FRANK RICH SPOTS A BIGOTED LIAR! Frankly, Rich was up to his ears in the latest narrative: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2008
TOMORROW: A shortened Philosopher Fridays! And: Our ten favorite movies!(If there's weather, we may be snowed out.}
A SEX TALE RUNS THROUGH IT: We may discuss the Times report about John McCain tomorrow. But for us (Warning! Jaundiced outlook alert!) , the following passage from Josh Marshalls post sums up the past sixteen years of liberal/progressive/Dem Party floundering:
Josh is very smart—a point that came home to us a few months ago when we reviewed his work from 1999 and 2000. By the way, TPM won a much-deserved Polk Award this week for its superlative work on the U.S. attorneys firing story. For Eric Altermans kudos, click here. We add our own congratulations for the award—and for the superlative work.
But heres our question, a question we pose after an actual decade of doing this. Why on earth would a liberal, a progressive, a centrist or a Democrat still be going out of his way to praise the New York Times as one of our most esteemed institutions? It isnt that everyone has to share our own jaundiced views about the Times—and just for the record, there are plenty of people at the Times who do good, even heroic work. But the Times is the paper that invented Whitewater. The Times is the paper whose editorial page drove the Clinton pseudo-scandals for so many years. The Times invented the claim about Gore and Love Story, then spent two years trashing Gore during his vile, ruthless run for the White House. The Times op-ed page has long been a vehicle for sheer lunacy—and for stunningly stupid Big Democrat-trashing. And political reporting at this strange newspaper is a stale, sad, sorry joke. Some of us may recall the papers reporting in the run to Iraq.
Weve told you this again and again: Over the course of the past sixteen years, liberal intellectual leaders have simply refused to come to terms with the actual work that is being performed by our big, upper-class, mainstream news orgs. We refuse to see them as they are. We refuse to help citizens understand the role they play in our ludicrous, comic-book discourse. We refuse to tell citizens about the way they have savaged our greatest Dem leaders. Good God! Their liberals run off to tell Don Imus how fake Gores high-school movie is! And still, we call this paper esteemed. We just cant seem to stop doing this.
[M[ost of the piece is a rehash of a lot of older material about McCain's record, Josh says. For ourselves, we had a different reaction, though we want to do some checking before we affirm this initial view. (Our first reaction? Much of this piece is in fact a reversal of the press corps Standard McCain Presentation.) But why on earth do we still insist on pretending the Times is something it isnt? This newspaper has done massive harm in the past sixteen years. By now, though, it seems abundantly clear: Some smart people will never be able to describe this fact as it is.
FRANK RICH SPOTS A BIGOTED LIAR: The pattern has been clear for some time; you can trash Big Dems any damn way you please. If Gore can be the worlds biggest liar, why cant the Clintons both be major racists? Liberals barely uttered a peep while Gore was endlessly trashed that way. Today, many liberals are deeply involved in pushing the race claims RE Clinton.
And so it was in Sundays Outlook section, when a brilliant mind-reader named Richard Thompson Ford lowered the boom on vile racist Bendixen (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/19/08). Ford could just tell what the pollster was doing when he spoke to the New Yorkers Ryan Lizza. But then, the genius Frank Rich seemed to know the same thing—and he knew something else besides:
Good old Frank! As always, the man who has the worst judgment on earth knew just what hed been seeing! Sergio Bendixen, a highly respected Dem pollster, had told a bigoted lie, Rich explained. And Hillary Clinton had seconded the motion in a subsequent debate. Presumably, she too had been trying to pit the two groups against each other when she backed up the bigoted lie.
It makes a good story—but is it true? Is it remotely fair? Is it accurate? Did Clinton really second the motion? Youd think a man like Rich would want to be careful when making such serious charges—the most serious charges you can make in our politics. In fact, heres the way Clinton seconded the motion. She started with a simple word: No. Beyond that, note the vile way she tried to pit the two groups against each other:
Does that statement represent the view of your campaign? Russert asked. And the first word out of Clintons mouth was: No. She went on to suggest that Bendixen had been describing attitudes from the past—and, of course, she quickly said we want to bring people from various groups together. But somehow, when Rich heard that troubling Q-and-A, only one thought popped into his head; somehow, he thought he heard Clinton second a bigoted lie. In Richs hands, the whole thrust of Clintons remarks disappeared. He sat down and wrote what the narrative said: Someone had told a bigoted lie—and Clinton had later affirmed it.
