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Daily Howler: Dowd and Matthews let us see the shape of the coverage to come
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BACK TO THE FUTURE! Dowd and Matthews let us see the shape of the coverage to come: // link // print // previous // next //

IN THE BEDROOM: Let's face it. If there’s anything dumber than Maureen Dowd, it’s Maureen Dowd writing from Beverly Hills. (Is Santa Monica close enough? Click here for a simpering 1997 example.) But let’s add one more nominee: Hollywood mogul David Geffen, who Dowd uses to vent her endless spleen in this morning’s “Vile Clinton, the Sequel.”

Simply put, Maureen Dowd despises the Clintons. In case her readers were too dumb to catch it, she arranges to cite the Lincoln Bedroom three separate times in this morning’s column, while forgetting to tell us how badly her tribe twisted that tale back in 1998. (Link below.) And this morning, Dowd has found a live one in her dumb pal, Brother Geffen. How dumb is Geffen when it comes to politics? Here he is, showing the world how to let the hate machine win:
DOWD (2/21/07): Hillary is not David Geffen's dreamgirl.

''Whoever is the nominee is going to win, so the stakes are very high,'' says Mr. Geffen, the Hollywood mogul and sultan of ''Dreamgirls,'' as he sits by a crackling fire beneath a Jasper Johns flag and a matched pair of de Koonings in the house that Jack Warner built (which old-time Hollywood stars joked was the house that God would have built). ''Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don't think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is—and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton?—can bring the country together.
Good God, what a loser! As these boys have done since the dawn of time, Geffen knows to slime the woman for daring to be so “ambitious.” And what does it mean when Geffen says that Clinton is “incredibly polarizing?” It means this: Right-wing nut jobs invented a string of ugly tales about Clinton —and Geffen is tired of fighting the fight. In fact, Hillary Clinton is “incredibly polarizing” because Maureen Dowd sat and stared while high-profile crackpots accused her and her husband of (for example) a long string of murders. Today, Geffen isn’t angry at the haters and crackpots for this sorry history. Not him! He’s angry at Clinton instead!

Crackpots invented wild stories about her.

And David Geffen is now blaming her.

Meanwhile, Geffen is too stupid to understand a basic fact about Obama, his own (perfectly reasonable) choice for the White House. Here’s that fact: Obama will turn out to be “incredibly polarizing” himself, as soon as he gets the nomination. (Or he’ll turn out to be a flip-flopper, like Kerry. Or he’ll turn out to be a big liar, like Gore.) The same Hate Machine which made Clinton so “polarizing” will make this brilliant man a big punch-line too. Indeed, Dowd is already hard at work on the project. Again today, she snidely compares Obama to an iconic white woman:

DOWD: Barack Obama has made an entrance in Hollywood unmatched since Scarlett O'Hara swept into the Twelve Oaks barbecue. Instead of the Tarleton twins, the Illinois senator is flirting with the DreamWorks trio: Mr. Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who gave him a party last night that raised $1.3 million and Hillary's hackles.
In her last column, Obama was “legally blonde” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/16/07). In today’s piece, he’s Scarlett O’Hara. And if you think these sneering references are some sort of odd coincidence, you haven’t watched this tortured nutcase working her magic down through the years. For years, Dowd imagined conversations with Gore’s bald spot (more below); by the time he began his race for the White House, Dowd wrote that Gore was “so feminized” that he was “practically lactating.” But then, inside the tortured mind of Dowd, all Dem males are big girlie-men. And yes, though Geffen hasn’t noticed it yet, she’s a nut when it comes to race also.

Dowd has been a nutcase for years. Today, she finds a match—David Geffen.

Eek! To Maureen Dowd, the Clintons are liars. And Bill Clinton is a very, very bad, naughty boy. But she doesn’t want to say these things herself, so she latches onto Geffen, and lets him do it. And good lord, is he ready to vent! Twice, she quotes him saying or suggesting that Bill Clinton is still engaging in extramarital sex. And here is the mogul’s take on the Clintons’ honesty, quoted this morning by Dowd:
“Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling.”
What evidence are we given for this? Read the column: Geffen wanted Bill Clinton to pardon Leonard Peltier, we’re told, and Clinton didn’t do it. That’s when the pair “fell out,” Dowd says. And this is the one example Geffen (through Dowd) gives in support of that sweeping statement about two people’s honesty.

Is it possible to get any dumber than Geffen? Amazing, isn’t it? In a world of Bush and Cheney—and Romney—Dowd and Geffen still believe that the Clintons are the reigning stars of dishonesty! But then, nothing is dumber than Maureen Dowd—unless it’s Dowd writing from Hollywood.

