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MANHATTAN MEOW MIX! Patrick “Kit” Healy and his feline liege, Dowd, imagine a better convention: // link // print // previous // next //

TOMORROW: “Taking the Kinsley challenge,” part 3. For parts 1 and 2, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/26/08.

MANHATTAN MEOW MIX: Patrick “Kit” Healy was hiss-spitting hard—at the top of page one, in the great New York Times. If you read deep into his piece, you even got a rough idea of what Hillary Clinton was actually doing at the actual Denver convention—the real convention, the one that doesn’t exist inside Healy’s head. (In paragraph 10, on page A15, for example, Healy reported that Clinton “reaffirm[ed] her support for Mr. Obama in soaring and unconditional language” at a Tuesday luncheon.) But it’s the law! Before Healy can give you mere facts, he must perform his newspaper’s famous meowing. This is how his “news report” started, at the top of today’s page one. In this passage, a simpering tribune to Maureen Dowd penned inane Dowdian musings:

HEALY (8/27/08): With her husband looking on tightly and her supporters watching with tears in their eyes, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton deferred her own dreams on Tuesday night and delivered an emphatic plea at the Democratic National Convention, no matter what ill will lingered.

Mrs. Clinton, who was once certain that she would win the Democratic nomination this year, also took steps on Tuesday—deliberate steps, aides said—to keep the door open to a future bid for the presidency. She rallied supporters in her speech, and, at an earlier event with 3,000 women, described her passion about her own campaign. And her aides limited input on the speech from Obama advisers, while seeking advice from her former strategist, Mark Penn, a loathed figure in the Obama camp.

But the main task for Mrs. Clinton at the convention—reaffirming her support for Mr. Obama in soaring and unconditional language—dominated her 23-minute speech, and she betrayed none of the anger and disappointment that she still feels, friends say, and that has especially haunted her husband.

He crammed “ill will” into paragraph 1, though it’s hard to parse the paragraph’s logic. (He apparently meant this: “no matter what ill will may have lingered in Clinton’s mind.”) But in paragraph two, Healy’s hiss-spitting simply ran wild. As it so often does.

According to Healy—in paragraph 2, at the top of page one— Clinton “took deliberate steps” on Tuesday “to keep the door open to a future bid for the presidency.” But go ahead—reread that utterly ludicrous paragraph! See if you can figure out what those “deliberate steps” might have been! Clinton “rallied supporters in her speech,” Healy obliquely claimed—and she “described her passion about her own campaign” in that earlier luncheon appearance! You’re right! Healy offers no quotations; any attempt to quote Clinton’s statements would have called attention to the sheer absurdity of his framework. And of course, most important of all: Healy worked the “loathed” Mark Penn into paragraph 2 of his copy, although the reference is absurdly gratuitous. What sorts of “deliberate steps” did Clinton take “to keep the door open to a future bid for the presidency?” Of course! She let Penn help her with her speech—a speech in which she “reaffirm[ed] her support for Mr. Obama in soaring and unconditional language.”

You’re right—that makes no sense at all. Unless you’re familiar with the hiss-spitting ways of this pitiful, upper-class newspaper.

In fact, the Times has been a wreck for years, as creeps like Healy keep channeling Dowd, the simpering queen of our upper-class scribblers. Today, Dowd’s own column admirably captures the favor of her paper’s inanity. For years, Dowd has defined this sad, stupid culture. Her own hiss-spitting starts like this, with a small true confession:

DOWD (8/27/08): I’ve been to a lot of conventions, and there’s always something gratifyingly weird that happens.

True confessions! When Dowd attends a convention, she can’t get no “gratification” unless something weird has occurred. And of course, something weird will always occur, as she dumbly notes in that passage. Tens of thousands of people attend these events; there is always some poor soul a creep like Dowd can seize upon. At Denver, she finally found her nut—a nut not unlike her late mother.

On the web, it’s called “nut-picking.” Here’s how it works at the Times:

DOWD: At a meeting of the Democratic women’s caucus Tuesday, 74-year-old Carol Anderson of Vancouver, Wash., a former Hillary volunteer, stood in the back of the room in a Hillary T-shirt and hat signed by Hillary and “Nobama” button and booed every time any of the women speakers mentioned Obama’s name.

She’s voting for McCain and thinks the Democrats put up a minority to stop another minority so that the boys’ club would not be breached. She had nothing nice to say about the Obamas.

What about the kids, I asked her.

“Adorable,” she agreed. Well, I said, Michelle raised them.

“I think her mother does,” Anderson shot back, adding: “I wonder if Michelle would give the Queen one of her little knuckle punches?”

At any convention, you can find some poor soul who will say the things you’re longing to type. Indeed, Dowd played this same sad game in June, when Obama met Clinton in Unity (New Hampshire). Dowd can locate the nut every time. It’s not unlike checking the mirror:

DOWD (6/29/08): Carmella Lewis, with her Hillary T-shirt and Hillary placard, came all the way from Denver to make sure there would be plenty of ambiguity, duality and ferocity in Unity.

Just as Hillary was testing out the unfamiliar familiarity “Barack and me” Friday and talking about “his grace and his grit,” Carmella began loudly booing and waving her sign.

“We want Hillary!” screamed the 57-year-old retired ad saleswoman and Clinton delegate.

Same damn thing! Dowd can find the nut every time—thus getting her gratification. In Unity, she continued her work:

DOWD: Standing between the Sharks and the Jets, David Axelrod took pity on an older friend of Carmella’s who was suffering from aridity in the Unity humidity. The chief Obama strategist fetched a glass of water and brought it to the woman, who was wearing five Hillary buttons.

