A punishing film: We finally saw W over the weekend. No, it isnt a great film, and it left us feeling almost sick. But yes, wed have to recommend it. Frankly, the events of the film might not have occurredif not for this next great man:
Frankly, thats wrong: The church of High Manhattan Pseudo-Liberalism really took a hit this Sunday. The offense occurred in Frank Richs slightly comical column, In Defense of White Americans.
How many white voters will vote against Obama on the basis of race next week? We dont know, and neither does Richnor will we ever really find out. It seems there may be more than a few (see, for example, Ruth Marcus column). Race is our greatest national tragedy, and its tragic third act isnt done.
(For the record, race and its cousins are also quite tragic in many other parts of the world.)
At any rate, Rich was eager to criticize the racial bad faith of McCains campaignand in the process, he was even willing to speak for the honor of regular white folk! Its not a place he typically goes. In this passage, the pundit declaimed, rather comically, on behalf of this much-maligned group:
RICH (10/26/08): But the other, less noticed lesson of the year has to do with the white people the McCain campaign has been pandering to. As we saw first in the Democratic primary results and see now in the widespread revulsion at the McCain-Palin tactics, white Americans are not remotely the bigots the G.O.P. would have us believe. Just because a campaign trades in racism doesnt mean that the country is racist. Its past time to come to the unfairly maligned white Americas defense.
That includes acknowledging that the so-called liberal media, among their other failures this year, have helped ratchet up this election cycles prevailing antiwhite bias. Ever since Obama declared his candidacy, the presss default setting has been to ominously intone that in the privacy of the voting booth ignorant, backward whites will never vote for a black man.
Soon, Rich was defending all those deer hunters in western Pennsylvania against the depredations of liberal media. Of course, Rich has no earthly idea how many such people may vote against Obama because of his race next week. But he wanted to trash McCain extra-hard, and so he adopted this tack.
Frankly, Richs defense of those deer hunters was an insult to Gotham High Culture. By tradition, writers like Rich mock such people in the New York Times pages. When such people stand watch at the southern border, Timespersons mock them as vigilanteseven when theyve committed no such acts. (Omigod! They even quote Bush!) And Timespersons mock their guns and religionas Rich did, in an earlier episode, when Al Gore mentioned the fact, in An Inconvenient Truth, that he owned a rifle on his familys farm when he was a boy. According to the wonderfully ludicrous Rich, this was a play to the NRAand it was proof that Gore would be running for president in 2008. Of course, Rich played the same game in 1999, at unfortunate length, when Gore dared discuss his religious beliefs. Witness the pilgrim's progress of Al Gore, the pompous pundit mockingly wrote. In the course of his destructive blather, Rich used his platform to pimp an idiot claim, thus helping George Bush reach the White House:
RICH (9/11/99): More recently, Mr. Gore hedged about the teaching of creationismwho would have thought the inventor of the Internet would believe that the Earth was invented in seven days?until an outcry from his own supporters led to a hasty retreat.
As a matter of fact, Gore had done no such hedging; this pointless incident involved a fuzzy statement by a Gore campaign aide, when Gore himself was on vacation. But darlings, this was a chance to pimp that delicious claim: Al Gore said he invented the Internet! Rich treated his readers to a good solid laugheven as he mocked the religious beliefs of those red-state white folk.
Yesterday, Rich comically attacked the press corps for its antiwhite bias. (Go aheadtreat yourself. Laugh out loud!) And of course, to our delight, he got a basic fact wrong. No, his error doesnt hugely matteralthough wed call it a sign of the times. But well admit that our analysts chortled hard at the blowhards perfect blunder. Too perfect! As he scorned the rampant misreading of primary-season exit polls, Rich misread such an exit poll:
RICH (10/26/08): The constant tide of anthropological articles and television reports set in blue-collar diners, bars and bowling alleys have hyped this racial theory of the race. So did the rampant misreading of primary-season exit polls. On cable TV and the Sunday network shows, there was endless chewing over the internal numbers in the Clinton victories. It was doomsday news for Obama, for instance, that some 12 percent of white Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania said race was a factor in their choice and three-quarters of them voted for Clinton. Ipso factoand despite the absence of any credible empirical evidencethese Clinton voters would either stay home or flock to McCain in November.
