AL GORE, CLASS TRAITOR! You tell yourself they cant get dumber. On Sunday, the hapless Post did: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2007
AL GORE, CLASS TRAITOR: You always think they cant get dumber. And then, through sheer diligence, they do.
As previously noted, the Washington Post simply hates both Clintons and Gore. Next week, we plan to write a series of posts on the papers reaction to Gores new book. In fact, we postponed that series this week to accommodate Carl Bernsteins sad book tour.
But on Sunday, the Post unleashed its big guns once again; the mighty paper was deeply troubled by an error in Gores kooky book. Andrew Ferguson did the honors, right there in the Outlook section—the same high-profile Sunday section which sang the praises of brilliant Fred Thompson just a few weeks ago. You always think they cant get dumber. But they cant wait to prove you wrong! Indeed, heres how Ferguson started:
FERGUSON (6/10/07): You can't really blame Al Gore for not using footnotes in his new book, "The Assault on Reason." It's a sprawling, untidy blast of indignation, and annotating it with footnotes would be like trying to slip rubber bands around a puddle of quicksilver. Still, I'd love to know where he found the scary quote from Abraham Lincoln that he uses on page 88.You always think they cant get dumber. Then, they do something like that.
How pitiful has the Post become? Ferguson said hed love to know where Gore found his Lincoln quote—but, since Gores untidy puddle of a book lacks footnotes, he just couldnt figure it out. But good lord! Gores book has twenty pages of end-notes—including an endnote that plainly explains the source of that page 88 Lincoln quote. The quotation comes from The Lincoln Encyclopedia, a 1950 Mcmillan compilation, edited by Archer Shaw. Yes, readers, thats where Gore found the quote. It says so right in his book.
Is the quotation a real Lincoln quote? On that, we still wouldnt bet the house, one way or the other. A lot of inauthentic Lincoln quotes are in circulation; it seems this may be one of them. But lets go over the sheer absurdity of this latest Post report.
First, note how pathetic the paper is as it struggles and strains after ways to trash Gore. Lets suppose, for the sake of argument, that this actually is one of the bogus quotes that float about, attributed to Lincoln. No one—no one but the Post, that is—would ever think that this would merit full treatment in an Outlook piece. But the Post is in love with denigration of Gore, who is too fat—and too big a smarty. And so, like the blithering fools that they are, they turned this trifle into a full Outlook piece, complete with mocking commentary on what pure crap Gores book is. (For the record, Gores book is the current New York Times number-one best-seller. His last book, An Inconvenient Truth, pretty much transformed the world.)
But denigrating Gore wasnt enough; the Post also felt the deep compulsion to show the world how stupid it is. Has Ferguson read any books in the past dozen years? Not seeing footnotes, he dumbly assumed that Gore hadnt sourced his work. And apparently, Outlooks editors were too f*cking stupid to double-check this improbable claim for themselves.
No. You really cant get dumber. And by the way, this takes us back to yesterdays discussion about class traitors (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/11/07). You see, your present press corps is, at its heart, a blinkered, multimillionaire elite; in part, they hate Al Gore because hes been a traitor to his class. As a result, theres nothing they arent willing to say about Gore. (Gore is too fat! His clothing is funny! Why does he live in such a big house?) And, being among the worlds dumbest people, they will constantly offer damn-fool critiques like the one Ferguson penned. Plutocrats tend to be like that.
Oh by the way, one last demonstration. Just how stupid are the people who have control of your public discourse? Deftly displaying his masterful wit, Ferguson penned the following passage—and Outlook editor John Pomfret waved it into print:
FERGUSON: If you're familiar with Lincoln's distinctive way of expressing himself, you'll hear the false notes the passage strikes...Indeed, these words don't show up anywhere else in "The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln" (which, thanks to Gore's Internet, are now searchable at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Al Gore said he invented the Internet! Truly, you cant get dumber than these dumb mother-f*ckers are. But this sad, inept plutocratic elite is fully in charge of your national discourse. You will live in a deeply stupid world until their hold is dislodged.
Al Gores puddle of a book doesnt have any footnotes! Truly, you cant get dumber than that. But dont worry—history is clear. Eventually, these plutocrats will.
THE WORLDS DUMBEST PEOPLE CORRECT: Fergusons dumbest-of-all-time mistake had been debunked on the Net last Saturday, before the hard-copy Sunday Post had even hit the newsstands. (Click here, for example.) And sure enough! This morning, three days later, the worlds dumbest people correct themselves. Fergusons dumbest-of-all-time mistake appeared in paragraph one of an Outlook piece; he used it to mock Gores untidy book. But when the worlds dumbest people correct themselves, they do so in this tiny message. But then, you will live in a deeply stupid world as long as this dumb-as-rocks elite controls your public discourse.