This amenity did not stop the disunity. Carmella and her friends continued to cry, “Nobama!” “We love you, Hillary!” and “We need Hillary!” as Barack Obama sat onstage on a stool behind his former rival, his finger studiously at his lips.

Carmella was not impressed with all the kissing, laughing and whispering that Hill and Bam were diligently doing for the cameras, so that the moment could produce, as Obama press aide Robert Gibbs put it on “Larry King Live,” “a great picture.”

When it was Obama’s turn to speak, Carmella announced loudly, “I wish I had ear plugs.” Then, as Obama tried to ingratiate himself with the Hillary partisans in the crowd by saying that because of the New York senator, his daughters “can take for granted that women can do anything that the boys can do and do it better and do it in heels,” Carmella put her fingers in her ears.

Carmella Lewis “put her fingers in her ears”—and captured the bulk of Dowd’s column. Lewis may not be wholly well. But that made her perfect for Dowd:

DOWD: As Obama tried to curry favor with Hillary, looking over at her sensible, sturdy shoes and marveling, “I still don’t know how she does it in heels,” Carmella tore up a tissue and stuffed it in her ears.

When Obama pandered with a line about how he wouldn’t “perpetuate a system in which women are paid less for the same work as men,” she put her hands over her tissue-stuffed ears.

As in June, so again this morning. That’s what comprises your national discourse at the fatuous, upper-class Times.

Readers, the inanity of this upper-class cohort can’t be stressed enough. Dowd is wealthy—and deeply inane. And when you have a wealthy, upper-class press corps, inanity will strike them as genius. Let’s recall the unfortunate day when a major Timesman first spotted Dowd’s unfolding brilliance.

Way back in 1999, Gay Jervey embarrassed herself—but provided an insight—when she profiled Dowd for Brill’s Content. Sadly, Gervey is quoting former Timesman Bill Kovach in the passage which follows. Kovach was a Times editor when this event occurred, at the 1984 Dem convention:

JERVEY (6/99): Even as a young reporter Dowd had an eye for telling detail and nuance... “We were on deadline,” Kovach explains. “Mondale and Ferraro had just been nominated...As the candidates stood on the platform, Maureen jumped up and grabbed me and said, ‘Look! Look! There is the story. Mondale doesn’t know whether to hug his wife or Ferraro. He doesn’t know what to do.’ She saw that signaled a new era, with women playing a whole new role in politics and men not quite knowing what to do.” That keen observation...crystallized for Kovach just how clairvoyant a reporter she was.

In the past, we’ve tried to capture the sad stupidity of that story. Mondale didn’t know who to hug—and Dowd was sure that that was “the story.” Inside a fatuous upper-class world, her inanity seemed like clairvoyance.

Amazing, isn’t it? It has now been twenty-four years since Dowd began to bring in the chaff. By now, her acolytes—her litter-bearers—meow, in her manner, at the top of page one. Sadly, she takes her gratification from furtive couplings with random nut-cases. And of course, she’s always ready to say how things “looked” and “seemed:”

DOWD (9/27/08): At a press conference with New York reporters on Monday, Hillary looked as if she were straining at the bit to announce her 2012 exploratory committee.

Trust us: By the dictates of High Pundit Law, Clinton will always “look” that way, as long as this nutcase draws breath.

One sentence Healy won’t type: Patrick Healy plays his readers in much the way other kitty-cats breathe. We’d have to call this “vintage scripting:”

HEALY: Mrs. Clinton remains a divisive figure in American politics, with voters nearly evenly divided over whether they view her favorably or unfavorably. In a New York Times/CBS News poll taken before the convention, 45 percent of all voters said they had a favorable view of Mrs. Clinton and 43 percent held an unfavorable view—among the highest negative ratings for Mrs. Clinton since The Times and CBS News began asking about her in 1992.

We’re not sure what “all voters” means. Presumably, Healy refers to this NYT/CBS poll from July; in the data the Times has posted, Clinton’s numbers are 44 percent favorable, 36 percent unfavorable (question 48, page 18). Are those numbers especially bad for Clinton? As these same data show, Clinton’s numbers in January 1996 were 33 percent favorable, 41 percent unfavorable. In July of that year, her breakdown was 30 percent favorable, 40 percent unfavorable. In July 2000, her numbers were 36-40. In July 2006, her numbers were 32-39. But Healy deceives you as other cats breathe. Wherever he is getting his numbers, he has chosen his language quite carefully here. But then, he’s a dishonest cat.

By the way: Clinton remains a divisive figure is a treasured theme of upper-class pseudo-journalism. But uh-oh! Here are the corresponding figures for the saint, John McCain, in that same New York Times poll from July (question 3, page 4):

John McCain: 31 percent favorable, 32 percent unfavorable

Weird! McCain’s numbers were worse than Clinton’s! But here’s a sentence you’ll never see from the pen of this hiss-spitting huckster:

HEALY WILL NEVER WRITE THIS: John McCain remains a divisive figure in American politics, with voters nearly evenly divided over whether they view him favorably or unfavorably.

You’ll never see that because Healy’s a hack—a huckster who lives to deceive.

In pursuit of high art: Routinely, Dowd works in a reference to the classics. In this way, she obscures the fact that she has just massively wasted your time quoting some random nutcase. From today’s hard-copy column:

DOWD: Bill Clinton is brooding in his hotel suite at Brown Palace Hotel, like the outcast Grendel lurking on the outskirts of the town where young Beowulf lived.

In this way, the Times disguises its simpering madness as a form of quite brilliant High Art.

Rapid transits: All our quotes come from the pieces by Healy and Dowd which appear in our actual hard-copy Times. Some of their brilliant work was changed before it was posted on-line.