WHEN SALLY MET KATHY! Long ago, the Posts Sally Quinn explained Matthews hatred of Clinton: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2007
THE GENTLE SPIN OF CILLIZZA AND HEALY: Its amazing to watch the Posts Chris Cillizza decide how much news youre permitted to hear. In todays paper, Cillizza reports on Hillary Clintons trip to South Carolina. Well admit it! When we read his first two paragraphs, we puzzled a bit at her odd public statement:
CILLIZZA (2/20/07): Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York courted black voters, considered crucial to securing the Democratic presidential nomination, in a series of campaign stops in South Carolina on Monday in which she cast the 2008 election as a chance to make history."This is the campaign, and I am the candidate? We puzzled a bit at Clintons strange, imperial-sounding statement. And then, we read Patrick Healys report of the same trip in todays New York Times. And omigod! Late in his piece, Healy actually told us what Clinton had actually said:
HEALY (2/20/07): ''I believe this presidential election is about breaking barriers—and this is the campaign, and I am the candidate with the experience to break the barriers,'' Mrs. Clinton said.Oohhhh! I am the candidate with the experience, Clinton had said. But with Cillizza, its always a case of Pundit Knows Best. Somehow, he knew you didnt need to hear the actual statement Clinton had made on her own behalf. Result? When Clinton stated her qualification for office, Cillizza dropped it from his report! Post readers were left with a slightly puzzling statement—a statement shorn of the actual claim which Clinton had tried to put forward.
But so it goes as this vacuous boy pretends to report this White House campaign. Cillizza is part of the Hardball gang—and the Boys of Hardball dont care for Clinton (see item which follows). But then, Healys no day-in-the-park himself. His reports about Clinton are loaded with spin—and that includes his report today. Here is the fuller context when he reports Clintons statement:
HEALY: Mrs. Clinton put her own gentle spin on [state senator Robert] Ford's remark at a forum here at Allen University, a historically black institution, by arguing that a candidate could make history by winning in 2008—and that she should be that candidate.Healy is the master spinner. In his reports about Clintons campaign, he is constantly inserting his own interpretations—and they tend to promote a familiar theme. Clinton is constantly working from talking-points, making scripted remarks, or inserting her own gentle spin. This morning, Healy starts by describing a delicately worded pitch from Clinton—and the phrase appears in the headline. If you dont understand the novel Healy is typing, you havent lived on this planet for the past dozen years. In Healys reports, Clinton is constantly spinning you; shes scripted, Healy constantly says, shes reading from her talking-points. In this way, the hapless reporter injects his own gentle spin—by pretending that he has spotted Clintons.
And yes, weve seen this movie before. We saw this film in 1999 and 2000, when spin machines named Seelye and Connolly reinvented everything Gore ever said—while hapless Frank Bruni, covering Bush at the Times, performed like the Texans press agent. Who knows? That silly performance by Cillizza today may not even have been deliberate; he may just be that bad a reporter. But once again, this gentle incompetent made a decision—you dont have to hear what this candidate said. Im the one with all the experience, Clinton said. Cillizza edited the part about experience!
Yes, weve seen this movie before. These boys are empty, hapless, inane—and theyre eager to share their brilliant impressions. Indeed, the Post and the Times seem to have an endless supply of such laughable losers. And make no mistake: The U. S. in Iraq today because of what their predecessors did.
READING ASSIGNMENT: Go ahead—give it a try! See if you can see how Clintons statement represented an attempt to put her own spin on Robert Fords prior remark. Remember the rule for the Times brilliant scribes: You cant just report the things Clinton says. You have to pre-explain them.
WHAT SALLY MET KATHY: On Hardball, they simply hate Hillary Clinton. Last evening, Chris Matthews seemed to have guzzled the Diet Cokes even more than he normally does (note below). Speaking with dignified Obama aide David Axelrod, he cut loose against Vile Clinton—the sequel:
MATTHEWS (2/19/07): I dont believe early polls. However, I have spent weeks now listening to women—pretty educated women, in fact, very educated women, East Coast types, very professional, one after another after another says, I don`t like Hillary Clinton. They really don`t like her.Good God, what a fool. What a Diet Coke-driven idiot! What a consummate loser.
First, lets note the absurdity in Matthews belief that the gimlet-eyed harpies with whom he speaks are in fact the cognoscenti. Weve observed his overpaid wife in person, and trust us—it just isnt so. Matthews speaks to the angry, overpaid, privileged losers who make up the Washington press corps elite. He speaks to his wife—and to Margaret Carlson. These people are not the cognoscenti. Theyre empty, inane, angry crones.
And that explains the disconnect Matthews cited—the disconnect he still cant grasp. Earth to Matthews: Most Americans arent consumed with the anger and envy which drive the souls with whom you have your inane conversations. Many Americans dont hate Clinton; indeed, many people flatly admire her. In part, they admire her for an obvious reason. They admire her because she has long stood up to ugly, stupid people like you.
