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NORTH OF BOSTON! We’re going out to clean the pasture spring. But we’ve left you some seasonal goodies:


IF YOU MUST ASK, NORTH OF BOSTON: We’re going out to clean the pasture spring, and may not return until after New Year. But we’re leaving presents under the tree for those who seek seasonal amusement. When we return, we hope to roast our pundit of the year, Morton Kondracke, for his recent episode involving Madeleine Albright. And we plan to announce our “Spin of the Year.” Perhaps you can guess what it is.

We won’t be checking our e-mail often, although we’ll try to do so on occasion. We’ll try to post our year-enders before New Year’s Eve, but this may be it until January.

STILL MISSING: An e-mailer notes that the Washington Post did print a letter criticizing the op-ed column in which Charles Krauthammer, noted psychiatrist, called Howard Dean a Great Big Nut. We add it to the letters we posted on Saturday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/20/03):

The Washington Post, 12/11/03
As a psychologist, I found Charles Krauthammer’s Dec. 5 op-ed column, “The Delusional Dean,” offensive.

If he disagrees with Howard Dean, Mr. Krauthammer, of course, is free to criticize Mr. Dean. But for Mr. Krauthammer to use his expertise in psychology to make such a condemnation of one person’s right to an opinion, as well as of the right of the commission investigating Sept. 11 to know what happened on that tragic day in history, is a misuse of psychology and a disgrace to our profession.


Apparently, the Post received no letters from Vienna itself, and had to settle for Prague. At any rate, the Post still hasn’t published any letter about the more serious problem with Krauthammer’s column—its blatant misstatement about something Barbra Streisand (never) said, and its ludicrous “editing” of a Hardball transcript to make Dean sound like a nut.

As we noted at the time, Krauthammer’s psychiatric musings in the Post were offered in tongue-in-cheek fashion. But on Fox, he continues peddling “diagnoses” of Big Dems—after identifying himself as a shrink—without a hint of irony or humor. His latest offense occurred Thursday night—and as of Monday at 10 A.M., Nexis still hasn’t posted the transcript. Transcripts for Wednesday and Friday’s Special Reports have been posted, but Thursday’s program is missing in action.

In his conduct, Krauthammer joins an unlicensed colleague, Dr. Kondracke, in repetitive on-the-air quackery. Fox should publish Thursday’s transcript so we all can see what Krauthammer said. (We watched the program, but don’t have a tape.) And the Post still owes its readers a correction of Krauthammer’s dissembling from December 5. To prove that Dean is a Great Big Nut, Krauthammer doctored what Dean said. But he did it on the op-ed page, where no rules apply. See below.

BEARD BRAIN: Michael Getler included an interesting item in yesterday’s Post ombudsman column. Columnist Al Kamen was lightly spanked for recent clowning concerning Al Gore:

GETLER: Al Kamen’s always informative and irreverent “In the Loop” column on Wednesday featured what Kamen undoubtedly viewed as a funny suggestion that former vice president Al Gore might want to let his beard grow again because other guys on the lam have them. With a photo of a bearded Gore ran pictures of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski. Several readers were not amused. “A sick sense of humor” and “beneath contempt” was the way one put it. “Yellow journalism” was also mentioned.
Getler also criticized the Post for under-reporting Gore’s substantive comments at the time he endorsed Howard Dean.

But let’s get back to beard-brain Kamen. We noted his item when it appeared, but magisterially decided to skip it. Indeed, we find it odd that Getler comments on this item, but ignores Krauthammer’s December 5 piece, where the offense is much greater. Apparent explanation: In the aftermath of the Krauthammer column, we saw an e-mail Getler sent to a reader; he doesn’t cover the Post op-ed page, the Post ombudsman said. How convenient! People like Krauthammer can fake facts all they want. Meanwhile, Getler can straighten out small-fry like Kamen and ignore the Big Scribes with real power.

