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THE SKILLS OF A CLOWN! Muslims die—and Andrew Sullivan exults! It’s just the way Sully would type it:


MICRO-CLOWNING—HOW CLOWNISTRY SPREADS: As we’ve said, there’s plenty to critique and assess in Dem hopeful views on the war in Iraq. But in Wednesday’s New York Times, “Kit” Seelye did some of her famous script-typing. A statement by Clark “introduced some new confusion” into his stance on Iraq, she complained (in a “news report”). In this morning’s Washington Times, Emmett Tyrrell cuts and pastes Seelye’s spinning:

TYRRELL: I think Clark is the cheapest and most reckless [Democratic candidate]. He is also a political greenhorn, as inexpert at explaining himself as he is impudent at lying.

Early this week, he began publicly opposing the administration’s $87 billion package for pacifying and rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan. In no time, he was contradicting himself. Reporters overheard his saying of Iraq, “We broke the dishes, we’re going to have to pay for them.” When they asked him about the contradiction, The New York Times reported his saying, “Eventually we’re going to have to do our part in the reconstruction.”

That’s Tyrrell’s full account of “the contradiction.” Tyrrell omits the rest of what Clark said. “Eventually we’re going to have to do our part in the reconstruction of Iraq,” Clark told Seelye. “But, he added, he will not support any appropriation until Mr. Bush has a strategy for getting out.”

What sort of “strategy” does Clark need to see? What’s wrong with the “strategy” Bush is pursuing? Seelye might have asked these intelligent questions, but Seelye is a typer of scripts. Everyone knows the script on Clark: Clark (a big phony) can’t explain his positions. The day before, Adam Nagourney had furthered the tale by inventing an answer—an answer Clark had never given. Seelye knew she should push the script too.

And when spinners like Seelye push preferred scripts, propagandists like Tyrrell quickly spread them. Seelye simply ignored what Clark said; she said that he had “spread confusion,” although his statement wasn’t all that confusing. This morning, Tyrrell improves on Seelye’s work by simply omitting Clark’s further explanation. Tyrrell omits the part where Clark explains himself. Clark needs to see a “strategy” before voting more money. Tyrrell’s readers won’t have to know that.

Note: More of Seelye’s trademark work was evident in his Wednesday story. Clark was expressing “his evident fury at Mr. Bush,” the mindless scribe said. Script? You must be bitter, hateful, or unbalanced if you oppose President Bush on Iraq. Angry, angry, bitter, angry: It long has been the spin on Dean, and it’s being passed on to Clark.

MACRO-CLOWNING—WHY IT NEVER GOES AWAY: We’ve often praised conservative figure filbert Bruce Bartlett, and we’ve done so for good reason. Bartlett supports conservative budget principles, but he also believes in accurate statement. In that sense, the scribe is a throwback. Recent evidence? In Wednesday morning’s Washington Times, Bartlett presented basic facts about Ronald Reagan’s tax increases. Because these facts are so rarely presented, we quote his column at length:

BARTLETT: Reagan may have resisted calls for tax increases, but he ultimately supported them. In 1982 alone, he signed into law not one but two major tax increases. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act raised taxes by $37.5 billion per year, and the Highway Revenue Act of 1982 raised the gasoline tax by another $3.3 billion.

According to a recent Treasury Department study, TEFRA alone raised taxes by almost 1 percent of the gross domestic product, making it the largest peacetime tax increase in American history. An increase of similar magnitude today would raise more than $100 billion per year.

In 1983, Reagan signed legislation raising the Social Security tax rate. This is a tax increase that lives with us still, since it initiated automatic increases in the taxable wage base. As a consequence, those with moderately high earnings see their payroll taxes rise every single year.

The following year, Reagan signed another big tax increase in the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984. This raised taxes by $18 billion per year or 0.4 percent of GDP. A similar sized tax increase today would be about $44 billion.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 raised taxes yet again. Even the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was designed to be revenue-neutral, contained a net tax increase in its first two years. And the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 raised taxes still more.

The year 1988 appears to be the only year of the Reagan presidency, other than the first, in which taxes were not raised legislatively. Of course, previous tax increases remained in effect. According to a table in the 1990 budget, the net effect of all these tax increases was to raise taxes by $164 billion in 1992, or 2.6 percent of GDP. This is equivalent to almost $300 billion in today’s economy.

