RULE BY CHURCH LADY! Zeleny told the story one way. Then, he told it another: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011
What Bill Clinton proposed: Can it possibly help progressive interests when progressives let themselves go dumb? Here is Digby, who is increasingly losing her way due to her tribal loathing:
She then played tape of a dumb, lost soul. But the gigantic dumbness of her own statement, the one weve highlighted, represents a major fall.
Can it possibly help when our intellectual leaders succumb to the lure of The Dumb? Earlier yesterday, we were struck by a Digby post about Bill Clinton and Social Security.
In her post, Digby listed the names of some of the people who will appear at the Peterson Foundations 2nd Annual Fiscal Summit. Participants will include Bill Clinton and Gene Sperling, who served as National Economic Adviser during Clintons second term. Speaking of the listed participants, Digby then wrote this:
Dear lord, how good the snark felt! As proof that Clinton did entertain that idea (an instant step back from advocacy), Digby linked to this fuzzy, 2005 report by the San Franciscos Chronicles Carolyn Lochhead.
Question: Did Bill Clinton ever advocate partial or total privatization of Social Security? In fairness, Digbys post let progressives enjoy a good solid cry; in response, some commenters blustered and yelled about the vast vile perfidy. But Lochheads report is very fuzzy, especially when she makes this very dumb claim: Although their approaches differed, what Clinton said then and Bush is saying nowabout the program's condition and what it will take to fix itare strikingly similar.
Please. Since Clinton made a formal proposal about Social Security during the period in question, we thought progressives might want to review what he actually proposed.
Clintons proposal was made in the 1999 State of the Union address. The next day, Amy Goldstein made some classic misstatements about Social Security in her front-page Washington Post news report. (Social Security is expected to run out of money when the trust fund that pays retirees' checks is depleted in the year 2032. Then as now, utterly hopeless.) But here is Goldsteins account of Clintons actual proposal, in which he recommended how to use those looming federal surpluses.
Please note: The savings accounts Clinton proposed would have been in addition to regular Social Security benefits:
In the 1998 State of the Union, Clinton said the projected federal surpluses should be applied to Social Securitys long-range balance sheet. In this way, he blocked the House GOPs proposal for a large tax cut.
In 1999, he made his full proposal: 62 percent of those federal surpluses would be used to strengthen the programs finances, thus extending the life of Social Security by some twenty years. Some of that money would be invested in the stock marketbut it would be invested as a federal fund under federal direction, not as part of individual private accounts. Other funds would be used to help citizens establish savings accountssavings accounts which would operate in addition to their regular Social Security benefits, which would not be cut.
That was Clintons proposal for the use of those looming federal surpluses. After Chris Matthews sent George Bush to the White House, this new president had a different idea; he used those projected federal surpluses for his massive tax cuts. Whatever one thinks of Clintons proposalCandidate Gore didnt agree with several parts of the planthe Clinton proposal was vastly different from anything Bush ever did.
Yesterday, Digby treated progressives to a good solid cry; in response, some commenters bellowed and wailed. Question: Does anyone know what progressives gain when we take this self-pitying route?
Who is Carolyn Lochhead: Were not familiar with Lochheads work, although the piece which provided Digbys evidence is hopelessly weak. That said: In 2009, a Daily Kos poster complained, in some detail, about Lochheads history of articles that slant slyly to the right.
misleads on Health Care Reform. So said the Daily Kos headline. To review the piece, click here.
PART 1RULE BY CHURCH LADY (permalink): Jeff Zeleny almost seemed upset by the way the story has been told.
On the front page of yesterdays New York Times, Zeleny reported that Indiana governor Mitch Daniels will not be running for president. According to Daniels, the idea was vetoed by his wife and by the couples four daughters.
Eventually, Zeleny provided a bit of context. He helped us see how this familys story had been misreportedin Indiana, that is:
This story has been wrongly portrayed in Indianaor so it seemed from Zelenys account. In fact, Cheri Daniels only moved briefly to California when she divorced her husband in the early 1990s; she soon moved back to Indianapolis and helped him raise their girls. Topping off his reappraisal, Zeleny quoted Daniels defending his wife. The notion that she would abandon her girls is the reverse of the truth, he had said.
Reading Zeleny, you would have thought that this story was bungled by journalists in Indiana. But where did many people get the impression that Cheri Daniels abandoned the kids, apparently for three years? Uh-oh! Many people got that impression in a May 12 report by Jeff Zeleny! On that day, Zeleny had played Church Lady on the front page of this same New York Times.
Heres how Zeleny told the story, all of thirteen days ago. Granted, the Timesman was in Indiana when he filed his report:
Should Daniels run, this story would no doubt be picked over in public, Zeleny wrote, as he himself picked it over in public. That said, lets review a contradiction:
In Indiana, Mr. Daniels has been portrayed as the father who raised his four daughters when Mrs. Daniels moved away. So clucked Zeleny, yesterday morning. He forgot to add a basic factthats the way he himself told the story, just twelve days before!
But so it goes when the nations Church Ladies seize control of a White House campaign. The ladies have been clucking hard in recent weeks about the sins of the vile Cheri, who even carries a Frenchified name, a name which reeks of sweet perfume. Only naturally, Michelle Cottle has been leading the way, continuing her long campaign to succeed Cokie Roberts as establishment Washingtons official ranking Church Lady. But Church Ladies come in both genders these daysand they seem to be a bit slow to admit their own mistakes.
Yesterday, we uttered low mordant chuckles as we reviewed the way Zeleny adjusted his copy from two weeks before. But thats how the Church Ladies play.
The Church Ladies love to stick their long noses into other folks underwear drawers. Beyond that, they love to make a campaign so dumb, so fatuous, so inane, that even they can find it intriguing. This low-IQ system has worked very poorly for liberals and Dems in the past several decades. But we liberals now seem to love the dumbness too, as we saw in yesterdays Salon, when Justin Elliott authored this long, dumb report about Newt Gingrichs jewels.
The dumbness of our political culture is a thing to beholdand a threat to the nation. That cultural dumbness got Clinton impeached; it then sent George Bush to the White House. But as pseudo-liberals have emerged from the woods in the wake of that latter disaster, we too have developed an obvious taste for The Dumb. Our editors seem to think that their liberal readers are dumb, and they rush to serve them piffle. This system will never work well for our side, but it feels very good going down.
Our political culture swims in The Dumb; The Dumb is now our cultural ruler. On any given Sunday, this fact becomes abundantly clear in the Washington Posts Outlook section. This past Sunday, the section led with a tribute to The Dumb, as a silly TV producer compared the various Republican hopefuls to a long list of American sitcoms. But The Dumb appeared all through the high-profile section, as is true many weeks.
Any given Sunday, The Dumb rules the Post. This culture works poorly for progressive interestsand for Americas future.
Coming: Long on sitcoms, Bok on Stewart, and other great gifts to The Dumb