Companion site:


Google search...


Daily Howler: Maureen Dowd, debunking Bush, proved she's the world's dumbest human
Daily Howler logo
TAKE BACK THE TRIVIA! Maureen Dowd, debunking Bush, proved she’s the world’s dumbest human: // link // print // previous // next //

ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO IMAGINE: For three years now, we’ve made an obvious point—journalists shouldn’t repeat John McCain’s slogans for him. But there was Wolf Blitzer, on CNN, playing the fool once again:
BLITZER (1/15/07): Coming up, Senator John McCain likes straight talk. But you can bet he won't like what a leading Christian conservative is saying about him.
If you couldn’t see them in the wild, you probably wouldn’t believe the reports. People would claim they behaved this way. You’d assume that such claims were mistaken.

So no: Journalists shouldn’t recite McCain’s slogans. Nor should they refer to Giuliani as “America’s Mayor,” as they simply luvv doing. But we’ll also say this to Media Matters, which flagged this latest act of inanity: This is true even if a journalist thinks that McCain does pretty much “tell it straight.” Readers, journalists shouldn’t recite a pol’s slogans. Unless we want to encourage such conduct, the discussion must begin and end there.

NOVELS AND BAFFLEMENT: The need to novelize the news is paramount for this particular life-form. At the top of page one in this morning’s Times, Scott Shane provides the perfect example—this inane attempt to find a “baffling paradox” in the trial of Scooter Libby.

Shane constructs a pleasing novel, built around a “baffling paradox” he starts describing in paragraph 2. (Headline: CHENEY’S EX-AIDE IS STILL A PUZZLE.) But there’s nothing “baffling” or “paradoxical” about the situation he describes. A major pol has been accused of lying—and two of his friends say they think that he’s innocent. Whatever the facts of this case may turn out to be, there’s nothing “baffling” or “paradoxical” about any of that. It’s the most ordinary thing in the world.

One thing is “baffling” about Shane’s report—the need of these life-forms to shape news this way. In the future, scientists will dig them up, extract DNA, and try to explain their baffling conduct—the puzzling conduct which has shaped our discourse over these past many years.

Special report: Take back the light!

PART 2—TAKE BACK THE TRIVIA: As usual, Schieffer was eager to serve, ready to peddle the latest fake outrage. Barbara Boxer had said a slightly dumb thing to Darling Condi at a big Senate hearing (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/16/07). But Boxer’s discussion had lasted seventeen seconds, and the outrage ginned up was so absurd that even Fred Hiatt could see right through it. Only a fool would waste his time talking about such a meaningless topic. But over the course of the past fifteen years, getting big pundits to promote fake outrage has been a remarkably easy task for the nation’s pseudo-conservative spinners. And sure enough! On Sunday, Bob Schieffer was ready again, prepared to promote their cries of outrage. Schieffer lobbed a big fat softball at his guest, the world’s greatest man:

SCHIEFFER (1/14/07): The debate up on the Hill has been not only really fierce, it's sometimes gotten very personal. There was one episode that got a lot of attention last week. I want to just show it to you. Senator Barbara Boxer talking to the Secretary of State.

BOXER (videotape): Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families.

SCHIEFFER: Obviously, it's the American military that's going to pay. But was Senator Boxer out of line, Senator McCain? Because she's suggesting that because—or some say she's suggesting that because Condoleezza Rice is single and has no children that she can't understand sacrifice.
Good boy! Schieffer couldn’t wait to go on TV and repeat what “some say” about Boxer’s remark. Even Fred Hiatt could see through the “logic.” But Schieffer was willing to serve.

But so it has gone for the past fifteen years as roving gangs of pseudo-con hacks have generated strings of fake/phony scandals, with willing man-servants—hacks like Schieffer—prepared to pretend that their outrage made sense. Most significantly, they played along with strings of fake outrage as Candidate Gore staged his run for the White House. Result? George Bush ended up in the White House—and the U. S. Army ended up in Iraq. And oh yes! The U.S. senate ended up holding hearings, with Boxer making a trivial comment, and pseudo-con spinners leaping to action, inventing their latest fake outrage.

Schieffer served well during Campaign 2000 (links below). And he still plays along with these games, even now! If liberals and centrists plan to take back the discourse, we have to find the ways to stop this gaggle of millionaire hacks from peddling these strings of fake, phony scandals. And that means that we have to find the way to take away their consummate trivia—to take away the silly trivia out of which they build their fake tales.

