Team of hacks/hes a Jet all the way: We had to chuckle when Brokaws angels began inventing Saint McCains legacy. The Parson, Jon Meacham, was first to cleared his throat and opine. Forgive his failure to form complete thoughts. Just note the odd shape of his reasoning:
MEACHAM (11/9/08): We are in the midst of a great national moment about this candidate of hope, this candidate of change. This is a very tough man. He is a very tough politician. The main thing he remembered from growing up in Indonesia was his stepfather teaching him how to box and how to hit back. And so I, I think people who "misunderestimate" him, to use a term from the era now past
that is one legacy we will keep, I hope, and enjoy. You know, andand people like me, I, I was very skeptical of this. I'm a Southerner. I, I thought it was a very long shot. Until the market collapsed, I thought it was a better than even chance that Senator McCain, who ran, I think, in all a noble campaign and we should, I think, mark that. It could've been a lot worse out there in the past couple of months. He knows how to fight andsee Rahm Emanuel.
If it isnt silly, Meacham wont say it. No, Obamas stepfather teaching him how to box wasnt the main thing he remembered from growing up in Indonesia. And the Parson was of course required to say that he himself had been very skepticalas a Southerner, of courseat the idea that a black guy could get elected. But note the logic the Parson employed when evaluating McCain. His campaign could have been a lot worse, Meacham said. Therefore, the campaign had been noble.
No real human reasons that way. Thats the logic of the fabulists employed to shape the conceptual world of your Potemkin democracy. Theyre introduced as analysts and historiansbut, in fact, theyre serial novelists. Once their characters have been defined, nothingnothing!will ever change the way theyve been sketched out.
Mightily pleased by what Meacham had said, Brokaw turned to Doris Kearns Goodwin. The pair extended the tale:
BROKAW (continuing directly): Doris, you wrote Team of Rivals, and he's reading that, we're told. These were the people that Abraham Lincoln ran against and then pulled into his Cabinet to help him govern. One of the most gracious speeches we've heard in the course of the last nine months was given by John McCain the night that he was defeated. Should he find a place, specifically, for John McCain? If not in the Cabinet, necessarily, but reach out to him in Congress? And, and shake up Washington in a way that we have not seen it shaken up in a long, long time?
GOODWIN: I think he's going to try to do something like that, and I think it's in McCain's interest to respond. McCain has a certain number of years left in public life. He's had such a noble career before him. He is a person who brings people together, that's what he was before. And that concession speech, I think, was his beginning road on that journey. It was so classy. You're so exhausted, your eyes are puffy, you've had this terrible rejection, you almost reached this White House. And to give that kind of a graceful speech was an extraordinary moment. And I think that Obama will be able to think beyond the normal. I think that's why he talks about Lincoln all the time. It wasn't just that Lincoln brought his chief Republican rivals in. He brought Democrats, former Whigs, they're fighting all the time, but he was able to bring them together in the most unusual team in history, and I'll bet you Obama will do that. I'd love to see McCain in some big position.
GOODWIN: Maybego ahead. No, I was just going to spout, so go ahead.
I was just going to spout, Goodwin said, in a rare moment of candor.
The shape of the ongoing novel was clear. In fact, defeated candidates always give gracious speechesin our view, McCain was a bit more grumpy than mostbut this one was used to extend a key portrait. Somewhat comically, Goodwin described what McCain was beforebefore he paraded about the country, making absurd claims about Obama the Socialist while his running-mate, Sarah the McCarthyite, talked about the way Obama liked to pal around with terrorists. But in the Parson and the Plagiarists novel, this conduct has quickly been wished away. In their novel, McCain is so noble and so gracioushis classy speech was so extraordinarythat Obama would be a fool if he didnt let McCain run the federal government. Sorryhold some big position.
Were told that we should be proud of our country. Sorry, we arent buying any part of the concept. In fact, you dont really have a country when its discourseits collective memoryis incessantly shaped by the Team of Hacks which ran on the field Sunday morning.
Do you really have a country? Or is your country a holograma dream-scape invented by a pseudo-elite? Well discuss the question all week. But in todays hackneyed piece by the Kaiser, another historian uses the term collective memory to describe what we were given last week (for a previous use of the term, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/7/08). Unfortunately, this country has many collective memories of the past twenty yearscollective memories of seminal events which never actually occurred. Your neighbors were handed these memories by the hacks Coach Brokaw dragged out on the field.
They introduce themselves as historians; in truth, they write novelsdime novels. In the novel extended above, McCain must, by law, remain noble. As a group, they devoted the best years of their lives to creating this childish portraita portrait they invented at the same time they invented Al Gore, the Big Liar. For reasons only they can explain, they insisted on jamming these ludicrous portraits into your countrys collective memory. And under the rules of their childish game, Saint McCain must remain a great saint:
When youre a Jet, youre a Jet all the way in the land of these kaisers and parsons.
