MONDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2002
THE RAEL WORLD: On this mornings Fox & Friends, the pundits mocked Raelian beliefs. We thought the friends protested too much. After all, who has watched our press corps in action without wondering if some alien scientist hadnt at least concocted this crew? Weve often said it: They simply arent human. When the friends make merry as they did this morning, we suspect that the cover-up may be on.
Yes, its always depressing to return to the mines after a week of normal living. Were our pundits invented? Were they captured by pods? We express no ultimate view. But well slowly return to our daunting task in the days that lie ahead. Today, we return to a comical moment from the December 22 Meet the Press.
YOUR LIBERAL PRESS CORPS IN ACTION: We couldnt help chuckling when we watched David Broder on the 12/22 Meet the Press. Tim Russert was limning the newly-resolved Trent Lott brouhaha. David Broder, Russert asked, as you look at these last two weeks, were there any groups that did not acquit themselves well? Try to catch The Deans liberal bias as he answers Russerts question:
BRODER: I think there are two losers, Tim. I think the Democrats lost ground, in part. Former Senator Al Simpson from Wyoming said to me, They have defanged Daschle now. Daschle can go stand up there and point his finger and talk about those rotten evil Republicans, and people are going to see Bill Frist standing across the aisle from him, who doesnt look rotten or evil.
Amazing, isnt it? A Republican Senate Majority Leader says the dumbest thing in history. It churns up old reports about this Republicans association with extreme racial groups. And who turns out to be the big loser? According to Broder, the big loser is a Democrat, Tom Daschleand Broder samples Republican Alan Simpson as he expresses his judgment.
The other reason I think the Democrats are losers is that when they had a moral issue in front of them with President Clinton, they denounced him, but they never acted against him. Indeed, they rallied around him. And I think that contrast is one that people will remember.
Broders statement was so odd it really deserves some attention.
First, note the perfect expression of recent GOP spinTom Daschle is nasty and negative. In the Lott episode, of course, Daschle was hammered hard by Dems because he didnt criticize Lott. But no matter. To Broder, Frists election will defang the vile Dem. Daschle can no longer say that Repubs are rotten or evil. This, of course, is the perfect expression of a two-year campaign by Rush Limbaugh.
Second, note how it always comes back to Bill Clinton. To Broder, whats the most significant thing about the Lott flap? Its the fact that Democrats didnt remove Clinton from office! Lets face it: To a generation of Washington newsmen, the fact that Bill got oral sex will color every subsequent action on earth. Meanwhile, is changing your Senate Majority Leader the same thing as removing a president from officer altogether? To Broder, it apparently is.
Third, the citation of Simpson really gave us a smile. In Campaign 2000, few Repubs were more nasty and negative than Simpson, the Wyoming Republican with the folksy ways and the adversarial relationship with the truth. During the campaign, Simpson hammered Al Gore really gave us Willie Horton so hard that even Chris Matthews finally told him to stop (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/24/00.) In other settings, he relentlessly pushed an ugly, discredited old canardthe claim that Gore sold his vote about the Gulf War for a few extra minutes on television. Meanwhile, his performance on the December 2, 1999 Hardball set new standards for bald-faced dissembling. In fact, Simpsons outing this day was so comically dishonest thatin the wake of Broders statementit really deserves a bit of review. Well present that HOWLER HISTORY below.
But take a moment to marvel at Broder. Who didnt acquit himself well in the Lott matter? Of courseTom Daschle didnt! And Broder knows that Daschles the loser because Alan Simpson told him. We couldnt help chuckling as Broder spokeas he expressed his hard liberal bias. Are you really sure the Raelies are wrong when you see The Dean function so strangely?
THEY TOO FAILED: Broder wasnt finished, of course. Someone else had fumbled:
BRODER (continuing directly): Frankly, also, I think many of us in the news media also did not acquit ourselves terribly well. Took a long time for this story to develop. Many reporters at the event did not write about it in the first instance. And secondly, because we allowed anonymous sources from the administration to use us to take down Senator Lott.
Everyone was wrongexcept for Republicans! Readers, are you really ready to snicker and laugh at the odd things Raelians tell us?
HOWLER HISTORY: What was hot on 12/2/99, when Alan Simpson appeared on Hardball? One day earlier, Ceci Connollys misquotation of Gore had touched off the maddening Love Canal flap. On Hardball, Simpson knew what to do; he pretended that Gore had dissembled when he told a classroom of Concord High students that he had led the first congressional hearings into Love Canal. In Washington, everyone knew that Gores statement was truebut Simpson wanted voters to think something different. It makes no sense, he told Chris Matthews. Its like itits fantasyland. I was on the Environment and Public Works Committee, he continued. I came along, and we did the Clean Air Act and the Superfund, and I dont remember Al ever, you know, doing any heavy lifting. Ihe wasnt lifting timbers. I came along, and we did the Superfund? Simpson made it sound like he had been the Superfund heavy lifterand like Gore had been Missing In Action.
The reality? Speaking of fantasyland, Simpsons powers of recollection were strangely affected this night. What were Simpson and Gores actual roles in the Superfund legislation? In October 1980, Simpson appeared on a Whos Who List of Superfund Opponents released by Congress Watch, a Nader org. Thats rightSimpson opposed the Superfund on that Environment and Public Works Committee, the only committee member who did. It gives me the creeps, he told the Washington Post on the day of the vote. He was also one of the biggest recipients of campaign contributions from the chemical industry groups which were fighting the Superfund legislation. Meanwhile, what was Gores role in the matter? In his bio of Gore for the conservative publisher Regnery, Bob Zelnick discussed the matter in detail:
ZELNICK: Gore was also the prime mover behind the so-called Superfund, a trust fund administered by the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the most urgent toxic waste problems...Gores committee held fifteen hearings on the problem, rallying public support for action with such high visibility cases as the disposal of chemical pollutants near New York States Love Canal.
In other words, Simpson baldly dissembled about this matter on Hardball, as he often did when attacking Gores character. But this was wholly routine on Hardball, where fellow panelists quickly echoed Simpsons statements. Matthews continued pretending that Gore was the one who was weirdly making things up. Well, you dont know the beauty of digital movie making, he said in response to Simpsons statement. You can now take a guy like [Gore] and make him Forrest Gump and put him in that scene with you. Former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich was also presentdid he correct the factual record? That would have meant challenging Simpson, who now was Reichs partner in broadcasting ventures. And Reich, of course, had just endorsed Bill Bradley, a fact he didnt mention. At any rate, Reich produced a vintage Hardball moment. I dont know why [Gore] feels that he has to exaggerate and make some of this stuff up, he said, in support of Simpsons overt misstatements. Did Reich and Matthews know that Simpson was lying? There is, of course, no way to tell. But on Hardball, this sort of thing was quite routine. No one ever corrected Simpsons wild statements. And three years later, The Dean would be citing Honest Al about what a nasty-man Tom Daschle is.
Readers, do you think the Raelians are hopelessly wrong? Then you explain the world of this press corps. All through Campaign 2000, Simpson viciously attacked Gores character, baldly dissembling as he went. Three years later, hes Etiquette King. Say hello to your corps liberal bias.
TOMORROW: Quotes to remember
THURSDAY AND FRIDAY: Some comic HOWLER HISTORY
NEXT WEEK: Incomparable new proposals