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Daily Howler: Rick Warren asked if evil exists. The New York Times answers his question
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THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL! Rick Warren asked if evil exists. The New York Times answers his question: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20, 2008

THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL: Maureen Dowd has been visibly disturbed for a good long while. Despite this fact, the New York Times has kept her in print. As we can see from her column this morning, their conduct borders on evil—and that’s a word we rarely use.

Guess what, readers? Demonized images of some Major Dems damage the interests of all Major Dems. Before we consider that ongoing problem, let’s note the way Dowd’s characteristic pathologies get acted out in today’s name-calling column.

In her column, Dowd imagines Hillary Clinton and John McCain conspiring to defeat Obama. Of course, Dowd is constantly “imagining things”—hearing voices in her head. (Eight years ago, she heard Candidate Gore. He was singing, “I Feel Pretty.”) But in today’s column, note the characteristic ways she imagines Obama portrayed:

DOWD (8/20/08): “Oh, John, you know I love you and I’m happy to help,” Hillary says. “The themes you took from me are working great—painting Obama as an elitist and out-of-touch celebrity, when we’re rich celebrities, too. Turning his big rallies and pretty words into character flaws, charging him with playing the race card—that one always cracks me up. And accusing the media, especially NBC, of playing favorites. It’s easy to get the stupid press to navel-gaze; they’re so insecure.”

“They’re all pinko Commies,” McCain laughs. “Especially since they deserted me for The Messiah. Seriously, Hill, that Paris-Britney ad you came up with was brilliant. I owe you.”

Looking pleased, Hillary expertly downs another shot. “His secret fear is being seen as a dumb blonde,” she says. “He wants to take a short cut to the top and pose on glossy magazine covers, but he doesn’t want to be seen as a glib pretty boy.”

In today’s column, Obama is described as a “pretty boy” with “pretty words.” He’s referred to as “a dumb blonde.” These words are put in Clinton’s mouth, although they express specific themes which Dowd introduced, long ago. Indeed, on Valentine’s Day in 2007, her column was headlined: “Obama, Legally Blonde?” Way back then, she began introducing her snarky themes—about Obama’s bitch-wife, for example. (While writing this of Obama himself: “[H]e's so slender his wedding band looked as if it was slipping off.” If you think that wasn’t meant as insinuation, you don’t understood Dowd’s degree of disturbance.) It has long been an utter embarrassment, watching the Times allow this crackpot to pimp these gender-nut themes. But when it comes to issues of gender, Maureen Dowd is a stone-cold nutcase. And must we state the obvious? In Dowd’s work, these themes are aimed at Democrats only. Every Dem wife is some version of bitch. Have you ever seen her say a word about the Wife of McCain?

(For the record, Clinton is pictured denigrating Obama with more of the insulting names which litter Dowd’s work on the candidate. In today’s column, “Skinny” and “Twig Legs” are added to the long list of Dowd’s denigrations. In Dowd’s columns, such names are endlessly aimed at Obama. Have you ever seen Dowd refer to McCain in any such way? We searched for such insults last week—came up empty. Is the New York Times happy when its top writers denigrate any presidential candidate in such childish ways? It’s simply stunning, that this hapless newspaper has allowed this to go on so long.)

The New York Times should be taken and whipped for letting this sick gender-trashing roll on. (Racial elements have also been frequent in Dowd’s denigrations of Obama.) But let’s make sure we understand a second key point about today’s column. Let’s consider what happens when Major Dems are relentlessly demonized, as occurs again today.

Please understand: John McCain is pictured doing nothing wrong in this column. He is pictured conspiring with Hillary Clinton to defeat Obama; since McCain is trying to defeat Obama, there would be nothing wrong with him behaving in the way Dowd imagines. in this portrait, it is Hillary Clinton who is pictured doing something devious—something secret, under-handed, nasty and wrong. And of course, it isn’t just Hillary; Bill Clinton is pictured as part of the deal, as is Jesse Jackson. And Mark Penn gets a mention too, as is now required by Hard Pundit Law. You see, Penn is the latest Major Dem demon. According to dictates of Hard Pundit Law, attention must be paid.

In this column, Dowd extends a theme which has recently gripped her dim-witted community—the idea that McCain’s campaign needed Hillary Clinton to draw their attention to Obama’s vulnerabilities. Within this exceptionally low-IQ world, the McCain campaign would never have noticed Obama’s relative lack of experience; in today’s column, Dowd suggests they never would yelled about “the race card” without Clinton’s prior help. (Though we’re not sure when Clinton did that.) These claims are inane, but they’re good for business—and for party warfare. Presumably, the press world keeps talking about the Clintons because it’s very good for ratings. But such chatter keeps the demonizations alive—and those demonizations hurt all Dems. In the present moment, demonization of Clinton/Clinton/Jackson/Penn hurts the party’s nominee most of all.

