END OF AN ERA! The career liberal world refused to fight back. Does Steve Clemons post show us why? // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2009
Theme without end, amen: Once theyve established their Official Group Themes, those Official Group Themes simply never die. Presumably, that explains the familiar focus in this mornings Reliable Source. In our hard-copy Washington Post, this is the headlined item:
Snark! That item heads this mornings Reliable Source. But then, once they have their themes in place, their Official Group Themes never die.
One other note: We thought Jill Bidens gratuitous comment to Oprah really, truly captured an era. Once the mainstream press corps turned on the Clintons and Gore, the career liberal world kept earning its keep in precisely this manner. Who knows? Maybe Jill Biden simply misspoke. But a whole lot of people misspoke that way. They misspoke that way for a long time.
The liberal world ran and hid in the early 1990s, as the mainstream press corps aligned itself with emerging conservative power. (With growing multimillionaire power.) For the most part, liberals and Dems refused to fight backand many times, they crossed the street, displaying their fealty to insider preferences. Is that what Jill Biden did with Oprah? Watching that one last gratuitous comment, we found it hard not to ask.
END OF AN ERA: An era came to an end this weekalthough its noxious constituent parts may well come back at some point.
But yes, an era came to an end. The mainstream press corps wont be trashing Obama in the way they trashed so many Big Dems during the 16-year, Clinton/Gore/Bush/Kerry/Clinton era. (Good!) In that eras most consequential episode, their conduct sent George Bush to the White House. But that story remains in the sphere of deviance for the mainstream press corpsand for the liberal press too. Good career liberals just dont discuss it. One more time, as an era ends, we incomparably will.
More specifically, well tell you why the liberal world didnt challenge the wars against Clinton and Gore. In the case of the latter war, remember the (accurate) description by Ezra Klein, in the one moment when he slipped up and gave readers the truth about this remarkable bit of world history (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/22/06). At the start of an American Prospect cover story, Ezra described a speech Gore had given in October 2005. And uh-oh! With considerable accuracy, he also described what had happened in the campaign which sent Bush to the White House:
One error: Ezra had his date wrong, as liberals almost always do when they discuss Campaign 2000. In fact, that media establishment deputized itself Gores executioner starting in March 1999, not in the year 2000, as Ezras text implied. (All the narratives were firmly in place by December 1999and Bush was well ahead in the polls.) But aside from that, Ezras description of that media establishments gross misconduct was, of course, quite accurate. Perhaps in part for that very reason, he never mentioned this critical matter again. In truth, this matter lies in the sphere of deviance of the mainstream pressand of most career liberals too.
Ezras passage describes the way we got the world from which were emerging. Amazingly, you virtually never see career liberals discuss this remarkable fact.
But then, you rarely see career liberal writers discuss the years of pseudo-scandal which preceded that twenty-month War Against Gore. Why is that? Again, Steve Clemons unintentionally suggested a possible answer in this remarkable post.
Our question: Has anyone ever kissed anyones ass the way Clemons did in that post? Clemons lies at the heart of Washingtons insider career liberal worldand he was kissing the luscious ass of Maureen Dowd on this high occasion. No one did much more than Dowd, of course, to establish the inane Clinton/Gore-trashing which would lead to Gores execution by that media establishment. Surely, Clemons understands this fact. But to certain peoplehe may be onesome things are just more important.
Has anyone ever kissed anyones ass quite the way Clemons did? Heres how he started the deeply embarrassing post which was headlined, Maureen Dowd Party the Best:
Lets write that againand yes, were quoting: The real treats were face time with [Dowd] herself and the power guests she assembled.
Good God. In the annals of human history, has anyone ever kissed anyones ass quite the way this career liberal does? We felt forced to turn to the world of fiction for some sort of comparison. But inevitably, we thought of the obsequious Mr. Collins, eternal target of Jane Austens wit. Throughout Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins sings the praise of the Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who has generously granted him his post as a pompous and pious village minister. Just tell us that what follows isnt Clemonsor, by extension, the career liberal world. Charlotte, who has now married Mr. Collins, takes her friend, Elizabeth Benet, on a tour of the pandering parsons house. Soon, though, Mr. Collins appears. He renews the comical keister-kissing Austen mocks throughout:
To the obsequious Collins, Lady Catherine was the sort of woman whom one cannot regard with too much deference. But people like Collins are constantly with us, wherever position and wealth are involved. Surely, thats a truth universally acknowledgedand its surely a truth which helps explain how Bush ended up where he was.