No, that isnt the main thing Obama remembered from growing up in Indonesia. But these hacks have stories theyre determined to tell; fact and logic are tossed away in the face of that driving imperative. If a campaign could have been worse, that demonstrates that the campaign was noble! And this is the way group memory is formed on your nations most prestigious news program!
Given that, how proud are you of your country? Are you sure that your country exists?
Shipps shapes: Long ago, E.R. Shipp, then Post ombudsman, described the way the Post seemed to be defining the roles of various actors in an unfolding political dramaan unfolding political novel otherwise known as Campaign 2000. Right as rain thenstill right today! More than eight years ago, Shipp described the way a Team of Hacks was inventing a saint named McCain:
SHIPP (3/5/00): [R]eaders reactsometimes in a nonpartisan way, more often notto roles that The Post seems to have assigned to the actors in this unfolding political drama. Gore is the guy in search of an identity; Bradley is the Zen-like intellectual in search of a political strategy; McCain is the war hero who speaks off the cuff and is, thus, a "maverick"; and Bush is a lightweight with a famous name, and has the blessings of the party establishment and lots of money in his war chest. As a result of this approach, some candidates are whipping boys; others seem to get a free pass.
Shipp described the work of the Posts reporter-dramatists, who had assigned different roles to the actors. In the process, she pre-described yesterdays Meet the Press.
Special report: Rich and a King!
PART 1RICHLY EMBELLISHED: What can you say about a country where a guy like Frank Rich helps establish the discourse? Helps create the collective memories? In his typical New York Times column, Rich presents some sort of strange novel. But on Sunday, our second double-take occurred during just his third paragraph. Well review our first double-take by the end of the week. But Frankly, we thought this was Rich:
RICH (11/9/08): For eight years, weve been told by those in power that we are small, bigoted and stupideasily divided and easily frightened. This was the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics. It was the soiled banner picked up by the sad McCain campaign, and it was often abetted by an amen corner in the dominant news media. We heard this slander of America so often that we all started to believe it, liberals most certainly included. If I had a dollar for every Democrat who told me there was no way that Americans would ever turn against the war in Iraq or definitively reject Bush governance or elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama president, I could almost start to recoup my 401(k). Few wanted to take yes for an answer.
So lets be blunt. Almost every assumption about America that was taken as a given by our political culture on Tuesday morning was proved wrong by Tuesday night.
Really? Few Democrats believed that Americans would ever...elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama president? If thats true, who were the 18 million people who voted for Obama during the primaries? Who were all the industrious, caring people who worked and organized for him?
As usual, Rich is heightening drama (lying/writing a novel) when he makes this ludicrous statement. Were told to be proud of our country this weekby Brother Krugman, to a lesser extent by Kathleen Parker. But what does it mean when a countrys elites put phantasmagorists in charge of its discourse?
Rich said he was speaking bluntly in this part of his column. Almost every assumption of our political culture was proved wrong Tuesday night, he said. But as he proceeded to list those assumptions, the gentleman rarely missed the chance to embellish, misstate, play the fool with his data. That said, the analysts really came out of their chairs when they reached the pronouncement which follows. Rich is blatantly making this up. What does it mean when your countrys elites let you be talked to this way?
RICH: The same commentators who dismissed every conceivable American demographic as racist, lazy or both got Sarah Palin wrong too. When she made her debut in St. Paul, the punditocracy was nearly uniform in declaring her selection a brilliant coup. There hadnt been so much instant over-the-top praise by the press for a cynical political stunt since President Bush landed a jet on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in that short-lived triumph Mission Accomplished.
The rave reviews for Palin were completely disingenuous. Anyone paying attention (with the possible exception of John McCain) could see she was woefully ill-equipped to serve half-a-heartbeat away from the presidency...
The people, however, were reaching a less charitable conclusion and were well ahead of the Beltway curve in fleeing Palin. Only after polls confirmed that she was costing McCain votes did conventional wisdom in Washington finally change, demoting her from Republican savior to scapegoat overnight.
Really? After Palin debuted at the Republican Convention, the punditocracy was nearly uniform in declaring her selection a brilliant coup? The rave reviews only ceased after polls confirmed that she was costing McCain votes? Simply put, these claims are utterly bogus, like so much of the work Rich types. So what does it mean when a guy like this helps define what Americans know?
Out here in the actual world, how did the punditocracy react to Palins debut in St. Paul ? The lady spoke in St. Paul on Wednesday, September 3. Tomorrow, well give you a sample of what was being said that weekend, starting on Friday, September 5. Well look in four of our biggest newspapersincluding the paper employing Frank Rich. Youll see why our analysts leaped from their chairs when they scanned the grandees strange pronouncement.
A great deal of remarkable work appeared in our newspapers over the weekend. We were struck by Richand frankly, we were almost rendered nauseous when we fact-checked the work of a King.