THE DEAN OF ALL WASHINGTON GOSSIPS: Hiss-spit! Hiss! Spit-hiss! Mee-owww! David Broder also attended that speech by Hillary Clinton—the frustrating speech about energy policy in which the senator droned on and on, driving Maureen Dowd to the point of distraction (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/24/06). But Broder had only one thing on his mind. Hiss! Hiss-spit! Mee-ow:
BRODER (5/25/06): [T]he buzz in the room was not about her speech—or her striking appearance in a lemon-yellow pantsuit—but about the lengthy analysis of the state of her marriage to Bill Clinton that was on the front page of [Tuesdays] New York Times.After mentioning Hillarys clothes, The Dean of All Gossips got right to the sex. And, lacking the courage to say what he meant, the gossiping schoolboy chose to insinuate. Who on earth is Belinda Stronach? Broders readers will have no idea; according to Nexis, this is the first time Stronachs name has appeared in the Washington Post in over a year. But today, readers know what they didnt know yesterday—that they should whisper and gossip about her. The mighty Dean of All Washington Gossips has touched off the sex hunt again.
The article, by Patrick Healy, was anything but unsympathetic. It touched only lightly on the former president's friendship with Canadian politician Belinda Stronach. It documented that despite their busy separate schedules, the Clintons had managed to spend two-thirds of their weekends together during the past 18 months.
No, this tired old man wont let it go—but he wont say what he really means, either. He will only insinuate—and leave the rest to his readers. But then, we also loved the heart of Broders piece, when the tired and gossiping Dean gave his view of the senators actual speech. Hiss! Hiss-spit! Hiss-spit! Meow! Broder just couldnt conceal his disdain for the woman who made him sit there, deeply bored, while she spoke about real things that matter. Try to believe that he said it:
BRODER: For those who remember the former first lady's effort at comprehensive health-care reform in 1993-94, the scope of her energy initiative is a throwback to those days. She called for the creation of a Strategic Energy Fund, financed in part by taxes on oil company profits, and a National Institute of Energy, with a multibillion-dollar bankroll for financing innovative conservation and efficiency plans.Speaking of tone, The Deans was astounding. He made no attempt to conceal his disdain for the self-assured know-it-all Clinton. His next stanza was a bit more concealed. But his tone suffused that passage too—and recalled a great work from the past:
She offered her proposal with the same self-assurance that she had brought to the health-care debate—a tone that suggested that if you just listen carefully to all the things I can tell you on the basis of the study I have given this subject, you will know exactly what to do.
BRODER (continuing directly): It turns out that the senator has been thinking about energy issues for 35 years—since she edited a fellow student's paper on OPEC at Yale Law School. And with her disciplined mind, she can fit separate pieces—everything from mileage standards for cars to biomass and wind power—into a rational plan that will, she says, not only move the nation substantially toward energy independence but improve living standards for almost every American.With her disciplined mind, The Dean meowed, Clinton says she can solve all our problems. The opening sentence spit-hisses too; it suggests that Clinton claims to have known-it-all about energy matters ever since her college days. (Yes—that is why its in there.) But then, thats the tone he adopted long ago, when this Dean of Washington Dumbkopfs complained of a boring convention speech—a speech, of course, by Al Gore:
BRODER (8/20/00): On some of the headline proposals—for Medicare prescription drug benefits or a patient's bill of rights—Gore humanized his presentation by pointing to specially invited families in the audience who would have benefited directly from the programs he is promoting. But I have to confess, my attention wandered as he went on through page after page of other swell ideas, and somewhere between hate crimes legislation and a crime victim's constitutional amendment, I almost nodded off.Throwing a bone to his idiot cohort, Broder openly mocked Gores swell ideas, then said that he had almost dozed off, the speech was just so goddamned boring.
In fact, the voters liked that speech; they liked that speech a lot. They liked it so much that Gore rocketed to the top of the national polls—and stayed there, for the next four weeks. Indeed, it got so bad after Gores boring speech that the press corps had to invent two more Gore lies (the doggy pills, the union lullaby) to drag him back to Bushs levels, setting things up for that amazing first debate. But nothing changes the tone of these ciphers—and nothing changes their astounding group values. As we saw yesterday with Dowd, their Inner Gossip screams in pain when subjected to speeches about things that matter. They punish the speaker with tales about droning—and, in the case of the Dean of All Gossips, they drag their creaking bones to their desks and suggest that we should all begin to whisper about sex lives again.
Broders column makes two points. First, its time to gossip about Clintons sex life. And second, who does this goddamn bitch think she is to make us listen to know-it-all lectures? For what its worth, we watched parts of Clintons speech on TV—and we thought we saw an intelligent person, speaking about an important subject. But our Millionaire Pundits just want to have fun. They want to watch King Kong on the plane (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/22/06). They want to drink beer with a president whos fun (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/23/06). And they want to gossip, about sex with Belinda. Their values are straight from Marie Antoinette—and only revolution will end them.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: At the 2000 conventions, Broder heaped praise on Bushs brilliance—and said that Gore nearly put him to sleep. It was Gores speech that rocked the polls, of course; Bushs speech rolled over and died. But Broder mocked Gore for his swell ideas—and had opened this way about Bush, two weeks earlier:
BRODER (8/6/00): Lifted by an acceptance speech of exceptional eloquence and powered by a party enjoying unusual unity, Texas Gov. George W. Bush embarks on the final stage of his quest for the White House with prospects that almost measure up to his brimming self-confidence.Good God! Remember, that was the speech which pretty much flopped. Two weeks later, though, Broder said how dull the know-it-all Gore had been—in the speech which transformed the polls. For more of the gruesome details, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/26/03. Meanwhile, the same thing happened at the 2004 conventions. To see Broder praise Bush—and roll eyes at Kerry—see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/7/04.
