IN THEIR LIVES, THEY’VE LOATHED THEM ALL! Drum’s readers responded with rage, as people always have done: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2011
Is it time for Kornacki to go: The culture of the useless professor was on display in yesterday’s Times. You see, one of them perfesser fellers had spotted some “bogus quotations”—from the 1850s or so!
You’ve read the column a thousand times. The New York Times let you read it again! In the process, you received your latest dose of lofty Times op-ed culture.
That’s right, people! Someone had misquoted Thoreau—and one bold professor was there to fight back! For ourselves, we had a particular reaction to one part of his column. When we saw him use the term “bogus quotation,” we were brought up short—because of the way we’ve been whiling away our afternoon hours.
In the afternoons, we’ve been finishing chapter 6 of How He Got There, our book about the gruesome, history-changing press coverage of Campaign 2000. That chapter deals with the press corps’ conduct in December 1999 (and thereafter), when they pretended that Candidate Gore had told a big LIE about the Love Canal toxic waste problem of the late 1970s.
The coverage of Candidate Gore in Campaign 2000 teemed with “bogus quotations;” we’ve typed that phrase a good many times in the past several weeks. The invention of the bogus Love Canal quotations (plural) set the GORE LIAR theme into stone; rather plainly, that journalistic theme, built from a series of bogus quotations, decided Campaign 2000. But sure enough! The professors didn’t notice the problem back then, even as it led to Candidate Gore’s defeat.
The coverage teemed with bogus quotations, as we noted from March 1999 on. We don’t recall hearing the professors say so, then or now, even though those bogus quotations led to Bush’s ascension. Then and now, we’ve heard from none of this fellow’s colleagues—although in fairness, they may have been in France at the time.
Yesterday’s column was hackneyed, pointless, lofty—a perfect expression of Times op-ed culture. But then, with few exceptions, the professors have failed you down through the years. So have the career liberal “journalists.”
This raises an obvious question: Is it time for Kornacki to go?
Salon has been an embarrassment of late—a primer in the haplessness of liberal intellectual culture. Kornacki made a fool of himself with his piece about Mitt Romney, sexist—a piece which occasioned much complaining from his intelligent readers (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/29/11). But good God! Yesterday, Kornacki topped himself with a second groaner—another piece which correctly produced a great deal of reader pushback.
The background is largely pathetic. Two lamebrain mainstream news orgs asked a few rather dumb survey questions. Kornacki, a career player who will move on some day, of course said this made perfect sense:
The question or questions seem dumb enough, though Kornacki never quite explains what the questions were. (It seems there were at least two.) But Kornacki took the questions and ran! His headline may be the dumbest ever, on the politics and on the merits:
“Why President Gore might have gone into Iraq after 9/11, too”
Good god, but our liberal intellectual leaders are dumb! On the politics and on the merits, this is one of the dumbest pieces we have ever read.
On the merits, Kornacki makes a sad attempt to reason his way through his topic. As he continues, he notes a fairly significant fact, but quickly cuffs it aside:
In the run-up to war, Gore was loudly saying no. But so what? In a hapless piece, Kornacki tells us that he might have waged war on Iraq anyhoo—and he even seems to suggest that this is the question the public was asked.
On the merits, Kornacki’s analysis is just sad, a fact you’ll have to confirm for yourselves. On the politics, his judgment is astounding. Gore is a major liberal leader—and he got it right on Iraq! But why wait for Fox to tear him down, as they’re constantly trying to do? In a hopeless bit of counterfactual reasoning, Kornacki performs that task for them!
What did Americans ever do to merit this sort of punishment from God? (Don’t answer that!) What did we do to deserve a political culture in which people this foolish get enshrined as our leading “liberal” journalists?
In our low-IQ political culture, Gore has been a big target for twenty years, dating to Earth in the Balance. Plainly, he always will be. It’s pathetic enough when Rush and Sean gin up these silly brain-dead discussions. Yesterday, Kornacki jumped in to help them.