IN THE LINCOLN BEDROOM: We’ve been wanting to congratulate tristero for his soul—for retaining the ability to be shocked by the way they lied about the Lincoln Bedroom. (Click here, scroll down to 2/9/07.) One example: They added in Chelsea Clinton’s 72 slumber-party friends to swell the number of White House “overnight guests” in their bogus headlines (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/8/07). There is nothing these people won’t say and do to make you believe their favorite stories. Today, Dowd mentions the Lincoln Bedroom three separate times. You can’t get more dishonest.

NOT A MISTAKE: Perhaps you begin to see we were right. It wasn’t a coincidence when Maureen Dowd called Obama “legally blonde,” and it isn’t a coincidence when she calls him “Scarlett O’Hara” today. Dowd is a walking nightmare on matters of gender, and she’s not much better on race. Don’t worry—she’s going to sneer at Obama endlessly, just as she did with the “lactating” Gore. Her insider cohort is barely sane—and they direct our sad discourse.

Make no mistake: This will continue until liberals get smart—until we say that this must stop, until we go after these tortured souls whenever they slander any one of our candidates. First, she’s coming for Hillary Clinton. If we sit around and stare, she’ll be coming for Obama next.

AGAIN, THE NECESSARY CONTEXT: Let’s say it again: We were raised Irish Catholic ourselves, back in the era of Tailgunner Joe. But most of us who were raised Irish Catholic found ways to grow up and move on from the era’s less pleasing aspects. Dowd’s particular cohort didn’t; the underside of an otherwise wonderful culture still plays tricks with their damaged heads. When Dowd calls Dem males girlie-men, you need to understand where it comes from, and you need to understand that it isn’t some kind of odd, random event. Dowd is one of the emotional losers from the unfortunate side of an earlier culture. For years, though, her tortured impulses and “ideas” have been driving our political discourse.

SPOT OFF: How big a fool is Maureen Dowd? Here’s the start of her very first column on Gore’s bald spot, early in 1997:
DOWD (1/30/97): Is the Spot getting bigger? Tipper says it isn't, but I know it is. At this rate, by the year 2000 I'll look like Joe Biden, wandering around with okra plugs in my head. It's making me a little crazy. Actually, everything these days is making me a little crazy. I've been so loyal for four years, staying in the shadow of President Smarmy and just praying I don't get splattered.
Ah yes—the birth of Gore as “a little crazy.” Over the next several years, Dowd continued her “bad spot” series; she wrote columns in which Crazy Gore conversed with “the Spot” in September 1997, December 1997 and June 1998. After a tantalizing hiatus, she brought her brilliant format back in August 2000, right after the Democratic convention. And then, triumph of the will! There it was again, driving Dowd’s column on the Sunday before the 2000 election. Omigod! Gore was addressing his bald spot again! Her headline? No, readers, we’re really not joking. “I Feel Pretty,” her inane headline said:
DOWD (11/5/00): I feel stunning

And entrancing,

Feel like running and dancing for joy . . .

O.K., enough gloating. Behave, Albert. Just look in the mirror now and put on your serious I only-care-about-the-issues face.

If I rub in a tad more of this mahogany-colored industrial mousse, the Spot will disappear under my Reagan pompadour.
That’s how Dowd started her widely-read column two days before the crucial election which eventually sent the U. S. to Iraq. She mocked Gore—and let’s mention that headline again. Once again, in the voice-of-Gore: “I Feel Pretty,” she said.

Let’s say it—these people are barely sane. And yes, Dowd will do this to Obama too; as we’ve seen (though you can’t quite accept it), she has already started. Libs and Dems can’t pick-and-choose their outrage over this sort of clowning. We have to react to it every time. We have to defend all our candidates.

Meanwhile, the Times should finally do the right thing. Maureen Dowd is barely sane. There are nice rehab centers near Beverly Hills. The Times should escort her to one.

BARELY SANE: On today’s op-ed page, sharing space with Dowd: Peter Funt (of Candid Camera!) writes a completely inane “analysis” of Clinton’s web site. And don’t miss his penultimate paragraph, in which he dumbly warns us again about Obama’s middle name.

Andrew Rosenthal—second generation, to the Times manor born—selected this inane discussion. Let’s repeat it, until we get it straight. These hapless people are barely sane. And yet, they direct our discussions.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Give him credit for one small favor. On Monday evening, Chris Matthews gave liberals, progressives and Democrats a clear look at what will be coming. How will Clinton be covered this year? Here—let an idiot tell you:
MATTHEWS (2/19/07): I don’t 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.

