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ALL HEAT DONE LITE! Dennis Miller is hopelessly Lite. That’s why he’s getting a program


ENDLESSLY LITE: Over the course of the past few weeks, we had at least three major developments in the annals of slime-and-smear clownistry.

In the January 5 New York Post, conservative Ralph Peters wrote a nasty column comparing Howard Dean to (let’s quote the Boston Globe’s Cathy Young) “Hitler, Goebbels, Lenin, Trotsky, and Brezhnev. It’s a wonder that Mao and Saddam Hussein didn’t make the cut.” What makes Dean such an evil genius? Peters presented a string of inane complaints. For example, some Dean supporters had chanted slogans during rivals’ speeches. “These are the techniques employed by Hitler’s Brownshirts,” Peters sagely noted.

But Peters was hardly alone in his clownistry. In a nasty, December 31 syndicated column, conservative National Review ace Joel Mowbray called Anthony Zinni an anti-Semite. “Discussing the Iraq war with the Washington Post last week, former General Anthony Zinni took the path chosen by so many anti-Semites: he blamed it on the Jews,” Mowbray typed. Of course, General Zinni had done no such thing. But so what? Mowbray typed it up anyway.

And then, in the January 6 New York Times, conservative David Brooks wrote a nasty column—one which seemed to smear many Bush critics as anti-Semitic. Wesley Clark was slimed by name. It had been a joke, Brooks explained, when the Times was deluged with complaints.

The Times, the Post and the National Review are major American news orgs. Brooks, Mowbray and Peters are all important conservatives. But what has funny-man Dennis Miller hot and bothered? In a profile in yesterday’s New York Times, Bernard Weinraub took us inside Miller’s soul:

WEINRAUB: “People say I’ve slid to the right,” Mr. Miller said in his office at the NBC Studios in Burbank, speaking in his rat-a-tat-tat style. “Well, can you blame me? One of the biggest malfeasances of the left right now is the mislabeling of Hitler. Quit saying this guy is Hitler,” he said, referring to Mr. Bush. “Hitler is Hitler. That’s the quintessential evil in the history of the universe, and we’re throwing it around on to win a contest. That's grotesque to me.”

Mr. Miller, who was speaking about television advertisements submitted to a competition held by Voter Fund, a liberal political group, was just getting started.

“Can you blame me?” Miller asked. As a matter of fact, yes. We can.

Miller seemed to be bright about twenty years back, when his work concerned the syrups of IHOP. But his political “rants” were always inane, and he drifted to Perot, then to Bush. Today, he reads Approved RNC Scripts, pandering hard to his newest owners. Three big conservatives dished out Big Slime. But Miller knew what the latest script ordered: He was deeply disturbed by some anonymous shlub who sent an ad in to a contest.

No, you can’t get dumber than Miller. Result? The suits at CNBC took a memo: Dennis Miller has to have his own program!

SPINNING CLARK: Many pundits will critique the spinning of Clark’s congressional testimony from September 2002. We’ll repeat our point from earlier this week. This well-spun discussion is now transpiring because the press corps never examined Clark and Dean’s real-time views on Iraq. Were Clark and Dean “right from the start” on Iraq? This has been the driving claim of the entire Democratic campaign. But what are the facts behind this claim? We’ve read a study of Dean’s troubling wife. We’ve heard about Clark’s disturbing argyle sweater. But what did Clark and Dean say in real time? Displaying their standard insouciance, the press has forgotten to ask.

Meanwhile, to see the New York Times’ instinctive inanity, check today’s page-one critique of Clark aide Chris Lehane. It seems that Lehane is a troubling hit-man. Sheryl Gay Stolberg quotes Dems comparing Lehane to “criminals” who practice “black arts.” But in the course of her front-page expose, Stolberg gives exactly one example of Lehane doing hit-work for Clark. Prepare to be rocked to your core:

STOLBERG: On Monday morning at 9, reporters traveling with General Clark were clustered in a hotel lobby here when Mr. Lehane blew in, carrying an oversize cup of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts and wearing his trademark mischievous look.

“So you heard Kerry’s attacking us,” he said, referring to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts—a candidate he advised last year.

Minutes later, Mr. Lehane produced two documents: a flattering remark Mr. Kerry made about General Clark, and a not-so-flattering synopsis of a 1996 Boston Globe article that said Mr. Kerry had stayed rent-free at the home of a lobbyist. All this transpired two hours before the Kerry camp said a single word.

Wow! And that is Stolberg’s only example! Despite this, the Times posts a highly visible, page-one piece examining Lehane’s troubling conduct. (By the way, note the ambiguous closing sentence of this passage. It may give the impression that the Kerry camp never criticized Clark before Lehane’s troubling performance. Stolberg is a professional writer, with professional eds. Such “ambiguity” is likely from design.)

