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Daily Howler: Dowd is counting contractions too. Everything has changed--except that
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ANNALS OF THE FATUOUS! Dowd is counting contractions too. Everything has changed—except that: // link // print // previous // next //

THE WAY WE WERE: You’ll have to admit—we’ve come a long way in the past four years. What was the big surprise story in the closing week of Campaign 2000? George Bush incurred a drunk driving charge in 1976, twenty-four years earlier! And what’s the big surprise story today, as we enter the final week of Campaign 2004? The Bush Admin somehow forgot to secure 350 tons of the world’s most potent explosives. And these explosives have likely been used to kill U.S. servicemen in Iraq. Here’s today’s Times front-page story.

To follow the facts of this unfolding case, we suggest that you read Josh Marshall. (Start here, then scroll back through Josh’s reports.) Meanwhile, let us offer a comment on this remark by Atrios:
ATRIOS (10/24/04): I have to admit I was always a bit confused about where exactly all the explosives [in Iraq] were coming from. Sure, some basic devices can be created with a bit of know-how, but some of the bigger car bombs were a bit more impressive than that. Now we know.
We’ve always wondered where the explosives were coming from, too. And why did we have no earthly idea? Because this was one of ten million obvious questions that never seemed to get explored in the press. Was Iraq another Nam? Inquiring minds always wanted to know. But in Vietnam, we always knew that the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese were getting logistical help from outside. Where were the insurgents in Iraq getting their firepower? We never had the slightest idea, and we never saw journalists ask.

Please note: We’re not saying this question has never been asked. We’re sure a search could find the question asked somewhere. But as Atrios’ statement implies, this was always an obvious question, and we don’t recall seeing it asked.

So some things have changed, and some have stayed the same. Four years ago, we were worrying about Bush’s drunk-driving charge. For ourselves, we don’t care much about matters like that. But why had this incident remained a secret? Because no one in the press corps had ever bothered to go to Kennebunkport and ask. Early in Campaign 2000, reporters swore they would tear Bush apart. They would leave no stone unturned, they said. We don’t care about old drunk driving charges. But clearly, those puffed-up claims by the growling press corps were nothing but a lot of hot air.

Four years later, things have changed. Now, they have a real last-week story that they can cover. Let’s see how they do it.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: For a modest assessment of that DUI flap, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/3/00. Sorry—the link to our “Howlings” column is dead. For a hoot, we’ll post it tomorrow.

ANNALS OF THE FATUOUS: Yes, we’ve come a long way in four years. And then, of course, there’s Maureen Dowd. Nine days before her country would vote, The Fatuous One joined Jodi Wilgoren in counting John Kerry’s contractions:

DOWD (10/24/04): The senator is desperately trying to prove his regular-guydom. He's using more contractions and dropping G's, T's and N's, as Ms. Wilgoren points out, and he drank Budweiser with his male aides while watching a Red Sox game, when you know he was dying for an imported beer.
Wilgoren reported—and Dowd decided. Yes, when a brilliant reporter makes a great point, Dowd is quick to repeat it. Everything changed on September 11. Everything changed except that.

Alas! The world may have become a more serious place, but nothing keeps the Times’ fatuous Freudian from her predictable rounds. Kerry is dropping contractions—and G’s! Beyond that, why did Kerry go gunnin’ last week? Dowd explained, right in paragraph one:
DOWD (10/24/04): In yet another attempt to prove to George W. Bush that he is man enough to run this country, John Kerry made an animal sacrifice to the political gods in a cornfield in eastern Ohio last week.
Kerry wasn’t sending a signal to certain voters. No—he was trying to prove his manhood to Bush! Reliably, Dowd’s ruminations are absurd and inane. But they almost define the kooky culture that pervades the inane New York Times.

