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Daily Howler: Pundits sang a favorite old tune when they gave us the nonsense of Drawl-gate
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DRAWL AND SHOUT! Pundits sang a favorite old tune when they gave us the nonsense of Drawl-gate: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2007

BROOKS AND DRUM (AND NOVAK): Last week, we called attention to Kevin Drum’s review of the politics of the Clinton-Bush era. In yesterday’s Times, David Brooks summarized what Kevin had said. For that reason, we think this topic is worth a quick revisit.

Once again, here’s how Drum explained his “political frame of reference” as someone who “only started following politics in a serious way in the late 90s.” Again, we highlight one topic:
DRUM (3/4/07): It's Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America; it's the insane wingnut scandal-mongering of the Clinton administration, culminating in Kenneth Starr and the Republican loonies trying to impeach a president over a blow job; it's the press beating up on Al Gore in 2000 and a conservative Supreme Court then awarding the disputed election to its favored candidate; it's a series of brazen, multi-trillion dollar tax cuts aimed at the GOP's rich donor class; it's the K Street Project; it's the 30-year stagnation of middle class wages, partly due to an unholy alliance between conservatives and neoliberals on trade and unions; it's a disastrous war in Iraq led by a president who had no clue what he was getting into (and still doesn't); and during this entire time a Democratic Party seemingly adrift and unwilling to really fight back.
As you’ll recall, we expressed delight that Kevin actually included the press corps’ War Against Gore in his list—and we lamented the fact that, eight years later, he still was understating what happened by a factor of half.

Yep. Liberals and Democrats rarely mention that two-year War Against Gore. Even today, when we do, we tend to understate badly. Result? When Brooks summarized what Drum had said, guess which part of the Clinton-Bush era ended up on the cutting-room floor? Guess which part of Drum’s complaint Brooks forgot to mention?
BROOKS (3/11/07): Neoliberals often have an air of perpetual youthfulness about them, but they are now in their 40s, 50s and even their 60s, and a younger generation of bloggers set off a backlash. If you surf the Web these days, for example, you find that a horde of thousands have declared war on the Time magazine columnist Joe Klein.

Kevin Drum, who is actually older than most bloggers, says the difference is generational. Klein's mind-set, he says, was formed in the 1970s and 1980s, but ''like most lefty bloggers, I only started following politics in a serious way in the late '90s.'' Drum says he's reacting to Ken Starr, the Florida ballot fight, the Bush tax cuts, the K Street Project and the war in Iraq.
Huh! Brooks includes a lot of Drum’s list. But what winds up on the cutting-room floor? Of course! The press corps’ War Against Gore! Brooks cites “the Florida ballot fight” from Campaign 2K—but omits the twenty-month press corps scandal which made such a ballot fight possible.

Why did Brooks edit Drum’s list as he did? We have no way of knowing—but two possibilities come to mind.

First, the mainstream press corps almost never discusses the conduct of the mainstream press corps. Even Paul Krugman tends to understate what the New York Times (and others) did during Campaign 2000. People like Brooks will never mention this gross misconduct—until they find themselves forced.

And they have certainly never been forced by this era’s weak-kneed, weak-minded liberal “leaders.” Eight years later, we rarely mention the War Against Gore; on the rare occasions when we do, we vastly understate what happened. As a result, most American voters have little sense of the press corps’ real conduct in the past fifteen years. They keep hearing that the press corps is driven by liberal bias. The truth never reaches their ears.

Yep. Very few voters have ever heard about the press corps’ War Against Gore. And that could be a second reason for Brooks’ editing of Drum’s complaint. If Brooks had mentioned that two-year war, few of his readers would have any idea what he was talking about.

This morning, in the Washington Post, we see the fruits of our mis- and malfeasance. Omigod! According to Robert Novak, another Big Major Democrat has been “reinventing herself!” Yes, this is one of the themes that was used to trash Gore in the most ludicrous and dishonest ways (link below). But all good liberals have known to keep quiet about it over the course of the past eight years. So Novak’s readers won’t read this column and say: Omigod! There they go again! This is exactly what they did for two years with Candidate Gore!

These standard attacks can continue apace because our “leaders” have run and hid from their duty. We have refused to tell voters their actual history; as such, we have refused to warn them about what will be coming again. Life is easy when we keep our mouths shut—or when we say that what happened was our candidates’ fault. Our question: Has there ever been such a gang of Born Losers, anywhere else on the face of the earth? Ole Massa really do sit and smile when he looks on his weak, empty house hands.

