Was Kornblut trying to undermine Clinton? Despite the absurdity of her report, we dont see any evidence. But we were struck by this, the sixth comment to Atrios important debunking:
ATRIOS COMMENTER (7/16/06): She's going to get the Al Gore treatment supersized.She, of course, is Hillary Clinton. Shell be trashed by the press, just like Gore (only more), the commenter predicts in this note.
That may—or may not—happen. On the one hand, it may be harder now to slander a Dem in the way the mainstream press slandered Gore; there is now a rambunctious liberal web which is quick to respond to misstatements, as in this current instance. On the other hand, a large part of the liberal web is now made up of loudmouth know-nothings who seem all too eager to demonize pols of the center or center-left. They already have their negative nicknames for a long string of major Dem pols; with people like these name-calling Big Dems, it may turn out that the next Dem nominee is demonized more from the left than from the right—or from the press. Even if it wants to, the press corps might not have to demonize the next Dem nominee. Well dumbly perform that chore for them.
And of course, we liberals have already hurt ourselves in one important respect. That commenter knows what happened to Gore, but most American voters do not. Theyve never heard a word about the War On Gore, because a wide array of major liberals have simply refused to discuss it. (For one example, Atrios rarely mentions this life-changing part of our recent history. Kevin Drum doesnt mention it, either.) Result? When kooky stories arise about Clinton, they produce no suspicion on the part of the public; most voters have no context for such suspicion. Voters will see such reports as random events—because they havent been told about the recent relevant history. In our bizarre silence, weve sacrificed an important piece of argument. Weve sacrificed the ability to tell voters this: Omigod! There they go again!
WHICH PART OF THIS STORY MADE SENSE: Heres the start of the Kornblut report. Our question: Which part of this weird report ever even seemed to make sense?
KORNBLUT (7/15/06): Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, returning to her red-state ties, chastised Democrats Saturday for taking on issues that arouse conservatives and turn out Republican voters rather than finding consensus on mainstream subjects.Why did that account even seem to make sense? Democrats try to inflame the Republican base? We now know what Clinton was actually saying; she was actually saying that the Republican majority in the Congress tries to inflame the Republican base. But why did Kornbluts account even seem to be accurate? As with much that these people write, it never even seemed to make sense.
Without mentioning specific subjects like gay marriage, Mrs. Clinton said: We do things that are controversial. We do things that try to inflame their base.
We are wasting time, the senator told a group of Democratic women here, on part of a two-day swing through a state that could provide an alternate hub to New York if she starts a national political campaign.
But so what? Atrios writes that he was about to file an angry post about Clinton, based on Kornbluts report. And two weeks ago, the liberal web posted angry attacks on the idiot Obama—based on an AP report of a speech hed just given. (The text of the speech was not yet available when these fiery reports were posted. For the record, we dont agree with everything Obama said—but no, his speech wasnt that of an idiot, and the AP report only conveyed a small part of what he had said.) Could we possibly get any dumber? Will the day ever come when we finally realize that we cant automatically credit reports in the mainstream press—especially when those accounts dont seem to make sense? Will we ever figure out that we have to fact-check the people whose motives we then rush to mind-read?
OUR RECENT HISTORY, LOST STOLEN AND STRAYED: Sometimes we seem to work extra-hard to keep ourselves extra-clueless. We semi-agree with what Kevin Drum said about Katherine Harris last Friday. But what was left out of his post?
KATHERINE HARRIS, FRUIT LOOP. Say what? Did Katherine Harris—who lost her entire campaign staff again this week—actually call Republican donors last year and warn them not to support a possible Senate run by Joe Scarborough because he might have been involved with the death of an intern who worked for him in 2001? Apparently so.If Harris made those calls, would you call her conduct insane? Actually, wed call it typical. After all, our cable news channels devoted major time, in the summer of 1999, to Gennifer Flowers disgraceful—and crackpot—Clinton murder lists. And this wasnt something we had to speculate about, as with those alleged phone calls by Harris; this was presented right there on cable, for all the voters to see. But go ahead—find a single liberal or mainstream reporter who said even one word about it! For our own account of this outrageous episode, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/26/03. For a real-time report, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/25/99.
Insane" is probably too kind a word. The full story is here.
Obviously, the silence back then wasnt Kevins fault. But even as the press was pimping those Clinton death lists, they were also staging their War Against Gore—the astonishing war which sent Bush to the White House—and we liberals kept quiet about all that too! As is obvious, the Clinton death lists and the sliming of Gore were all part of one seamless web—a press corps wilding which changed U.S. history. But even today, we liberals wont discuss any part of this episode! Crackpot death claims? We complain when its done to a famous Republican—but we refuse to inform the voters about the recent time when the mainstream press did this to a sitting Dem president, in a much more punishing way! We simply refuse to tell the public about their recent political history. We simply refuse to let them know how we got in the mess that were in.
So when the crackpot stories start in earnest about the next Democratic nominee, why should voters be suspicious? Why should they think, about the press: Omigod—there they go again! There they go, just like with Bill Clinton! There they go again, like with Gore! Most voters will have no basis for thinking such thoughts. Some commenters know our recent history—but even now, liberal leaders wont tell.
MADRAK GETS IT RIGHT: We recommend this savvy post by Susan Madrak at Huffington Post. Well only disagree with one point. Heres how Madrak begins:
MADRAK: I hear mostly from two kinds of Democrats these days: Those who understand exactly why Al Gore should run for president, and those who insist he shouldn't, warning, "The media will rip him to shreds, just like the last time."We dont quite agree with the logic there. Will the media go after any Democratic nominee? We wont assume that, but even if they do, the pre-existing themes against Gore are endless and pre-scripted. Yes, the success of his film and book have changed the recent frameworks on Gore. But the crackpot scripts against him are endless. It would be easy to drag them out. It would be harder to invent new scripts about a new Dem, especially in this age of the blog. (For the record, we think that Gore would be the most qualified nominee.)
Let's get one thing out of the way right now. The media is going after anyone we put up. Period. I won't even entertain that objection anymore, because it's not grounded in reality as we know it. Now, on to the rest.
That said, Madrak does the incredible here—she openly discusses our recent shared history. If major liberal leaders would do this, the public might start to get a clue about that recent history. They might start to know that a war was conducted on Candidate Gore. They might be suspicious if its done to Gore again—or to some other nominee.