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Daily Howler: The backlash is on, with Palin defended against the attacks on her clothes
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STUPIDITY ONLY SERVES POWER! The backlash is on, with Palin defended against the attacks on her clothes: // link // print // previous // next //

A punishing film: We finally saw W over the weekend. No, it isn’t a great film, and it left us feeling almost sick. But yes, we’d have to recommend it. Frankly, the events of the film might not have occurred—if not for this next great man:

Frankly, that’s wrong: The church of High Manhattan Pseudo-Liberalism really took a hit this Sunday. The offense occurred in Frank Rich’s slightly comical column, “In Defense of White Americans.”

How many white voters will vote against Obama on the basis of race next week? We don’t know, and neither does Rich—nor 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 isn’t 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 McCain’s campaign—and in the process, he was even willing to speak for the honor of regular white folk! It’s 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 doesn’t mean that the country is racist. It’s past time to come to the unfairly maligned white America’s defense.

That includes acknowledging that the so-called liberal media, among their other failures this year, have helped ratchet up this election cycle’s prevailing antiwhite bias. Ever since Obama declared his candidacy, the press’s 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, Rich’s 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 “vigilantes”—even when they’ve committed no such acts. (Omigod! They even quote Bush!) And Timespersons mock their guns and religion—as Rich did, in an earlier episode, when Al Gore mentioned the fact, in An Inconvenient Truth, that he owned a rifle on his family’s farm when he was a boy. According to the wonderfully ludicrous Rich, this was a play to the NRA—and 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 creationism—who 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 laugh—even as he mocked the religious beliefs of those red-state white folk.

Yesterday, Rich comically attacked the press corps for its “antiwhite bias.” (Go ahead—treat yourself. Laugh out loud!) And of course, to our delight, he got a basic fact wrong. No, his error doesn’t hugely matter—although we’d call it a sign of the times. But we’ll admit that our analysts chortled hard at the blowhard’s 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 facto—and despite the absence of any credible empirical evidence—these 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 Pennsylvania’s 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 wasn’t a factor. That means that 78 percent of Dem voters were white—and 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 doesn’t hugely matter. But truly, it’s Classic Rich! He only writes one column per week. In those columns, he has thundered mightily down through the years—often in ways which have massacred Dems, especially in the case of Gore. But despite his leisure and his vast influence, Rich can’t interpret basic data in a simple exit poll—just as he couldn’t seem to avoid saying that Al Gore said he invented the Internet. Such dumbness is tragic—and 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 don’t have the slightest idea—and, quite frankly, neither does Rich. But go ahead—just laugh out loud! Rich is front-running so hard this year that he’s even praising Pennsylvania’s 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 haven’t 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 nation’s history. Tragic as the topic is, it deserves full, thoughtful treatment.

Rich and that troubling rifle: Right after he mentioned Gore’s 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 he’d 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 crackpot’s dreams. It was Bill Clinton’s voice this big nutcase still heard when phony Gore stepped up to speak.

Rich is front-running hard—today. 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, we’ll sample some of this morning’s offerings—but this next week will be very stupid. As Election Day draws near, it’s the stupidest week of the year. For ourselves, we think it’s 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 Judd—and Paul Krugman—said. We think Judd’s statement was plainly wrong, though not stupid. (She was speaking about Sarah Palin.) We think Krugman’s 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 can’t blame Mr. McCain for campaigning on trivia—after all, it’s 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 you’d 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 said—that no one has ever been maligned like Palin. And though this belief is plainly wrong, it isn’t stupid that they believe it. They believe it because they’ve been told, again and again, that “the unrepentant liberal-biased media” works against all Republican candidates. They’ve been told this again and again—and 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 stupid—while 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 it’s perfectly accurate. In all honesty, Judd’s statement is true—about 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 isn’t stupid that she believes what she said. It’s 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 we’ve done so, we’ve given away a giant political advantage. Millions of people—people like Judd—hear that the press corps just hates Big Republicans. And they rarely hear a peep from our side. We’ve 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 doesn’t 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 [2005] 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 Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, spinning each day’s 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 this—along with the vast majority of American voters.

(Even Josh told the truth once, in 2002—even as he kept saying different.)

For the most part, career liberals agreed to keep their traps shut in pursuit of career advantage. (Presumably, this doesn’t 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 Palin’s coverage. Because we’ve kept so quiet so long, these voters have no way to put these claims into context.

Kevin won’t tell you. Josh won’t 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 year—but it’s an amazingly stupid political play. But then, stupid is all around you this week, as the election draws near. Scarborough was deeply stupid today—but 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 defense—and his wardrobe was savaged for months.

If liberals had an ounce of sense, we’d work to eliminate such inane topics from our pitiful public discourse. Inanity—like stupidity—only serves power. We’ll explore this sad theme all this week, in this, the stupidest week of the year. With amazement, we’ll note the growing way our side has embraced stupid too.