AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER! Everyone knew the affair was wrong. But they praised it, right out in the open: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2008
WILL THEY EVER SPEAK: Weve long marveled at the way the press corps ignores a political force like Rush Limbaugh. Its safer to let Rush do what he willand so, thats what the mainstream press does. Did Rush suggest, long ago, that Hillary Clinton may have murdered Vince Foster? Yes he didand the mainstream press corps knew they should just glance away.
This week, Rush seems to be playing the Arab card. This is not a murky e-mail campaign. This is the nations most famous radio man, performing right out in the open.
Will the mainstream press corps ever speak about the foul mess he maintains in their midst? Or will they decide, for the ten millionth time, that its safer to keep their traps shut?
SEEING AN SS PROPOSAL HALF EMPTY: If you round 28 percent off to half, you may be misleading the voters. And you may be squandering a large advantage you enjoyed with the mainstream press. That seems to be what Obama did with the recent ad which is ad-watched in todays New York Times. We highlight two key words from the text of the adtwo words which seem to be hard to defend, two words which were wholly unnecessary:
Aarrgh. The Obama campaign cant seem to defend two key words: in half. And Obama has been criticized for making a similar claim on the stump. (For two posts from FactCheck.org, click here and then click here.) Because they stuck those two words in that ad, the Obama campaign has been widely assailed. For one example, see this column by the Posts Ruth Marcus.
Last week, Marcuslike many mainstream journalistswas hammering McCain, quite hard, for his long string of whoppers. In this column, Marcus says Obama has started to even things up.
A bit of background on the issue discussed in Obamas ad:
Marcus is part of the DC establishments center-left contingent. If she votes, she will almost surely vote for Obama, not for the saintly McCain. But by the time of Campaign 2000, virtually everyone in the Village was affirming the virtue of private accounts; Gore was hammered, remarkably widely and remarkably stupidly, for challenging Bushs proposal. (Link below.)
To this day, Marcus tends to buy her cohorts sky-is-falling approach to SS; when she writes about the issue, she tends to be ardentand murky. Her column included some outright nonsense, such as her passing complaint about Obamas use of incendiary language (that is, the word privatization). And the column ended up in the weeds; Marcus isnt very good at clarifying this issue. But her basic complaint was basically accurate, a point you may not have understood from work churned by some on your side.
This childish post by Josh Marshall is a case in point. Much of the short post is incoherent; much of it is loud and childish. (Its apparently a big lie, Josh childishly snarks, as he offers a reinvented account of what Obama has actually said.) But his whole post ignores a central pointObama and the Obama campaign seem to have misstated a key, central fact. On our side, we tend to get extremely upset when McCain does this sort of thing.
Is this what we all signed up for when the liberal web was born? Were we secretly seeking the chance to bleat and cry and ignore central points? Did we want to be like Sean Hannity? If so, enjoy Joshs post.
Visit our incomparable archives: In May 2000, Klein and Russert hammered Gore for daring to oppose Bushs glorious plan (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/7/07). And yes, youre absolutely right! On that very same program, Klein boo-hoo-hooed quite loudly about the saintly John McCain, asking: How could anyone criticize him for lying about that Confederate flag? (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/15/08.) These two excerpts from that show remind us of a basic point. By the time of Campaign 2000, the mainstream press corps had lost its mind in thrall to its Clinton Derangement. And of course, people like Marshall hunkered down, too careful and cautious to protest.
Candidate Gore had every advantage, Josh was still writing, two years later. Weird! Why would an aspiring journalist write something as crazy as that?
BE SURE TO READ EACH INSTALLMENT: The press corps conducted a long love affair. Read each thrilling installment:
Today, we note a striking fact. They knew their love affair was wrong. But they so loved the Man They Loved, they discussed it right out in the open:
INTERLUDERIGHT OUT IN THE OPEN: Today, they hate The Man They Lovedbut back then, my, how they loved him! Today, Newsweeks Jonathan Alter goes on Countdown, complaining that The Keating Five isnt being reported enoughand liberal bloggers applaud him for his thoughtful, ardent action. But back then, during Campaign 2000, The Keating Five was barely mentioned in Newsweek. Indeed, heres how Alter framed The Five in a fawning profile, back when the affair with The Man They Loved was going hot and heavy. Today, Alter rails at The Man They Loved. But no, readers. Sorry. Not then:
It would be hard to sand the rough edges off the Keating Five any better than that. Today, Alter demands that big news orgs discuss the Keating Five more thoroughly. Back then, though, he boo-hoo-hooed about it. Somehow, it just seemed to deepen the character lines of The Man They Loved.
