CARLSON (10/4/07): Yes, what do you make, finally, of the brand new poll out again, a Washington Post poll indicating in a theoretical head-to-head match-up—and lets just off the bat discount these polls as not predictive, maybe not even terribly significant, but I still think interesting—[that Clinton is] beating by close to 10 points Rudy Giuliani in the general election? Im amazed by that.In context, it was clear that the boys were discussing the part of the new Post poll which shows Clinton leading Rudy, 51-43. Tucker was amazed by that. Amazingly, Bill said he was too.
PRESS: I am, too, at this point. Im further amazed that in that same poll, all four of the top Republican candidates come out with pretty serious ratings. You know, 44 percent said they wouldnt vote for Rudy Giuliani. No way, no how.
KRUGMAN (10/5/07): Whats happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you dont belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples woes, you fit right in.In the fall of 1999, Bush joked and clowned—while others mourned those murder victims. But it didnt go into the New York Times. Three years later, it went into Frank Brunis book.
COLLINS (10/4/07): We certainly do not want to disrespect the hopeless candidates who have been responsible for so many good times over the long, long presidential campaigns of yore. Keyes perked up the 2000 proceedings considerably when he threw himself into a mosh pit and bodysurfed to the tunes of Rage Against the Machine. It's possible that the day Gary Bauer fell off the stage during a pancake-flipping contest in New Hampshire was the highlight of the primaries. Given the extremely large crowd of hopeless candidates this time around, I think we have every reason to believe that sooner or later somebody will fall off something again.Ha ha ha—so many good times! The highlight of the 2000 primaries may have been the glorious day when Gary Bauer fell off that stage! For ourselves, we thought back on that primary season as we waited for all the laughter to stop. For ourselves, we thought Collins mirthful memory might be a trifle selective.
April 1999: How about the day when The Nations Lou Dubose published this detailed review of Bushs gubernatorial record—including his effort to scale back S-CHIP right at its inception? Collins and her circle of New York Times liberals ignored this review for the next two years. Bush and Gore are two peas in a pod, Frank Rich robotically said.
June 1999: How about the day when truth-challenged RNC chairman Jim Nicholson staged his tour of that fancy hotel? Many of Collins compliant colleagues ended up reporting a famous fake fact: Al Gore was raised at the Ritz! The claim was blatantly false, of course—but it was just soooo funny! They had typed up Nicholsons bullsh*t again. Is there a way to get dumber than this and still draw breath on this earth?
October 1999: How about the magical night when three hundred journalists hissed, jeered and howled at Gore throughout the first Gore-Bradley debate? By the way, Collins was present at Dartmouth that night—although she absent-mindedly forgot to discuss her colleagues astonishing conduct. To Collins and the rest of this laughing lynch mob, that first debate was apparently just one of so many good times that year. Afterwards, Collins recited the ludicrous script her cohort invented about Gores performance. And she kept her big trap shut about her cohorts astounding misconduct. (In her column that weekend, Collins ridiculed Gore for asking a perfectly decent question about a womans sick, five-year-old child.)
December 1999: How about the magical moment when Katherine Seelye accidentally misquoted Gore about Love Canal—and Collins great paper refused, for ten days, to issue a perfunctory correction? As the Times refused to correct its error, the message circled the globe once again: Gore is a big liar, just like Bill Clinton! But darlings! One month later, Bauer fell off a stage! To Gail Collins, that was the highlight.
In short, there were many highlights of that primary race; and the race was part of a longer campaign which, we now know, changed world history. But Gail Collins possesses the soul of the modern New York Times liberal. Like Krugmans modern conservative, she seems to think that life is there for the jokes, the laughs and the snorting. She remembers Bauers slip from that stage—not her own cohorts misconduct.
But then, weve long discussed an embarrassing fact: The soul of the modern press corps liberal tends to fit the unflattering portrait Krugman paints of the modern conservative. As Margaret Carlson told Imus that day, its all about fun, entertainment and sport! And its often all about bald-faced lying when their own cohorts behavior is involved. Consider a second part of Collins column—a segment in which, by normal standards, youd have to assume that the lady is lying. Can Collins possibly believe the odd claim which we have highlighted here?
COLLINS: The political parties find themselves on two different tracks this year. Democratic voters are resentful because Hillary Clinton seems to be wrapping things up so fast. (It's only October! The negative ads haven't even come out yet!) Meanwhile, the Republicans have more than their share of candidates, but on many days not a single one of them seems like somebody you could reasonably nominate. The Democrats used to give their unsatisfactory lineups names like The Seven Dwarfs. What would you call this crowd of Republicans? The Legion of Doom?The Democrats gave their candidates names like The Seven Dwarfs, Collins says.
DOWD (8/27/87): The vote for President, the experts say, is the most personal one cast. So it is only natural that Americans want to fall in love a little bit with the leader they send to the White House.The Democrats hate that belittling name, Dowd said—and then, she had some fun with Snow White. Twenty years later, up pops Collins, willing to say that the Democrats themselves were the ones who invented that nickname.
This summer, judging by the amount of time spent chasing moonbeams and rumors and would-be and should-be and might-be candidates, the Democrats are longing for the perfect prom date.
''The Democratic candidates are the good steady fellas your mother told you to look for, the good providers you'll learn to love,'' Ann F. Lewis, a Democratic strategist, said wistfully. ''But nobody here leads with emotion.''
Or, to put it less delicately, as a Republican consultant, Roger Ailes, did: ''If these guys were all on 'The Dating Game,' nobody would get picked. You don't get the feeling anybody's hanging loose and having fun. Even Jesse Jackson has stopped rhyming things.''
This may explain why the focus of the campaign so far, not only among those actively involved in the race but also among interested politicians and other observers, has stayed to a remarkable degree on noncandidates such as Sam Nunn and Bill Bradley and Mario Cuomo. They sit on the side of the stage like Hamlets bathed in flattering baby spots and brooding about whether their ambitions are ripe. Or, in the case of Gary Hart, sarcastically dubbed ''the Dark Prince'' by Pat Schroeder's staffers, rotten.
In this year of unrequited yearning, elusive princes are more intriguing than earnest suitors.
The candidates' problems are underscored by the belittling nickname that lingers on, even though they hate it: the Seven Dwarfs.
As the race is increasingly described in the imagery of romance, it is clear that the dwarfs may have been cute, but they never got to go out with Snow White.