QUINN (11/2/98): With some exceptions, the Washington Establishment is outraged by the president's behavior in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The polls show that a majority of Americans do not share that outrage. Around the nation, people are disgusted but want to move on; in Washington, despite Clinton's gains with the budget and the Mideast peace talks, people want some formal acknowledgment that the president's behavior has been unacceptable. They want this, they say, not just for the sake of the community, but for the sake of the country and the presidency as well.In some ways, Quinn went easy on her insider cohort in this detailed piece. But twice, she called attention to a key fact: Average Americans did not share her cohorts outrage at Bill Clinton. But so what? Eight years later, the dimwit Matthews is still surprised by this ongoing disconnect. He still goes on the air and rants and says that it has him puzzled.
To Axelrods credit, he didnt take Matthews bait last night. Like Obama, Axelrod is a dignified person; he refused to be drawn into Matthews angry attacks on Clinton. But Matthews is a stupid, nasty man—one of the angriest dogs in the world. Over the past decade, he has been paid many millions of dollars to hate the Clintons (and Gore) at all possible turns. And Matthews has been a very good boy. He had done what hes been told, for the past dozen years. Two years of his anger sent Bush to the White House—and the U.S. into Iraq.
One last point: In that report from 1998, Quinn was describing the angry, envious, gimlet-eyed women whom Matthews describes as the cognoscenti. In short, Quinn was describing Matthews gimlet-eyed wife; you might even call it When Sally Met Kathy. Quinn described a race of fools; to Matthews, theyre the brightest women on earth. And oh yes—they simply hate Clinton. Why dont the others? Matthews asks.
FOURTEEN-COKE NIGHT: A note on those Diet Cokes: In the late 1990s, we were told, by a former Matthews producer, that Matthews guzzles a dozen Diet Cokes in the course of the typical day. This explains his over-pepped aspect when he hits the air, we were told. We dont know if that was (or is) true, but the talker was in rare form last night. As usual, he was jerking hard against his chain because the voters think well of Bill Clinton. More specifically, he ranted and railed about a new Gallup survey; as usual, when people were asked to name the greatest president, they tended to favor the more recent models:
MATTHEWS (2/19/07): At home here, my morale goes down when our mind is so warped about this stuff about Britney Spears that people think that Bill Clinton was a better president than FDR. They cant remember any of our presidents because we have holidays called "Presidents Day" so we can sell mattresses because they dont want to offend anyone by mentioning the fact that George Washington was our first president.Matthews attacked these outrages for the full hour. Later, he complained to Ron Reagan about the views of those dumb-ass normal Americans:
MATTHEWS: I just wonder—we just had a poll of our greatest presidents. Your dad did very well, as he should have. But the lack of knowledge voiced in that poll, where the people could only mention the most recent presidents, it seems. They put Bill Clinton ahead of Franklin Roosevelt!Poor Chris! By the end of the program, Reagan, Howard Fineman and Craig Crawford were looking sideways at each other, hoping to outlast the rants.
By the way: The American citizens polled by Gallup didnt rank all recent presidents before FDR. For example, neither one of the Presidents Bush earned such meritorious standing; each came in light-years behind FDR. (For full results of the survey, click here.) But uh-oh! Many voters admire Bill Clinton—and many voters admire his wife. And this drives this overwrought talker quite mad. Indeed: Last night, as he angrily jerked on his chain, one of our analysts turned from his carrel and mordantly quipped: It looks like a 14-Coke night.
HEALY FALLS FOR THE N-TH TIME: Reading the work of the Washington press corps is often like walking a long hall of mirrors. Consider Patrick Kit Healys puzzling report in Sundays New York Times.
Healy explored an increasingly important political question. Why wont Candidate Clinton say that her vote for the 10/02 war resolution was, in fact, a mistake? This has become the biggest question about the Clinton campaign—but you wont get it sorted out reading Healy. Fairly early in his report, the sheet-sniffer offered a puzzling presentation—a presentation he ascribed to several [Clinton] advisers:
HEALY (2/18/07): Mrs. Clinton believes that reversing course on her vote would invite the charge of flip-flopping that damaged Mr. Kerry or provoke the kind of accusations of political expediency that hung over Al Gore in 2000 and her and her husband, President Bill Clinton, in the 1990s, several advisers said. She has argued to associates in private discussions that Mr. Gore and Mr. Kerry lost, in part, because they could not convince enough Americans that they were resolute on national security, the associates said.But Clinton has already revers[ed] course on her vote! As weve noted, she did so long ago. In August 2004, she said that there would have been no basis for such a vote if wed known there were no WMD. There wouldnt even have been a vote if wed known about the WMD, Clinton said. In the past few months, she has said, again and again, that she wouldnt have voted for the war resolution if shed known there were no WMD. As such, Clinton has already reversed course on her vote. But so what? Healy quoted several advisers—and they made a puzzling assertion. But Healy doesnt seem to notice the problem, and his editor waved his mush into print.