John McCain may still reach the White Housein large part, because of the public standing he gained from that long love affair.
Of course, everyone knows that major scribes arent supposed to conduct such affairs. But this affair was so potent, so right, that pundits discussed it in public. Indeed, Charlie Pierce mocked their love for McCain as early as May 1998, in a long piece in Esquire. (Headline: John McCain Walks on Water.) We can no longer find Chazbos piece on-line. But at one point, Pierce rolled his eyes and described the corps vast longing:
Way back in May 1998, Pierce mocked their love for The Man They Loved. And a few months later, Andrew Ferguson arranged for their love to be a love that could speak its own name. Rolling his eyes in the Weekly Standard, he dubbed it the McCain Swoon:
Fergusons last remark was somewhat whimsical. But by the summer of 1998, reporters were writing glowing reports about McCains glowing coverage. On June 8 of that year, for example, the Washington Posts Howard Kurtz had examined McCains press coverage. And sure enough; Kurtz did write a glowing piece which explained why the coverage was glowing. In the process, he quoted a number of major press figures expressing their love for The Man They Loved. Mark Shields had praised his against-the-grain leadership coupled with his riveting personal history. Al Hunt had said that The Man They Loved was the most courageous and one of the most admirable men Ive ever known in American politics. And a Mike Wallace statement was simply stunning, coming from an iconic symbol of a supposedly skeptical press corps. Im thinking I may quit my job if he gets the nomination, the multimillionaire poser had said, implying hed go to work for McCain. Of course, Mike never did thatthe money was bad. But he was willing to blather.
Today, most of these men have been hurt by The Man They Lovedby his recent outrageous conduct, conduct which rather closely tracks the conduct he displayed in real time. But at that time, they felt deep loveand the affair was widely discussed, right out in the open. Given the fallen journalistic standards of the Clinton-Gore era, journalists seemed to feel little need to hide their deepest longings. Some spoke critically of the affair; a great many simply expressed their ardor. But by 1999, everyone knew about the affair your press corps was conducting:
Tapper, Jacoby and Ferguson wrote as critics of the affair. But many embarrassing children like Weisberg were willing to personalize the affairto profess their love for The Man They Loved, right out in the open. When I set out to spend a few days with McCain last week, I promised my editor that I wouldn't join in this collective swoon, Weisberg swooningly wrote for Slate. That proved impossible. But sadly, it wasnt just Weisberg; by the fall of 1999, when the free bus rides began, clowning journalists seemed to compete to see who could express the love with more ardor. At The New Republic, Charles Lane played the swooning fool too, trying to top foolish Weisberg:
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! By now, journalists no longer felt the need to hide the love affair they were staging. They fawned about The Man They Lovedeven as they conducted a savage group trashing of Candidate Gore. Today, Lane has a nice, cushy job at the Post. Weisberg still clownishly clowns at Slate. Gore, of course, holds the Nobel Peace Prizeand these utterly fatuous scribes hate The Man They Once Loved.
Why did they engage in this clowning? The clowning that sent George Bush to the White Housethe clowning that may yet send McCain there, despite their vastly changed feelings? Early on, before the bus rides began, David Grann did an excellent job with that question in The New Republic; well look at his explanation tomorrow. But we will answer that question quite simply: A fatuous, overpaid group of boys had lost all sense of their obligations. The refused to challenge the slanders of Gore; instead, they clowned on a bus with The Man They Loved, enjoying his jokes about stripper ex-girl friends, about that dish from Rio, the fashion model he had such a crush on (Richard Cohen). Your interests were now just a game to these fools. And their fooling has led to this moment.
Their names are Weisberg, and Klein, and Lane. Their names are Hunt, and Shields, and Dionne. They watched for two years as Gore was trashed; during that same period, they gamboled and played on the bus of The Man They Loved. And, because their love was blind, they failed to notice the very same conduct they now say they abhor so vastly:
They looked away when The Man They Loved failed to offer the voters straight talk (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/22/08). They looked away when The Man They Loved showed he was clueless about his proposals (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/23/08). And as well see tomorrow, they looked away when The Man They Loved basically lied about his opponentswhen he said that he was going to beat them like a drum. Today, they hate that sort of rough conduct from The Vile Man They Once Loved.
But they made no bones about the affair. Even though everyone knew it was wrong, they talked about it, right out in public. Their editors could have told them to stop. But inside a simpering, upper-class world, the eds loved The Man They Loved too.
TOMORROWPART 3: Today, they despise his nasty attacks. Back then, they cheered The Man on.