And then I look at the polls [of the nation’s Democrats], she is up to 40 percent. What is the disconnect? Explain it to me. Why is Hillary doing so well in the general population but the cognoscenti, the people around Washington and New York, the people that really read the papers, really keep up, really follow politics, have this complicated problem with Hillary?

For some reason, Matthews believes that his lady friends are part of “the cognoscenti”—and he knows that these friends simply hate Lady Clinton. And if you saw the way Matthews’ cohort covered Gore in 1999 and 2000, you can expect the same treatment for Clinton. If libs and Dems have an ounce of sense, we’ll start objecting. Right now.

But some of us won’t start reacting yet, due to something else Matthews said. Speaking with Obama aide David Axelrod, he provided a further look at what will be coming this year:
MATTHEWS (2/19/07): Let me ask you, David Axelrod—let me just try to make a proposition to you. On behalf of our producers here and everybody that works at MSNBC, we would like a lot to have your candidate, Barack Obama, to sit—the junior senator from Illinois—be our guest, our special guest on a town meeting with college students at some college, perhaps, of his choice. Certainly a good college. And we would to love him in the round with the students for an hour, like we did with John McCain and we have done with other candidates, including Hillary Clinton in the past, and Rudy Giuliani and the others. We have tried to get everybody. We would really like to get Barack Obama. You don’t have to answer today.
Yes, Matthews has had other pols on his “tour;” but no, he has never beg-invited a guest in this manner. As he continued, the shape of the future was clear in his grovel:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Well, we will pay for it, and it is very expensive, but it will be a well-lighted room and he get a chance to answer questions for a full hour in front of students, and they will get involved with him. And I think it is a great platform for a guy who, clearly, according to my kids, and maybe me too—the kid in me—appeals to the youth of America and the young at heart. There is no doubt what you say is true. He does draw on something deeply good about this country.
Kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss! Matthews’ friends (they’re part of the cognoscenti) just can’t stand the thought of Vile Clinton. But his kids—and yes, the kid within—think that Obama “does draw on something deeply good about this country.”

If you don’t understand what that pandering means, you didn’t see Matthews’ hour-long coverage of Obama’s announcement, when he and Fineman and Lynn Sweet might as well have been wearing their cheerleader sweaters. And you didn’t see his coverage of Campaign 2000, when he pandered and fawned to Dem challenger Bill Bradley—and trashed Gore for two solid years.

Indeed, what makes this clownish, erratic man think he’s tied to the cognoscenti? Perhaps he reviewed the high-toned constructs he himself used during Campaign 2000! It might be the program from July 29, 1999, when he delivered his standard derisions as his guests watched tape of Gore:
MATTHEWS (7/29/99): Is Al Gore just incapable of putting, like, one foot in front of the other in this campaign? He’s a professional politician—

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. He’s awful.

MATTHEWS: —who acts like an amateur. I don’t get it. Did you ever see the movie “Altered States?” I mean, his face is, like, getting contorted in some of these—there’s bubbles coming out of his forehead!

Ever the high-brow intellectual, Matthews compared Gore to a sci-fi monster. And, as always, more was coming. Mary Boyle, former Dem Senate candidate from Ohio, said that Gore had appeared in Cleveland that day. Matthews continued his onslaught:
MATTHEWS: What mode was he in? Was he in, was he in the quiet mode, or that sort of Clutch Cargo craziness he gets into, or was he—

BOYLE: No, no, but he was—

MATTHEWS: —or was he in the “Altered States” where the head starts to bubble? What state was he in today?

No wonder Matthews glances about and believes he’s part of the cognoscenti! In the two segments of this program which dealt with Gore, Matthews said that Gore had “the shakes;” called him Bill Clinton’s “bathtub ring;” and said that he was “a square and loser.” He said that Gore was “a little too clock-like.” He said that Gore was “pandering to women” because he supported the right to choose. He said that Gore was “into robotics.” (He landed hard on Boyle, and on Norah O’Donnell, when they tried to challenge his ridicule.) At one point, he ridiculed Boyle for her defense of Gore, saying that, in explaining his point, he would be “talking like Al Gore, very slowly, like Mr. Rogers.” He said that “Gore is acting like he’s made out of metal—not just wood, metal.” In time, he returned to his “Clutch Cargo” theme. Why was Bush polling well among women? After showing more tape of Gore, Matthews thought he might have the answer:
MATTHEWS: Well, could it be that—that George W. Bush seems like a spontaneous human male, rather than a windup robot, like that performance we just saw? That wasn’t a human performance…He doesn’t behave now like—he behaves like a windup Clutch Cargo cartoon character. I wouldn’t think that would appeal to the other gender. Just guessing.
Gore went on to win 54 percent of the women’s vote, compared to Bush’s 43. But so what? This sort of thing went on for two years as this utterly stupid man earned his way into the hearts (and wallets) of Jack Welch’s “cognoscenti.” This Sunday, Gore will likely share an Academy Award for a film about his brilliant work on warming. But back when it mattered, Matthews compared Gore to the star of a horror film—and to Clutch Cargo, a cartoon.

