The Jamison Foser Experience: Warning! Maureen Dowd has started to blither again. As always, the doctor is IN:
DOWD (7/29/09): Hillary, who so often in the past came across as aggrieved, paranoid and press-loathing, was confident and comfortable in her role as top diplomat, discussing the world with mastery and shrugging off suggestions that she has been disappeared by her former rival, the president.
Obama advisers say privately that the president truly respects the woman he ran against, and that they have a good relationship, so good it has even surprised Hillary. Certainly, she doesnt have to worry that this presidents gaze is going to drift over her shoulder to some pretty thing behind her. In this White House, Barack Obama is the pretty thing who is taken with Hillarys serious, smartest-girl-at-Wellesley aura. In a funny way, hes the man of her dreams.
His support of her has allowed her to keep her paranoia in checkeven with Richard Holbrooke and Joe Biden biting off parts of her portfolio.
The logic floats around a bit. But Hillary Clinton, at one time, was paranoid and press-loathing. (By the way, Obama is a pretty thing again! But then, Clark Hoyts announced term as public editortwo yearsis already more than up.)
Its comical to see Dowd suggest that Clinton was paranoid about the press. Has anyone ever ignored more abuse from the press than this lady has? Consider just a few events from 1999 alone:
In June, the press corps pretended she had lied about the Cubs and the Yankees. They trashed her amazingly hard for this fantasized offense. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/16/08. So youll understand, it was during this period that the press was also inventing Gore as the worlds most gigantic known liar. This was a remarkably wide-ranging narrative. It applied to both Clintons and Gore.
That same month, The New York Times did what it did best in those daysit gave several associates of Kenneth Starr a Sunday front-page news report. In it, they trashed the gruesome wrongdoing of the first lady, the future Senate candidate. (Anonymously, of course.) Aside from the general bad judgment involved in this anonymous keister-kicking, the Times played a bit of kangaroo court this day, making it sound like the Starr team has recently drawn up, then discarded (for unstated reasons), an indictment of the first lady. (It seemed to have happened this spring.) In fact, the alleged indictmentif it ever existedhad been discarded in 1996, as a Starr associate had testified in court. The Times insinuation was baldly misleading. But it pepped up a tired old tale.
In August, a giggling, all-boy panel at Fox mocked the first lady for her wonderfully comical physical appearance at the time she met her husband. You see, the all-boy panel had found an old photoand they spent a segment laughing about it. Love is blind, Brit Hume announced at one point, to peals of all-boy laughter. This was truly repulsive press conduct. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/15/08.
That same month, Gennifer Flowers was unloosed on the world to describe the first ladys many murdersand to announce that she was the worlds most giant lesbo, of course. Flowers got thirty minutes to perform this clownage on Hardballand then, a full hour on Hannity & Colmes. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/26/03. Through many searches, we have never found a single word of complaint or comment from the press corps. Needless to say, every good career liberal shut his trap too.
(Well, you know, I gotta pay a little tribute here, the simpering idiot Chris Matthews said to the utterly luscious Flowers. You're a very beautiful woman, and Iand I have to tell you, he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that. Hillary Clinton knows that. How can a woman put up with a relationship between her husband and somebody, anybody, but especially somebody like you that's a knockout? To this day, there is no evidence that there was any such relationship between Bill Clinton and Flowers. But a certain multimillionaire tool was panting especially hard. This is how your society works.)
Thats just a small sample from 1999a year which included much similar garbage. No one in historyunless its Al Gorehas ever ignored more trash from the press corps. This brings us to The Jamison Foser Difference, which was expressed in this Tuesday post.
Just read what Foser states in that post, headlined More on the Gore-Palin double standard. In particular, note how easily he summarizes the history-changing War Against Gore which was waged by Dowds press corps from March 1999 on. Its easy to describe what happened; Foser is effortless as he does so. Then marvel at how rarely you ever saw other liberals describe those history-changing facts, even when those facts remained highly relevant to Democratic electoral success.
(In our view, those facts became a part of history when Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in June 2008. The larger narrative which drove that trashing would surely have driven coverage of a Candidate or President Clinton. Whatever problems Obama may have with the press, that particular narrative is now a part of our disastrousand undiscussedhistory.)
Those facts are astoundingand they changed the worlds history. Yet you almost never heard, or hear, career liberal writers state those facts. You almost never heard those facts, even when they were still hugely relevant.
Did you ever see [name withheld] rise off his worthless ass and state them? Darlings! It just isnt done! Its bad form within The Family!
