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||TRULY COMMITTED! Even in the face of a dangerous war, your pundits just wont stop their clowning:|
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2002
BOY, WAS THAT GORE SPEECH CONFUSING! Lets have a straight account of what Al Gore said, E. J. Dionne suggested on Reliable Sources (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/30/02). But Dionne was describing a dream world. By late March 1999, the drama had been neatly scriptedeverything Candidate Gore said and did had to reveal his bad character problems. Your press corps has pushed this treasured line for a period of almost four years. A straight account of what Al Gore said? Sorryhere are Four Pundit Rules which now obtain whenever Al Gore gives a speech:
Just how far will pundits go to pretend that Gores speeches are puzzling or weird? On last Saturdays Beltway Boys, Morton Kondracke extended the project. See if you believe what Mort said:
- A disturbing contradiction must be found or invented.
- Questions must always be raised about motives.
- Important: The merits should not be discussed.
- The speech should be found to be puzzling.
KONDRACKE (9/28/02): Well, you know, I mean, previously he was going to, he was going to out-populist all the other Democratic candidates, and now hes, hes, itthis was a very confusing speech. I mean, you, you could say, on the one hand, that he was appealing to, to doves in the party. On the other hand, buried in the middle of the speech was, which contained a lot of vitriol against the president, was, was a basic endorsement of the policy of regime change through the U.N. It was just, you know, crowded with, with, with a lot of vituperation.
Spinning away for all he was worth, Kondracke called Gores speech very confusing.
Readers, could Al Gores speech have been less confusing? Confusing? Gore said that a unilateral War on Saddam would hurt the ongoing War on Terror, because it would alienate various nations on whom we must rely for intelligence. Readers, can you believe, for even one moment, that this was confusing to Kondracke? Confusing? Was Mort confused back on August 15? On that day, Brent Scowcroft made the very same points in his much-discussed piece in the Journal:
SCOWCROFT (8/15/02): [T]he central point is that any campaign against Iraq, whatever the strategy, cost and risks, is certain to divert us for some indefinite period from our war on terrorism. Worse, there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq, making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive. The most serious cost, however, would be to the war on terrorism. Ignoring that clear sentiment would result in a serious degradation in international cooperation with us against terrorism. And make no mistake, we simply cannot win that war without enthusiastic international cooperation, especially on intelligence.
Are Scowcroft and Gore correct in those views? Here at THE HOWLER, we dont have a clueand your pundits show little intention of ever debating the merits. But right or wrong, Scowcrofts views were hardly confusingand neither, of course, was Gores speech. But Kondracke knew the harsh pundit rulespeeches by Gore must always be puzzling. So Morton called the speech very confusing. Its a story that beltway boys like.
By the way, Linda Chavez was confused by Gore too. Filling in as Kondrackes co-host, she agreed with every word Mort saidand added a false, treasured spin-point:
CHAVEZ (continuing directly): Youre absolutely right, it was very confused. In fact, he even said at one point in the speech that he had been upset with President Bush back in 91 for not going all the way to Baghdad. But if you go back and read what he was saying in 1991, Al Gore was singing a very different tune and in fact was defending President Bush. So I think this was a very confusing way to start a new presidential bid.
Good old Linda! She also called the speech very confusing. And she ran to repeat a treasured new pin, saying that Gore misspoke about his past views.
As weve noted, those alleged contradictions were simply invented, like so many Gore contradictions and lies (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/26/02 and 9/27/02). In 1991, Gore defended Bushs refusal to take the army into Baghdad, but criticized his failure to defend the Kurds and to downgrade Saddams capabilities. His speech was consistent with his past statements. Did Chavez know that her statement was bogus? Here at THE HOWLER, we dont have a clue. Rememberthe pursuit of facts plays almost no role in our devolving pundit culture. What does your pundit corps try to get right? They try to get their scripted spins right. Chavez knew the rules, and she knew the new spins. So she went on TV and recited.
Kondracke and Chavez found Gores speech confusing? Sorry, we just dont believe that. Does somebody here have a character flaw? Theres every chance that it isnt Al Gore.
SPEAKING OF MEATHEADS: Bonus points for Adam Nagourney, who was willing to pen this ludicrous item in his report on Gores speech. Try to imagine that nonsense like this now goes into New York Times news reports:
NAGOURNEY (9/25/02): Mr. Gores advisers described his speech as a genuine expression of sentiment about an issue with which he has long been closely identified, rather than an attempt to position himself for the 2004 presidential election. He wrote it after consulting a fairly far-flung group of advisers that included Rob Reiner, the actor and filmmaker.
