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FRANKLY, IT’S RICH! Today, a Dem can’t even go skiing, all thanks to our man of the year: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2006

THE CULTURE OF A PUZZLING LIFE-FORM: This life-form simply lives for script. For a truly remarkable new example, here’s Margaret Carlson, posted at HuffPo, reciting an Approved Pundit Narrative:
CARLSON (12/28/06): Democrats hate their losers. Unlike Republicans who routinely give theirs a second chance (see Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole), Democrats would remove all memory of theirs if they could, like latter-day Kremlinologists. (See George McGovern, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, though the last doesn't know he is over.)

Al Gore may be the exception. Having taken on many lives—college professor, itinerant preacher on global warming, Wall Street banker and potential Oscar-winning filmmaker—there are some Democrats asking him to run.
According to Carlson—sorry; according to her cohort’s odd script—Republicans “routinely give their losers a second chance.” By contrast, Democrats “hate their losers.” This year, Gore could be the exception, if he chooses to run.

But uh-oh! According to Carlson’s “reasoning,” Gore already is the exception! He was the Democratic nominee in Campaign 2000, after running—and losing—in 1988. Granted, he only lost in the primaries that year—but that’s also the case with Reagan and Dole, cited by Carlson as proof of the way Republicans luv to give second chances. Indeed, if we drop the script and apply common standards, Carlson’s nonsense turns into this:
CARLSON REVISED: Republicans routinely give their losers a second chance (see Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole). But then, so do Democrats (see Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson and Al Gore). I know I’m supposed to recite pundit scripts. But for today, let’s drop the bullshit.
Nixon was the Republican nominee in 1960—then again in 1968. But Stevenson was the Dem nominee in 1952—then again in 1956! Aside from those 38- and 50-year-old examples, neither party has re-nominated a general election loser in Carlson’s lifetime. But as we’ve noted, each party has nominated several people who had previously failed to win nomination. (True of Dole in 1996; true of Gore in 2000.) And by the way, Dems nominated Mondale in 1984—after he’d lost a general election bid for vice president! Of course, Republicans have done the same durn thing. (1996—Dole again.)

No, Carlson’s claim doesn’t make any sense. But these life-forms live for script, and this is an especially potent example. After all, in this case, the “n” is quite small. In the past fifty years, Dems have nominated 11 different people to run for president; Reps have nominated just eight. Given such minuscule numbers, it’s amazingly easy to discern a key fact: Dems have nominated prior losers, just as Republicans have.

But uh-oh! As we’ve long told you, the very notions of “fact” and “analysis” play almost no role in this life-form’s odd culture. All too often, it doesn’t even occur to these organisms to fact-check or analyze their cohort’s prime scripts. As a basic rule, they deal in novels—novels which their cohort finds pleasing. For some reason, they’ve long enjoyed the script Carlson offers here—although it plainly makes no sense, at least as Carlson presents it.

Future generations will study these life-forms, marveling at their odd mental culture. And they’ll note the most amazing fact—these peculiar entities have driven our discourse over the course of the past many years! Most significantly, they invented a novel in 1999—and pimped it until George Bush reached the White House. Future generations will marvel at this—and at the problems we liberals have had in coming to terms with this fact.

SLOWLY WE TURN: Amazingly slowly, we libs come to terms with what Carlson’s lifelike cohort has done. Almost eight years later—thinking it’s six—we start asking her cohort to stop. Steve Benen (almost) gets it right; just click here. And he does so eight years later!

Meanwhile, how clueless are liberals, even today? Check the third comment to Benen’s post. The fiery statement about Rove and Will just couldn’t be much more inaccurate. Future generations will marvel at us after they finish with Carlson.

Special report: Our “man of the year!”


PART 2—FRANKLY, IT’S RICH: When the book appeared, we bought it and cracked it—and it was so awful, we put it away. (To be honest, we were surprised.) But we carried it north during Christmas break, and soon, we were reading about Campaign 04. We cringed at the chapter’s second paragraph. Frankly, we thought it was rich:
RICH (page 132): Kerry was already proving a genius at self-destruction, handing the White House loaded weapons with which to mow him down. Just the day before Cheney’s speech, the Massachusetts senators had given what would prove an indelible response when asked to reconcile his vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq with his later vote against the 87-billion-dollar appropriation to pay for the war and Iraqi reconstruction. “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it,” Kerry said. Cheney, though not exactly a natural comedian, brought down the house at the Reagan library simply by repeating Kerry’s words and underlining them with a deadpan punch line, “It’s a true fact.”