“All’s Fair?” asks the Times headline. At the increasingly inane New York Times, the answer seems clear: Yes, it is.

TOM ON DEAN: Where was Dean on Iraq in real time? Here at THE HOWLER, we don’t really know—and there’s been almost no real reporting. As we’ve noted, Dean supported Biden-Lugar; according to Kerry, Bush could have gone to war under this measure just as he did with the measure which passed. Was Dean right from the start on Iraq? It’s been the defining claim of the whole Dem campaign, but it’s hard to say what’s true. The press has reported on Dean’s troubling wife, but not about his real-time proclamations.

For what it’s worth, we normally assume that the Boston Globe’s Tom Oliphant is accurate about basic facts. On November 23, Oliphant hammered Dean’s basic claims in this area. Here is a dose of his dealings:

OLIPHANT: Here is what actually happened. Bush proposed a pure, blank-check resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq in September 2002. Many in Congress, Gephardt included, opposed it. Negotiations ensued, alternatives were proposed, and a month later many Democrats and nearly all Republicans agreed with Bush on a second resolution which passed overwhelmingly.

One of those alternatives [Biden-Lugar] authorized the use of force after a new UN resolution requiring Iraqi disarmament and compliance with past resolution; if UN diplomacy was exhausted it authorized unilateral action if the president declared Iraq a threat.

This alternative was not only supported by Howard Dean, it was supported by Senator John Kerry, whom Dean also attacks for being Bush’s war buddy.

Lacking votes, the Biden-Lugar proposal was never formally introduced. Instead, the negotiations with Democrats produced the resolution that passed. It authorized force for several other offenses beyond prohibited weapons (including ballistic missiles, which Iraq had), but also encouraged UN involvement. The differences between the two were not huge, and each authorized war, including unilateral war.

After the vote, Dean reiterated his Biden-Lugar position but did not denounce the enacted resolution until later. He also said Bush should be taken at his word that Iraq constituted a threat.

“Against that background, Bush could have gone to war just as easily under Biden-Lugar as under the actual congressional resolution,” Oliphant wrote. He hammered Dean for running an ad which claimed Dean was right from the start.

Is Oliphant right? We simply don’t know. Our point: This has been the defining question of the whole Dem campaign. But your press corps—so troubled by Judith Steinberg’s old sneakers—has taken a pass on this topic.

GLOBAL CLOWNING: Don’t worry—Dennis Miller will recite this one too. In this morning’s Washington Times, James Lakely engages in consummate clownistry as he “reports” Gore’s address on global warming:

LAKELY (pgh 1): Former Vice President Al Gore delivered a speech on the theory of global warming yesterday, the coldest day in New York City in decades, calling President Bush a “moral coward” for adhering to policies that put the planet in catastrophic peril of overheating.

(2) The speech, sponsored by the liberal advocacy group, came when the mercury was expected to dip to minus 1 in New York City, shattering a record low temperature that has stood for 47 years, and notching just a few degrees higher than the coldest day ever recorded there.

Pitiful, isn’t it? Nothing about global warming theory says there will be no cold days in New York. But Lakely throws dim-witted feed to the herd. Can’t you hear what he’s actually saying? We think we can hear him: Hey, rubes!

Indeed, Lakely gives a perfect example of the conservative press corps’ rapidly evolving, propagandistic style of “reporting.” He quotes two experts on global warming—both of whom say what a Big Nut Gore is. After that, he quotes a major pol. And he’s been to Clown College too:

LAKELY: House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said it was “fitting that Mr. Gore chose one of the coldest days of the year to spread false information about the Bush administration's record on global warming.”

“Mother Nature didn’t agree with his message, and neither do I,” the congressman said. “Al, it’s cold outside.”
Don’t worry: In Hollywood, Miller is honing the message. After all, he even saw Brit recite it last night. Yep! A Pander Bear was going polar on last evening’s Special Report:
HUME: In a case of unfortunate timing, former Vice President Al Gore was in New York City today attacking the Bush administration’s policies on global warming. Gore called President Bush, quote, a “moral coward on the environment.” He said evidence of the warming problem is undeniable.

GORE (on tape): I really don’t think there is any longer a credible basis for doubting that the earth’s atmosphere is heating up because of global warming.

HUME: As Gore spoke, New Yorkers were freezing in 18-degree weather with a wind chill of one degree. And forecasters were saying that tonight could be the coldest January 15 in 47 years.

That was Hume’s entire report! Increasingly, your discourse is managed by clowns. Disaster is one sure result.