Dowd appeared on Imus last week, and alas— we accidentally taped over the session. But several of her comments were so inane—so weirdly disturbed—that we can pretty much recite them from memory. Instantly, Dowd complained about Kerry’s hunting. He was only doing it because Bush does it, she said—then she said that the copy-cat aspect of the conduct makes Kerry seem “like Bush’s woman.” Heh heh heh heh heh, Imus said. Are you sure you don’t mean to say something stronger? And Dowd allowed that she probably did. She then went on to offer another insight, saying that Kerry just seems like “a loser,” like Gore. What did she mean by that? You know the way Gore won the popular vote but still lost the election? she said. Well, Kerry is like that, Dowd told Don, in that he won all three debates but lost in the polls. You don’t want your candidate to be “a loser” like that, the Fatuous One daftly said.

Kerry seems “like Bush’s woman!” Try to believe that a person as empty as Maureen Dowd plays the role she does in your political culture. Fatuous, vacuous, inept and inane, she’s currently counting up Kerry’s contractions. Everything changed on September 11. Everything changed except that.

SPINNING IT UP: And of course, Dowd never stops embellishing her absurd, inane tales. What’s the point in telling a silly story if you can’t spin the tale up?
DOWD (10/24/04): Tromping about in a camouflage costume and toting a 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun that shrieked ''I am not a merlot-loving, brie-eating, chatelaine-marrying dilettante,'' the Democratic nominee emerged from his shooting spree with three fellow hunters proclaiming, ''Everybody got one, everybody got one,'' showing off a hand stained with goose blood.
Dowd’s readers got a good tale—Kerry was “showing off” his blood-stained appendage! But Wilgoren’s report said nothing like that, and in the Washington Times—the paper that played this story straight—Charles Hurt told a quite different tale. We apologize for discussing this at all:
HURT (10/22/04): But as Mr. Kerry removes questions among gun-toting voters, he also is careful not to scare off supporters who might be a little squeamish about seeing their candidate smeared with the fresh blood of a fowl whose only crime was to try landing in the wrong cornfield.

So the event yesterday was tightly choreographed...

Campaign officials wanted to convey the image of a hunter without permitting any of the gory details. They refused, for instance, to allow a reporter to join the hunting party in the blind.

After about two hours of hunting, Mr. Kerry emerged. Photographers with long lenses noticed that he had blood all over his left hand. By the time he reached reporters, he had tucked that hand into his sleeve.

After some speculation among reporters over whether he'd been injured, campaign officials said Mr. Kerry had cut his hand, but that it was mainly goose blood.

Was Kerry “showing off” his bloody hand? According to Hurt, he was actually hiding it! Scribes had spotted the blood with long lenses! But Dowd has been making up—and improving—inane tales for years. She brilliantly ginned up the Love Story foofaw. Nine days before her country votes, she found herself at it again.

Marie Antoinette had a fatuous circle. Today, in their stead, we have Maureen Dowd. Everything changed after 1789. Everything changed except that.

THE WAY WE WEREN’T: In this morning’s Post, Howard Kurtz describes a new Pew survey about the coverage of Campaign 04. We thought this passage was striking:

KURTZ (10/25/04): Has the press been unfair to President Bush? Thirty-seven percent of voters think so, while 27 percent find the media coverage unfair to John Kerry. And that is nearly double the number who found the press tilted against Al Gore four years ago.
We’ve come a long way, baby! No, the coverage of Campaign 04 hasn’t been stellar; we’ll list basic complaints in the days/weeks ahead. But one thing is abundantly clear—the coverage of Kerry hasn’t compared to the two-year trashing administered to Gore. But alas! Four years ago, the DAILY HOWLER was a (relatively) lonely voice in the wilderness. Four years ago, few Americans understood the nature of the trashing being handed to Gore. (Many journalists who did understand kept their traps shut.) Four years later, Democrats’ nerves are more easily plucked. But let’s say it! Even today, few of those Democrats understand the way George Bush found his way to the White House. No, that story still hasn’t been told—and it does involve Dowd and the Love Story nonsense, the bit of inanity she helped to gin up when most Dems were still young and quite foolish.