In fact, the exit poll to which Rich links shows that 15.4 percent of Pennsylvanias white Democratic primary voters said race was a factor in their choice. (The data Rich misreads appear on page 5 of the poll.) To wit:
In Pennsylvania, 12 percent of Democratic voters were whites who said race was a factor in their vote. Meanwhile, 66 percent of Democratic voters were whites who said race wasnt a factor. That means that 78 percent of Dem voters were whiteand 12 out of 78 equals 15.4 percent. If you read that exit poll correctly, that was the percentage of whites who said race played a role in their vote. (Three quarters of that 15.4 percent voted for Clinton. One quarter voted for Obama.)
No, that error doesnt hugely matter. But truly, its Classic Rich! He only writes one column per week. In those columns, he has thundered mightily down through the yearsoften in ways which have massacred Dems, especially in the case of Gore. But despite his leisure and his vast influence, Rich cant interpret basic data in a simple exit polljust as he couldnt seem to avoid saying that Al Gore said he invented the Internet. Such dumbness is tragicand a sign of our times. It provides a slightly comical marker for a broken journalistic age.
How many white Pennsylvanians will vote against Obama because of race? We dont have the slightest ideaand, quite frankly, neither does Rich. But go aheadjust laugh out loud! Rich is front-running so hard this year that hes even praising Pennsylvanias deer hunters! Had he been so magnanimous in the past, George Bush might be shagging flies for the Texas Rangers, as you see him do in W. He might still be cooling his heels on his red-state ranch.
Final note: For ourselves, we havent seen the constant tide of anthropological articles to which Rich irately refers. For ourselves, we wish the press corps had tried a bit harder to explore the issue of racial voting. This is a giant part of our nations history. Tragic as the topic is, it deserves full, thoughtful treatment.
Rich and that troubling rifle: Right after he mentioned Gores troubling rifle, Rich helped us understand why Gore made An Inconvenient Truth. And good grief! Even as late as 2006, it had to be All About Clinton:
RICH (5/28/06): If ''An Inconvenient Truth'' isn't actually a test drive for a presidential run, it's the biggest tease since Colin Powell encouraged speculation about his political aspirations during his 1995 book tour. Mr. Gore's nondenial denials about his ambitions (he has ''no plans'' to run) are Clintonesque.
Well, guess what? There was no subsequent run for the White House; Rich was stupidly wrong about that, just as hed been in 2002, when he assured us that Gore was only opposing Iraq as a way to run in 2004. But even as late as 2006, Bill Clinton still drove this stone crackpots dreams. It was Bill Clintons voice this big nutcase still heard when phony Gore stepped up to speak.
Rich is front-running hardtoday. In the past, he helped put Bush where he is. Gore is just as phony as Bush, this big nutcase constantly said.
In fairness: Once Gore won the Nobel Prize, Rich flipped, and began to praise him.
STUPIDITY ONLY SERVES POWER: This morning, we scanned all three cable channels between 6 and 6:30. The stupidity was stunning. On all three.
Tomorrow, well sample some of this mornings offeringsbut this next week will be very stupid. As Election Day draws near, its the stupidest week of the year. For ourselves, we think its a shame to see our side increasingly making a bad decision. Our side is running with stupid too, it seems as we watch our side work.
This brings us around to a couple of things Naomi Juddand Paul Krugmansaid. We think Judds statement was plainly wrong, though not stupid. (She was speaking about Sarah Palin.) We think Krugmans statement was a touch understated. But it was quite plainly true:
JUDD (10/24/08): Never before in the history of American politics has any political candidate ever been so maligned by the unrepentant liberal-biased media, the pseudo-intellectuals, the Hollywood elite, and the bloggers and the haters.
