A teachable e-mail: We got an e-mail yesterday which we thought was very instructive. It came from a serious, intelligent reader. Heres the relevant portion:
E-MAIL (7/29/09): Once again, Gates' conduct is profoundly irrelevant. The issue is not whether Gates' conduct was offensive; the issue is whether Crowley's arrest of Gates showed racial bias. Personally I think it's pretty clear that it did. Look at what we know:
That was the relevant portion. Remember, were talking about Professor Gates (imagined) conduct, as assumed in Gene Robinsons columnconduct assumed, for the sake of argument, to be highly officious (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/29/09). Our lightning-fast reply:
REPLY TO E-MAIL: Gates' conduct is (seems) irrelevant to you.
It doesn't seem irrelevant to me, at least as it was assumed by Robinson. I think cops (like other people) deserve to be treated with respect. You don't.
That's why Democrats lose.
We added a P.S.: Don't know how Gates actually acted.
The e-mail is very interestingand the e-mailer is a good, smart, decent, serious person. But the only thing the mailer finds relevant is the way the policeman behaved. He doesnt care about how the (imagined) professor behaved; indeed, he thinks its profoundly irrelevant, even if the cop got totally sassed and trashed. It doesnt occur to him that he might care about how each of these people behaved. He cares about how the citizen was treatednot about the cop.
Two things can be true at one time: 1) The arrest may have been unwise, and 2) The cop may have been treated like an ass.
Why couldnt both things be relevant?
A guess: Most American voters will have a different reaction to this event. They will care about how the cop was treated. As we said: For decades, liberals have signaled to American voters that we dont care very much about copsor about a range of other working-class people (examples below). When voters see that attitude on the part of liberals, they may vote the other way.
We wont mind-read or play the shrink, explaining what this says about the mailer. To our ear, he finds it relatively easy to ascribe peoples actions to racial bias. (More on that general topic tomorrow.) Incomparably, we wont bad-mouth his motives back. We have Rush Limbaugh for thatand hes good at it.
Understand well: When liberals make a point of telling the world that it doesnt matter how cops get treated, we are begging, pleading with voters to vote for the GOP. We might as well hire a tow plane to drag a sign overhead at the beach. Just a guess: Most voters dont want people getting arrested for bogus reasons. They also dont want police officers getting sassed, trashed and disrespected. That was the scenario Robinson envisioned. Even then, the mailer didnt think it was relevant.
Thats how Democrats lose. In part, its how Nixon reached the White House, long ago. This week, it may be costing Obama points. In fairness, the mailer is being frank. Its truehe doesnt care.
Professor Gates deserved and deserves respectbut so did Officer Crowley. Most people can think both those thoughts at one time. Amazingly often, we cant.
Same idea/Rachel plays dumb: In an example involving the same general thing, Rachel Maddow played extra-dumb on Tuesday evenings broadcast.
Lou Dobbs, a buffoon, had called her a name. She pretended she didnt know why. Not being crazy, we did.
Once again, readers are challenged to think two thoughts at one time. Before we return to the issue of class, this was Maddows presentation:
MADDOW (7/28/09): Today, on his radio show, CNN host Lou Dobbs called me a tea- bagging queen because I made fun of him on this show for helping into the mainstream the off-the-beat and wing-nut racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama is secretly foreign, and, therefore, secretly not really president.
Mr. Dobbs continues to demand that the president produce his birth certificate, even though the president already has. Whether or not Mr. Dobbs will continue tracking in this conspiracy theory on CNN, or whether he`s been busted at CNN for it and can now only do it on his radio show, remains to be seen.
In the meantime, we`re all left to sort out the deeply confusing nature of what it means to be called a tea-bagging queen by Lou Dobbs. A tea-bagging queen? What kind of queen would that be, exactly? And can a female person beat that kind of queen?
Dobbs has been playing the consummate fool as he blathers about birth issues. But anyone with an ounce of sense would know what he meant when he name-called Maddow. But, as is her frequent wont, Rachel played it dumb.
Can a female person be that kind of queen? Actually yes, she can beif she has spent a long, gratuitously nasty week calling average people tea-baggers, aiming strings of dick jokes at them in the process. Thats what Maddow did in April, in one of the most repulsive displays weve ever seen in broadcast news.
On Tuesday, Rachel pretended she didnt know what Dobbs was talking about. Dont worryDobbs listeners did.
Meanwhile, Steve Benen was willing to fake it too (click here). Read his commenters commentsand weep. Somehow, Commenter 9 understood. But then, it wasnt hard.
