FRIDAY, JANUARY 16, 2004
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 (lets quote the Boston Globes Cathy Young) Hitler, Goebbels, Lenin, Trotsky, and Brezhnev. Its a wonder that Mao and Saddam Hussein didnt 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 Hitlers 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 columnone 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 yesterdays New York Times, Bernard Weinraub took us inside Millers soul:
WEINRAUB: People say Ive 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. Thats the quintessential evil in the history of the universe, and were throwing it around on MoveOn.org to win a contest. That's grotesque to me.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 cant 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 Clarks congressional testimony from September 2002. Well repeat our point from earlier this week. This well-spun discussion is now transpiring because the press corps never examined Clark and Deans 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? Weve read a study of Deans troubling wife. Weve heard about Clarks 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 todays 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.Wow! And that is Stolbergs only example! Despite this, the Times posts a highly visible, page-one piece examining Lehanes 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 Lehanes troubling performance. Stolberg is a professional writer, with professional eds. Such ambiguity is likely from design.)
Alls 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 dont really knowand theres been almost no real reporting. As weve 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? Its been the defining claim of the whole Dem campaign, but its hard to say whats true. The press has reported on Deans troubling wife, but not about his real-time proclamations.
For what its worth, we normally assume that the Boston Globes Tom Oliphant is accurate about basic facts. On November 23, Oliphant hammered Deans 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.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 dont know. Our point: This has been the defining question of the whole Dem campaign. But your press corpsso troubled by Judith Steinbergs old sneakershas taken a pass on this topic.
GLOBAL CLOWNING: Dont worryDennis Miller will recite this one too. In this mornings Washington Times, James Lakely engages in consummate clownistry as he reports Gores 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.Pitiful, isnt 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. Cant you hear what hes 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 warmingboth of whom say what a Big Nut Gore is. After that, he quotes a major pol. And hes 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.Dont 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 evenings Special Report:
HUME: In a case of unfortunate timing, former Vice President Al Gore was in New York City today attacking the Bush administrations policies on global warming. Gore called President Bush, quote, a moral coward on the environment. He said evidence of the warming problem is undeniable.That was Humes entire report! Increasingly, your discourse is managed by clowns. Disaster is one sure result.