Maureen Dowd and the Jordan Rules: Quick guess: In the past thirty years, Maureen Dowd has changed American journalism more than any other person. As early as 1984, her insipid observations were being hailed, within the New York Times, as the basis for a new kind of journalism (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/14/99). Today, her insipid blend of snark and sneer can be spotted all over the press corps.
How insipid is this trend-setter? How dumb has our journalism become? For your answer, check Dowds new column about Obama and the oil spill.
For unknown reasons, Dowd builds her piece around a comparison: Obama is like Michael Jordan. This comparison drives her headline and her reasoning, to the extent that reasoning can be found. In what way is Obama like Michael Jordan? Go aheadtry to Solve Puzzle Here:
DOWD (6/16/10): Even though Im president of the United States, my power is not limitless, Obama, who has forced himself to ingest a load of gulf crab cakes, shrimp and crawfish tails, whinged to Grand Isle, La., residents on Friday. So I cant dive down there and plug the hole. I cant suck it up with a straw.
Once more on Tuesday night, we were back to back-against-the-wall time. The president went for his fourth-quarter, Michael Jordan, down-to-the-wire, thrill shot in the Oval Office, his first such dramatic address to a nation sick about the slick.
You know the president is drowningin oil this timein when he uses the Oval Office. And do words really matter when the picture of oil gushing out of the well continues to fill the screen?
Please note the smaller, trademark inanities. Dowd returns to her trademark complaint about the dainty way Obama eats. And no disaster will ever keep Dowd from enjoying some brainless word-play. (Were sick about the slick.)
That said, presidents routinely speak from the Oval Office. But when Obama speaks from that venue, Dowd thinks of Michael Jordan. Her headline: Can The One Drop the No. 23 Act? (Theoretically, New York Times columnists write their own headlines.)
The Jordan reference is inane, unfortunate. But then, so is the rest of the ladys reasoning, to the extent that such a critter can be found. After making a typically foolish claim about the Clintons marital dysfunction, Dowd offers her analysis of Obamas performance. According to Dowd:
Obama has been elevating personal quirks into a management style. Obama has been obdurately self-destructive about politics. And not only that! When it comes to the oil spill, it seems that Obama has been too hesitant to take the obvious action. (He seems unable to muster the adrenalin necessary to go full bore until the crowd has waited and wailed and almost given up on him, but its a nerve-racking way to campaign and govern.)
All in all, it was quite an indictmentand it made Dowd think of Jordan, of course. But as you read her column, please note: Dowd forgets to let us know which obvious actions she has in mind.
Surely, a person might be able to find problems with Obamas performance, although the nature of this problem is tricky. That said, which obvious actions has he failed to take? Presumably, a high school student would recognize the need to spell this out, given the mockery driving this column. But Lady Dowd plays by special rules. Battering silly Obama around, she simply forgets to say.
Alas! This is how our journalism has trended in the age bearing the stamp of Dowd. Inept, inane, insipid, unwell? Were told that Jordan was allowed his own rules. So too, for decades, with Dowd.
WHOSE SIDE HAS HE BEEN ON (permalink): We were struck again and again last night by the things we heard on MSNBC. Quick example: In the 6 oclock hour, Ed Schultz previewed Obamas speech. Whatever made Schultz think this?
SCHULTZ (6/14/10): And heres what I dont want to hear tonight. I dont want to hear anything about bipartisanship. Liberals, were supposed to be in the majority here. I dont want any more olive branches. I dont want any more reaching across the aisledidnt we do that dance during health care and where did it get us? Dont be offended by this, conservatives, but damn the Republicans, this country cant afford any more political games. We are in crisis. The majority of Americans believe we are in crisis right now and we have to stop what is happening in the gulf.
Say what? Whatever could have made Schultz thought that liberals are in the majority? For a small reality check, just review the polling numbers on the Obama health plan, which is now law. Review the polling on the Arizona immigration law, a measure which liberals have denounced as strongly as any in recent memory. In no way are liberals/progressives in the majority, and its stunning to see that major liberals and progressives dont know that. How can we build a winning progressive politics if we are thus deluded?
