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GROUP LIVING! Pundits tried to ignore what a solon said. Then they all raced to condemn it:


JOINING THE CLUB: We’re going to call it “The Hair Club for Boys.” And Adam Nagourney is now a full member. Here is Nagourney’s application. We found in his profile of Kerry in yesterday’s New York Times:

NAGOURNEY: Republicans are poised to portray Mr. Kerry as more of a Dukakis than a Kennedy—even though Mr. Kerry seems to have gone to some lengths to evoke the Kennedy legacy with his elaborate shock of styled hair and frequent references to John F. Kennedy. Mr. Kerry served as lieutenant governor to Michael S. Dukakis, the former governor of Massachusetts who lost to the first President George Bush in a brutal campaign in 1988.
Where do they find them? Where do they go to find full-grown humans willing to be so fatuous? Wherever it is, they grow in great numbers. In Campaign 2000, they were deeply concerned with polo shorts, earth tones and three-button suits. Now, they seem to be deeply concerned with the meaning of John Kerry’s hair.

They’ll try to make you as foolish as they are. It’s time that we told them to stop.

POOR CHOICE OF WORDS: As usual, they ran in a pack. Once they saw that comment on Lott would be allowed, comment on Lott became a mandate. Last night, troubled pundits stood in line to condemn the solon’s recent remarks. On Special Report, Mara Liasson described her astonishment:

LIASSON: He can’t let this be out there. I think it’s mind-boggling. When I read this quote, I almost fell off my chair. I couldn’t believe that the incoming Senate Majority Leader of the United States Senate would say this.
Mara just couldn’t believe it. But apparently she was falling off chairs to the beat of her own drummer over at her base, NPR. Lott’s remarks were made on Thursday. By Friday morning, they were widely known to the press. But, according to the Nexis archives, no one at NPR mentioned the comments until Tavis Smiley’s Monday talk show. According to Nexis, there was still no mention of Lott’s remarks on Monday’s Morning Edition, for example. On that program, Juan Williams conducted a chit-chat on Lott without bringing up his remarks.

But then, the mainstream press—with its “liberal bias”—knows that, given current power, you don’t mention race-n-Republicans. Just last month, for example, the corps knew to avoid the Georgia flag flap—the issue that seemed to play a key role in the Peach State’s surprising elections (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/13/02). The topic was widely discussed in the Georgia press—and avoided all over the mainstream corps. Your boy and girl pundits had received their new script—Conquering Bush now rules the known world. Georgia was listed as an example. No one was going to mess up the script with remarks about state flags and race.

And the courtesy continues, this very morning, right in the Washington Post. Here is Tom Edsall, dishin’ the dirt on Strom’s ancient run for the White House (last Saturday, by the way, Edsall became the first reporter in the mainstream press to write about Lott’s remarks):

EDSALL: Thurmond, then governor of South Carolina, ran as the nominee of the States’ Rights, or Dixiecrat, Party in 1948 with a goal of preserving racial segregation.

He said at the time, “All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negroes into our homes, our schools, our churches.” The Dixiecrat Party’s platform stated: “We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race.”

Maybe Thurmond did say that at some point in time. But over at NRP’s web site, you can hear an excerpt of what he said at the 1948 Dixiecrat conclave. Here is the text of his comment:
THURMOND (1948): Ladies and gentlemen, there’s not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the n*gger race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.
And no, it doesn’t sound, to our trained ear, as if he said the word “nigra.”

We don’t think that any great purpose is served by flogging Thurmond’s ancient conduct. But make no mistake—a type of courtesy continues at our great news orgs, even as they rush to comment on remarks they first tried to ignore. Those great news orgs have become adept at hiding their troubling “liberal bias.” By the way—why did Thurmond say what he did? Because he couldn’t run on nudism! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/9/02, to emit a few more mordant chuckles at Bruce Morton’s fawning remarks.

Remember the shape of the new “liberal bias.” Kerry’s hair is a very big story. “Segregation forever” is not.

HE DEAD: By the way: Has anyone rolled over for power like the Post’s Howard Kurtz? His fawning has become the stuff of cheap laughs. Here is his predictable conduct in today’s on-line column:

KURTZ: Here’s Lott trying to extricate himself, according to the New York Times:
“Saying that he had used ‘a poor choice of words,’ Trent Lott, the Senate Republican leader, apologized tonight for his speech at the 100th birthday party of Senator Strom Thurmond, which critics had said was an implicit endorsement of segregation.”

Poor choice of words? In the sense that “Ah did not have sex with that woman” was a poor choice of words?

Showing his belly to Rush and the brood, the pitiful man drags in Monica! The message: No matter what goes wrong for your side, I’ll bring up those troubling blow jobs! And of course, Kurtz pretends to have no idea why the press corps reacted so slowly. Translation: It’s against the law to let people know that the corps now bends to conservative power. Kurtz—the paper’s “media reporter”—knows that Rush will be very mad if he ever dares mention the truth. E. J. Dionne explained this point in last week’s Post. Kurtz, fawning, has no idea.

DOCILE IS AS DOCILE DOES: Sebastian Mallaby’s column in yesterday’s Post deserves a thorough reading. Here was his nugget about the canning of Lindsey and O’Neill:

MALLABY: A big problem with the Bush economic policy has been its presentation. At the Treasury, Paul O’Neill was likable and honest but often just plain nuts; on development and emerging markets, he made one gaffe after another. At the White House, Lawrence Lindsey was smart and articulate but often disingenuous. He shares the blame for the administration’s most irritating trait: Contempt for the audience’s intelligence.
Wow! Larry Lindsey was “often disingenuous?” And the Admin has “contempt for the [public’s] intelligence?” Mallaby went on to deride the Admin for “railing absurdly” about the estate tax. And here’s what the pundit had to say about Bush and those great big tax cuts:
MALLABY: The same condescension has infected other tax debates. The rationale for the original mega-cut kept changing to suit the times. Apparently, the White House thought people would be too dumb to notice. The studies showing that the tax cut would go mainly to the rich were dismissed as the work of labor union-funded hacks, and the obvious effect on the long-term deficit was denied. Whom did these people think they were kidding?
Who did these people think they were kidding? At THE HOWLER, we don’t have a clue. But more important is a related question: Who did they think they were co-opting? And since we have Mallaby here on our screen, there’s an obvious answer to that latter question. Sebastian, who did they think they were co-opting? They thought they were co-opting you!

Mallaby has sometimes written about the dishonesty he attributes to Bush. For example, in a 7/23/01 column titled “Good, Bad and Bunkum,” he said this: “Bush rammed through his tax cut with one dishonest argument after another.” Yikes! But why is Paul Krugman a household name, and why have you never heard of Mallaby? Because Mallaby made these remarkable statements in the occasional mild aside, writing as if, for all the world, he couldn’t give less of a flying fig if the White House does make dishonest arguments. As such, Mallaby’s work makes a genius of Clinton. Here’s what prez said just last week:

CLINTON: [Republicans] have an increasingly right-wing and bellicose conservative press. And we have an increasingly docile establishment press.
Did Bush think the public “would be too dumb to notice?” AT THE HOWLER, we don’t have the foggiest. But almost surely, the White House knew that scribes like Mallaby would be too indifferent and timid to care. Who has the White House been counting on here? Sebastian Mallaby! They’ve been counting on you!

MUST-SEE TV: Tomorrow night, Gore does the full hour on Hardball. Without any question, it’s must-see TV. What a tandem—Al and Chris! Tomorrow: A timid guide for the viewer.