The purpose of that ham-handed item? Gore must be made to look silly. Charles Krauthammer, of course, was only too eager to rush the point into the Post:
KRAUTHAMMER (9/27/02): The New York Times reports that Gore wrote the speech after consulting a fairly far-flung group of advisers that included Rob Reiner. Current U.S. foreign policy is the combined product of Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz and the president. Meanwhile, the pretender is huddling with Meathead.
The purpose of this folderol? RidiculeGore is consulting with Meathead! Remember, theres nothing so foolish or so unfair that the modern press isnt willing to write it, if it comports with Standard Stories their cohort has decided to push. Incredibly, even in the face of a dangerous war, Nagourney and Krauthammer wont stop this rank clowning. Will anything sober this silly crew up? Even war dont seem to do it.
SIMPLE LYING: Then, of course, theres the simple lying. By Sunday, pundits had worked for a solid week, pretending that Bush hadnt crossed the line in his ill-chosen comments about Senate Democrats. Pundits pretended that Dana Milbank had misreported the story. Pundits pretended that Tom Daschle misunderstood what Bush said. But Sunday, in a lead editorial, the Washington Times went them all one step better. The Times penned a long editorial, Daschles tantrum. In the editorial, the pitiful paper savaged Daschle for his silly reaction to the sensible things Bush had said.
What made the editorial so perfectly Timeslike? The paper didnt include the quote against which Daschle complained! The piece included long quotes from Bushs speech. But oops! It didnt include the offending line, where Bush said that the Senate is not interested in the security of the American people. That linethe point of the whole debatewas suddenly Missing In Action.
Here is the Washington Times account of what Bush said in last Mondays speech. Rememberthe people who penned this gonzo piece are the very same people who rubbed their thighs as they complained that Bill Clinton was devious:
THE WASHINGTON TIMES (9/29/02): Clearly referring to this issueand his related concern that, if such a provision were enacted into law, it would take away future presidents ability to rapidly reassign employees of the new Homeland Security Department in the event of a terrorism-related emergencyMr. Bush made the following statement: On our borders, weve got three different departments dealing with our border security. Weve got the INS and the Border Control and the Customs, all full of fine people, staffed by really great Americans, all working hard to make sure that border security is a part of the homeland security. Except, in cases now, theyve got different uniforms, different cultures, different styles, perhaps different strategies, and for the sake of the country, I need to have the flexibility to meld these organizations together.
No, readers, we really arent making it upthat was the Times complete account of what Bush said in his speech. Like Stalins gang fixing up naughty photos, the offending remark was just airbrushed away. And do you want to enjoy a good, hearty laugh? In the editorial, the Times complained that Mr. Daschles minions were twisting the presidents remarks! Truly, there is nothing this paper wont say and do to pursue some silly advantage. When its time to lie in its readers faces, the paper will do so, quite openly.
Mr. Bush added: And my message to the Senate is: You need to worry less about special interest in Washington and more about the security of the American people. In other words, Mr. Bush was saying that, since they are putting the interests of labor unions like the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union ahead of the president's ability to manage a critical security-related department in the event of an emergency, the Democrats priorities are badly skewed. In our view, the president is absolutely right on this issue, and would be derelict in his duty if he failed to point out the serious flaws in the Senate bill, as he did in the New Jersey speech quoted above.
Amazing, isnt it? Even as we face a war, the Times wont stop its gonzo deceptions. And theres one other thing you might want to knowHoward Kurtz wont say one word about it.
Over at Spinsanity, meanwhile, Brendan Nyhan has reported this matter in more detail. Brendan is more polite than we are; he allows for the possibility that the Times (and others) acted in error. Here at THE HOWLER, were more jaded than that. We dont believe that the cited reporters are so grossly incompetent (and weve seen the Washington Times make the news up before). In fact, weve watched this process for years; these reporters are telling the story they like. And yes, E. J. Dionne had it right this past weekend. Why did reporters like this bogus tale? The erroneous story came from Rushand from the White House. As Dionne said, Rush Limbaugh now produces your news. Even when Rush sends out baldly bogus tales, these reporters know to start typing hard.