By the way, even Broders headline was mocking when Gore gave his convention speech. Gore tells all, it mockingly said. But then, if Broder hadnt stuck his nose into sex, Clinton tells all could be todays headline. These empty people simply cant stand it when theyre forced to sit through a real speech.
One final point: In comments at The Huffington Post, we read many liberals complaining about how dull Gore was as a speaker during Campaign 2000. To a large extent, on many different matters, we libs have been scripted by the Broders—and we dont even know it.
No, Gore is not the worlds greatest speaker; few politicians are. (Watch McCain some time, for example.) But Gores speech rocked the polls that night, a point which has long been obscured and disappeared. (In his definingly awful new book, Joe Klein explains it away brilliantly.) Four weeks later, the press corps had to invent two new lies to get things back to the state they preferred. And by the way: On September 21, 2000, Howard Fineman explained this to Brian Williams, quite plainly. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/24/03; scroll down to Why it happened.
SO TOO WITH GORES KNOW-IT-ALL MOVIE: With open disdain, Broder mocks Clintons perceived know-it-all manner. The sad old man thought he heard her saying, If you just listen carefully to all the things I can tell you on the basis of the study I have given this subject, you will know exactly what to do—and naturally enough, it made his blood boil. And yes—if you think youve heard that same story elsewhere in recent debates, you may be thinking of pundit reviews of Gores droning, know-it-all movie. We hate to pick on John Heilemann again; he seemed like a perfectly decent guy in several TV outings last night. But he and Gwen Ifill ran the same script during a segment of last evenings NewsHour—a segment which was dominated by Ifills weird performance:
IFILL (5/24/06): John Heilemann, what about the charges that [Gore] is alarmist on these issues, that he is inaccurate in some of the details in the movie, that he is holier than thou?Good God—what a question! John Heilemann, whats your view? Is Al Gore really holier than thou? We felt sorry for Heilemann several times last night, as he searched for ways to respond to Ifills foolish and uninformed questions. But Heilemann channeled Broder perfectly as he described what hed seen in Gores film. According to Heilemann, you cant help but come away with the sense that Gore is saying: You must listen to me or the world will end. But readers, we watched Gores new film last week—and came away with no such sense. Mainly, we came away with the sense that we had just watched a well-informed pol deliver a ton of information. We had no major sense beyond that—but then, we arent seven years old.
HEILEMANN: Well, I mean, I think that you can't help but come away from the movie with a certain sense that Gore has kind of a messianic streak about this: You must listen to me or else the world will end. At the same time the charges that he's alarmist, I mean, increasingly ring incredibly hollow about this. I'm not a partisan in this battle, but the science on this has become incredibly, incredibly clear.
Its hard to know what makes them so childish—and again, we felt sorry for Heilemann last night. (He tried quite hard to be fair, given Ifills absurd questions.) But once again, heres the record of what these two press people actually thought they heard:
WHAT BRODER THOUGHT HE HEARD CLINTON SAY: If you just listen carefully to all the things I can tell you on the basis of the study I have given this subject, you will know exactly what to do.It must be something from their childhoods, these oddball resentments they have.
WHAT HEILEMANN THOUGHT HE HEARD GORE SAY: You must listen to me or else the world will end.
HOW EASILY THE DEAN IS OFFENDED: How easily these scribes get offended! In his column, Broder mocked Clintons claim that her disciplined mind has been mulling this topic for some 35 years. So youll know, heres the opening part of her speech—the part about the 35 years, the part that clearly annoyed him:
CLINTON (5/23/06): It is wonderful to be back here at the Press Club. And I thank you for the invitation. I am delighted to have a chance to talk about an issue that is not going away...Pathetic, isnt it? That was the troubling I have always known everything claim that The Dean simply couldnt let pass.
We've been hearing a lot about energy policy in the last several months, and I was thinking about my own very first encounter with the problems that we are coping with today.
About 35 years ago I was in law school, and I edited a paper for a fellow student who was writing about an obscure organization that I had never heard of, which would soon, he posited, be very important to the world's economy. It was called OPEC, or something like that.
And I have never forgot that because, like most Americans, I had grown up with very cheap gas. My late father used to love gas wars. He would drive four miles—we'd get in the car, we'd spend hours looking for 20 cent gas...
THE DEAN OF WASHINGTON TABLOIDS: For the record, here was the sole reference to Stronach in yesterdays New York Times. The piece was written by Patrick Healy:
HEALY (5/24/06): Because of Mr. Clinton's behavior in the White House, tabloid gossip sticks to him like iron filings to a magnet. Several prominent New York Democrats, in interviews, volunteered that they became concerned last year over a tabloid photograph showing Mr. Clinton leaving B.L.T. Steak in Midtown Manhattan late one night after dining with a group that included Belinda Stronach, a Canadian politician. The two were among roughly a dozen people at a dinner, but it still was enough to fuel coverage in the gossip pages.It was enough to fuel coverage in the gossip pages—and now, in Broders column. Clearly, this reference wasnt enough for Broder. Today, although he wont stand up and say what he means, he insinuates that we should gossip more widely. Broders readers had never heard of Stronach. Theyve all heard about her today.