With Bradley, of course, it was different. If you want to know how this year’s primary will be treated, let’s recall the way Matthews covered Bill Bradley, the Obama of Campaign 2000. Bradley wasn’t part of the Clinton team—and so, on Hardball, he was endlessly flattered. Almost surely, this is how Matthews—and others in the cognoscenti—will be covering Obama’s primary run, since (through absolutely no fault of his own) Obama is this year’s anti-Clinton.

How absurd could Hardball be in its treatment of Bradley? On September 7, 1999, Howard Fineman appeared on the show to discuss a Newsweek profile of the former senator. Fineman found his host in typical form; after playing tape of Gore, Matthews compared Gore to a “Chinese poster” and a “man-like object”—a phrase he applied to Gore three separate times in that month alone. In response, Fineman praised Bradley as a “Boy Scout” and a “sports hero…straight out of central casting”—and as a man who had “spent more time with African-Americans in a work environment, albeit the NBA, than anybody else who’s ever run.” “I think that’s a big appeal,” Matthews dumbly answered.

But then, invidious comparisons, served up straight, were par for the course now on Hardball. When Fineman returned on September 21, Matthews introduced a segment by comparing Gore, “who’s part of the bathtub ring,” to “this clean-as-a-whistle NBA star, Bill Bradley.” Repeatedly, Gore was called “a man-like object” and a “bathtub ring,” and, of course, “robotic” (and, mockingly, “Mr. Wizard”). Here was Matthews a few weeks later, reviewing tape of another Gore speech:
MATTHEWS (10/12/99): That strikes me as virtual reality. There’s a man—Ben Jones, you were a congressman—where he, he’s reading every word from his script! And then it must say in his script, “Now walk out from behind the lectern and start slashing on—your arms, talking about slashing.” And he did it almost like an automaton, like that’s what Churchill once said of Molotov, you know, the, the closest thing to a human robot.
To his credit, Jones didn’t seem to know how to react to such an utterly bizarre presentation. But Hardball’s host was inventive in trashing Gore—and in fleshing out Bradley’s high character. On that September 7 show, for example, Matthews had surely set a new record for ludicrous fawning. By now, the host—a member of the cognoscenti, you’ll recall— was puffing Bill Bradley quite hard:
FINEMAN (9/7/99): [Bradley’s] straight out of central casting in the old-fashioned sense: well-credentialed—


FINEMAN: Sports hero—


FINEMAN: Fellowship of Christian Athletes when he was young, the whole nine yards. So what he offers Democrats is a chance to keep the Democrats in the White House.

MATTHEWS: I think that five o’clock shadow, by the way, and the receding hairline are big pluses with men. Just guessing. Just guessing. He looks like a real guy.

Did you follow that? According to Matthews, Bradley’s hairline and five o’clock shadow showed him to be “a real guy.” And, for the deeply scholarly Matthews, Bradley’s hairline was no passing fancy. It came up again when Fineman returned to Hardball two weeks later:
MATTHEWS (9/21/99; playing tape of Bradley): I think he’s doing—he’s gonna do much better [than Gore] among men. And I think that receding hairline of his is gonna be a lot more popular than Clinton’s Maginot Line hairline, because a lot of guys say they can’t figure out Clinton because he never seems to lose any hair. And look at this guy, Bradley. He looks like a regular guy you’d bump into.
Again, Bradley’s hairline made him “a regular guy.” Two nights later, Matthews spoke with Peter Maas—and he raised the subject again:
MATTHEWS (9/23/99): Well, what do you make of the guy up there in New York, where you’re at—what do you make of guys like Dollar Bill Bradley, the gritty NBA star that goes out on the court with guys like Russell and Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson? And here’s a gritty, real guy with a receding hairline. He looks like a real guy. He looks like Bruce Willis, not Pierce Brosnan or Mel Gibson. Do you think we’re gonna go back to that era of looking for guys that are real guys?
Luckily, Maas understood what Matthews wanted, so he was able to pander in turn. “We’re looking for the genuine article, is what we’re looking for,” he dumbly replied. But then, inane conversation about Bradley’s “authenticity” were sweeping through the press at this time. Even those outside the cohort, like crime writer Maas, understood the themes of this brainless new drama. Or maybe it’s just that Maas is part of Matthews’ “east coast cognoscenti” too.

