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Daily Howler: Pundits cheered when Bradley trashed Gore. Now, someone else takes a turn
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BARACK DOES BILL BRADLEY! Pundits cheered when Bradley trashed Gore. Now, someone else takes a turn: // link // print // previous // next //

PURRING IN PEARLS: Over the weekend, we had a chance to thumb through Sally Bedell Smith’s gruesome new book, For Love of Politics. (Its sub-title may as well be this: “No misstatement of the past fifteen years left behind.”) Smith’s comic-book dishonesty begins in paragraph 3. We apologize for calling her a nice person last week, even with tongue slightly in cheek.

Meanwhile, Smith, smoothly purring in pearls, did a half hour on Friday’s Hardball; it turned into one of Chris Matthews’ craziest outings in some time. (Why does Clinton clap her hands so much? She’s such a fraud about the Yankees! And: Do they even live together? And: Her voice is like chalk on the blackboard!) Tomorrow, Matthews hosts another Democratic debate; we’ll discuss his recent lunacy for much of the week (starting with the softballs he lobbed in his net’s last Republican session). But make no mistake: The loathing of the Clintons (and Gore) hasn’t dimmed inside the Village. Liberals have a decision to make about that. Recent, plutocratic history says we’ll decide very wrong.

BARACK DOES BILL BRADLEY: Awful! This report in Saturday’s Post is so awful for Democrats that we’re going to focus on it today—even though we will not, in the main, be critiquing the work of the press corps.

Instead, we’ll be talking about Candidate Obama. More specifically, we’ll be talking about the threat captured in that report’s headline: “Obama Ratchets Up Criticism of Clinton.” (For the record, here’s the sub-headline: “New Yorker ‘Ducking’ Social Security Issue.”)

If you don’t want a President Giuliani, you should consider what is described in that report.
That news report, by Perry Bacon, describes a new approach by Obama’s campaign. Here’s the way Bacon began:
BACON (10/27/07): Sen. Barack Obama yesterday slammed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for "ducking the issue" of ensuring the solvency of Social Security and signaled that he will take a more aggressive approach to the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

At an event in Des Moines, Obama (D-Ill.) characterized Clinton's approach to addressing the issues as "You should hedge, dodge and spin, but at all costs, don't answer."
Obama is going to be “more aggressive” about Clinton—and he’s starting with Social Security. According to Obama, Clinton has been hedging, ducking, dodging and spinning the issue. And omigod! The point of this new approach by Obama is even more clear in what follows:
BACON (continuing directly): The statements marked the latest escalation of campaign rhetoric from a candidate who earlier this year declined to criticize his chief opponent for the nomination. Increasingly, he is taking on not just Clinton's policy views but also her character, and is casting the Democratic front-runner as someone who makes decisions based on polls and calculation, rather than on her convictions.
Increasingly, Obama is talking about Clinton’s “character.” Granted, that’s an assessment by Bacon, not a quote from Obama. But when you say that someone is ducking, hedging, dodging and spinning a serious issue, you are, of course, critiquing her character. And that is the way your claims will be reported—especially since the candidate in question has the last name of Clinton.

Of course, Clinton really hasn’t been ducking or hedging or dodging or spinning this non-issue issue. In a recent Washington Post news report, she made a perfectly accurate statement about Social Security—a statement that is massively more accurate than the embarrassing blather Obama offered at the September 26 Dem debate. At that debate, the plutocrat tribune, Timothy Russert, pushed this non-issue back onto the table. Quite correctly, here’s what Clinton told the Post’s Anne Kornblut in the wake of that familiar performance:
KORNBLUT (10/10/07): Clinton offered insights into the governing priorities she would bring to the White House, speaking cautiously about extricating the nation from Iraq and urgently about health-care reform. She also said she will take no position on how to fix Social Security and made it clear she does not regard it as a front-burner issue.

"I do not believe it is in a crisis," she said of the retirement program.
“She will take no position” is, of course, Kornblut’s top-heavy spin. “I do not believe it is in a crisis” was Clinton’s actual statement—and her statement is perfectly accurate. Indeed, we would have though that all Democrats knew that—until that embarrassing debate. At that session, the plutocrat Russert continued trying to push this non-issue center stage, and Obama and Edwards embarrassed themselves, even reciting the tired old plutocrat line: College kids don’t even think they’ll ever get Social Security! Good God! Plutocrat “think tanks” have pimped that line for decades now, attempting to create a false sense of crisis. And there were Candidates Obama and Edwards, reciting their bogus cant for them (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/28/07).

Again, Clinton is right on this silly non-issue, as Democrats all seemed to know in 2005. But so what? Now, we read that Obama is going to push the issue as a referendum on Clinton’s bad character! And make no mistake: A plutocrat press corps will praise Obama for both parts of this approach. They’ll praise him for attacking Clinton’s character—a long-time, favorite focus of theirs. And they’ll praise him for pimping the “problem” of Social Security, as plutocrat think tanks have so long done—as they themselves did, without mercy, in their two-year-long War Against Gore.