Beyond that, we chuckled at Kamen’s belated comeuppance. Four years ago this week, Kamen penned one of the most ludicrous items in all of Campaign 2000 (and that is really saying something). On December 24, 1999, Kamen led his Post column with a five-paragraph item criticizing the Gore family’s Christmas card! (Yes, you read that correctly. And yes, the column appeared on Christmas Eve.) The card showed how phony Gore really is, Kamen said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/24/99). Readers, has any candidate ever been savaged—on Christmas Eve—for the family photo on his Christmas card? We doubt it. But by this time four years ago, the Post had already invested nine months in its War Against Gore, and Kamen was clowning for his colleagues, just as he clowned last week when he tied Gore to Saddam and bin Laden.

Remember—if they didn’t exist, you couldn’t invent them. Four years ago this very week, Kamen let the word go out to all nations: Gore was a major phony because of his family’s Christmas card. Four years too late, a Post ombudsman lightly scolds him—and gives us a chance to help you revisit the soul of the Washington press.

By the way, how good is life in the insider press corps? Before an ombudsman can lightly scold you, he knows he must first tell world that your column is “always informative.”

FAUX DEMS ON THE MARCH: We should move on from Tammy Bruce, but her clowning is just too delicious. A reader sent us one of Bruce’s recent columns, written for the “progressive” site, NewsMax. Let’s give credit where credit is due—Bruce has her shtick down stone-cold:

BRUCE (12/2/03): Most of you are aware of the disintegration of the intellectual discourse on our college campuses. David Horowitz in particular ( continues his extraordinary work to expose and reverse the disaster leftist academics are making of our universities.

One of the many benefits of my work is that I get to go speak directly to the Stepford Undergraduates who arrive at college as eager and excited freshman and walk out cynical, brainwashed Leftists. They embrace the multiculturalism, moral relativity and hatred of America that their Marxist and Socialist professors have instilled in them for years.

Because I am a Democrat and a feminist, you would think it would be the women’s groups, or the feminist clubs, or the College Democrats that would be inviting me to speak. But of course not…

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but in my effort to be able to be heard on campuses it was the conservative wing of American politics that exhibited a true commitment to intellectual diversity and freedom of expression.

“I shouldn’t have been surprised,” Bruce writes. But then, no one should be surprised by Bruce’s clowning. As usual, Bruce identifies herself as a Democrat. Then she trashes College Dems and praises the conservative movement.

Bruce, of course, is a screaming fake, the most comical of all the current faux Democrats. But faux Democracy looks like a growing movement. For example, does anyone think that Zell Miller’s recent snarling reinvention makes even a lick of sense? We’d love to know the back-story to Ol’ Zell’s reinvention as a “Tammy Bruce Democrat” (and yes, we’d assume that there probably is one). Beyond that, we continue to chuckle at Susan Estrich’s work as an official “Fox Democrat.” In recent months, Fox keeps dragging Estrich on the air to correct misstatements she has aimed at some Hollywood liberal (for example, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/10/03). Like fellow “liberal feminist” Bruce, Estrich noted that she didn’t care about the Schwarzenegger groping allegations—and, like Bruce, Estrich now serves on the Schwarzenegger transition team! Comical, isn’t it? Every time Fox drags a “Dem” on the air, she works for a major Republican!

Other names come to mind. We’ll offer an incomparable challenge to one apparent faux Dem early on in the new year.

SULLYING BILL: We couldn’t help chuckling when Andrew Sullivan hammered Bill O’Reilly last Friday. Here’s part of Sully’s “Weekly Dish” for the Washington Times.

SULLIVAN: You’ve got to love it when the holiday spirit rises anew among your favorite media mavens. Last week, Matt Drudge of the online Drudge Report did the unthinkable and published the latest rankings for best-seller books in 2003, recorded by Nielsen’s BookScan. Mr. Drudge was being a little naughty, as is his custom. On Monday, Fox News star Bill O’Reilly had bragged to NBC’s Today Show that “We’ve outsold that guy [Franken] all over the place. We’re running against Hillary for most copies of non-fiction books sold this year!” The results, alas, showed that Bill O’Reilly’s oeuvre, “Who’s Looking Out For You,” was easily bested by Al Franken’s screed “Lying Liars” and way behind Senator Clinton’s largely unreadable account of meeting lots of African prime ministers, “Personal History.” What was Mr. O’Reilly’s response to being caught out in an inaccuracy? He called Mr. Drudge “a threat to democracy.” But he didn’t deny the facts because he can’t.
According to BookScan, Clinton’s book has sold 1.1 million copies. O’Reilly—supposedly hot on Hillary’s heels—has sold 430,000. (“We’ve got a real shot at overtaking Mrs. Clinton,” Bill said on December 15.) Franken, who Bill has “outsold all over the place,” has sold 674,000. According to O’Reilly’s publisher, Random House, BookScan “doesn’t account for sales at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and other retailers where the book has performed exceptionally well.” And who knows? That stirring defense of O’Reilly’s claims could even be technically accurate!