Let’s be clear. Plainly, it wasn’t Bradley’s fault that Matthews was willing to engage in such nonsense. Nor will it be Obama’s fault or doing when Matthews stages this clown-show again (but only during the primaries). But make no mistake, this clown-show is coming—staged by one of the stupidest men in the history of American “journalism.” Democrats and liberals must decide—now—how we plan to respond.

Obama supporters may quietly chortle, hoping to be helped, as Bradley was, by Matthews’ consummate clowning. We would suggest that this is unwise. In 1999, Matthews endlessly played the fool as he tried to help Bradley take the nomination. But uh-oh! Gore won the nomination, as Clinton may do—and he’d been badly damaged in the process. And of course, Matthews continued to savage Gore all through the rest of Campaign 2000. This two-year pounding paved the way for Bush’s trip to the White House.

Dems and liberals need to decide if they’re willing to let this happen again. Make no mistake—you won’t hear a word about what is coming from the well-mannered boys of your liberal elites. Nor will they mention it as it occurs. E. J. Dionne won’t say a word, any more than he did during Campaign 2000; Josh Marshall most likely won’t stand and fight either. We have high hopes for Kevin Drum, but let’s face it—even Kevin has to be rated a toss-up. Jamison Foser will stand up and fight, but one or two people just isn’t enough. Dems and libs need to ask themselves now if they’re ready to let Giuliani (or McCain) be elected. Many liberals sat aside while Gore was being savaged in 1999. Result? George W. Bush squirmed his ways to the White House—and the U.S. Army is now in Iraq.

So here’s a question, to all those members of the “liberal” cognoscenti who voted for Nader or just clammed up while the fools attacked Gore for two years: How does your lassitude look to you now? And this: Are you willing to let this happen again? Are you prepared to let Saint John McCain be the author of your next crackpot war?

TO SUMMARIZE: Dowd was obsessed with Gore’s bald spot, Matthews with Bradley’s five o’clock shadow. (Ah, we Irish!) Have we said that these people are barely sane? That these crackpots are driving your discourse?

TOMORROW—TO THE COGNOSCENTI BORN: Who on earth is Susan Glasser? A look at your press corps elite.

FRIDAY AND MONDAY—HOW GORE GOT SLIMED: This Sunday, we hope we’ll see Al Gore on stage as David Guggenheim receives an Oscar. On Friday and Monday, we’ll help you remember why this man never sat in the White House.

On Friday, we’ll show you how Glasser played you for fools in 1999, as Gore staged his run for the White House. (In the business world, people get sent to jail for similar conduct.) On Monday, we’ll show you how the New York Times mocked Gore’s work on global warming in that same year, when it massively mattered. How did Bush ever get to the White House? On page one of the New York Times, one of Dowd’s friends was working quite hard to make you think Gore was a nut.

Yep! She was troubled by Gore’s “loony asides”—as he discussed his “mid-life crisis,” of course. We hope that Gore will be warmly honored this Sunday. But there isn’t a circle in hell warm enough for the loathsome pair of scribes we’ll revisit.

A TOP SCHOLAR’S DARING: No doubt about it—Matthews played the role of the scholar in his discussions of Campaign 2000. He called Gore a “bathtub ring” over forty times in 1999 alone; in the next year, he ratcheted up his imagery, saying that Gore “would lick the bathroom floor” if he had to in order to be president (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/10/07). Occasionally, Matthews complimented himself for his daring. “I’m sure he loves that one,” he said on May 14, 1999, after calling Gore the “bathtub ring.” “I’ve been very risqué at times,” he said a week later, in his infantile way, of this same crude formulation. On March 8, 1999, he called Gore the bathtub ring “as I keep saying to the discomfort of many others.” In July of that year, we got a peek into the soul of the artist as one guest balked at his language:
MATTHEWS (7/21/99): Is he the bathtub ring of the Clinton administration?

REP. PETER KING: He really is. The residue, whatever—you know, whatever term you want to use, yeah.

MATTHEWS: Well, that’s not a very nice one. If you can come up with a better one, I’ll start using it, but for right now I’m saying “bathtub ring” because I think he is taking a hit for Clinton’s zaniness of the year before.

Indeed, Gore was “taking a hit” for Clinton—on Hardball, every damn night.

For the record, Matthews never quite found a “better one.” He called Gore the “bathtub ring” all year, then added the image of licking the floor. It’s no wonder that a man of his caliber finds himself swarmed by the cognoscenti. All around him, he hears their lofty theories. And surprise! They all hate Clinton!