But doing that will be quite hard; this press corps simply luvs its trivia. Consider Maureen Dowd’s latest inanity, in Saturday’s New York Times.

“A Risky Game of Risk,” said the headline. Dowd was pondering Bush’s speech on Iraq—and she chose to drown in trivia, as she so commonly does:
DOWD (1/13/07): It's impossible to know what W. was really thinking as he stiffly delivered his fantasy scheme in the White House library. The whole capital was fraught, but the president may simply have been musing to himself: ''I'm hungry I wonder what time the game starts on ESPN? Has anybody read all these books?''

W. always acts like he's upping the ante in a board game where you roll the dice and bet your plastic army divisions on the outcome. This doesn't surprise some of his old classmates at Yale, who remember Junior as the riskiest Risk player of them all, known for dropping by the rooms of friends , especially when they were trying to study for exams, for extended bouts of ''The Game of Global Domination.''

Junior was known as an extremely aggressive player in the venerable Parker Brothers board game, a brutal contest that requires bluster and bluffing as you invade countries, all the while betraying alliances. Notably, it's almost impossible to win Risk and conquer the world if you start the game in the Middle East, because you're surrounded by enemies.
You can’t get dumber than Maureen Dowd—which helps explain why we’re in Iraq. As she continued, she continued to ponder the way Bush (allegedly) played Risk in college—and the way he played other games too:
DOWD (continuing directly): His gamesmanship extended to sports—he loved going into overtime and demanding that points be played over because he wasn't quite ready.

As Graydon Carter recollects in the new Vanity Fair, Gail Sheehy wrote an article for the magazine about W. that made this point: ''Even if he loses, his friends say, he doesn't lose. He'll just change the score, or change the rules, or make his opponent play until he can beat him.''

W.'s best friend when he was a teenager in Houston, Doug Hannah, told Ms. Sheehy: ''If you were playing basketball and you were playing to 11 and he was down, you went to 15.''
No, you can’t get dumber than Dowd and her crew—which helps explain why we’re in Iraq. After all, during Campaign 2000, this same gang constructed inane, stupid tales about what Gore was like when he was a lad. Picking and choosing among absurd, pointless “evidence,” they wrote pleasing tales about Gore’s deformed soul. George Bush ended up in the White House.

She wanted to evaluate Bush in Iraq. So she talked about the way he (allegedly) played basketball—in Houston, when he was 15 years old! No, you can’t get dumber than that. But as the poet wrote: Yet, this is them.

For the record, Graydon Carter’s cadge from Sheehy is a wondrously dumb piece of work. Sheehy’s original passage about teenage Bush was baldly self-contradictory. (Don’t make us waste our time explaining.) But so what? Seven years later, Carter was too dumb to notice, and Dowd didn’t want to notice either. And neither of them chose to notice their sheer absurdity of their rumination—the notion that we can pick-and-choose teen-age recollections to critique the ongoing war in Iraq. After al;l, these teen-age tales helped them write the story they liked—helped them pen their latest fine novels. Carter and Dowd and dumb beyond repair—and they help drive our failed discourse.

No doubt, some liberals luvved Carter’s piece, because it makes Big Fun of Bush. But understand well: Carter’s press corps is an upper-class cohort, inclined to upper-class perspectives. If we let them have these tools, they will most often use them to serve upper-class interests. In 1999 and 2000, they invented silly tales about Gore .That is what they will most often do— except in situations when someone like Bush seems intent on destroying the world.

If liberals and centrists have any brains, we’ll try to take away their trivia. In the long run, letting them build pleasing tales from sheer trivia will not serve progressive interests.

TOMORROW—PART 3: Take back the logic.

TAKE BACK THE TRIVIA: Schieffer, a long-time family friend of Bush, used to take in spring training with him. And he served him well during Campaign 2000. For one especially clownish example, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/13/03 (with links to a real-time report). Schieffer was in rare form this day. But then, so was Gloria Borger, his clueless compatriot. Neither one figure out why Bush had done what he did.

For more background on Schieffer’s ties to Bush, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/13/04. Behaving like the fraternal order it is, the rest of the press corps is generally careful to avoid discussing such matters.

Meanwhile, for a sample of Schieffer’s bizarre distaste for Gore, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/13/03. Try to believe that the genial anchor actually engaged in the nonsense described here. And note the field on which he fought—he fought, as always, on the field of sheer trivia. If liberals and centrists have any sense, we’ll take their trivia back.