For another example of this syndrome, go ahead—read Part 3 of our current “Special Report.”

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: For two long years, the mainstream press kept saying that Gore was reinventing himself. (Conducting a make-over, retooling, change-over, recasting). How ludicrous did these claims get? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/1/9/02, for a small part of the story.

We’ve laid this material out for years. But so what? Most voters have never heard a word about it—which makes it easy for demons like Novak to play this sweet old card once again. Lawsy, how Massa’s eyes do dance when he looks on his “liberal” house boys. Missus comes and tells her man how well he has chosen his boys.

Special report: A tale of two speeches!

READ EACH THRILLING EPISODE: Enjoy each part of our current series:
PART 1: Eight years later, a very bright liberal can only get history half right. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/8/00.

PART 2: Sensible citizens still can’t grasp the shape of our gong-show discourse. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/9/00.
Today, enjoy part 3—in which pundits sing “Drawl and shout.”

PART 3—DRAWL AND SHOUT: For us, Drawl-gate started last Sunday night (March 4), after we returned from an outside engagement. On C-SPAN, we caught the last ten minutes of Barack Obama’s speech at the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, followed by all of Hillary Clinton’s speech at Selma’s First Baptist Church. For the record, our own real-time reactions: We were a bit surprised by Obama’s performance, finding him just a bit disjointed. (We think of him as a superlative speaker.) We thought Clinton did surprisingly well. And yes, we did notice a bit of a drawl at a few points in Clinton’s speech. But then, we noticed something similar with Obama. So what? (More on that tomorrow.)

And then, the next morning, the lying began. On a local talk radio show, we heard two co-hosts mocking Clinton—playing the part of her speech where she read the lyrics of “No Ways Tired,” a hymn by James Cleveland. But uh-oh! The talkers absent-mindedly forgot to include the part of the speech where Clinton attributed the lyrics to Cleveland—where she explained that she was actually reading someone else’s words, the words of a famous hymn. Since Cleveland’s lyrics use a bit of vernacular, this doctored presentation made it sound like Clinton was unaccountably wallowing in “southern black” speech. A caller soon informed the talkers that they had absent-mindedly made this omission, but their ridicule of Clinton continued. But then, by that evening, it was all over cable—the latest inane, system-wide agreement that our Big Major Dems must be mocked. Yes, major Dem hopefuls simply have to be mocked—even if the tape of their speech has to be doctored to do it.

Hillary Clinton was a big phony! And the latest doctored tape was now being used, quite widely, to “prove” it! At TPM, Greg Sargent did an excellent job of laying out the facts of this case. (For examples of his work, click here—then click on.) For us, though, this took us back to a previous speech—and it reminded us how easy it has been, in the past fifteen years, to mock and savage Big Democrats.

Yep! For us, this became a Tale of Two Speeches—and a tale of the failure of our inept liberal “leaders.” Readers, let’s go back to June 1999. Let’s recall how easy it has been to mock and savage Big Democrats. Let’s recall the sorts of things that have been done to put the War Party in power.

That earlier speech was delivered by Candidate Gore, in his hometown of Carthage, Tennessee. Indeed, it was Gore’s formal announcement speech, delivered on Wednesday, June 16, 1999. Like Clinton, Gore was soon being ridiculed by the pundit corps for the way he’d delivered his speech! In this case, though, they didn’t claim that Gore had “drawled;” instead, they claimed that Gore had shouted. One week later, Howard Kurtz wrote a valuable report in which he puzzled over the “harsh coverage and punditry” Candidate Gore was receiving. He started like this:
KURTZ (6/25/99): In the picture painted by the press, Vice President Gore's White House campaign is hardly off to a great start.

Interviewers have pressed him on his view of President Clinton's affair with Monica S. Lewinsky. Commentators have ridiculed his shouted oratory, with the Chicago Tribune's James Warren likening him to a "Baptist minister on amphetamines." And no report on Gore is complete without noting the early horse-race polls that show him trailing Texas Gov. George W. Bush by double-digit margins.

