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A GIRL NAMED BRUCE (PART 1)! Who on earth is Tammy Bruce? Our analysts were deeply kerflubbled:


A GIRL NAMED BRUCE: Wow! Fox really seemed to be lightening up! On December 1, the O’Reilly Factor devoted a segment to a pressing political question: “Will the liberal strategy to gain power succeed?” As the session began, Bill O’Reilly struggled through an exchange with the Nation’s Katrina van den Heuvel, a lefty. But who would provide all the fairness and balance? The chore was left to Fox’s newest “contributor,” Tammy Bruce. But as she began to respond to Katrina, we were stunned by what Tammy Bruce said:

TAMMY BRUCE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I’d love to pipe in here.

O’REILLY: Yes, and I’m going to have to cut Katrina’s mike if she goes more.

VAN DEN HEUVEL: Please, please. That would be a nice Foxian touch.

O’REILLY: Go ahead.

BRUCE: Well, first of all, let me say as a Democrat and as a feminist and as a progressive, and as an openly gay woman, I also have an investment in progressive politics.

Wow! Bruce was there to balance van den Heuvel, a lefty. But, according to her own admission, Tammy Bruce was a Democrat. And not only that: Bruce was also a progressive, openly gay, and a feminist, and she had an investment in progressive politics! Our analysts settled back in their chairs, eager to hear Bruce express her sensibility. But she quickly wiped the grins off their faces. Just like that, the openly feminist Democratic gay progressive began to talk GOP smack!
BRUCE (continuing directly): And the reality is that once you have—you’ve got Fox News, you’ve got talk radio, and you have the Internet, has finally been a way to show the American people that this stranglehold on mass media and entertainment, which is controlled by the far left and liberals, is not necessarily indicative of the fact that everyone is thinking the same, that Americans do care about the information. They do like what George W. Bush is doing.
Say what? As usual, Bruce’s analysis didn’t quite parse. But clearly, Bruce seemed to puffing George Bush fairly hard. In an excess of caution, O’Reilly rechecked his guest’s Democratic bona fides:
O’REILLY: The polls show that President Bush’s approval rating is well over 50 percent. So Ms. van den Heuvel was spinning and engaging in propaganda. But I’m going to come back to her in a moment to be fair. But what you’re saying, and you’re a Democrat, is that—

BRUCE: I am.

O’REILLY: —is that the liberal basis of “they can’t get their message out” is a bunch of bunk.

So there could really be no doubt about it. Tammy Bruce really was a Big Dem. She had admitted it two separate times.

But our analysts’ puzzlement only deepened as Bruce’s session continued. As we had plainly heard her acknowledge, Tammy Bruce is deeply progressive. She’s openly a woman, a progressive gay feminist—and most important of all, a Big Dem. But for such a Big Democrat—for such a progressive—Bruce’s comments just kept sounding strange. Indeed, when she ragged on that meeting of Hollywood liberals, even Bill had to fix her fake facts:
BRUCE: One of the problems is, in this meeting tomorrow night here in Los Angeles is called the “Hate Bush” event—

O’REILLY: Well, no, it’s not.

BRUCE: And the problem is—

O’REILLY: No, no, it isn’t. That’s wrong.

BRUCE: You know—

O’REILLY: That’s erroneous reporting. I had the guy on who’s organizing it. That got out from one nut. It’s not a “Hate Bush” event.

BRUCE: Well—

O’REILLY: It is a “let’s get him out of power” event.

BRUCE: Here’s what I can tell you with the phone calls I’ve been getting is that while they may not be calling it that officially, that’s what the gathering is based in.

Oh! They weren’t calling it “Hate Bush,” Bruce now said (having just said exactly the opposite). But Bruce had gotten a couple of calls. “That’s what the gathering is based in,” she said.

By now, our youthful analysts were thoroughly puzzled by what they kept hearing from T-Bruce. By her own admission, Tammy Bruce was an open feminist. Beyond that, Tammy Bruce was deeply progressive; indeed, she had made that point two times in one sentence! Capping things off, she was also a Democrat; she made that admission two separate times, too. Given this profile, our youthful analysts were deeply puzzled by the Bush-lovin’ things Tammy Bruce just kept saying. So we altered our schedule and took them aside. We explained who Tammy Bruce really is.

TOMORROW: More things that the Girl Named Bruce says.

