IN SEARCH OF DEMOCRATIC MESSAGING! This should be a Golden Age of Democraticand liberalmessaging: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2009
Bakers coven: Its hard to be a bigger fop than Peter Baker is.
We had planned to discuss Maria Bartiromo today. (In part, wed planned to note the limited way we liberals have critiqued her world-class, recent howler. To see her in action, click this.) But in honor of Bakers clowning masterpiece in this mornings New York Times, lets put her off till tomorrow.
Baker reports on a trivial topicthe rumors which have swirled, for months, about Chelsea Clintons supposed impending marriage. The wedding was supposed to happen in Augustbut August has of course come and gone. Baker, always skillful with calendars, has thereby written a full news report about this trivial matter.
Gail Collins might have handled the topic. But she was already busy today, writing about Levi Johnston.
The topic itself isnt all that important. Unfortunately, Bakers foppish mind is.
According to Baker, the rumors have been out there for months, beating back endless denials from all concerned parties. In the second half of his report, the foppish fellow summarizes these endless errors. Well highlight his string of sources:
By Tuesday, August had faded into September, Baker wrote, showcasing his confidence when working with technical data.
Back to the sources of those rumors. If we arent mistaken, Baker says the rumor was driven by these entities: The Boston Globe, New York magazine, the New York Daily News, the Washington Post, the New York Times and the New York Post. (Fox News only broadcast a denial.)
But thats where the comical clowning comes in. Earlier in his news report, Baker has already offered a summary of the summers bungling. As his weak mind ponders these events, please note who he blames for the folly:
Who was at fault for all these false rumors? Early in Bakers news report, Hard Pundit Law took control of his thinking. Before he could possibly tell us the truth, he had to distribute the usual lies! The Internet-driven culture was at fault, he revealed. And of coursethis being Earthit was plainly the fault of the Clintons!
Baker blamed the Internetand the Clintons! And that was his full list of blame.
You really have to be a fool to put your name on something like that. To put it in print, not to content yourself with muttering this to semi-smashed colleagues inside some Vineyard bar. But Baker, and his Ceci-collaboratin wife, long ago signed up for such duty.
Over the past dozen years, we have worked with various metaphors, trying to capture the small, inane band which posed as our mainstream press corps. Theyre like a fraternal order, weve said. Theyre not unlike s small stupid mafia. Weve used the language of science fiction, trying to capture their conduct. Were the producers of Men in Black trying to tell us something?
This morning, Baker types it for all to see. Bottom line: When people are willing to reason this way out in public, a terrible truth swims into view:
It has been decades since your country actually had a mainstream press corps. In the early 1990s, a small, inbred mafia took their place. As we liberals kept our pretty traps shut, they blamed the whole world on the Clintonsand Gore.
This morning, years later, nothing has changed! Gail Collins would likely have handled the job. But she was too busy with Levi.
(For the Times womens pages, click this. The programming still isnt good on these life-forms. Some remain programmed for Mad Men.)
PART 3IN SEARCH OF DEMOCRATIC MESSAGING: This should be a Golden Age of Democratic and liberal messaging.
Start with Enron, or start before that, and move up to Bernie Madoff, and bailouts. In the past few decades, weve seen an endless succession of incidents in which Big Interests loot average citizens, in ways the robber barons would surely have envied.
Big government never did anything right? In earlier eras, big government stood to regulate the Big Interests and baronsto protect the interests of average people. Indeed, in Tuesdays New York Times, a letter writer helped us remember:
That analysis of our recent elections is a dream. But well roll with the writers history.
Liberals and progressives convinced most Americans that the interests of [average] citizens were not well served by a system that favored the rich and powerful? This should be a Golden Age for such progressive messaging! But it plainly hasnt been such an age. Thats why Rick Perlsteins reader asked those excellent questions about our gruesome health care debate (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/1/09):
Why are Democrats so bad at messaging? So bad at pushing back?
This should be a Golden Age. Obvious question: Why isnt it?
In fairness, it isnt as if no such messaging has come from recent Big Democrats. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton produced some subtle, rather effective messaging which suggested where he stoodwhose interests he stood to preserve.
Bill Clinton said he stood for those who work hard and play by the rules. He told them that he felt their painthat hed be with them till the last dog dies. In theory, almost everyone works hard and plays by the rules, of course. But this formulation suggested that someone stood to harm such regular people. And it stated whose side he was on.
In August 2000, Clintons vice president defined the shape of his own White House campaign. On MSNBC, Candidate Gores convention speech was ridiculed by Jack Welchs all-Irish paneluntil Frank Luntz rushed into the room and told them that his polling showed that the speech had been a home run. What follows is part of what Gore had said. Needless to say, pundits soon warned him about such rough languagesuch very crude ideas:
Gores speech polled off the charts, Luntz said. (After he left, the Brian Williams all-Irish panel went back to mocking the speech.) But Gores numbers soared in the subsequent polls. Inside Washington, everyone said the race was overuntil the press corps invented two more lies in Septembers third week.
At any rate, the kind of messaging in that passage suggests a fairly obvious fact: Human nature hasnt changed since the day of the robber barons. Big Interests will still loot average peopleunless Big Government makes them stop. Given Enron and AIGgiven the biggest heist in monetary historythis should have been a Golden Age for Dems and liberals to produce such messaging.
But alas! It clearly hasnt been. In the past few months, we have seen the other side churn their messages about the failures of big government, driving the fear of a government take-over, of government-run health care. Democrats have managed to produce little clear messaging, despite being blessed with the most comical set of data in the worlds history:
You almost have to twist a mustachio as you read such ridiculous data. But Democrats refuse to discuss those datarefuse to say what they so plainly mean. The other side rails against Big Government. Our side is mostly silent about the Big Interests which have produced those comical dataat the peoples expense.
Over the decades, we have developed a much less robust stock of messaging on which we can draw in such times.
Why have Democratic (and liberal) voices been so feeble this season? What should Democrats be saying? On what messaging should we be drawing? In the past few days, several writers have helped us recall Democratic messaging from earlier eras. What would FDR have said? In this mornings New York Times, Jean Edward Smith helps us recall:
Roosevelt was kicking up, at the vested intereststhe powerful. Let us guess that he didnt spend time ridiculing average voters, as corporate cable liberals now do. As a class of pseudo-liberal does all over the web.
At Salon, Michael Lind has also remembered the messaging of presidents Roosevelt and Truman. We strongly recommend his piecejust click here. (As before, we strongly recommend Linds Bush-era book, Made in Texas.) In this era, Democratic and liberal messaging has been weak, tame, limp, disengaged by comparison. Democratic and liberal messagingincluding that which has come from the kids at our liberal journals and blogs.
Conservative pundits? They have decades of well-crafted messaging on which to draw for their fake, silly claims. For this reason, being a conservative pundit has now become the easiest job in the world. On our side, the messaging has beenand remainsmuch less rich. Their side thunders against Big Government. Our side mews and meows.
Perlsteins reader had noticed this fact. He asked a good question: Why is that?
TomorrowPart 4: Whither liberals?