Two quick stories:
We once asked Foser, whom we hugely admire, why he specializes in press issues, since its a lousy way to build a career as a writer. Some time later, we asked his permission to print his answer, although we dont think he gave it. (We only semi-checked our e-mail.) Well only say this: The gentleman gave an instant, deeply admirable reply. As we now recall it, it was either three or five words long. But his answer, which we wont reveal, ended with this word: mad.
Someone else once described those facts, in 2006and he never did so again! People like this dont get madthey get hired. On Sunday, he headlined the Washington Posts Outlook section. We hope you truly loved that piece. In the novel we would imagine, you may have paid dearly to get it.
Just as weve ever said: Remember what weve always said: In accordance with High Pundit Law, columnists will always ascribe their own conduct to someones political rivals or to late-night comedians. Showing her matchless skill at the dance, the Lady Dowd executes this turn in this mornings blither:
DOWD: The Alaskan who shot to stardom a year ago as the tough embodiment of Diana the Huntress has now stepped down as governor and morphed into what the Republicans always caricatured Hillary aspreachy, screechy and angry.
Too funny! The Republicans always did that! By the way: When you read that sh*t about Diana the Huntress, youre supposed to think Dowd is smart.
ITS NOT JUST FOR WHITE PEOPLE ANY MORE: Gene Robinson may know who butters his breadbut then, we humans are like that. We refer to Robinsons Tuesday column about the Gates/Crowley mattera drama which is giving the world a good look at the unfortunate culture of the upper-end press corps.
And at the way liberals and Democrats often arrange to shed votes.
As editor of the Posts Style section, Robinson played an active role in sending George Bush to the White House. Yesterdays column helps us see how upper-end liberalsincluding even President Obama on his off daysmay erode the Obama Advantage.
Robinson starts in a way which doesnt quite seem to make sense. If race were the only issue, he writes, there would be much less hyperventilation about Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s unpleasant run-in with the criminal justice system. After all, Robinson continues, it would hardly be the first time a black man had unjustly been hauled to jail by a white police officer. (To read the full column, click here.)
Thats true, of course, as everyone knowsalthough some people know it much better than others. Our history is built around centuries of vicious, unspeakable injustice aimed directly at blacks. At one point, the form of this socially-sanctioned injustice moved from lifetime bondage and/or open murder to a version in which blacks are unjustly stopped or arrestedsometimes getting killed in the process, or even hauled to jail. But this is exactly what many black journalists have described as theyve commented on the Gates/Crowley matter. Why would there be much less hyperventilation if only this were at stake?
We quickly get part of Robinsons answer. The debatereally more of a shouting matchis also about power and entitlement, he quickly says, remaining murky. Unfortunately, Robinsons meaning becomes more clear as his column proceeds. On the plus side, his meaning lets us see how certain types of pseudo-liberals shed Democratic votes.
As he continues, Robinson talks about something weve discussed this past weekthe wealth and power which have been involved in much of this past weeks discussions. Before long, he is describing the way Professor Gates rolls:
ROBINSON (7/27/09): This is a new twist. Since the triumph of the civil rights movement, minorities have been moving up the ladder in politics, business, academia, just about every field. Only in the past decade, however, has a sizable cohort of African Americans and Latinos broken through to the tiny upper echelons where real power is exercised.
I'm talking about President Obama, obviously, but also Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons, entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and many othersa growing number of minorities with the kind of serious power that used to be reserved for whites only. In academia, the list begins with "Skip" Gates.
He's a superstar, one of the best-known and most highly acclaimed faculty members at the nation's most prestigious university. A few years ago, when he made noises about leaving, Harvard moved heaven and earth to keep him. The incident that led to his arrest occurred as he was coming home from the airport after a trip to China for his latest PBS documentary. Following the traumatic encounter, he repaired to Martha's Vineyard to recuperate. This is how the man rolls.
This is how the man rolls, Robinson saysperhaps not believing that when intellectual and moral leaders are turned into superstars who roll in the manner described, their intellectual and moral powers may perhaps dissipate in the process. Well only suggest that you read Professor Gates interview with his daughter, Elizabeth Gates, at The Daily Beast; it has to be one of the most embarrassing interviews weve ever read, involving any person. Here at THE HOWLER, we dont know what happened when Crowley collided with Gates; neither does Robinson, though at one point he suggest we assume that Crowleys account is accurate (text below). But reading through that long interview is an act of sustained embarrassment. Forgive the daughter, who should have been spared the embarrassment of grilling Daddy in public. But at some point, we all get a choice: Are you willing to see how foolish so much of this interview is? We hardly know what to highlight in this one clip, so much of what Professor Gates says is so thoroughly less-than-intelligent:
ELIZABETH GATES: So you do think this was reduced to race? You do think this was purely racially motivatedthat when he came into your home uninvited and didnt read you your Miranda rights and he didnt follow procedure?