For decades, a certain type of upper-shelf liberal has loved insulting working-class rubes. (See Dionnes column, below.) Maddows conduct that week was truly rankespecially the way she kept pretending to be embarrassed by her own name-calling. At that point, she was insulting all those regular joesand your intelligence too.
Most of us didnt notice.
That said, can you keep two thoughts in your head at one time?
Lou Dobbs has been acting like a real world-class fool.
Maddow played a nasty, insulting game back in April.
Obviously, Maddow knew what Dobbs meant. She just didnt want you to knowand she assumed she could play you for fools. Aint life in the liberal track grand?
Same idea/Lord ODonnell flashback edition: To observe Lord ODonnells comical inability to imagine the interests of a firefighter, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/24/09. To see Lady Lithwick slime this fireman up, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/16/09. Average voters will notice this stuff. Only we Rhodes Scholars dont.
Same idea/Josh Marshall edition: As soon as the Gates/Crowley incident hit, fiery liberals began to do what we seem to do best; we began announcing that everyone else involved was a racist. (More on this topic tomorrow.) One such racist was the woman who had called in the report about a possible break-in at Professor Gates house. The caller began to get widely trashed. Liberals and journalists took turns misstating elementary facts.
Yesterday, the woman made a formal statement. This is part of Katie Zezimas report in todays New York Times:
ZEZIMA (9/30/09): Ms. Whalen, 40, her voice cracking and body shaking, said she was deeply hurt by the reaction to the incident on July 16 and had been the target of threats. She said she was reluctant to speak out earlier but finally decided to do so with the support of her husband, Paul, and her family.
''When I was called a racist, I was the target of scorn and ridicule because of things I never said,'' she told the reporters gathered in a park here at midday. She added, ''The criticism hurt me as a person but also hurt the community of Cambridge.
The Washington Post was a bit more pungent. Whalen said the past two weeks have been an emotional ordeal in which she feared for her safety after being vilified as a racist, it reports today.
Whalen feared for her safetyand probably should have. On the other hand, if you think that was mere hyperventilation, you may have a job at the Post!
As even some journalists have managed to learn, Whalen wasnt Professor Gates neighbor. She didnt report anyones race until she was asked to do soand when she was asked, she didnt know. For the record, she doesnt self-identify as white, according to her lawyer. (According to her lawyer, interviewed by Greta Van Susteren, she thought the arrest was justified.)
But so what? Sight unseen, we liberals could tell that she was a slobbering racist! On the first night, Chris Matthews said that she had profiled Gates, and Page and Dyson cackled with laughter. (This was disgraceful conduct. In 1999, Matthews almost got Cody Shearer killed. Youd think he would learn to be careful.) By Saturday, Colbert King, in a truly nasty move, made sure her name got into the Post, so the punishment could continue. And you know how deeply we liberals care about average people! Heres the way one of our liberal intellectual leaders reacted on Monday, when he heard that Whalens lawyer had gone on TV to defend her:
MARSHALL (7/27/09): And now the lawyer for the woman who made the 911 call is on TV defending her client ... against what? Who knows. Everyone wants their 15 minutes.
Who knows, our intellectual leader typed, in a rather typical display of Top-Shelf Liberal WhoGivesAFuckAboutHerism.
Lets be fair: In this case, we would assume that Josh really didnt know. Nor did he care enough to find out before he started sneering. You see, Whalen is a little person. Why would a great liberal care?
Guess what? Over time, voters notice. They would be lunatics not to.
Cops dont count. Firefighters dont count. The woman who worked down the street didnt count. Back in April, on Maddows show, a young woman who worried about her childrens future didnt count. She got spat on as a clownish tea-bagger.
That is the shape of your liberal soul in this, the year of our lords 2009.
The trick of thinking two things at one time: Most people can think two things at one time. For example, they can think: Gates should maybe have flipped out less. And Crowley should have driven away.
(For the record, we dont know if Professor Gates flipped out at all. Should Crowley have driven away? Not sure.)
Who cant think two things at one time? Tribal players cant! Tribal players review a scene, then decide which guys in their tribe. From that point on, an outrage has been done to their guy. The other guy? Profoundly irrelevant!
I see myself in others, Obama says. We liberals aggressively dont.
Similar idea/Tarheel jihad edition (mainstream journalistic culture only): Last night, a largely worthless discussion unfolded on Larry King Live. It featured Larry Elder and Michael Eric Dyson; each man asserted the views of his political tribe. Eventually, Dyson offered this accurate and important point. We join the discussion in progress:
DYSON (7/29/09): It means that historically, black people have died disproportionately at the hands of police people. I'm saying to you Look at the cases that have been with
DYSON: Oscar Grant.
