LOSING THE STIM! Voters think The Stim was the pits. How does our side do it? // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2010
History keeps unfolding tomorrow: Barring disaster, well be posting Chapter 3 of How He Got There at our flawless companion site (click here). Well offer some thoughts about Ken Gormleys new book as we do.
Lady Collinsand Mr. Jonesride to the hounds: Last Thursday morning, just before six oclock, warning sirens blared throughout our sprawling campus. You see, one of the analysts had been reading Gail Collins latest New York Times column. As per instructions, he pulled a lever, thus sounding the alarm, when he encountered the following passage. It appeared midway through Collins essentially pointless piece about the upcoming CPAC convention:
Whenever Romneys family is mentioned, the analysts are instructed to put down the Times and seek immediate assistance. We have to spot them as they keep reading, because of the harm they might do to themselves if theyre forced to read, even once more, about Seamus, Romneys famous dead dog.
You see, Lady Collins has a jones about Seamus which wont let her soul go. She mentions the dead dog on endless occasions, destroying her readers remaining brain cells as she indulges her own strange obsession. Last Thursday, we let the analysts proceed with their reading, although we carefully watched their progress. And sure enough! A certain high ladys relentless jones had hijacked her column again:
I digress, Collins said as she continued, stating what was painfully obvious. But even as she fed her obsession, she had burned away about half of her column with this pointless digression about Mitt. A digression which ended withwhat else?thoughts of his now-dead dog
The analysts settled back in their carrels, thankful for the security measures which regulate analytical work all over our sprawling campus. But good God! Theirs is dangerous work! Two days later, Lady Collins was scratching her itch once again:
Thats how the lady killed time as she finished this new pointless column. She burned up roughly half her output last week with these side trips into Romney trivia. By a Nexis-assisted count, Saturdays effort is at least the thirteenth column in which she has cited Mitt Romneys dead dog.
Here at THE HOWLER, were fascinated by the work of the high Lady Collins. Weve rarely seen a more trivial minda mind encumbered by fewer cares, fewer concerns, fewer attachments to actual issues. You can see why were forced to spot the analysts when they read her maddening work.
Did we mention this ladys high rank within the walls of Versailles? She peddles this piffle twice a week on the op-ed page of the New York Times. Journalistically, its our nations most valuable real estatejust the place for a very high lady to chase the joneses around.
LOSING THE STIM (permalink): E. J. Dionne asked the question, not us. But his question was a good one. If liberals and Obama are so smart, the scribe asked, how did [we] allow conservatives to make this argument so effectively? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/19/10.
Heres the argument Dionne had in mindalthough the question he asked about this argument could be asked about many others:
If we liberals are so smart, why are we so easy to beat? That was E. J. asking, not us. But when he asked this question, we thought about another argument conservatives seem to have won in the past year. We thought of the way they beat our side blue when it comes to the stimulus package.
Just last week, The Stim turned one. And wouldnt you know it? Polls were taken about The Stim, and the publics assessments tended toward gloomy. In a New York Times/CBS poll, for example, the following question was asked (click here, see question 19):
There are several problems with that questionthe use of the murky term substantial; the reference to jobs which have been created, as opposed to created or saved. And the New York Times instantly misstated its results, dropping the word substantial in the chart with presented the responses; this gift was seized upon by Republicans, then moved through the press corps itself. That said, only six percent of respondents said that the stimulus package has already created a substantial number of jobs; a walloping 48 percent said it never will. This result appeared even as the Times David Leonhardt wrote the following in his Economic Scene column:
For the record, Leonhardts numbers are rosier than the corresponding numbers in Sheryl Gay Stolbergs news report in the next days Times. Theyre rosier the numbers presented in PolitiFacts assessment of the stimulus packagean assessment which said that Obama is overstating a tad when he praises the stimulus program. (Alas! In the process, PolitiFact makes this false statement: A recent CBS News/New York Times survey found that just 6 percent of the American public believes the stimulus has created jobs.)
People! Whose numbers are actually accurate? As always, theres no real way to say, absent laborious research. But as he continued, Leonhardt pondered the publics view of the stimulus program:
Many of the criticisms are valid, Leonhardt said. But the attention they have received is wildly disproportionate to their importance. In this statement, Leonhardt describes the way almost all our public discourse functions. Read this letter to the Washington Post, for example, in which a writer notes the way a few minor mistakes have been transformed into an indictment of the very notion than the worlds climate is warming. Or read this latest groaner by George Will, in which he adopts this same approach.
As Leonhardt continues, he lists the reasons for the stimulus's middling popularity. We think he largely shies away from the heart of a widespread problem:
The Obama Admin made too rosy a forecast. Some of the spending has been a bit sluggish. Only at the end of that passage does hLeonhardt cite a remarkable factor. He quotes a United States senator making a statement which is just baldly absurd.
A few weeks ago, three other Republican senators paraded about, saying that the earth is flat when it comes to global warming (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/18/10). In the ridiculous statement quoted by Leonhardt, Scott Brown made a flat-earth statement about the stimulus program. Our question: Have liberals and Democrats ever gone to the public and offered them an overview of this situation? Have we ever taken the time to say this to the voters: These people keep handing you flat earth statements. They play you for fools all the time.
Much of our progressive clatter tends to be aimed at ourselves. We often seem too grand, too arrogant, to address ourselves to the actual people who get misled by these flat-earth pronouncements. Some such pronouncements flew around last year concerning the stimulus package. One year later, we are suddenly banging and clattering about the alleged hypocrisy involved in pursuing such funds.
Its an easy complaint to bat aside. Why are we so easy to beat? In part, we may not be real smart.
The hypocrisy argument sounds goodto us. For that reason, we love to repeat it. But our cable leaders tend to insult the broader publicthe people who get misled by the other sides flat-earth pronouncements. Those insults are a very good way to lose debates. Theyre a very good way to grease the skids for simplistic and misleading arguments.
E. J. Dionne asked the question, not us: If liberals and Obama are so smart, how did [we] allow conservatives to make this argument so effectively? The stimulus hasnt created one job? Why wasnt Brown laughed off the stage when he made this flat-earth remark?