PROFESSOR GATES: No, when I was arrested I was not read my Miranda rights. I clearly was arrested as a vindictive act, an act of spite. I think Sgt. Crowley was angry that I didnt follow his initial ordershis demandhis orderto step outside my house because I was protected as long as I was in the house because he didnt have a warrant. I think what he really wanted to do was throw me down and put handcuffs on me because he was terrified that I could be dangerous to him and that I was causing violence in my own homethough obviously he didnt know it was my home.
If I had been white this incident never would have happened. He would have asked at the door, Excuse me, are you okay? Because there are two black men around here tryna rob you [laughter] and I think he also violated the rules by not giving his name and badge number, and I think he would have given that to one of my white colleagues or one of my white neighbors. So race definitely played a role. Whether hes an individual racist? I dont knowI dont know him. But I think he stereotyped me.
Professor Gates has long been an esteemed person, presumably for very good reasons. Beyond that, he was doing no one any harm when Crowley appeared at his door and asked him to step on the porchthough Crowley had no way to know that. And yet, a great deal of that answer is utterly daftlike a large part of what Gates has said in several interviews about this event.
It may be that this event has been traumatic for a person who has been so esteemed for so long. But people are dying all over the worldand many black people who arent rich and famous face real violence from the police, not the Gethsemane Gates describes in the four utterly torturous hours he spent before his release. (They only allowed him to speak with one professor friend at a time! They took his belt away!) Is Professor Gates a moral and intellectual leader? We can only speculate: He may have lost a bit of perspective during his long association with the kind of serious power that used to be reserved for whites only. Down through the years, that serious power has made moral and intellectual fools of a great number of prominent whites, with terrible consequence to your nation and your interests. Reading Gates interviews, we cant help wondering if this same dadburned thing can imaginably sometimes happen to good people of other races.
This doesnt seem to enter Robinsons head. Soon, hes doing what pundits have done all week (sometimes tilting one way, sometimes the other). Employing the pundit corps one clear skill, he shapes and shaves the facts a bit to help his own preferred narrative:
ROBINSON (continuing directly): Obamas choice of words might not have been politic, but he was merely stating the obvious when he said the police behaved stupidly. Gates is 58, stands maybe 5-feet-7 and weighs about 150 pounds. He has a disability and walks with a cane. By the time Sgt. James Crowley made the arrest, he had already assured himself that Gates was in his own home. Crowley could see that the professor posed no threat to anybody.
Of course, Professor Gates wasnt arrested on the charge that he posed a threat to somebody. Nor was he arrested in his own home; through whatever machinations or misjudgments, he was now out on his own front porch (as the principals agree), and he was thus in public. Should the professor have been arrested? On that, we dont have a firm viewwe werent present to see what occurred, and we dont know the relevant policies and practices of the Cambridge police. The arrest may have been engineeredslickly cooked upas Professor Gates has alleged. But if we were going to call this act stupid, wed start by describing the facts correctly. Of course, the pundit gang to which Robinson belongs rarely rolls down that road.
That said, lets return to our original question: What did Robinson mean when he said there would be much less hyperventilation about this incident if race were the only issue? What did he mean when he said the debatereally more of a shouting matchis also about power and entitlement? In his next three grafs, his meaning comes clearand we see the familiar way pseudo-liberals drive away votes, thus harming progressive interests.
For ourselves, we dont know what happened that day. Gates has claimed that Crowleys account is an act of pure fiction; he has said that he is astonished at the audacity of the lies contained in Crowleys official report. For all we know, those very serious charges may be accurate; if they are, were not sure why Gates will be quaffing that beer tomorrow. But in this passage, Robinson assumes that Crowleys account is accurate. And he shows us his own moral compass:
ROBINSON (continuing directly): But for the sake of argument, let's assume that Crowleys version of the incident is truethat Gates, from the outset, was accusatory, aggressive and even obnoxious, addressing the officer with an air of highhanded superiority. Let's assume he really recited the Big Cheese mantra: "You have no idea who you're messing with."
