D-PLUS ELITE! Pundits have showcased their D-plus culture in the weeks since Obamas win: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2008
The sound of one tooth gnashing: All week, well explain the woeful, D-plus culture which defines large swaths of the upper-end press corps (see below). But how silly do their analyses get? As always, we find ourselves drawn to the work of Times tyro Maureen Dowd.
On Sunday, Dowd was frettin and fumin at the thought that Hillary Clinton might become Secretary of State. At THE HOWLER, we were most struck by this D-plus exposition:
That kind of analysis almost defines the work of our upper-end press corps.
Whats wrong with Dowds presentation?
First, Dowd seems flummoxed by the idea that Clinton, who voted to authorize the Iraq war, might end up running foreign policy in a world riven by that war. She imagines Kerry gnashing his teeth, and empathizes with Biden and Richardsonwho have, of course, expressed no views like the ones she places inside their heads. But duh! Kerry and Biden also voted to authorize the warand Richardson was pretty much cheer-leading for the war in early 2003. (He was then a newly-elected governor.) Is there anywhere else on the face of the earth where analysis of this type gets e-mailed all about and treated as top-notch reflection?
But wait a minute, you may say. Dowd is upset with this possible choice because Clinton voted to authorize the war without even reading the intelligence assessment! But very few senators meet that testa test which may or may not be significant. When Dana Priest first reported this matter in the Washington Post, she said that only six senators read the full NIE:
During the 2008 primaries, it became fairly clear that Clinton wasnt one of the six; she had been fully briefed on the intelligence by the people who created the NIE, she and her campaign staff said. Were Kerry and Biden in the Readership 6? We dont think weve ever seen this matter resolved. Does anything think that Dowd knows?
Who comprised the Readership 6? In an interview in late 2005, Senator Rockefeller seemed to name himself and Pat Roberts as two of the six; Senator Bob Graham seems to make three. Did Biden or Kerry present at the vault? We dont have the slightest idea. No one who watches the way the press works will likely assume that Dowd knows. (For the record, very few pundits other than Dowd have spent any time on this matter.)
At any rate, Clinton, Biden and Kerry all voted for the war resolution. Richardson seemed to support the war fairly strongly. Should Kerry and Richardson be gnashing their teeth? Should Biden be troubled by blond ambitionone of Dowds favorite gender-plays? This passage by Dowd is pure, flat-out gong-show. Well examine the culture supporting such work all through the course of the week.
Bernard just cant stop predicting: You should always read your Boehlert and Foserbut heres Boehlerts blog post about Dowds latest column. Meanwhile, Media Matters presented this report about some Clinton-trashing reactions on last Fridays Hardball. Michelle Bernard and Jennifer Donahue offered these assessments as part of a longer, gong-show discussion with a hopeless, Clinton/Gore-hatin host:
As usual, the Pundits of Eastwick were all in agreement! Will Clinton be offered the job? We dont have any idea, though harpies like this define a real problem. But Bernards assessment was really quite striking. If Hillary Clinton becomes Secretary of State, she will run a parallel government, the pundit remarkably said.
Bernard has shaken out as a perfectly reasonable presence on Hardballexcept where vile Clintons involved. For the record, the ladys track record is comically poor when it comes to Clinton-prediction. Heres what Bernard predicted on Hardball on Friday, June 6the night before Clinton gave the DC speech which formally ended her White House campaign. By this time, it was fairly clear what Clinton was going to doexcept to the tortured Bernard:
The next day, of course, Clinton ended her campaign and gave Obama a fulsome outright endorsement. By June 6, it had become fairly obvious that this was what Clinton was going to do. But on Hardball, the pundits crouched in their bunkers, like Japanese dead-enders after the war. Bernard, saying I do, I do, married the Clinton-Gore Derangement which has ruled Hardball and its host for ten years.
Bernard has shaken out as a perfectly reasonable presence on Hardballexcept where Clinton Derangement is involved. In June, she felt sure that Clinton wouldnt endorse. And last Friday, she did a remarkably nasty sooth-sayingoffering a prediction which was even less gracious than the one she had offered in June.
As Boehlert keeps noting, these people simply cant quit this affair. There are few signs that they ever will.
Never admit, never explain: On Monday, June 9, Bernard returned to Hardball. There was no discussion of her bungled prediction. Instead, we got this gong-show work about why Clinton had lost to Obama:
But so it has gone on this childish program over the past many years. Fort the record, this programs host killed himself for two years to get George Bush into the White House.