TEN-MINUTE MAN: We asked last week if you could remember the days when you still admired Joe Klein. Plainly, that’s no longer possible. We won’t try to characterize the screaming inanity of the pundit’s current piece in Time. “Anger Management 101,” reads the headline. Here’s how the scribe kicks things off:
KLEIN: The latest edition of Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean for President last week. This surprised a lot of people, including me. But Gore 6.0 seems more radical than previous models, with a passion upgrade from the glitches in 5.0 (clumsy populist presidential candidate), 4.0 (clumsy earth-toned presidential candidate), 3.0 (loyal Vice President) and 2.0 (militant New Democratic candidate for President in 1988). Watching Gore and Dean together on the podium—twins in dark blue suits and light blue ties, Gore in populist growl-shout mode, complete with intermittent Southern accent—I realized the utter logic of the move. The two have so much in common. They’re the angriest guys in the Democratic Party. The Bush re-election campaign website already features an anti-Dean video titled When Angry Democrats Attack.
Did it take more than ten minutes to assemble this tripe? If so, Time should pay an efficiency expert to sit down and help its great pundit. Like so many in his tribe, Klein strings together the Greatest Cliches of the past decade, even remembering to drag in those “earth tones”—and remembering to cut-and-paste RNC tripe that first appeared in the spring of 2000 (text below). Beyond that, he mind-reads motives with the best of his breed. Luckily, writing a column doesn’t take too much time—if ouija boards are your main resource.

But the real significance of this report is the way Klein plays the anger card. Why does Bush’s website “already feature an anti-Dean video titled When Angry Democrats Attack?” Duh! As we told you months ago, that’s the current, controlling, preferred RNC spin. When Democrats criticize President Bush, they’re irrationally angry—they’re just filled with hate! It’s the spin-point the White House now prefers. And wouldn’t you know it? Klein recites the point brilliantly, all through his lazy, cut-and-paste piece. Dems are angry, furious, mad. More on this emerging press line tomorrow. Meanwhile, to see the Post’s T. R. Reid push this same line, you know what to do. Just click here.

TIM HAD A DREAM: As noted, William Safire got into the punch at Rummy’s wintry mixer last Saturday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/15/03). Should journalists party with people they cover? We’re not sure, but as it turns out, Tim Russert was partying hardy there too. As usual, though, Russert topped everyone else. On Sunday Today, the pundit explained it. He spoke with NBC’s Campbell Brown:
RUSSERT (12/14/03): I actually had the opportunity to see the secretary of Defense last night, and they were in an extremely festive holiday mood beyond their normal demeanors. This is ironic, Campbell, but as I was leaving the event, I saw the director of CIA, Tenet, and said, “You know, I had the strangest dream last night that Saddam Hussein was taken captive,” which I actually had on—on Friday night. He looked at me in this poker face and said, “Happy holidays.”
Only Russert would run on TV and tell such a pointless, self-serving story. We’re sure there’s a tie-in to growing up poor. If we’re good, maybe Tim will explain it.

IT’S SO EASY: Millionaire pundits love to party. Luckily, typing columns doesn’t kill too much time—as long as they’re assembled from approved, well-known spin-points. Indeed, when Klein amused the masses with his “Gore 6.0” riff, he was retyping RNC spin from the last White House race. Here was the RNC on June 2, 2000, typing Klein’s latest waste-of-time for him. Being merciful, we’ll only make you read the first part of the release. As you can see, the RNC was working off a Newsweek piece by Howard Fineman:

Bush for President: Al Gore Reinvents Himself ... Again

The Bush for President campaign today released a chronology of the six different versions of Al Gore’s attempts to reinvent himself during the 2000 presidential campaign. “In his ongoing effort to reinvent who he is and what he believes in, Al Gore is once again showing his beliefs and convictions are easily subject to change,” said Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer. “Since Al Gore will say anything to get elected, it will be interesting to see how long the latest version of Al Gore lasts.”

Al Gore Version 6.0: A “thinking man with a heart” ... June, 2000

“Gore’s handlers are plotting yet another rollout of their candidate, this one a massive ad campaign based on the notion that he’s not so much an alpha male as a thinking man with a heart.”

—Al Gore’s Next Makeover, Newsweek, June 5, 2000, By Howard Fineman

Al Gore Version 5.0: Negative Al ... April, 2000

Snore! On and on the RNC release went, from “Gore 6.0” down to “Gore 1.0.” This week, Klein almost seems to cut-and-paste this vast clowning in his latest dim hack job for Time.

By the way, how inane was the claim, in June 2000, that Gore was reinventing himself once again? It all began with that Newsweek piece—in which Fineman reported that the Gore campaign was going to air some new TV ads! That’s right—when the Gore camp dared to run some new ads, the “press” launched its latest propaganda campaign, reciting one of its favorite themes: Al Gore is reinventing himself once again! (Reinventing? One of the ads had already run, during the New Hampshire primary!) In Campaign 2000, how hard was the “press corps” willing to spin you? To get the tiniest bit of a hint, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/23/02. How hard will the press corps spin you today? Read this week’s clip job from Klein.