No, Jay Rosen still wont discuss it. Using a book from the 1980s about the press of the 1960s, hell complain about the mainstream press corps sphere of deviance, completely forgetting to mention his own, or that of the career liberal world. But then, it isnt just the mainstream press which avoid discussing the last sixteen years. The fiery career liberal press avoids it toohas done so for sixteen years.
Ah yes, you recall those liberal leaders! When the wars against Bill Clinton began, they ran off and hid in the brush; when that war was extended to Gore, they ran off and hid once again. Or they joined the Bradley campaign and paraded about, defending claims about Willie Horton or Love Canal which werelets be frankoutright lies. And of course, those wars against Clinton, then against Gore, had begun in the New York Times and the Washington Post, insider Washingtons great social arbiters. When you read Clemons astonishing panders to the Lady Maureen de Dowd, do you still fail to understand why career liberals kept their traps tightly shut all during this death-dealing era?
The fuller story remains to be toldbut its outlines are really quite clear. For reasons which havent yet been explained, the mainstream press corpsnot Rush; not Seanturned against the Clintons, then Gore, inventing baldly ridiculous themes which showed these Dems woeful character. And uh-oh! The liberal worldinsiders like Clemons, and many much higheragreed to pretend not to notice. On Monday, this walking parody kissed the ass of the perspon who spent so much time trashing Gore. Do you finally see, somewhere deep inside, why the press corps wars against Clinton and Gore produced so little pushback from your fiery heroes?
Quoting a 23-year-old book, Jay Rosen wailed last week about the mainstream press corps sphere of deviance (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/19/09). But the career liberal press has put the last sixteen years inside that same sphere of deviance! (First big milestone: In 1996, Gene Lyons published Fools for Scandaland they all knew they mustnt discuss it.) Once Obama has saved the world, will the assaults against Big Dems resume? Quite possibly: This will remain a millionaire press corps, and its great themes will descend rom the top. And of course, liberal successors to Clemons will have their brown noses pressed to the glass, praising the greatness of journalistic successors to Dowd. Theyll be keeping their mouths tightly shut, praying for the chance to rub against stars at DCs very best parties.
Theres nothing wrong with attending a party. But in our view, its somewhat sad that people like Tom Hanks were at Dowds party. Charitably, well say it means that they dont understand their world. But these people dont understand their world in large part thanks to people like Clemons, who walked away from their obligations during an era which has now reached its end. An era came to an end this weekand a gang of obsequious climbers enabled that death-dealing time.
Ezra Klein got it right that day; what he said explains our route to the past eight years. But good career liberals almost never discuss thisit lies inside their sphere of deviance. Starting in late 2002, we askedand asked; then asked againwhy so many were staying so silent. Clemons post gives you one way to ponder this critical, death-dealing question.
Endless deference: Please understand: Clemons is the very rare bird who puts this sort of thing into print. He did the same two years ago, gushing about Margaret Carlson. (Margaret Carlson! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/18/07.) Well only suggest this: The social dynamics involved in his post are likely found all through the career liberal world, affecting the spheres of deviance of many scribes who would never dream of putting such pandering nonsense into print.
And truly, Clemons deference is without end. Heres more of his world-class ass-kissing:
Well be honest: We dont even understand the best line Clemons goes on to recount. (Oh please, please! Tell us who said it!) But make no mistake: By the eternal rules of the game, even this best line cant be as great as the previous brilliance of Lady de Dowd, who chittered her tales about Dear Jacks sex days. By the way: How many years has it been since the lady became appalled by Bill Clintons troubling sexploits?
As you may recall, the mainstream press corps spent eight years pimping scandals about Bill Clinton. (In Year 6, they finally got lucky with Miss Lewinksy.) Eight to sixteen years later, no one has made the slightest attempt to do any further work on these topics. Could that be because these scandals were fakebecause the whole dang war was a big invention? We have asked that question today. Your career liberal world never will.
Go ahead, Tom Hanksand Larry David, and Geffen! Someone can now explain all this silence to the suffering and dead of Iraq.
Bringing the eternal note of amusement in: Yesterday, the comments continued on Clemons post. At one point, he adopted the tone lords and ladies have adopted, all through the annals of time:
The comments have been tres amusantes!
We dont know Steve; we wish there were some way to pursue this remarkable historical topic without going personal. (Were quite sure that Jay Rosens an OK guy too.) But its a truth universally known: Lords and ladies will always adopt that tone about those who scribble down here, so far below. You know? About those who were right about these themes from Day Oneright, and therefore inexcusable?
Reread that accurate passage by Ezra. At THE HOWLER, we started writing that accurate story in March 1999. Even now, all these many years later, your career liberal world never will. Maybe it was just a misstatement: But to this day, Kevin Drum has no idea how a guy like George Bush reached the White House.