KRUGMAN (10/26/08): In a way, you cant blame Mr. McCain for campaigning on triviaafter all, its worked in the past. Most notably, President Bush got within hanging-chads-and-butterfly-ballot range of the White House only because much of the news media, rather than focusing on the candidates policy proposals, focused on their personas: Mr. Bush was an amiable guy youd like to have a beer with, Al Gore was a stiff know-it-all, and never mind all that hard stuff about taxes and Social Security.
Trust us: Millions of Americans believe what Judd saidthat no one has ever been maligned like Palin. And though this belief is plainly wrong, it isnt stupid that they believe it. They believe it because theyve been told, again and again, that the unrepentant liberal-biased media works against all Republican candidates. Theyve been told this again and againand again. And they rarely hear much from our side.
They were fed this tale again yesterday, in a full pundit segment on Fox News Sunday. They were fed it today, on Morning Joe, as Joe Scarborough ranted and railed in ways which were extremely stupidwhile Mika Brzezinski cowered and quailed, too frightened to tell him the truth. (We expect to post transcripts tomorrow.)
And so we say this: Hurrah for Paul Krugman! His account is a bit understated, but its perfectly accurate. In all honesty, Judds statement is trueabout Candidate Gore! But our side has agreed not to talk about that. Trust us: Naomi Judd has never heard about the trashing of Candidate Gore. It isnt stupid that she believes what she said. Its amazingly stupid that our side has agreed not to tell her the truth.
To this day, our side has agreed to keep its traps shut about the trashing of the Clintons and Gore. As weve done so, weve given away a giant political advantage. Millions of peoplepeople like Juddhear that the press corps just hates Big Republicans. And they rarely hear a peep from our side. Weve agreed not to tell them the truth.
In large part, our side has kept its traps shut about the Clinton/Gore era for corrupt, careerist reasons. (The mainstream press corps conducted those wars. Our side doesnt want to offend them.) Oh sure! Once in a while, we blurt out the truth, as Ezra Klein did one fine day, at the start of that Prospect cover story:
KLEIN (4/06): The address was the keynote for the We Media conference, held at the Associated Press headquarters in New York last October  and attended by an audience that included both old media luminaries and new media innovators. In attendance were Tom Curley, president of the AP, Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, all leading lights of a media establishment that, five years earlier, had deputized itself judge, jury, and executioner for Gores 2000 presidential campaign, spinning each days events to portray the stolid, capable vice president as a wild exaggerator, ideological chameleon, and total, unforgivable bore.
Wow! (And almost perfectly accurate. For the record, the execution had started six years earlier, in mid-March 1999.) But weirdly, Ezra never said it again! And so, Judd has never heard any of thisalong with the vast majority of American voters.
(Even Josh told the truth once, in 2002even as he kept saying different.)
For the most part, career liberals agreed to keep their traps shut in pursuit of career advantage. (Presumably, this doesnt mean everyone.) But in this way, we hand the other side a massive political advantage. This week, voters are hearing, over and over, about the unfairness of Palins coverage. Because weve kept so quiet so long, these voters have no way to put these claims into context.
Kevin wont tell you. Josh wont tell you. Ezra spoke once, then shut the f*ck up. Your nominal allies are very quiet. Atrios rarely offers a peep. Why do they hate the Judds so?
It may not matter in this particular yearbut its an amazingly stupid political play. But then, stupid is all around you this week, as the election draws near. Scarborough was deeply stupid todaybut our sider has been pushing some bull-roar too And people, mark our words on this: Stupidity only serves power! This morning, the backlash is already on, with Palin defended (by Brzezinksi and Jay Carney) for the outrageous attacks on her clothes. Gore received no such backlash or defenseand his wardrobe was savaged for months.
If liberals had an ounce of sense, wed work to eliminate such inane topics from our pitiful public discourse. Inanitylike stupidityonly serves power. Well explore this sad theme all this week, in this, the stupidest week of the year. With amazement, well note the growing way our side has embraced stupid too.