In the past dozen years, Major Dems have been relentlessly demonized—and Big Reps like McCain have been turned into saints. (Until he finally destroyed the known world, George W. Bush was “plain-spoken,” “a different kind of Republican.” Until he repulsed the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire, Rudy Giuliani was endlessly praised as “America’s Mayor.”) To state the blindingly obvious, the rolling demonization of Major Dems badly hurts the Democratic Party brand. Recent demonization of Clinton and Penn (the lunatic Colbert King’s “white supremacists”) drives discord within Dem Party ranks, and that too is bad for Obama. But the relentless portrait of Major Dems as feckless/dishonest/nasty/grasping only makes it that much easier to create a similar portrait of the next Major Dem.

This morning, an abortion-driven attack is being launched against Obama’s character. And guess what? It’s relatively easy to get voters to believe that Obama’s a big phony liar because so many other Big Dems have been portrayed in that manner. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign will have a hard time driving themes against McCain’s character. McCain has been sanctified for more than a decade—as career liberals and the Dem Party sat by. It’s very hard to redefine his character now. By way of contrast, it’s relatively easy to redefine Obama. Every other Big Dem was a phony. Why wouldn’t he be the same?

Many Dems and liberals continue to revel in the demonized portraits of Clinton and Penn. (This new portrait is built out of plainly false “facts.” Be sure to thank the gruesome Josh Green, who was still insisting, four years ago, that Al Gore said he invented the Internet.) But when we revel in these portraits, we’re riding with a generation of the RNC’s top hit-men. Many liberals don’t understand this, because their “leaders” have never explained it. But as Penn and Clinton get further demonized, Obama’s brand is further devalued. The groundwork was laid in the war against Gore—a war the liberal world accepted, in which it often took part in.

Does evil exist? Rick Warren asked. If so, how should we approach it? He used a word we rarely use. But today, the free rein given the Times’ public crackpot brought this powerful word to mind. Dowd has long been a visible nut-case, especially on issues of gender. Today, she puts her insults and denigrations into the mouth of Hillary Clinton. It’s Hillary Clinton who says the strange thing this stone-cold public nut-case has always said. But it’s Obama who gets called a “dumb blonde”—a “pretty boy,” who has “pretty words.”

We rarely use the word “evil” here. Today, though, just look at the Times.

Maureen Dowd’s notions of accuracy: If it feels good, Maureen Dowd types it. McCain is speaking to Hillary Clinton in this part of the crackpot’s tale:

DOWD: “I saw your husband’s kind words about me in Las Vegas on Monday, saying I’d be just as good as Obama on climate change.”

“Obviously, I favor Senator Obama’s energy positions,” was the start of Bill Clinton’s actual statement. And no—he actually didn’t say that McCain would be just as good.

ABOUT THAT ABORTION ISSUE: By any traditional measure, the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act” issue is very dangerous to Obama. On its face, it’s the perfect type of issue to turn him into Dukakis. For that reason, we marveled at the way the issue was presented in this morning’s Post. Jonathan Weisman always screws up his copy. But on this utterly critical matter, we really couldn’t understand what this hopeless mess meant:

WEISMAN (8/20/08): Obama, then a state senator, opposed the measure in 2001, saying it crossed the line of constitutionality and "essentially says that a doctor is required to provide treatment to a pre-viable child, or fetus."

As a committee chairman in the state Senate in 2003, Obama supported GOP efforts to add language to the act, copied from federal legislation, clarifying that it would have no legal impact on the availability of abortions. Obama then opposed the bill's final passage. Since then, he has said he would have backed the bill as it was written and approved almost unanimously the year before.

We read that passage many times, never quite figuring out what it meant. By way of contrast, Larry Rohter’s report in this morning’s Times explains the matter much more clearly. In our view, Rohter himself muddles a basic point—did Obama vote on one large bill, or did he vote on separate provisions? Early on, he seems to imply that there was just one measure. Later, he seems to say there were two.

But Rohter’s report is much more clear—much more clear than Weisman’s. It helps us see that Weisman’s report was basically written in crayon.

This is a very dangerous issue; it’s important that it be clearly explained. This leads us to a basic question: Who on earth is Jonathan Weisman? How can it be that the Washington Post is incompetent to this degree?

WE’RE POSTPONING: We had planned to review the James Fallows piece today, but we’re postponing until tomorrow. And yes, we’re also postponing the next part of our series, “Race and the race;” this morning, Dowd’s lunacy takes center stage. The trashing of Big Major Dems rolls on. And when Big Major Dems get trashed, so does Obama’s brand.

A CONSUMMATE WASTE OF TIME: This morning, the Times presents a full profile of Kathleen Sebelius, one of Obama’s VP “prospects.” It’s hard to imagine a bigger waste of effort, time and newsprint. If Sebelius doesn’t get the nod, reading this profile was a bit of a waste. If she does get the nod, of course, it will have to be re-published.

Only one “prospect” actually matters—the prospect the candidate actually picks. It’s astounding to see how much time and effort the press corps wastes on this nonsense.