CHILDHOODS END! A 16-year-story is ending this week. Most voters still havent heard: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 2008
NO CHILDISH TALE LEFT BEHIND: This tale has been told for forty-plus years, by liberals and (in recent years) conservatives alike. But in Fridays Post, Michael Gerson told this familiar tale so clownishly that his presentation should be recorded. For years, Gerson was President Bushs main speech-writer; today, hes a Washington Post columnist. He seems to be a decent person—but this is pure, ugly, ungodly cant about low-income schooling:
For the record, we strongly support annual testing in low-income schools—although we oppose the punitive uses to which NCLB puts such testing. (Without such testing, low-income schools will tell you whatever bull-roar they please.) But: For more than forty years, liberals and conservatives have recited the pious Victim Tale offered by Gerson in that passage. When low-income kids do poorly in school, were told that they have been betrayed. Often, the Gersons imply who the traitors are—but are too cute to come out and name them.
Uh-oh! Gerson suggests that low-income kids are being betrayed by their teachers—by those vile teachers unions. (For decades, liberals enjoyed suggesting that black kids were doing poorly in school because they were being betrayed by their white racist teachers.) But lets take a wildcrazy off-the-wall guess: Like many pious name-callers before him, Gerson has never spent time inside low-income schools, and he has no earthly idea what goes on in such chambers. He has no idea what is happening to low-income kids. And he has no current plan to find out.
It feels good to bray as Gerson does; it feels good to preen, to posture and pander, to show ones own vast concern for the disadvantaged. But how have teachers betrayed their kids? What exactly should these teachers be doing, beyond what they are doing now? Well guess that Gerson lacks the first clue. But this Victim Tale has been told for the past forty years, by libs and cons who share two values—a high regard for their own brilliant character, and a contempt for low-income kids.
Lets take a guess: Michael Gerson has no idea what goes on in low-income schools. His statement broadcasts his own good character. Low-income kids can just go hang—as theyve hung for so many years, through so many pious articles. CHILDHOODS END: In todays column, Paul Krugman describes the potent Deception Machines which have long driven our budget discussions. Were inclined to agree with Krugmans conclusion; if Obama is the Dem nominee, these machines will probably fail to keep him out of the White House next year. But how thoroughly have these Deception Machines thrived over the past many years? Yesterday, a C-SPAN caller from Scottsdale, Arizona posed this question to Rudy Giuliani. On Olympus, the gods rocked with laughter as this call occurred:
No, we didnt make that up. The question starts at roughly 9:20 of the tape, Rudy Giuliani on the C-SPAN Campaign Bus. Just click here, then fast forward.
Weve discussed this matter many times in the past. The caller sounds completely sincere. But he has been told, for decades now, that cutting tax rates increases revenue. The people who have told him this know that its lunacy, but theyre playing him for a rube—and the liberal world, and the mainstream press, have never really gotten around to telling such voters that theyre being played for fools by a right-wing conspiracy. The caller believes what he has been told—in part, because no one contradicts it. Big newspapers lead more comfortable lives when they let such cant go unchallenged. And, of course, their owners and their journalistic stars gain from Republican tax cuts.
For decades, these Deception Machines have told these tales—and theyve largely gone unchallenged. But another story is ending in New Hampshire this week—and it has gone undiscussed too.
This week, a sixteen-year story will come to an end—a story that began in New Hampshire, back in January 1992. During that period, RNC/MSM bull-shit machines have churned endless cant about Clinton-Gore-Clinton—and those stories largely went unchallenged, and they changed the worlds history. Who would be this years best Democratic White House nominee? We dont have a strong opinion. But as this 16-year story now comes to an end, we think its important to get clear on two points. We think its important to see the opportunity this milestone extends to Dems and libs. And we think its important to understand why so few Democrats, right to this day, know about what has transpired.
A new opportunity: With the presumptive defeat of Candidate Clinton, a 16-year story will come to an end. This gives Democrats a new chance to take control of the narratives told about its leaders. By now, its abundantly clear that a Nominee Clinton would be subjected to endless nonsense throughout the campaign, as was the case with Candidate Gore all through 1999 and 2000. These attacks would be based on sixteen years of mainstream demonology—and its clear that many Dems and libs believe many parts of these RNC tales. (Lets not pretend that we dont.) Obamas nomination lets Dems start again. And, with new, more aggressive liberal institutions in place, it will be harder—much, much harder—to assemble the welter of Demon Tales that were used to trash the Clintons and Gore. The defeat of Clinton will let Democrats and liberals at long last start over again.