PART 1—THE DEAN GETS IT RIGHT: We rarely compliment David Broder for his analytical skills, but The Dean made a good point this Sunday. Its easy to over-interpret a healthy election win, Broder said.
Theres no doubt that things look semi-rosy, on a political basis, for Democrats at this juncture. Barack Obama won the White House by a healthy, 6.7 point margin. Beyond that, the Democratic candidate has won the popular vote in four of the past five presidential campaigns, extending over a sixteen-year span. The only time a Republican won the popular vote, he had to gin up a war to do it. Four years earlier, the same candidate only came close in the popular vote because the mainstream press had conducted a two-year war against his Democratic opponent. Our side has been too meek and too compromised to explain this fact to the public.
So Obama scored a healthy win. But 6.7 points isnt a landslideand healthy victories, even landslides, dont necessarily signal long-term trends. (If you dont believe us, let Nate Silver tell you. Ignore his youthful anti-Clintonism.) Broder doesnt do this sort of thing often. But we thought the following words of warning were well worth review:
The Dean was right in what he recalledand he skipped the unkindest cut of all! Dems imagined a thousand-year reign after Nixon got booted from officewith Agnew thrown out as a crook before him. But a few years later, Carter barely squeaked into the White Houseand Reagan buried him four years after that. Some Democratsand some punditsseem to think that Campaign 08 is a turning-point. We think liberals and Dems should perhaps be a bit more sober in their long-term projections.
But thats if you want to be sound in your thinking. Most of the Washington pundit corps bows to a different set of longings. Theyre the nations only D-plus elitethe dumbest of our professional cohorts. In our view, theyve been eager to showcase their D-plus culture in the two weeks since Obamas healthy win.
The foolishness has various faces. Some big pundits have marched to war, insisting were still a center-right nation. Other pundits have happily clowned as they picture the GOPs demise. In our view, this overpaid cohorts D-plus culture has been visible on various sides. They specialize in silly tales, driven by overblown evidence. Analysis isnt their thing.
Which of our pundits have taken the lead in showing off this D-plus culture? Over the weekend, we thought Charles Blow and Frank Rich displayed this sad culture at Gothams Times. Meanwhile, at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza and Tod Lindberg offered conflicting analysesbut at best, wed give each a C-plus [sic] for his effort. As many observers noticed, Jon Meacham was pretty silly in Newsweek a few week ago, in his were still a center-right nation piece. But Jonathan Alter, presenting the other side, got a D-plus from us as well.
This is a deeply unimpressive elite. Their culture seems to be built around riding to hounds, lovely food and the dance. As we ponder Obamas win, well consider their D-plus work all week. As always, were especially sad when the emerging progressive/liberal world seems determined to ape their dumb culture.
Like Broder, Frank Rich made an accurate statement yesterday. [A]t a time of genuine national peril, the Gotham great opined, we actually do need an opposition party that is not brain-dead. We agree; it would be a very good thing for the country if neither party modeled brain-death. But our analysts chuckled as Rich rolled his eyes at the GOPs cosmic dumbness. If we want to get rid of brain-dead orgs, couldnt the press corps go first?
TomorrowPart 2: Richly overBlown work defines a floundering culture.
52-48 nation: As noted, Dems have won the popular vote in four of the last five White House elections, dating back to Clintons 5.3-point win in 1992. How do the votes add up over that period? By our calculation, Democratic White House candidates won just over 269 million votes in those five elections; Republican candidates won just over 249 million. Using more precise vote totals, the Democratic candidates won 51.93 percent of the two-party vote; the Republicans won 48.07. (The two-party vote excludes votes for third-party candidates.) Yes, those numbers are reasonably close. But over the course of that past sixteen years, youve been living in a 52-48 nation.
Dems won by healthy margins three of five times. Clinton won by 5.3 and 8.5 points, Obama by 6.7.
And by the way: No, there is no sign that Ross Perot took big chunks of votes from Bush and Dole. According to the exit pollsthe only real data we havePerot drew equally from Clinton and Bush in 1992; in 1996, the exits polls suggest he drew a bit more from Clinton than Dole. Why do you still hear people say that Perot won the White House for Clinton? Simple! The RNC invented the claim, and mainstream pundits began to recite it. Today, liberal masses recite the claim, unaware of whose cant theyre promoting.
But then, no one recites RNC/MSM points quite the way we liberals do. Did you know that Gore had every advantage during Campaign 2000and unaccountably blew the election?