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Old patterns could return, some liberals warn. Other libs seem to embrace them
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BLASTS FROM THE PAST! Old patterns could return, some liberals warn. Other libs seem to embrace them: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 2010

The news is a novel/The Kiss was just a kiss: On Tuesday’s Hardball, a marvelous moment occurred, involving a treasured press corps novel. The most dishonest broadcaster of our age was happily stroking his substitute clenis as he played the videotape of a famously novelized Kiss.

As a thrill ran up his leg, he made an inaccurate statement—a statement he most likely believed. His statement involved the iconic moment, ten years ago, when Al Gore kissed his wife, Tipper Gore, at the Democratic Convention. This records what silly-boy said, hosting Tuesday’s Hardball:

MATTHEWS (6/1/10): I’m looking at this. It’s only fascinating because that kiss, I guess—I mean, let’s be honest. That’s the iconic event of the 2000 election in many ways.

LOIS ROMANO: It was his message to the world that I have a good marriage. It was almost a counter to what the Clintons were—

MATTHEWS: Look at this—it’s wolverine stuff! What is his thing here? What was that about. It did go on much longer than we’re showing here, by the way.

JOHN HARRIS: They did not obviously win any points for subtlety for that lengthy PDA at the 2000 convention in Los Angeles. I do think it was—that was a very scripted moment, I believe.

Speaking of scripted moments, Romano and Harris each explained that The Kiss was “very scripted,” a “message.” (Or so they “believe.”) Matthews called it the iconic event of Campaign 2000—a campaign which sent George Bush to the White House, the U.S. into Iraq.

But the glorious moment came when Matthews explained the short duration of this iconic event. “It did go on much longer than we’re showing here,” he said, as the tape quickly ended.

Except it didn’t go on much longer; it didn’t go on any longer at all. In fact, Matthews was watching the full duration of The Kiss—though we’ll guess he truly thought that The Kiss must have lasted much longer.

(Sorry. Hardball had the good sense to withhold the tape of this segment.)

You see, The Kiss is the iconic event in one of this brain-dead group’s favorite novels. For ten years, Matthews has worried about The Kiss in his tiny brain—and in that tiny fevered brain, The Kiss just grew longer and longer. Since he and his fraternal order had done so much to pimp this event, we’ll guess he had truly come to believe that The Kiss had just been very long.

In that claim by this true cable nut, you see the fruit of a cultural breakdown: Within the world of this broken-brained press corps, the news is now a novel.

How childish, how inane, are these broken-souled ninnies? On Tuesday afternoon, three different pundits at the Washington Post rushed to comment on the Gores’ separation. All three pundits cited The Kiss in their first or second paragraphs! You see, within the tiny brains of this club, The Kiss is all they can really remember! When it comes to Gore, their clan has created a brainless Group Novel—a novel they just keep reciting. The small brainless novel these ninnies repeat contains these basic elements:

Al Gore kissed Tipper Gore too long.
He didn’t have girl friends, but Bill Clinton did!
Al Gore said he inspired Love Story.
He was stiff. But Tipper was loose.

You too can be a national pundit! Just rework those four basic themes!

In some ways, their novels are coloring books. On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric threw to Sharyl Attkisson, who seems to be roughly three years old. Note where Attkisson instantly ran:

COURIC (6/1/10): Now to a story that came as a big surprise, especially to anyone who remembers that famous image of Al and Tipper Gore passionately kissing at the Democratic convention in 2000. Today, in a first for any former presidential or vice presidential couple, the Gores revealed they’re splitting. Here’s Sharyl Attkisson.

AL GORE (videotape): More than 90 percent of it is absorbed.

ATTKISSON: While Al Gore was out fighting global warming, his marriage to Tipper was apparently cooling. In an e-mail to friends today, the couple announced they decided to separate. The Gores actually weren’t the inspiration for Love Story as the former vice president once claimed.

ALI MCGRAW (videotape): Love means never having to say you`re sorry.

ATTKISSON: But their love story lasted 40 years.