ELDER: Michael, news flash
DYSON: Oscar Grant in Oakland, California, who was on the ground
ELDER: News flash
DYSON: Who was begging not to be shot
KING: One at a time!
DYSON: and got shot. That's an example. Oscar Grant in Oakland, California was on the ground begging the police not to hurt or harm him. And without provocation, he was shot. There are manywe think about brother Sean in New York...
KING: Now you get
DYSON: So I'm saying to you, there are many cases
KING: OK. All right. Michael, you made the point.
Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old man, was shot and killed on New Years Day by an Oakland policeman. But:
Nexis records no mention of Grant on Larry King Liveuntil last night. We find one fleeting mention on Hardballoffered by Professor Dyson himself, months ago. The Washington Post didnt publish any op-ed columns. Oscar Grant wasnt one of the Washington Posts business partners.
Instead, the mainstream press has gone into a frenzy about the Gates/Crowley incident. But Professor Gates didnt get shot, and he didnt get killed. In fact, he didnt get hurt at all! Can anybody think of a reason why this case has been so discussed?
Could it be because Professor Gates is wealthy, influential and famous (as we were told in the Post on Day One)and a business partner of the Post besides? Could that be why the upper-end press corps has talked about his case so much? Could it be that the mainstream press goes on and on about its friendsabout members of its own high social class? Could it be that these people (Professor Dyson completely excluded) dont give a flaming rats ass about average black people? Like Grant?
None of that would be Gates fault. But is that why his case gets discussed?
Meanwhile, if you want a really odd-sounding arrest, how about this Tarheel jihad edition? Campbell Robertson reports the arrest of Sabrina Boyd, wife of that North Carolina man who is accused of supporting violent jihadist movements overseas:
ROBERTSON (7/30/09): Ms. Boyd described Mondays raid in detail. She said a man had come to the door wearing a shirt that appeared bloodied and told her that her husband and three of her sons had been in a serious car crash.
She went with the man to a nearby hospital, where another man dressed as a doctor came and out and asked if she was Ms. Boyd. He then handcuffed her, she said, and told her that he was an agent and that Mr. Boyd and two of her sons were being detained. Agents surrounded her, she said, and asked if she had weapons.
The ordeal was particularly harrowing, she said, because one of her sons, Luqman, died two years ago in a car accident at the age of 16.
Did that arrest makes sense? No idea. Do you think well see it discussed at great length?
Back to Oscar Grant, who was killed in Oakland. Has Professor Gates perhaps lost a bit of his edge in all his years of wealth and celebrity? For our money, hed be a more impressive leader if he could put his own relatively minor experience into a wider context. But who knows? By now, that may not be how he rolls.
Comic relief/Dont cry for him, intelligentsia: Very few people recall the time Alan Keyes got hauled off in chains. It happened during his 1996 presidential primary campaign. Not a living soul cared.
Keyes had been excluded from a GOP debate in Georgiaa debate staged by PBS, no less. He staged a four-day hunger strike, hoping to force his inclusion. Eventually, on the big night, the cops cuffed Keyes and hauled him off. They dumped him in a parking lot. You know what to do: Just click here.
No one cried for Alan Keyes! We did get a short-term joke from the turmoil. Something like:
All publicity is good publicity. No, he didnt get in the debate. But he got his own segment on Cops!
A TRAITOR TO HIS CLASS: Good for Dionne! all the analysts criedalthough they could see that he was a class traitor. You see, in his latest Post column, Dionne has tried to put the Gates/Crowley affair into a wider perspective.
Needless to say, Dionne authors a common confession. I have known Gates for about 35 years, he writes, explaining why he was calling him Skip. I have long admired him for his prodigious work ethic and for the nuance and thoughtfulness of his writing and scholarship. Required obeisance now accomplished, Dionne explained why we wants Gates to bring this story to an end. According to Dionne, Gates knows as well as anyone that there is nothing more destructive to the hope for justice and equality than a fight that rips across the lines of class and race.
And then, Dionne quotes himself from decades ago. Our analysts cheered many, not all, of his words. A few compared him to Noble Nestor, the seasoned charioteer, who always gave the soundest advice:
DIONNE (7/30/09): Since everybody seems to turn autobiographical during these "teachable moments," I will exercise my right to do so, too. From the time I was in college in the late 1960s and early '70s, I have been incensed at the elitism so often shown by privileged liberals toward the white working class. And I felt this as someone on the left.