A Republican campaign theme was born...
Good God! And yes, that’s right, it’s scripted Frank Rich, tickling the ivories in typical fashion. What he writes here is partly true, of course; we all know that Kerry’s highlighted statement fueled “a Republican campaign theme.” We also know that Campaign 04 might have gone better if Kerry hadn’t made this statement. (There is, of course, no guarantee; the spin gods would have ginned something else—and script-readers would have recited it.) But by now, doesn’t every sentient human know why Kerry made this statement? Because he’d supported one version of the spending bill, and had opposed the other—exactly as George Bush had done? Yep! By now, everyone knows this—except for readers of Rich’s book. And uh-oh! We cringed again as the fatuous fellow continued along sans explanation:
RICH (page 133): A Republican campaign theme was born. Later, at Madison Square Garden, the party’s conventioneers waved rubber flip-flops to mock Klerry, and Kerry did his best to help the metaphor along throughout the year with a string of self-contradictory pronouncements and photo-op malapropisms. (He had a particular penchant for striking zigzag poses on camera while pursuing the upper-crust pastimes of skiing and windsurfing.)
Good God! Today, a Dem can’t even go skiing without fools like Rich attacking him for it! In the 1960s, before such fools were invented, iconic photos of President Kennedy showed him sailing on Nantucket Sound, in boats which clearly cost a nice price. Today, though, fools like Rich hold sway—and George Bush sits his ass in the White House.

Yes, it was the “liberal” Rich who invented the Love Story tale about Gore—a building-block of the RNC’s ginned-up attack on Gore’s troubling character. And yes, it was the “liberal” Rich who called Bush and Gore two peas in a pod all through Campaign 2000. And omigod! In the hands of such fools, a Democrat can’t even come from the state of Vermont! What have we done to offend the gods, to have such fools visited on us?
RICH (page 133): The Republicans had been hoping for an adversary who, unlike the stolid Kerry, could be effortlessly caricatured as a flake or unreconstructed 1960s radical. And the Democrats had at first given them some reason to believe their dream would come true, thanks both to the former governor Howard Dean, a smart but strident dark-horse candidate from the Ben & Jerry’s principality of Vermont, and to Michael Moore, the in-your-face documentary filmmaker whose movie eviscerating Bush, Fahrenheit 9/11, was an instant media sensation.
You can’t go skiing—or come from Vermont! And life-forms like Rich will simply never stop repeating their cohort’s spin-points. Rich rarely mentions Gore in his book. Sadly, here’s one time he does:
RICH (page 19): Once in office, Bush turned the presidency into an ongoing festival of audiovisual cognitive dissonance. The succession of misleading propaganda ploys had an almost farcical quality. In a single week, the president appeared at two national parks, Sequoia and the Everglades, dressed in more earth tones than Gore at his most craven.
The strange command rings out in their heads, almost as if a dog were saying it: Must—type—“earth tones”—then—must type “Gore.” By the way: Has any president failed to wear “earth tones” when appearing at a national park? Why would this seem strange, or worth noting? We will say this for the fatuous Rich—he’s a fool against all comers.

No, we wouldn’t make Rich our “man of the year” just for these simpering parts of his book. But his book did make us recall the amazing column he wrote this May—his amazing column about Gore’s film, one of the most remarkable bits of punditry we’ve seen in eight-plus years at THE HOWLER. Want to know how Bush reached the White House? We’ll advise you to revisit that column, in which Rich refused to abandon treasured scripts about fake/phony Gore (links below). That column was a work of near-madness—a work which virtually defines a press era. But then again, why not save yourselves some time? Just marvel at the following clip from Rich’s book, where he turns again to making weird statements about another punching-bag, Kerry. Two years later, Rich is still saying it! These life-forms defy comprehension:
RICH (page 138): Kerry’s theatrics did not improve as the primary campaign wore on. The Massachusetts senator all but asked Republicans to ridicule him, with ad-libs such as “Who among us does not love NASCAR?”
Good God! Two years later, Rich is still saying it! No, Kerry never uttered that NASCAR “quotation,” as became clear in the fall of 2004 (links below). But so what! Two years later, Rich is still typing it. He still assures us that his fake “quote” shows us what a fool Kerry was. He invented Love Story—and NASCAR besides! Did we mention who sits in the White House?

Many readers luvv Frank Rich, because he reliably bats Bush around. But he keeps batting your guys around too—and he keeps inventing fake tales so he can do so more colorfully. Frankly, readers, he’s Rich! He’s simply better than Gore and Kerry. Indeed, let’s face it—he’s better than these peasants by far! He’s wiser and smarter and much less ridiculous—the powdered soul of a vacant elite.

Frankly, Rich worked hard, for years, to send George W. Bush to the White House. That truly astonishing column last August now makes him our “man” of the year.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Rich’s astounding review of An Inconvenient Truth now makes him our “man of the year.” We’ve seldom seen these puzzling life-forms work harder to cling to a tortured narrative. Rich just knows that Gore is a fake—and he hopes that you’ll think so too. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/9/06, with links to all parts of our series. You’ll learn why Bush is in the White House—and why the U. S. is now in Iraq.

No, Kerry never uttered that NASCAR “quotation;” as usual, Rich and Dowd were making shit up. Readers, hail your great “liberal” hero! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/2/04, with links to previous work.

SHARING THE BURDEN: Don’t blame us; blame Digby. Click here.