I lived in Cambridge for a year, and I can attest that meeting a famous Harvard professor who happens to be arrogant is like meeting a famous basketball player who happens to be tall. It's not exactly a surprise. Crowley wouldn't have lasted a week on the force, much less made sergeant, if he had tried to arrest every member of the Harvard community who treated him as if he belonged to an inferior species. Yet instead of walking away, Crowley arrested Gates as he stepped onto the front porch of his own house.
Apparently, there was something about the power relationship involveduppity, jet-setting black professor vs. regular-guy, working-class white copthat Crowley couldn't abide. Judging by the overheated commentary that followed, that same something, whatever it might be, also makes conservatives forget that they believe in individual rights and oppose intrusive state power.
In these paragraphs, Robinsons original meaning comes clear. The hyperventilation he described in paragraph one has come from Crowleyand from conservatives. (In this passage, its described as overheated commentary.) By the rules of High Pundit Logic, it has come from only one sidethe side the pundit disfavors. By these rules of High Pundit Logic, none of the nonsense in Gates interviews can count as overheated.
We learn some things in this passage about Robinsons moral calculus.
In this passage, Robinson imagines a famous and arrogant Harvard professor addressing a police officer with an air of highhanded superiority. The imagined professor is accusatory, aggressive and even obnoxious, right from the outset; the imagined professor treats the police officer as if he belonged to an inferior species. And yet, as Robinson describes this imagined incident, he cant seem to find it in his heart or mind to criticize this imagined professors conduct. (Theyre all like that, he chuckles.) Instead, he slips out of the hypothetical and offers this judgment about the officera judgment too dumb for this earth:
ROBINSON: Apparently, there was something about the power relationship involveduppity, jet-setting black professor vs. regular-guy, working-class white copthat Crowley couldn't abide.
Apparently, there was something Crowley couldn't abide, Robinson comically says. (Gee! What could it possibly have been, were apparently supposed to wonder.) But then too, we see Robinson tossing in the word uppity, thus slipping in the slick/slippery point he wasnt man enough to stand up and state in plain language. In this passage, Robinson lets us know that Crowley has a racial problem (apparently). And he suggests that only this could possibly explain the overheated commentary he has heard from all those conservatives. As he ends, he still hasnt managed to voice a complaint about the repellent conduct and attitudes of his imagined professor.
Sorry. Other people will be offended by the hypothetical conduct Robinson describes. They may not think it should lead to arrest. But they will be offended and appalled by such conduct, the kind of conduct which has long been directed at blacks by arrogant, officious, offensive white peoplewhite people with serious power. Long ago, In the Heat of the Night presented a thrilling divergence from form because it showed an officious white person with serious power expecting to get away with such condescensionand then being challenged by Poitier/Stieger. Trust us: In 1967, that was a thrilling moment. Today, a chuckling pundit describes similar conduct with barely the bat of an eye.
Thats the way Harvard professors roll, the chuckling pundit seems to say. To his inner ear, those who find this hypothetical conduct offensive have engaged in overheated commentaryin hyperventilation.
In this way, upper-end liberals do just what theyve always donethey throw away votes, in droves. Working-class voters see them speak and reject their values, their puzzling moral instincts. (Pseudo-conservative talk-show hosts just on this like manna.) In all likelihood, this past week has been very bad for President Obama, and for those who favor health care reform. But so what? Even in the face of this punishing problem, Robinson cant bring himself to ask about the conduct of Gates. Its Crowley, concerned with the uppity black, who must be brought to heel.
Who was wrong/more wrong in this incident? Intelligent people will perhaps understand that its hard to know. How did Crowley behave at the door? How did Gates behave in reply? In the big picture, none of this matters a great giant deal. But people like Robinson have earned their overpayments this week imagining the facts one wayand only seeing moral wrong in one imagined constellation of conduct.
Others will see this other ways. They will turn against Obamahaving observed the moral reasoning of this seriously powerful class.
In the past week, Robinsons set has defended Gateswho may have done nothing much wrong here, or even nothing at all. (For those few of us who werent at the scene, its rather hard to know.) Ten years ago, they had a different Group Missionthey were busy, as a clan, trashing both Clintons and staging a War Against Gore. In June 1999, Robinson played a key role in building that war. In this way, he earned more chits with this particular set, thus acquiring more serious power.
This worked out quite poorly for those in Iraqand for most of those who live in this country. Youve rarely seen Robinson plow any ground about the dispossessed. But people with serious power, of whatever race, have rarely cared about such matters. They voice the scripts of a chic, inside set. Its part of the way their crowd rolls.
Tomorrow: It looks like Chris got it from Gene.