Yes, Warren had been mocking Gore’s kick-off speech, on The McLaughlin Report. (Good boy!) Later, Kurtz returned to the battering Gore took in the wake of that speech. He mentioned a few of the other pundits who complained that Gore had shouted:
KURTZ: The vice president has also fared poorly among the media's theater critics. After Gore made his announcement speech in Carthage, Tenn., several commentators complained that his team had bungled the staging because supporters waving signs blocked the cameras' view of the candidate. And they gave Gore's performance a definite thumbs down. "The poor man is all but howling at the moon," wrote New York Times columnist Gail Collins. Time magazine's Margaret Carlson called him a "flailing, shouting person" on CNN's "Capital Gang."
For the record, Carlson, Collins and Warren were not alone in their complaints. The criticism of Gore’s shouting had started on that Thursday’s Hardball; by Saturday’s Capital Gang, three of the pundits—including a pair of “TV liberals”—went on and on about the bad shouting. First, Al Hunt and Robert Novak:
HUNT (6/19/99): I was in Carthage for Gore's announcement and I thought he also got off to a pretty good start. He bridged taking credit for the great economy and also striking some distance from Clinton, as you pointed out earlier. He also spoke Spanish to Carthage's Hispanic population and both of them appreciated it. I think he made a couple of mistakes. He still confuses, as we saw on the tape there, shouting for passion and they still underestimate Bill Bradley.

MARK SHIELDS: Bob Novak, Al Hunt's analysis?

NOVAK: If that was a good week for Al Gore, I'd hate to see a bad week because I thought—I thought it, you know, this was the first week of spring training, but I thought that Bush really outclassed him. I think the shouting is terrible.
“The shouting is terrible,” Novak said. Soon, Carlson was agreeing—and she was pouring it on:
CARLSON: Gore, you know, even though he spoke, he gave his speech better in Spanish than in English or he just couldn't tell the truth, if they let Gore be a bore, he'd be better off than this flailing shouting person and like Wagner, actually, the music is better than it sounds. And so he didn't do all that badly this week.

NOVAK: How could you say that's a draw? I mean just, I mean it doesn't mean anything they've got, it's a long way off but he was, I mean Bush looked like somebody who you could trust in the office and Gore just looked like he was shouting.
The next day, Mary Matalin complained about Gore’s “loud shouting” on Meet the Press. On Monday night, Eleanor Clift furthered the story on Hannity & Colmes:
CLIFT (6/21/99): Al Gore has had trouble defining where he is on issues. He has had trouble defining his personality because he hasn't had the nerve to dare—

HANNITY: Because he doesn't have one?

CLIFT: —to be dull. He is authentically dull. And he should quit yelling at us when he gives speeches, speak in a normal tone and just let rationality carry the day.
Very helpful. On that same day, Collins had published her New York Times column. She’d heaped the insults on too:
COLLINS (6/21/99): This is our fault. We have been carping about how boring Al Gore is, and the poor man is all but howling at the moon in an effort to sound more compelling. We are being forced to watch him go through an enormous effort to look effortless, and it is as discomfiting as looking at the underside of a swan swimming on the lake. Voters are not going to elect a President who makes them feel like nervous parents at the second-grade class play. Mr. Gore has to give up this futile attempt to become Kennedyesque and embrace the boredom.
Like Clift, Collins offered what would become the pundit corps’ standard left-handed compliment; Gore should just “embrace the boredom.” Two days later, Carlson recited this script too, this time on Inside Politics:
MARGARET CARLSON (6/23/99): You know, I think Gore actually is now going to move into a new thing where he's not flailing and he's not shouting. He's just going to be boring and just let it be.

TUCKER CARLSON: I think that's—I think Bradley can only help Gore...In fact, watching him you almost get the sense, well gee, Bradley must be working for Bush, he must be some sort of shill meant to make Gore look better.

MARGARET CARLSON: And Gore did relax later in the week. He's coming—let Gore be Gore, which is a bore.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On that note, Margaret Carlson, Tucker Carlson, thank you both.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Gore shouldn’t shout—he should just be boring! As usual, your fatuous pundits were happy as clams, since they all got to say the same thing.

At any rate, Candidate Gore had allegedly shouted—just as Candidate Clinton was slammed for her drawl. He was widely ridiculed by major pundits—compared to a Baptist minister on speed and to the ass of a swan. But what made this criticism so remarkable? Just this: If you actually watch the tape of Gore’s speech, you will marvel at the fact that this criticism ever was offered. More likely, you’ll assume you have tape of the wrong Gore speech. That’s how far this strange critique wanders away from the truth.