That said, nothing was as amazing last night as Chris Matthews performance on Maddow. Rachel was quickly kissing keister, praising the general greatness of her friend and colleague. But her friend and colleague took the cake, continuing his unparalleled self-reinvention.
Matthews has now been thoroughly re-purposed to suit the corporations new viewpoint. Speaking with Maddow, he previewed tonights special program about this countrys new right. As he did, Matthews let Maddows viewers know whose side hes been on:
MATTHEWS (6/14/10): You know, theres twoI always like to tell this to people who care about America, like your audience. Theres two armies that march almost side by side through American history.
Theres the progressive army that led for abolition, that fought the Civil War, the good guys of the Civil War. And of course, those who really pushed for reconstruction afterwards like Thaddeus Stevens and the good guys, the radical Republicans of that day.
And alongside is this other army, the Know Nothings and then the Klansmen, who came along later. And then, youve got in the 20th centuryits the same patternits the progressives moving a step or two ahead of this reactionary army that rides right along them, some camp followers playing off the dispossessed, those who resent change.
Its same with sexual orientation today. Theres always going to be another group growing along saying this threatens traditional marriage. This threatens something here.
This guy in the White Housewhen you hear Orley Taitz in this documentary talk with her actual immigrants accent, which is kind of ironic for a person who seems like an America Firster, these people have come to America, and then they immediately attack Barack Obama as some sort of usurper, some foreigner, some Muslim who was actually born in another country. The statements of the birthers, the anger of the tea party people all resonates together.
Kissing the keisters of Maddows viewers, Matthews told an inspiring story, a story of good guys and this other army. Throughout history, the progressive army has fought the Klan. And it was clear from this stirring rendition which side Rachels friend has been on!
From this utterly bogus rendition, youd never know how recently Matthews fought on the other side.
In tonights program, Matthews features Orley Taitz as an emblem of the new Klan. (Its amusing to see him go right at her accent, even as he shakes his fist at Americas Know Nothing past.) In fact, Matthews focus on Taitz is especially piquant. How many of Maddows viewers understand a basic fact:
To all intents and purposes, Matthews was the Orley Taitz of the Clinton-Gore era. There is one key difference, of course. Taitz is a minor fringe nut. When Matthews was cast in the role of Taitz, he was the face of the NBC cable networksone of the most influential journalists in Establishment Washington. (He was much more influential then than he is today.)
Today, Taitz is one of the leading lunatics in the anti-Obama fringe. But can anyone say that Matthews was less of a lunatic when he was driving Establishment Washington against Clinton, then against Gore? During Campaign 2000, his conduct was that of a consummate nutand he kept it up month after month, for two years. Does Taitz question Obamas place of birth? Doe she seem like some America Firster? This was Matthews, on Imus in the Morning, seven weeks after 9/11:
MATTHEWS (11/2/01): He doesnt look like one of us. He doesnt seem very American, even.
That was Matthews, speaking of Gore. And no, were really not making this up. No context has been excluded.
In those days, of course, Matthews was serving the agenda of General Electric CEO Jack Welch. By now, the corporations agenda has changedand so has Matthews lunacy.
A quick guess: Matthews has been the most destructive media figure of the past twenty years. We strongly recommend tonights special program, in which he will profile the new right. Of one thing you can be fairly certain: Matthews will display the same bad judgment he has always displayedand hell serve the corporations agenda.
Back then, GEs cable channel was trying to take down Clinton and Gore. Today, the GE channel is selling a new, pleasing product to a target audience of gullible liberals. Tonight, Matthews will whore as he always has done. Just a guess: Tonights special program will send cheap thrills up liberal legs, but will serve progressive interests quite badly.
Rachel Maddows friend and colleague will whore tonight, as he always has done. Why not watchand enjoy a good laugh? The Orley Taitz of the Clinton-Gore years is appalled by Taitz herself.