REPORT THE CHILDREN POORLY: Its the kind of urban education reporting we have pretty much loved to hate since the 1970s. On the front page of this mornings Post, Dion Haynes reports about the alleged successes of the Philadelphia public school system. Successes at a Big-City System, the cheerful headline says.
Has Philly made progress in the past few years? We dont the slightest idea—and no, you cant tell from Haynes report. The problem starts early, right here:
HAYNES (6/12/07): After five years of intense focus, the strategy in the nation's eighth-largest school district is bearing fruit: Citywide, the number of students reaching "proficient" and "advanced" levels on the Pennsylvania state tests has risen steadily—in some grades outpacing the average improvements statewide.On the one hand, that sounds real good; in Philadelphia, the number of kids scoring proficient on the state tests has been steadily rising. On the other hand, that sounds a bit shaky; the rise in the statewide passing rate has, in some grades, outpaced the city. Unless some sort of educational miracle has been happening across the state of Pennsylvania, that suggests at least one possibility; it suggests the possibility that Pennsylvanias state tests have been getting easier. But this possibility never seems to enter Haynes head. He just keeps pumping Phillys score gains:
HAYNES: Philadelphia students have made steady gains on the state test since 2001, the year before the [citys educational] reforms were introduced. The number of eighth-graders reaching "proficiency" or above in reading, for example, rose 21 percentage points. At the same time, the number of eighth-graders who fell below "basic" levels declined 24 percentage points.Since 2001, the number of Philly eighth-graders scoring proficient in reading has risen by 21 points. But that change in passing rate only matters if this years reading test is as hard as the test in 2001. Is it possible that the state of Pennsylvania has dumbed down its reading test (accidentally or by design)? This problem has been discussed all over the country in the era of high-stakes testing accountability. But Haynes never asks the question today—and never tries to answer it.
But then, Haynes is a trusting man when it comes to claims of big-city success. He offers straight-from-the-can, unquestioning accounts of the reasons why scores have risen in Miami and Richmond. And, as reporters love to do, he takes us to some schools in Philly with the most dramatic score gains—to Strawberry Mansion High School, for example:
HAYNES: Reggie Mays, an 18-year-old senior, said getting individual attention from [principal Lois Powell] Mondesire and teachers has helped transform him from a D student into a B student. In fact, 53 percent of Strawberry Mansion's 11th-graders met or exceeded state targets in math, up from 13 percent in 2003, surpassing the state average.That score gain is dramatic—and from Haynes account, it sounds like basic conditions have vastly improved at this school in the past several years. But uh-oh! As Haynes notes, this high schools enrollment has been downsized from about 2500 to 560 during this period—and when a student population is changed so dramatically, its student demographics may have changed a lot too. Judged by basic markers of race and class, is Strawberry Mansions current student population comparable to its population back when the school was four times as large? Haynes doesnt say. But those score gains cant be attributed to Phillys educational reforms unless a question like that has been answered. Unless, of course, we just want to feel good, and dont really give a good goldarn about Philadelphias actual school kids.
Has Philly made progress in the past few years? We dont the slightest idea. Neither will you, after youve read this mornings front-page report.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: How savvy is the Post in these matters? Sadly, the Post just luvvs those feel-good stories about high-scoring urban schools. Last year, in fact, the Post published a glowing, front-page report about the amazing progress at an Alexandria elementary school—a school which turned out to have the second-lowest reading score in the whole state of Virginia! Writing like this has doomed low-income children roughly since the dawn of time. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/10/06, with links to previous work.
Special report: Bern, baby, Bern!
PART 2—SAVAGING HILLARY: How bizarre has your mainstream press corps become? Last Thursday, Carl Bernstein staged this groups latest strange display in the course of his strange current book tour. Speaking with CNNs Wolf Blitzer, Bernstein lodged an instant complaint: In her autobiography, Hillary Clinton didnt reveal that she had been beaten as a child (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/11/07). But uh-oh! Bernstein doesnt say a word about this alleged matter in his own book, either! Bernstein quotes Clintons childhood friend, Betsy Ebeling, at some length in his new Clinton bio—the one hes trying so hard to peddle. But theres no sign that Ebeling said a word about the notion that Clinton was beaten. In his latest bizarre display, Bernstein called Clinton dishonest—for omitting an episode from her book that doesnt appear in his.