Truly, these folk are amazing. Attkisson couldn’t repeat the claim quickly enough—the silly claim which has anchored the press corps’ novel since 1997: Al Gore said he inspired Love Story! It’s a silly piece of novelized nonsense, but it’s a treasured part of the press corps’ novel. From there, Attkisson’s editors powered ahead to the week’s most hackneyed “thought:”

ATTKISSON (continuing directly): Jamal Simmons worked closely with the Gores.

SIMMONS (videotape): I’ve heard from a lot of people from the Gore universe, people have been very shocked and dismayed that this is what’s occurred.

ATTKISSON: It’s been 18 years since the Gores became America’s second couple.

SIMMONS (videotape): If you had told me six years ago that Al Gore and Tipper Gore would split up before Bill and Hillary Clinton, I would have been shocked.

Being a pundit means always knowing that you have to repeat preferred points. Or you won’t get on the air.

Back to Matthews. The Kiss was so easy to discuss that the pundit corps greedily seized on it. Instantly, it became part of their standardized novel—one of the tiny handful of moments they were prepared to discuss. Over the course of the past ten years, Matthews—a flaming cable nut—pondered The Kiss in his small tiny mind.

The Kiss just got longer and longer.

“It did go on much longer than we’re showing here.” We’ll guess that he thought this was true.

Special report: Same as it ever was?

PART 3—BLASTS FROM THE PAST (permalink): Some things simply never change within the upper-end press corps. Example: Last weekend, a vintage loathing went on display in a New York Times editorial.

As they started, the editors rolled their eyes at the fuss about the Sestak matter. On the merits, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot wrong with the Sestak fandango, they said. In this, they politely assumed that the White House account of this matter is factually accurate, despite some contrary evidence they themselves presented.

But as they continued, the editors criticized the “unintelligent” way the White House has handled the Sestak matter. And sure enough! In accordance with Hard Pundit Law, a vintage loathing went on display. These were the first four paragraphs of the editorial:

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (5/28/10): There doesn’t seem to be anything terribly unethical about the White House offer of an unpaid advisory position to Joe Sestak if he would bow out of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, in which he later defeated Senator Arlen Specter. There does, however, seem to be something strikingly unintelligent about it.

Why would the White House, using former President Bill Clinton as its agent, offer Mr. Sestak a job on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board for which he was ineligible as a sitting House member? (It takes about 30 seconds to Google approved in 1993 by President Clinton himself.)

Why would President Obama’s White House waffle and obfuscate about the matter for three months, allowing Republicans and the conservative blogosphere to hyperinflate it into the grave scandal it turned out, on Friday, not to be?

Why, finally, can’t the White House avoid such unforced errors and get its political act together? (And we haven’t even brought up the fact that William Jefferson Clinton does nothing quietly.)

Hiss! Hiss-spit! Hiss-spit! Meeee-ow! Acting out a vintage loathing which has driven much of the past two decades’ politics, the green-eyed editors couldn’t resist—they took a weird shot at Bill Clinton.

“William Jefferson Clinton does nothing quietly?” In the context of the Sestak matter, what could that possibly mean? We’ve never seen anyone suggest that Clinton was the source of the rumor that Sestak had received a job offer. In mid-February, this rumor led a newsman to ask Sestak if he had been offered a job.

Yes, the candidate said.

The editors presented exactly no evidence suggesting that Clinton had shot off his mouth. But then, these exalted editors rarely work on such fuel. Expressing the vintage loathing which drove the wars against Clinton and Gore, the editors took their latest strange shot at Vile Bill—even as they assumed the truth of a slightly shaky story the Obama Admin has told.

In that contrast, you see the mainstream press history of the past eighteen years. Starting with the invention of the Whitewater pseudo-scandal, well-trained minds at the New York Times conducted long wars against Clinton, then Gore, eventually sending George Bush to the White House. The pattern of anger at Big Major Dems was broken only when Obama arrived on the scene. Only the Obama Difference—and the Bush disasters—shook these great journalists out of their patterns. Starting in 2007, Obama became the first major Democratic candidate in some time to gain the favor of leading press organs—in part, of course, because these organs were still hunting Hillary Clinton.