Is Healy really quoting advisers? Or is he just making this bullsh*t up? We dont have the slightest idea—and knowing the Times, we think anythings possible. At any rate, Healys conceptual confusion had been apparent one paragraph earlier in his hapless report:
HEALY: ''She is in a box now on her Iraq vote, but she doesn't want to be in a different, even worse box—the vacillating, flip-flopping Democratic candidate that went to defeat in 2000 and '04,'' said one adviser to Mrs. Clinton. ''She wants to maintain a firmness, and I think a lot of people around her hope she maintains a firmness. That's what people will want in 2008.''In this instance, Healy claims to be quoting a Clinton adviser—but, again, he fails to address the logical problem inherent in the aides statement. In what way would Clinton be seen as a flip-flopper if she said that her vote had been a mistake? Clinton has already said that she would have voted the other way if shed had better information. In effect, she has already said that she cast the wrong vote (due to bad intel on WMD); she has already abandoned her firmness. Why would it mark her as a flip-flopper (as a vacillator) if she simply added a locution—if she said her vote had turned out to be wrong/a mistake? In what way would the use of the words in question mark her as a flipper in any way she isnt a flipper right now? Healy didnt ask, didnt tell.
Of course, with Healy you dont just get puzzling logic—you also get some bogus facts. In this case, you got them right up front. Here are the first three paragraphs of Healys report. We highlight a howling misstatement:
HEALY: One of the most important decisions that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made about her bid for the presidency came late last year when she ended a debate in her camp over whether she should repudiate her 2002 vote authorizing military action in Iraq.But Kerry and Edwards didnt say that when they ran in 2004. They persisted in saying that they still would have voted for the war resolution even if they had known all the facts. We know—its easy to repress such bad memories. But here was Edwards, with Tim Russert, in October 2004:
RUSSERT (10/10/04): If you knew today—and you do know there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq—Ugh! Moments earlier, Edwards had told Russert this: It was important to continue to wage an aggressive war against terrorism, to win the war against terrorism, and also to confront Saddam, who was a serious threat and that's why, the vote on the resolution, both John Kerry and I still stand behind it. We know—its painful to remember these things. But Healy just flat had it wrong.
So lets see. Healy is weak on his logic, and he bungles his facts. But readers, hes good at sniffing those sheets! At the Times, they still put first things first.
WHAT WE MIGHT SAY IF WE WERE CLINTON: Clintons view seems to be something like the following: I never would have cast that vote had I known about the lack of WMD. But I didnt know, so it wasnt the wrong judgment given what was known at the time. All of that is well and good. But given what Clinton has already said, we dont see why she doesnt add this:
CLINTON EXTENDED: That said, I think my vote did turn out to be a mistake, and I very much regret it. I chose to believe the president when he said hed do everything he could to avoid a war—when he said hed insist on full inspections. This was his pledge, in public and private; I dont think he honored that pledge. As Ive said, I never would have voted yes if Id known there were no WMD. But I think that many of us made a mistake when we trusted the president to do what he promised. He promised that hed conduct full inspections. I think he walked away from that pledge.That echoes things Kerry and Edwards did say during Campaign 04.
SEQUEL—THREE AMIGOS DONT KNOW MUCH EITHER: Are members of any real profession as clueless as our millionaire pundits? On last nights Tucker, three big pundits seemed deeply clueless about what Clinton has said. Tucker Carlson, Pat Buchanan and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn fumbled, flailed, finessed and floundered as they tried to report Clintons statements about her 10/02 vote:
CARLSON (2/19/07): Hillary and many of the opponents of the war, have never repudiated the ideology that led to the war in the first place. They still say, well, it was a good idea to take Saddam down. Theyre still, in a sense, neo-cons. Theyre still nation-builders. And the root cause of this disaster has not been defeated or repudiated or even thought through, it seems to me, and thats a huge topic.What the hell is she saying? the head Frat Boy asked. Sadly, there was little sign that Fenn really knew. Read the transcript if you want to see his hapless, fumbling answer.
As usual, the boys dreamed up things Clinton hasnt said, but failed to report her actual statements. What the hell has Clinton been saying? Clinton has said, again and again, that she would have voted against the resolution if shed known there were no WMD. She hasnt just said that over dinner with [Fenn]; she has said that in public, again and again, for more than two years—since August 04. But none of these three overpaid amigos seemed remotely able to say this. Is there any real profession where losers like these could possibly maintain their tenure?