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THINGS FALL APART (PART 2)! When watchdogs quit, robots type cant. Just check out Jonah and David:


EMINENT CANT: Russell Baker sat back from high table and he began blowing smoke. Why hadn’t other Big Scribes criticized Bush in the way Krugman did? Only Krugman knew, he kept saying (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/21/03). Krugman “had the professional skills needed to tell when the political rhetoric was nonsense.” Not only that, “his training as an economist enabled him to see what most journalists couldn’t.” Indeed, “[f]ew [journalists] are equipped to challenge the mathematics and economic theory underlying the Bush budget.” All these statements are complete, utter nonsense, but they make Powered Pundits feel good. According to Baker, his class didn’t know. It feels better than telling the truth—than saying that his powdered class has long since abandoned its role as stewards. Baker doesn’t want to tell you the truth—that the watchdogs aren’t working any more.

And what happens to your public discourse when its watchdogs fall asleep? In a phrase, Things fall apart. Your discourse is left to a striving class—to a class which is willing to do and say anything in pursuit of its crackpot agendas. General Strangelove comes out to play—and pundits pretend that his statements make sense. And your discourse is handed to Jonah Goldberg, typing the latest scripted cant in this morning’s Washington Times:

GOLDBERG: Jimmy Carter never used the word “malaise” in his “malaise speech.” Abraham Lincoln never said, “God must have loved the common people, he made so many of them.”

And George W. Bush never said that the threat from Iraq was “imminent.”

He never said it. Seriously. Not once.

You’ve read this cant a thousand times; people like Goldberg type what they’re handed. But Goldberg’s claim is complete, utter nonsense—not that Baker’s class will ever know.

Did President Bush ever say that the threat from Iraq was “imminent?” Goldberg puts the word inside quotes, and peddles his script to his readers. But did Bush ever say that the threat was imminent? If you speak English, he certainly did. For example, in his seminal speech of October 7, 2002, President Bush said this:

BUSH: Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
According to Bush, the U.S. faced “clear evidence of peril.” In the face of that clear evidence, we “couldn’t wait for the final proof”—for what might be a nuclear attack! Jonah Goldberg will type what he’s told. But whatever you think of Bush’s war in Iraq, for those who speak the English language, what Bush said in that speech is quite clear. There wasn’t a bit of time to waste. And yes, Jonah, those words mean “imminent.”

But when stewards slumber, Things fall apart. Scripted robots type pure cant; your discourse is handed to the beasts. There is nothing so stupid they won’t affirm it—and see it repeated again and again. And why, oh why, are you reading this here? Why don’t you read it from Baker’s fine colleagues? Simple. Here at THE HOWLER, we alone “have the professional skills needed to tell when the political rhetoric is nonsense.” Not only that, “our training as logicians enables us to see what most journalists can’t.” Indeed, “few journalists are equipped to challenge the semantics underlying the Bush nonsense.” And oh yes, one other thing—we aren’t part of the powdered class that puts its leisure ahead of your interests. When poodles like Baker walk away from their watch, it’s inevitable: Things fall apart.

TOMORROW: Things fall apart! Saving Strangelove.

BROOKS BROTHER: Yep, Bush-never-said-imminent is one of the scripts today’s well-paid poodle is told he must type. So too another great script: Bush’s-critics-are-driven-by-hatred. Indeed, doing exactly what he’s been told, the poodle Brooks typed up that script it in his column for last Saturday’s Times. When Dems opposed that $87 billion, David Brooks knew just why they’d done it. “Their hatred for Bush is so dense, it’s hard for them to see through it to the consequences of their vote,” he cut-and-pasted. And then, the scripted fellow jumped ugly. “Saddam Hussein would be jubilant in [Nancy] Pelosi’s Iraq,” the predictable lad bravely typed.

Well, it’s time for Brooks to get typing again! In this morning’s Post, Jonathan Weisman bears quite a message: “Senior advisers to President Bush will recommend that he veto a spending measure for Iraq’s military and reconstruction needs if it requires Iraq to repay any of the money, White House officials said yesterday.” So go ahead, David, we suggest you start typing! You know—about how “Bush’s hatred of Congress is so dense, it’s hard for him to see through its consequences.” Be sure to say this, as you did last Saturday: “If Bush’s arguments carry the day, our troops in Iraq will be reading about the ruination of our efforts to rebuild Iraq.” And don’t forget to say how jubilant Saddam will be “in Bush’s Iraq.” Nor should you forget to say this: “France, Russia and Syria don’t oppose the Bremer plan, but Bush is to the left of Bashar al-Assad.” Don’t forget to say all those things! But oops, we forgot—you haven’t been scripted! And you know that Baker’s fine, high class won’t say a word about your descent into cant. Readers, things fall apart when watchdogs quit. If you doubt, it just read Brooks’ column.