I wrote a doctoral dissertation inspired by that concern, and the current controversy led me down memory lane, through college newspaper archives, to see whether my recollection of my earlier views matched reality. For what it's worth, here's what I wrote in 1973, the year I graduated from college:
What is most disturbing about conservative attacks on the student left is that many of the charges were right on the mark. The student left often did come to be characterized by its own forms of elitism and intellectual arrogance. . . .
Even more pernicious and divisive were race issues. It is clear, of course, that black demands for political and economic equality are justified . . . [but] the way these issues developed . . . served to estrange the working class white from the movement for equality. White workers rebelled because they felt they were being forced to pay an inequitable share of the costs of equality. . . . Sadly, whites who protested against being singled out were too often attacked as racists. . . . In the end, the losers were those who had the greatest stake in social reformwhite workers, blacks and the student left.
I risk the indulgence of quoting my younger self to suggest that we have been watching this same game for too long. It's a game that always turns out badly for those seeking equality and social reform.
For ourselves, we wouldnt describe the racial dynamic quite that way. (Plus, too many deletions.) But we'll suggest that you read the whole column.
That said, Dionne may be judged a traitor to his class, like FDR before him. At the Post, privileged liberals have been loud this past week, offering all manner of ldefense for a professor whos one of their own. At times, all manner of loud, incoherent defense. Let Kathleen Parker, who defended both Crowley and Gates, teach Dionne the ways of the class:
PARKER (7/29/09): Let's also assume that we're all good people. Crowley is a good man; Gates is a good man. The president said so, so it must be true.
Given those understandings, what happened in Cambridge makes perfect sense from every which way. Gates had every right to be outraged that he was being questioned by a cop for being in his own home. Crowley had every reason to feel outraged that he was being accused of being a racist without provocation.
We dont know what happened between Crowley and Gates. But Parker knows the way of the cohort! She repeats the peculiar point the press has been repeating for more than a week. Gates had every right to be outraged that he was being questioned by a cop for being in his own home.
But why should Gates have been outraged at being questioned? He knew hed just broken into his home; of course, he knew why the cop was there. Why was he supposed to be outraged? Alas! When the Village decides to move as a group, questions like that wont be asked.
Parker wrote the same old thing. Dionne complained about privileged liberals. Was he a traitor to his class? Were not completely certain.
That said, were puzzled by todays beer blast in Washington. Were puzzled because weve read the very serious charges Professor Gates has made against Officer Crowley. Avert your gaze during this question. Focus on the answer:
ELIZABETH GATES: Daddy, how did it feel to read in the police report that although you had been cooperative with Sgt. Crowley, while he was standing uninvited in your home, your behavior had been reduced to loud and tumultuous after asking to see to his badge? Were you surprised at the inaccuracy of the police report?
PROFESSOR GATES: Well, the police report was an act of pure fiction. One designed to protect him, Sgt. Crowley, from unethical behavior. I was astonished at the audacity of the lies in the police report, and almost the whole thing from start to finish was just pure fabrication. So yes, I felt violated all over again.
Gates has also said, contradicting Crowley, that he was mockingly arrested as soon as he stepped out onto his porchthat it was, in effect, all a con, just a slick game.
Are we the crazy party here? In that passage, Professor Gates seems to be making extremely serious charges. Wed assume that falsifying a police report to that extent would be a serious crime. And yes: We assume that some or all of what Gates said in that passage could be perfectly accurate. Then too, it could be (gulp) a lie.
But heres our question: Given those very serious allegations, why is Gates drinking beer today? We dont knowand were fairly sure that no one is going to ask.
As usual, the privileged libs will limn it one way. Example:
Yesterday, Gene Robinson offered a short on-line post entitled, Is Someone Lying in the Gates Case? The answer to that question is obvious: Yes! Given what Professor Gates said in that interview, either he or Officer Crowley has been telling very serious lies.
We know, we know! Judith Warner will say its very likely that someone simply hallucinated at the professors home that day. In that way, she lets us go home happy, as Parker did in her column. But someone is obviously lying herelying in very serious ways. Once again, well guess: No one is going to ask the professor why he would choose to drink that beer with the man who told those audacious lies. With a police officer who committed a serious crime.
Meanwhile, what did Robinson write about? What else? An apparent problem in Crowleys report! One that makes Crowley seem like a race man! He wont ask about Gates very serious claimswont ever imagine that Gates could be lying. Unlike a certain awkward class traitor, Robinson types for one side.
One of todays beer drinkers is lying. We have no idea which one.