Each person has to decide if thats reasonable. Frankly, we think its sadly typical for a sad narrative whore like Rich. But that brings us back to Sergio Bendixen—and to Ford, the Posts brilliant mind-reader.
It was once easy to call Gore a liar; now, its easy to call Clinton racist. But lets look again at Lizzas piece, and ask if its fair to race-trash Bendixen. Once again, well suggest you disregard Lizzas editorial comments, and focus on what was said:
That was the end of Lizzas report. Based on that text, the nations screamers—people like Ford—have offered a view that we find rather odd. Bendixens comment was part of a strategy, many have said—a strategy aimed at Latino voters. According to this implausible theory, here was the Clinton camps plan:
Finally, assume that news of this remark will reach Latino voters in California and Texas. You know—the Latino voters in California and Texas who already largely support you?
If youre inclined to think that was a strategy, we have a bridge to Bendixens klan meeting that wed like to sell you.
Were going to offer a second idea: Maybe Bendixen just answered a question! Lizza asked him why Hispanics were strong for Clinton, and he gave (at least) a three-part reply—saying that he wanted to be careful about the touchy third part of his answer. Of course, it was very unwise for Bendixen to say this to Lizza, as weve seen from the loud reactions. But Ford called Bendixen every name in the book—and Rich said that Clinton agreed with his statement! The narrative whores yelled race/race/race—just as theyd once yelled big liar.
According to Ford, Bendixen and Clinton were playing the race card—whipping modern racism into a froth. For the record, this seems especially odd coming from Ford, a high-minded thinker whose high-minded new book was recently described in the New York Times. Good grief! Heres William Grimes summation of Fords high-minded outlook:
Let's reserve the word racist, he suggests, for clear-cut instances of bigotry. But wouldnt you know it? Eleven days after this piece appeared, Ford was yelling race/race/race, trashing a highly respected man who may have simply answered a question. But then, it was easy to use the word bigot. Frank Rich had gotten there first.
During Campaign 2000, it was amazingly easy to call Gore a liar. Now, its easy to call Big Dems racist. Outlook saw through Bendixen this week. But then, the Post has been quite skilled, for years, in seeing right through Phony Gore.
WE GET TO SAY IT, YOU DONT: Before he quoted Bendixen, Lizza offered his own brilliant views about the role of race in the Dem campaign. His overall judgment proved to be wrong. But please note: In this passage, hes basically making the same vile statement for which Bendixen was savaged:
There are lingering tensions between the Hispanic and black communities which he doesnt want to inflame? In that passage, rightly or wrongly, Lizza is basically saying what Bendixen seems to have said; due to those lingering tensions, some Hispanics may be disinclined to vote for an African-American. We have no idea how true that may be. But: When Lizza says it, its OK. When Bendixen says the same damn thing, its denounced as a bigoted strategy!
This haughty attitude has been on display all through this years discussion of race. For example, heres the start of John Judis name-calling piece in The New Republic:
See? If a journalist say it, its just fine. If Clinton says it, well call him a racist. And so it went in Lizzas piece. Lizza can say there are lingering tensions. But when Bendixen says the same thing—well, just go read your Outlook.
WHAT YOU DONT HEAR ABOUT THAT CARD: At that same January 15 debate, Russert asked Obama about the recent conduct of his press secretary. You havent heard a word about this exchange because narrative whores stick to narrative:
Good for Obama—and good for Clinton, for the later statement in which (according to Rich) she seconded a bigoted lie. But ask yourself this: How often have you heard about that four-page list which Obama regretted? It was true with Liar Gore back then, and its true with Racist Clinton today. Narrative whores always stick to the narrative. Everything else disappears.