In the passage we’ve posted above, you can see the editors’ dueling standards—the standards which have shaped modern politics. This is the way these lordly figures reason inside the walls of Versailles. Our question: Will the reasonably friendly treatment of the current president carry on into the future? Or will older patterns return?

At the Times, one ancient pattern has reappeared in recent weeks. The paper went on a familiar jihad, branding Richard Blumenthal a liar because he had misstated, on a (very) few occasions, about his military record. (Blumenthal, a Democrat, is running for the senate.) This general theme has prevailed for the past twenty years, aimed at a string of major Democrats. Clinton, Clinton, Gore and Kerry were all decreed to be big liars or feckless flip-floppers by the great minds at our greatest press organs; only “straight-talking,” “plain-spoken” Republicans (McCain, then Bush) could be trusted during these years. This ancient pattern seemed to return last week when it turned out that Mark Kirk, a Republican candidate for the senate, had misstated his own military record, apparently more often than Blumenthal had. Kirk too had misstated, but so what? Things grew silent at the New York Times when it came to Kirk’s misstatements.

If Obama’s fortunes slide, will ancestral press patterns return? A handful of liberals have worried about such possibilities in the past week. Tomasky and Conason warned the world: We will return to the politics of congressional pseudo-investigation if the GOP regains the House. Might we add the obvious point? Organs like the Post and the Times went along with these pseudo-investigations during the Clinton-Gore era. Meanwhile, all the analysts stood and cheered when Digby offered an historical perspective in several recent posts. Below, we offer you two excerpts. We suggest the read the full posts:

DIGBY (5/31/10): This Sestak scandal may very well never go anywhere. The truth is that most of them don't, if you define "going somewhere" as culminating in an official investigation, resignation or the like. If you look at the litany of scandals during the Clinton years you can see that there was a new one each week, some took off, some didn't. But that isn't the point. They will throw anything at the wall to see what sticks, some things will, some won't—but the cumulative effect of these accusations and the press's willingness to help pursue them is a sense of unease, suspicion, finally fatigue and an eagerness to just have it over with. The administration, I mean. That was the main hurdle for Gore in 2000, and it contributed greatly to how close that race was...

The press contributes to this phenomenon by chasing every last story as if it were unique, requiring reporting and investigation regardless of what they know to be the underlying dynamics at play. (For full post, click here.)

DIGBY (5/28/10): This reminds me of the Gore coverage. They justified their puerile attacks by saying he deserved what he got for being a stiff and boring poll who didn't parry the nonsense that the GOP freakshow was throwing at him and that disqualified him for the presidency. Hazing politicians on behalf of GOP operatives really should not be part of our political press coverage. It rewards the worst kind of politicians who have more "savvy" than integrity and perpetuates a political system that creates incentives to damage and destroy people on the basis of trivial nonsense, thus obscuring the very serious substance of their business. (For full post, click here.)

In those posts, Digby does what is simply never done. She relates the press corps’ current conduct to conduct of the Clinton-Gore years. (“This reminds me of the Gore coverage?” Liberals simply never say that. For that reason, few voters would have the slightest idea what she meant.) No intelligent political movement would ever ignore, let alone bury, its own recent history—especially when that recent history is as remarkable, and as destructive, as this history was. But the liberal world persistently does so, as its leaders pursue career advantage inside and through the big mainstream organs which created the recent disasters to which Digby refers.

Indeed, the liberal world is increasingly adopting the core values of the mainstream press corps. We run on silly sexy-time tales, and on invented lies by opponents. This is low-IQ tabloid work, pure and simple—and it’s a culture which will never serve progressive interests. By the way: This is the culture of the mainstream press—the punishing culture with which the mainstream chased down, first Clinton, then Gore.

Will progressive interests ever prosper within such a brain-dead culture? We strongly doubt it, but if it’s sexy-time sex you enjoy, we suggest you go to TPM. You can read all about Nikki Haley!

Did Nikki Haley really have sex? We think it’s foolish for liberals to wonder. This brain-dead sexy-time culture will always work against liberal interests—except for the way it may help inflate some liberals’ bottom lines.

We were pleased to see Conason, Tomasky and Digby reminding the world about recent patterns. Other adopt this groaning press culture. Jesus! Ain’t bad judgment grand!