Meanwhile, it seems that Sully has just gotten cable. And he got a big surprise when he saw Mr. O every night:

SULLIVAN: So, now I get to see O’Reilly consistently for the first time as well. Suddenly, you see why he reacts so obtusely to simple criticism. He’s unhinged! Alarmingly, I find myself agreeing with him on many issues. But he is so obnoxious, so transparently phony, so gung-ho in a crude populist know-nothing kind of way that I’m almost embarrassed to be on the same side much of the time. Does anyone say “I may be wrong” more disingenuously? Is there anyone more aggressively watchable because he is so awful?…Bill O’Reilly is so compellingly odious you almost can’t take your eyes off him.
That’s Sully’s incomparable view, not ours. But then, much of the conservative world has been taken over by this same fake, phony pseudo-conservatism. For example, have you ever read Sully’s site? Sully is a very bright dude. Have you noticed how often he hides it?

DARKNESS FROM NOONAN: Speaking of pseudo-conservative clowning, many readers noted Chris Matthews’ pummeling of Peggy Noonan on last Thursday’s Hardball. Why do so many Americans still believe that Saddam was “personally involved” in 9/11? Chris kept asking Peggy that question—and that Peg-of-his-heart kept avoiding his query. The transcript can’t replace the tape, but it makes for must-read TV. Matthews dogged Noonan through two program segments. Don’t miss it. Indeed, just click here.

Meanwhile, though Matthews’ duel with Noonan was priceless, we will complain about Lawrence O’Donnell’s feigned surprise at the public’s ignorance. As we’ve told you in the past, information surveys make it perfectly clear—the American public is always factually ignorant, no matter how seminal a topic may be. The press corps knows this, but hates to discuss it. Watch O’Donnell play dumb for you here.

SCHIEFFER MADNESS: Finally, Bob Schieffer was at it again on yesterday’s Face the Nation. The Texas Christian was still deeply troubled by Al Gore’s disturbing behavior:

SCHIEFFER: And finally today: scenes from the TV screen. Al Gore stabs his loyal running mate, Joe Lieberman, in the back, endorses Howard Dean and sets off a debate about whether it was good politics. Would a better question be: Is that the kind of thing one person should do to another?
The pious pundit was clearly concerned. Nine days earlier, of course, Schieffer had baldly lied through his teeth as he trashed Gore in a radio segment (see THE DALY HOWLER, 12/13/03). But no matter! On Face the Nation, Schieffer rued the conduct of two other pols, one of whom, former senator Bob Smith, had plainly done nothing wrong whatsoever. He then drew his heartfelt conclusion:
SCHIEFFER: Politics is supposed to be about selecting the best among us and then looking to them to set examples for the rest of us. But what these examples show is simply the widening gap between the values of the professional office-seekers, who have come to dominate our politics, and all the rest of us. They have had nothing on their minds for so long but seeking and holding office that they no longer realize how different they have become or how poorly they come off to the rest of us. No wonder more and more people want nothing to do with any of them.
Amazing, isn’t it? Read the part of the sermon we have set off in bold. Could anyone make a clearer statement about people just like Bob Schieffer?

Nine days earlier, Schieffer slandered Gore—and lied to the public. But now he was troubled by Gore’s trashy character! “In this holiday season, remember those who stand in harm’s way,” he intoned. We’ll do that—and we’ll also think of another group. We’ll also think of those afflicted by pious frauds like Bob Schieffer.