Was Clinton beaten as a child? We dont have the slightest idea. And you wont have the slightest idea after you read Carl Bernsteins new book, since it doesnt include a word about this pulse-pounding topic. But then, Bernstein has peddled several themes on his current book tour that simply dont appear in his book. How bizarre has your public discourse become? Just watch this strange con man in action.
How bad have things been on Bernsteins tour? Consider something the proud author said to Hardballs Chris Matthews last Friday. Matthews, as always, had his head up his crotch as the session began. Pathetically, this was his first question:
MATTHEWS (6/8/07): Let me ask you, because I am just starting it. It will be my beach reading. I promise you. This is the kind of stuff I sit on the sand with. Let me ask you this. Right off the bat, there are some graphic questions you ask. Ive never seen this done before. One of the questions—heres how you set it up: Those abroad asked Americans they encountered, quote, Who is she? Do you like her? Will she become president? Is she gay?As anyone can see, only one of those four questions was graphic. But Matthews found himself drawn to the question as a moth is drawn to fake flames.
In fairness, Matthews was right about one thing; it is odd to see Bernstein push that question right to the front of his pitiful book. (Matthews was quoting from Bernsteins page 5; the book begins on page 3.) But Matthews rose to the challenge this question presented; surprised to see it at the start of the book, he pushed it right to the start of his interview! Is she gay? the Lost Boy asked. It was Matthews first question for Bernstein.
For the record, in his book, Bernsteins answer is no; theres no sign that Clinton ever was gay. What do I talk about is how she likes men and liked men very much in college, he told Matthews last Friday, no doubt disappointing his host. But now, with this first distraction done, Bernstein moved to his next bogus bit of promotion. On Hardball, he didnt claim that Clinton was beaten; that treat had been for Wolf alone. Instead, he would talk about a favorite theme—the idea that Hillary Clinton savaged those women. Heres what Bernstein soon found himself saying about Clintons past troubling conduct:
BERNSTEIN, on Hardball (6/8/07): Hillary Clinton recognized she was married to the most talented politician of the age. A lot of people realized it. But she recognized that his sexual compulsions could render him unviable as a politician, and she set out to cover up what was known about those sexual activities, his compulsions, as she put it. And then savaged many of the women. She forgave Bill Clinton on numerous occasions, but not the women.Wow! Hillary Clinton savaged many of the women, he told Matthews, sending a shiver down his hosts spine. But then, Bernstein has been making this charge ever since his book tour began. Here, we see this sick f*ck of a man making this same charge to Bill OReilly. OReilly was asking about Bernsteins claim that the Clintons once considered divorce:
BERNSTEIN, on OReilly (6/5/07): Why would I want to know that?Hillary Clinton savaged the women Bill Clinton was involved with, he said—making an exceptionally nasty charge. But then, hed said the same thing the night before, this time to poor Charlie Rose, who was exasperated with his peculiar guest by the end of the hour:
BERNSTEIN (6/4/07): She forgave Bill Clinton time and time again, which seems to be a terrific thing to do.She had them ruined! Bernstein has made this claim again and again as he parades about on TV, trying to peddle his book. But theres one small problem with this claim. As with the claim that Clinton was beaten, the claim that she savaged the women Bill Clinton was involved with doesnt appear in Bernsteins book! It makes a very exciting charge—one he has peddled all over TV. But you really wont find the claim in his book. In the book, this claim is AWOL.
Were sorry to have to repeat this charge—the charge Bernstein doesnt seem to make in his book. But the behavior of your mainstream press corps has become unspeakably weird in the past fifteen years, and their professional breakdown cant be addressed if Democrats and liberals keep trying to run from their conduct. So no: Carl Bernstein doesnt say in his book that Hillary Clinton was beaten by her father. And no: He doesnt say that she savaged the women Bill Clinton was involved with. Tomorrow, well look at what he does say in his book. And well see the way his modest claims have been embellished—by himself and by others.
Bernstein has staged an astounding book tour. You come to think that youve seen it all. And then, along comes the next one.
ONE LAST POINT: Needless to say, as soon as Bernstein made this nasty claim on those shows, he quickly began contradicting himself. Wait a minute, he told OReilly, when his host drew an obvious judgment (see above). Tomorrow, well look at that silly conduct too, along with what it says in Bernsteins book.
TOMORROW—PART 3: Has Bernstein actually read his own book? Inquiring minds have to wonder.