About that 16-year story: As the Clinton/Gore/Clinton years end, Dems will get the chance to start over. But its important to understand why so many voters dont even know that a story is ending. Its just as with that caller from Scottsdale—they dont know because no one ever bothered to tell them. No one told them that they were being played for fools as this 16-year story unfolded.
No one told them! When Gene Lyons wrote Fools for Scandal (1996), careful liberals chose to ignore it. When Gene and Joe Conason wrote The Hunting of the President (2000), careful liberals looked away once again. When the trashing of Gore began in March 1999, careful liberals knew they mustnt say too much. And as the dreadful aftermath of the 2000 election unfolded in Iraq, careful liberals knew how they should discuss Campaign 2000. They knew they could trash the Supreme Courts decision in Florida—and they knew that they mustnt go back and help voters know what the press corps had done for two long years during Campaign 2000, before the Court got the chance to act.
This morning, Ezra and Kevin are comically telling you, comically late, about the press corps and Candidate Clinton. Kevin says hes feeling bitter; Ezra says it's a bit astonishing to watch the real-time narrative construction that went on at last night's debate. Good boys! Missing, as always, is the obvious point: This has gone on, unabated, for the past sixteen years! But then, when it comes to this stunning 16-year story, good, careful boys have always known the basic rule. They must be careful what they say. They must pretend they know less than they do.
The selection of Obama, not Clinton, may work out well for Dems—for the world. (There will never be any real way to find out.) But the centerpiece of this 16-year story remains that pivotal War Against Gore—the war which sent George Bush to the White House, and thereby sent the U.S. to Iraq. The dead of Iraq are in their graves because the press corps conducted that war—and good careful boys like Kevin and Ezra do know all about this. But you know the rule among good, careful liberals—youre allowed to describe that War Against Gore only once. Josh Marshall described it to Howard Kurtz in August 2002, then his big trap shut for all time. Ezra described it four years later. Indeed, so you can recall what the Hardball ingenue said, lets reprint his words right here. At the start of an American Prospect cover story, Ezra told the truth to the world. He was describing a 2005 address by Gore:
Good God! According to Klein, the media establishment—this included the AP and the New York Times—deputized itself judge, jury, and executioner for Gores 2000 presidential campaign, spinning each days events to portray the stolid, capable vice president as a wild exaggerator. In a world where the public seems to think, by a two-to-one margin, that the press corps is too liberal, can you think of a reason to say that just once? But Ezra quickly shut his trap about this perfectly accurate part of his story—and today, he seems amazed to find these same people inventing silly tales about Clinton. And he forgets to mention, in todays post, that the sort of thing he describes has gone on for the past sixteen years.
Kevin at least pretends to be bitter. Omitting this obvious background again, Ezra wont take it that far. (High comedy! Note the commenters, praising him for keeping these vile people honest!)
At any rate, a 16-year story is ending this week. That may turn out to be a good thing for Dems, and for the world, though there will be no way to find out. But many voters are just as clueless as that poor sad rube down in Zona. They dont know about that 16-year story because Kevin, and Josh, and Ezra, and E.J., and a host of others agreed not to tell them. Good boys! Theyve read Lyons and Conason—and they know about Gore. And they know this—they must never tell.
YOURE ALLOWED TO TELL IT JUST ONCE: Would Clinton be a better candidate than Obama? A better president? We dont have the slightest idea. But what happened to Clinton, starting in late October, is the same thing that happened to Candidate Gore. For a bit of perspective, heres Dana Milbank, just last week, followed by Milbank and Josh in 2002. What happened to Clinton, and what happened to Gore, are all part of that 16-year story:
Gore didnt run again, for obvious reasons. When Clinton ran, she faced the same problem, as Milbank described to Kurtz last week. And guess what? In large part, the press corps was free to chew her up, in the manner that has Kevin so bitter, because careful people like Kevin and Josh—and E.J.; and Gene Robinson—left this remarkable story untold. The events that have Kevin so bitter today are part of an ongoing 16-year story—a story these careful lads didnt tell.
Read what Josh told Kurtz that day; its like what Ezra wrote in 2006. If you were a fiery liberal, why would you tell that story one time? Answer that, and youve solved a riddle—a riddle that ran sixteen years.