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Daily Howler: Why on earth do we libs, progs and Dems keep ourselves so misinformed?
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WE DON’T GET IT! Why on earth do we libs, progs and Dems keep ourselves so misinformed? // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, AUGUST 28, 2006

WE DON’T GET IT: Before we begin, let’s say this about that: Here at THE HOWLER, we know Tom Schaller. We’ve broadcast with Tom Schaller. Tom Schaller is a (distant) friend of ours. But we just don’t get the following passage from Tom’s otherwise spot-on post. Why in the world do we libs, progs and Dems keep misinforming ourselves in this manner?
SCHALLER (8/23/06): There are a lot of reasons why Gore would make a great president, and one of them is that he has managed to educate the public in ways that few non-presidents can. (On issues, like the Internet, he also proved he was capable of educating fellow members of Congress like few presidents have been able to do.) One can only wonder how the 2000 election would have turned out if Gore had taken his favorite issue and campaigned as passionately then as he is now.
In that highlighted sentence, Schaller is talking about global warming, as his post’s larger context makes clear.

Again, we just don’t get it. Do we have to “wonder” about what would have happened if Gore had campaigned more on global warming? After citing our own work on this subject, one of Tom’s commenters describes one thing which certainly would have occurred:
COMMENTER: [I]t doesn't matter what Al Gore campaigned on. The prevailing sentiment among the campaign press in 2000 was that Al Gore was a phony. Nearly every pivotal "issue" written about the Gore campaign were unfairly written articles that underscored the "Al Gore is phony" meme. Just a few examples are Love Canal, Naomi Wolf's earth tones, whether he used White House phones for campaigning, he invented the internet, whether he toured a disaster site with James Lee Witt when it was really an assistant, etc.

Precisely what makes anyone think with his high polling negatives that Al Gore would get any better shake in the press than he did in 2000?
Here at THE HOWLER, we don’t know what kind of coverage a Candidate Gore would get in 08. History tells us to expect the worst—especially if the GOP nominates one of the press corps’ favorites. (On the other hand, a Candidate Gore might end up getting reasonable coverage against a Candidate Allen. Unfortunately, Allen prematurely self-destructed.) But the commenter is certainly right in what he says about Campaign 2000. If Gore had campaigned about warming more, he would have been ridiculed by the Bush campaign and the RNC—and the press corps would have smirked along with them. It would be absurd to think otherwise. (For a discussion of warming in Campaign 2000, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/18/06.) In a similar way, Candidate Gore was uniformly pounded as a fake and a phony for his position on Social Security privatization. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/15/02, for the start of a multi-part discussion. Warming would not have been different.

Of course, Tom didn’t mention the press. He seems to be suggesting something like the notion promoted in Joe Klein’s recent book; he seems to be suggesting that the force of Gore’s passion (or the strength of his argument) would have changed the minds of some voters. It’s always possible to imagine such things when we speculate about past campaigns, but we do think this is quite a stretch. The scientific consensus on warming is much stronger today than it was in 1999 and 2000—and yes, Gore would have been ridiculed, hard. Few voters had warming high on their lists—and they would have heard that Gore was a nut-case if he’d run hard on this issue. Hard to believe, but yes, it’s true: During Campaign 2000, the New York Times routinely described Earth in the Balance as “Gore’s mid-life crisis book.” Michiko Kakutani, Robin Toner and Melinda Henneberger all took part in the fun. And here’s the way Gail Collins clowned as the recount in Florida was proceeding:
COLLINS (11/14/00): For the first time this year, Mr. Gore is looking cool. Perhaps he's secretly gearing up for a new midlife crisis, mentally composing the introduction to "Son of Earth in the Balance" while he plays photo-op touch football. Maybe he's simply dwelling on the fact that if he loses, he will never have to drive across I-4 in Florida again.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! But that’s the way these idiots played it as they sent George Bush to the White House. The U.S. Army is in Iraq because of their world-class clowning.

Back to Schaller, who we like and admire. We just can’t fathom why we liberals keep writing about our recent history this way. Of course, we can always “wonder” what would have happened if Candidate X had done something different. But do we really have to “wonder” about one part of this scenario? Surely, we know what the press corps would have done if Gore had stressed global warming more. Here at THE HOWLER, we just don’t get it. We don’t understand why we keep deep-sixing such obvious matters when we discuss current politics.

NOT MAKING IT UP: Here is Toner, in April 2000. At the Times, the doctor was constantly IN when Gore’s foolish book was discussed:
TONER (4/14/00):"Earth in the Balance" has a strikingly reflective tone and is widely considered to be Mr. Gore's midlife crisis book, written when Mr. Gore was trying to recover from his disastrous 1988 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, while coping with the serious injuries of his son, who had been hit by a car.
“Widely considered” to be such at the Times, where this connection was routinely drawn by the various staff psychiatrists. By way of contrast, a Nexis search turns up no such reference at the more circumspect Washington Times!

TOMORROW: Chris Matthews ask his panel: “Why does the press like McCain?”