FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2003
MICRO-CLOWNINGHOW CLOWNISTRY SPREADS: As weve said, theres plenty to critique and assess in Dem hopeful views on the war in Iraq. But in Wednesdays 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 mornings Washington Times, Emmett Tyrrell cuts and pastes Seelyes 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.Thats Tyrrells full account of the contradiction. Tyrrell omits the rest of what Clark said. Eventually were 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? Whats 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) cant explain his positions. The day before, Adam Nagourney had furthered the tale by inventing an answeran 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 wasnt all that confusing. This morning, Tyrrell improves on Seelyes work by simply omitting Clarks further explanation. Tyrrell omits the part where Clark explains himself. Clark needs to see a strategy before voting more money. Tyrrells readers wont have to know that.
Note: More of Seelyes 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 its being passed on to Clark.
MACRO-CLOWNINGWHY IT NEVER GOES AWAY: Weve often praised conservative figure filbert Bruce Bartlett, and weve 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 mornings Washington Times, Bartlett presented basic facts about Ronald Reagans 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.I say all this not to besmirch Reagans 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 Reagans resistance to tax increases in 1982, citing passages from Reagans diary that were published in his autobiography, An American Life. The gist of Wallisons 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 Reagans recordfacts which are seldom noted in our clowning public discourse. But what is truly amazing here? What is truly amazing is the fact that Wallisons article made it to printon 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. Its 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! Its 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 Hannitys broadcasts each night. Of course, High Pundits know they must never notice such clowning. Its left to honest conservativesto men like Bartlettto present the accurate record. But then, of course, as Russell Baker explained it: Our Millionaire Pundits simply dont know about these historical facts.
CLOWNING CLOWNISTRYANY DUMB-ASS CAN DO IT: In closing out this mornings piece, lets engage in some clowning ourselves:
HOWLER CLOWNISTRYSPRINGTIME FOR SULLIVAN: Andrew Sullivan is happycheerfulbecause innocent civilians are being killed in Iraq! He says so in this mornings Washington Times, in a dispatch headlined Reasons to be cheerful. Why is Sully so chipper this week? In an excess of fairness, lets let him explain it. It might seem odd, but this past week has made me more optimistic, he says. I didnt 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, isnt it? Because terrorists are killing Iraqis instead of Americans because theyre bombing mosquesAndrew 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 Sullivans 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 Krugmans logic [in a recent column], we should understand Hitlers needs and forgive him. Sullivans 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 bagmanand a hater. But readers, just reread our dumb-ass version of Sullivans statement about Iraq. Its easy to be stupidand a hate merchant. By the way, Tony Blankley is the man who put Sullivans ugly cant into print.
KINSLEY CONFRONTS CLOWNING CLOWNISTRY: Weve often compared our discourse to professional wrestling. This morning, Michael Kinsley says its like a kabuki ritual. But Kinsley is correcting a poland he implies that this modern Washington dishonesty is jointly owned by the Reps and the Dems. Michael, how old! And how very tired! Wed love to see Kinsley apply his analysis to the kabuki that increasingly countsto the modern dishonesty that rules his own class, the High Class of the Washington press corps. Everyone knows that pols spin facts. People dont know about Sullivan. Or maybe Kinsley actually thinks that the Sullivans type in good faith.