2/07) Lynn [Sweet], let`s talk for a minute—because I want to talk when we come back about Fred Thompson. It looks to me—and this is my seat-of-the-pants judgment—he looks like the daddy figure the Republican Party has been looking around for. He looks classic wise man. He has gravitas. He’s no Dan Quayle, a guy—when he says something he’s got that Colin Powell feature, where you just sort of trust him. Is he going to jump in this race and take over?
Readers, you just sort of trust him! Of course, for years they told us we could “just sort of trust” the plain-spoken plain-talker from Texas, George Bush. Now we’re told we can just trust Ole Fred. And we’re told about John Edwards’ bangs.

Can we really fail to see how this works, not just on Hardball, but also in Outlook? And this is the mainstream American press corps, not the “right-wing noise machine.” Yes, these are the hero tales they now attach to all Big GOP White House candidates. McCain was sliding—and Ole Fred might get in. So he’d get the tale now, Carlson said.

But Big Major Dems? They’re just too fat. They’re just too strident, too girlie. The press corps’ useful Dems even go into print complaining about their “bangs.” (In October 2000, this same loathsome tool was still telling us Gore’s a Big Liar.) Even when Dems turn out to be right about every known issue—even when they become Global Heros—they still drag out simpering losers like Garrigan and let her recite her goony tunes about what she can’t imagine. (Al Gore doesn’t look like Worf!)

But we liberals have played the ostrich role for year after year on this obvious problem—and Ostrich will get us defeated again. We have refused to talk about Campaign 2000—and Campaign 2000 is happening again. You can’t get Drum to talk about this, and Josh has handed it off to Sargent. Ezra told the truth, then fled, vowing he’d never be truthful again. A few weeks ago, Greenwald said this is how George Bush won. But has anyone else said it since?

We loser liberals keep playing the ostrich. And readers, let’s face it: Ostrich is Stupid. Why isn’t this true about us modern libs: When it comes to modern White House campaigns, we’ve met Stupid—and Stupid is Us?

TOMORROW: A useful sequel