“I say all this not to besmirch Reagan’s reputation, but simply to set the record straight,” Bartlett says. And why was this all this straightening needed? In a previous column, Bartlett predicted that President Bush would end up raising taxes in a second term. This produced a strange reaction. Bartlett explains that, too:
BARTLETT: Peter Wallison, who was White House counsel to President Reagan, responded to my analysis in The New York Times on Oct. 26. He pointed to Ronald Reagan’s resistance to tax increases in 1982, citing passages from Reagan’s diary that were published in his autobiography, “An American Life.” The gist of Wallison’s article is that Ronald Reagan successfully resisted efforts by his staff and many in Congress to raise taxes, thereby ensuring the victory of Reaganomics.
“The only problem with this analysis is that it is historically inaccurate,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett ought to be saluted for presenting these facts about Reagan’s record—facts which are seldom noted in our clowning public discourse. But what is truly amazing here? What is truly amazing is the fact that Wallison’s article made it to print—on the New York Times Sunday op-ed page, no less. But readers! Your modern press corps bends the knee to clowning clowns and their endless clownistry. It’s hardly surprising that Wallison typed a silly account of the Reagan record. But why did Gail Collins put it in print? Simple! Collins defers to the clowning clowns! The clowning clowns must be given their space! It’s why so many Americans believe their dumb tales. It also explains why their clown-like tales are never removed from our discourse.

For more clowning accounts of the Reagan record, watch Sean Hannity’s broadcasts each night. Of course, High Pundits know they must never notice such clowning. It’s left to honest conservatives—to men like Bartlett—to present the accurate record. But then, of course, as Russell Baker explained it: Our Millionaire Pundits simply don’t know about these historical facts.

CLOWNING CLOWNISTRY—ANY DUMB-ASS CAN DO IT: In closing out this morning’s piece, let’s engage in some clowning ourselves:

HOWLER CLOWNISTRY—SPRINGTIME FOR SULLIVAN: Andrew Sullivan is happy—“cheerful”—because “innocent civilians” are being killed in Iraq! He says so in this morning’s Washington Times, in a dispatch headlined “Reasons to be cheerful.” Why is Sully so chipper this week? In an excess of fairness, let’s let him explain it. “It might seem odd, but this past week has made me more optimistic,” he says. “I didn’t see it that way at first, because the news of the Ramadan suicide bombing campaign seemed so dispiriting.” But “on reflection,” he finds reason for cheer. “For the first time, the Islamist forces of terror are targeting Arabs,” Sullivan says. “They are targeting innocent civilians in Iraq; and they are doing so with no concern for any religious propriety or military decency. They have bombed mosques and the International Red Cross.” Sickening, isn’t it? Because terrorists are killing Iraqis instead of Americans because they’re bombing mosques—Andrew Sullivan finds “reasons for cheer.”

Readers, that would be a sick, stupid way to explain what Sullivan says in his column. But would it be different from Sullivan’s parsing of Paul Krugman, right in this very same piece? (Krugman is a “former paid Enron adviser,” our sick little scribe quickly says.) First, Sullivan quotes Ed Koch, who says that, “[u]sing Krugman’s logic [in a recent column], we should understand Hitler’s needs and forgive him.” Sullivan’s own assessment of Krugman? “Poor Mr. Krugman,” he laments. “All he can hope for now is calamity in Iraq.” Sullivan, of course, is a scripted bagman—and a hater. But readers, just reread our dumb-ass version of Sullivan’s statement about Iraq. It’s easy to be stupid—and a hate merchant. By the way, Tony Blankley is the man who put Sullivan’s ugly cant into print.

KINSLEY CONFRONTS CLOWNING CLOWNISTRY: We’ve often compared our discourse to professional wrestling. This morning, Michael Kinsley says it’s “like a kabuki ritual.” But Kinsley is correcting a pol—and he implies that this “modern Washington dishonesty” is jointly owned by the Reps and the Dems. Michael, how old! And how very tired! We’d love to see Kinsley apply his analysis to the kabuki that increasingly counts—to the “modern dishonesty” that rules his own class, the High Class of the Washington press corps. Everyone knows that pols spin facts. People don’t know about Sullivan. Or maybe Kinsley actually thinks that the Sullivans type in good faith.