(In chapter 12 of Naomi Klein’s new book, The Shock Doctrine, she describes the process, observed all over the world, by which plutocrat entities create phony fiscal crises as ways of achieving regressive “reforms.” She focuses on a phony mid-90s crisis in Canada, and another fake crisis in Trinidad and Tobago—but in this country, plutocrats have followed this strategy for decades with regard to Social Security. In 2005, every good Dem on the web knew about this—and also knew it was wrong.)

From the Democratic Party perspective, how bad did Saturday’s news report get? As Bacon continued, he described a recent Obama campaign event. Every Democrat should be disturbed by the highlighted statement, whose antecedent is blindingly clear:
BACON (continuing directly): To emphasize this theme, Obama, who trails Clinton (D-N.Y.) by a wide margin in national polls, was introduced at the event by Tod Bowman, a Democrat and high school teacher in Maquoketa, Iowa. He said Clinton ducked his question about Social Security at an event this month.

"It made me wonder: If a candidate won't answer a question on the campaign trail, how can we be sure she'll be honest with the American people when they're president?" Bowman said at an event at a senior citizen center in Des Moines.
There are no words for how appalled Democrats ought to be.

Pathetic! “If a candidate won't answer a question on the campaign trail, how can we be sure she'll be honest with the American people when they're president?” That’s what the high-minded high school teacher said, speaking in support of Obama’s campaign. But that is exactly what Candidate Bradley said about Candidate Gore at a crucial point in Campaign 2000, when he’d been reduced to inventing claims about Gore’s troubling “character.” At the final Gore-Bradley debate in New Hampshire, Bradley offered the following attack on Gore’s troubling lack of honesty. Because it came from a high-minded Democrat, the press corps repeated it for the rest of the year—exactly as they will do with such attacks from Obama:
BRADLEY (1/27/00): If you don't trust the people to tell them the truth in a campaign, then how can the people trust that you're going to tell them the truth when you're president of the United States?
By this time, Bradley was desperate and angry—and willing to lie through his teeth. How absurd were his claims about Gore’s “character?” By now, he and his campaign had spent two months pretending that Gore introduced Willie Horton to the American people—even though Bradley had gone out of his way to say the opposite in his best-selling 1996 book, Time Past, Time Present (link below). But the press corps loved assailing Gore’s character—and this was Bradley attacking Gore, not a Republican or conservative entity. The line was recited right through November. It helped put Bush where he is.

So let’s go back to that high-minded line voiced by that high-minded high school teacher. If you think that line wasn’t written for Bowman; if you think that line wasn’t copied from Bradley’s (effective) slander of Gore; then you live on the far side of Neptune, and you ought to stop following politics. Bottom line: Big Democrats can’t attack other Democrats’ character—especially by falsely claiming that Social Security is some kind of big issue. Bradley was lying in Campaign 2000—and the mainstream press corps loved it. Obama seems to be on the verge of going down that road again.

Let’s review: It’s astounding to see a Major Dem pimping Social Security as a big, troubling issue. It’s astounding to see one Dem attacking another because she won’t go along with that plutocrat claim—especially when he’s been reciting the old chestnut about college kids. This claim has been the tool of plutocrats over the course of the past twenty-five years. Now, we see a Major Dem pimping this line—and criticizing Clinton’s troubling “character” because she won’t go there with him.

By the way, tell us again: Which of these two is the “liberal?”

Of course, you won’t hear this from the well-mannered boys who PayPal your asses on the liberal web. They’ll check their polls and exert great care as they decide what to say about this—just as they kept their fat traps shut when Bradley was lying his keister off about Gore’s deeply troubling “character.” But just look back at what they said in 2005 about Social Security. They all proclaimed this was bull-sh*t back then. What on earth has happened to their high-minded voices now?

It’s simple lunacy to see a Big Dem taking the approach described by Bacon. And make no mistake: If this is the way this campaign goes, Klein can get ready to add new sections to The Shock Doctrine’s next edition. She can add a section to chapter 12, describing the way a phony crisis finally led to “reforms” of Social Security in the U.S. And she can add a section about the glorious wars President Rudy has started.

Bradley’s line helped send Bush to the White House. And last week, there it was again! A high school teacher was saying it now, speaking on behalf of Obama. Clinton hasn’t been honest, we’re once again told; she won’t spout that plutocrat line.

Darlings! Sally Smith, purring in pearls, couldn’t have peddled it better.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Bradley lied through his teeth about Willie Horton—and the “press corps” refused to tell you (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/1/02). By the way, your polite liberal boys kept their traps shut then too. Why not reward them for their silence? PayPal is ready to help you. Mommy and Daddy will be very proud if you send them your money.

In Campaign 2000, Gore was right about Social Security (as Clinton is) and the “mainstream” press corps savaged him for it (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/20/02). But so what? Even after Bush’s humiliating defeat on this issue in 2005, people like Russert will start in again if Obama starts attacking Clinton. The Raccoons will praise Obama’s high-minded stand—and they’ll attack Vile Clinton’s bad character. It will be like what they did to Gore in May and June 2000.

Oh, by the way, remind us again: Which of these two is the “liberal?”