There is one bit of good news here. As with Kornacki’s piece about Romney, so too with this groaning effort: Salon readers responded in force, trashing him for his miserable judgment and his weak analytical skills. If you want to restore your faith in the world, we’ll suggest that you read those comments, many of which are quite sharp.
The comments are sharp; Kornacki isn’t. What explains a “liberal” world which displays this balance of power?
PART 3—IN THEIR LIVES, THEY’VE LOATHED THEM ALL (permalink): For our money, Kevin Drum made perfect sense as he tried to imagine all the people—all the people in the tea party movement, that is.
Jon Fasman had tried to imagine why the tea party folk are so darned nostalgic. Try though he might, Fasman simply couldn’t stop thinking that it was all about race.
We humans have always imagined the worst when we imagine the souls of “those people”—the souls of those in the other tribe. But Drum said he was “irked” by Fasman’s approach—and we think his reaction made sense. He listed many things for which tea party folk might be nostalgic (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/30/11). Sensibly enough, he said this after compiling his list:
Drum broke every rule in the book. Thinking about the other tribe, he said their motivations might not all be shabby. Why, some of their motivations might even by “honorable!”
No, really—that’s what he said!
Is the world that “complicated?” Within the ugly, crabbed tribal mind, such thoughts have never been permitted. Quickly, Drum’s commenters swung into action, correcting his obvious error.
Some of the comments were snide. Some of the comments were harsher than that—and they went to all-race-all-the-time as the only possible explanation for the behavior and views of “those people.” But we can make one general statement: The world in which these commenters live is not “a complicated place.” In their brilliance, they are able to limn the world’s souls forty million at a time.
The commenters’ world is really quite simple. Just as it has always been, “those people” are all alike:
In the oldest analysis known to the race, the second commenter said that we in our tribe are smart, wise and good—and sadly, they in their tribe are not. In a harsher vein, the third commenter was able to see that it’s simply all about race. Drum’s readers weren’t reading the world as he did—at least, not when it comes to “those people.”
Other commenters stood in line, eager to testify to the fact that the world isn’t a complicated place:
The nostalgia isn’t “legitimate!” And the nostalgia which isn’t based on race is still of course based on hatred!
Before too long, it had to happen, as it always does—as it always has. As the commenters’ anger rose, Drum came under suspicion:
That commenter can spot assholes forty million at a time! For a mind of this prehistoric type, it was only natural to wonder why Drum wouldn’t do the same.
As the comments continued to flow, the world became less and less complicated. Comments like the two which follow are actually drawn from the high-complexity camp:
When we liberals are thoughtful and generous, we concede that it isn’t necessarily about bringing slavery back! But when we get ourselves a snootful, we pen remarks like the ones which follow. We make it a point to tell the tribe that this whole thing isn’t complex:
“That’s easy,” the second commenter said, as bigots have done through the ages. He or she explained that the tea party folk simply long for the days when they could rape women and such! Bringing the unintentional comedy in, the third commenter helped us see that “those people” want simple solutions! As always, we liberals are the nuanced ones, even as we make the world’s most sweeping generalizations. The other people are the ones who want everything in a “simplistic mold!”
The ugly souls of Kevin’s readers spilled out in their ugly remarks—remarks which were amazingly dumb by any sane calculation. Alas! As we liberals run through the streets of the web, behaving as people always have done, we make a joke of intellectual culture—and we make it amazingly easy for “those people” to be the bright ones.
Drum did get some very sharp comments from some of his readers this day—but most of the plainly intelligent comments came from the other tribe! Indeed, he himself disappointed us a bit early on, accepting a premise or two from heaven knows where.
Tomorrow, we’ll review Kevin’s small error. Also: Is Krugman nostalgic?
Tomorrow: There went the sun!
Friday: Professor Putnam’s lonely hearts club band