What is the truth about Gore’s speech? We watched it again a few months ago, as we’ve occasionally done in the past eight years. If you were to watch it, you would see what we see; in fact, Gore delivered a very dry, unexciting, 25-minute speech. For the first 24 minutes of the speech, he didn’t come close to raising his voice in the manner alleged. Finally, in his closing 35 seconds, he delivered a fairly standard “closing rush;” he increased his pace and raised his voice, reaching a surging finish as he brought the crowd to a roar. Fourteen months later, he used this technique to extremely good effect throughout much of his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. But on this day, it comprised roughly 35 seconds of a rather boring 25-minute speech. But so what? This was the part of the speech which was played on programs like Capital Gang—as pundits took turns clucking and complaining about the way this wild, fake, phony man had yelled, screamed and shouted.

No, Gore actually hadn’t shouted. In fact, his delivery has been rather dull. But so what? A Bush spokesman soon complained that he had (text below), and soon the whole “gang” was repeating her story. And what happened last week with Clinton was similar. Go ahead! Watch her entire speech on C-SPAN and you’ll see very few places where you can hear anything which even dimly resembles a drawl. But so what? The national pundit corps did what our local talk hosts did. They took that one passage involving Cleveland’s hymn; doctored the tape to hide Clinton’s attribution; then played it again and again and again, marveling at the ludicrous way Clinton had affected her speech. No, Gore hadn’t shouted—and Clinton barely drawled. But our pundits fed the world “Drawl and shout.” They sold us a famous old story.

No, Gore didn’t shout—and Clinton barely drawled. None of this was ever worth discussing. But for reasons only they can explain, our multimillionaire pundit corps has amused itself this way for years. As Carlson told Imus one day in October 2000, it was “entertaining” and “fun” to do this to Gore. It gave her gang pleasure—“as sport.”

Yes, these are ugly, horrible people. They should be reviled as they pass in the streets. Indeed, their techniques have changed very little in the past fifteen years—but most voters haven’t heard The First Word About It. To all appearances, our liberal “leaders” have been quite content to have our candidates slandered this way. Eight years later, we haven’t challenged the endless claims against Gore—including the claim that Gore shouted. So we get the claim that Clinton drawled! To state the obvious, your simpering pundits will keep this up—until they’re made to stop.

Our liberal “leaders” have simply refused to warn the voters about these deceptions. They won’t tell the voters what happened to Gore, so the voters don’t understand when it’s done to Clinton. Nor will they understand later on ,when they see it done in turn to Obama. Our “leaders” are cowards—self-dealing, inane. The outcomes of their character flaws are there for all to gaze on.

TOMORROW—PART 4: Praising the other guy’s “cadences!”

WHERE THE STORY BEGAN: Trust us. If you read the punditry—then saw the tape of Gore’s speech—you’d assume that you had received the wrong tape. But by that weekend, pundits were clucking about how Gore had shouted and yelled—and they were trying to top one another as to who could describe it more rudely. He was like a minister on amphetamines! No, he was like the ass of a swan! No, he was howling at the moon! The empty souls of our empty pundits made one more joke of your lives.

So where did the “shouting” script get its start? As usual, it seems to start with the Bush campaign. Here was part of the next-day “news report” of Gore’s speech by the Houston Chronicle’s Alan Bernstein:

BERNSTEIN (6/17/99): "It's going to be a long campaign if Al Gore is going to be yelling at us," said Bush campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker. "His speech sounded like a long litany of carefully tested and well-polled items in an effort to be all things to all people. It sounded as if he was previewing, coming soon to a neighborhood near you, Big Government by Al Gore."
Is that where it started? With Mindy Tucker? It’s hard to say. Indeed, Tucker may have been speaking metaphorically. But for unknown reasons, Bernstein also offered the following description of Gore’s speech—a description which simply can’t be reconciled with the actual tape of the speech:
BERNSTEIN (6/17/99): [I]n introducing himself to the political world as a contender for his boss's job, Gore loaded his speech with the same preachy references to morals and ethics that are used by critics of Clinton's personal behavior with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
"It is our own lives we must master if we are to have the moral authority to guide our children," Gore said, shouting and growling with emotion through much of his address in contrast to his notorious stiffness. He added that as the country looks beyond economic prosperity, "There is a hunger and thirst for goodness among us."
Yes, this was the Chronicle’s “news report”—something you might not realize as you read the complaints about Gore’s “preachy references” and “notorious stiffness.” But was Gore really “shouting and growling with emotion throughout much of his address?” Sorry—it just isn’t there on the tape, which shows a rather lifeless delivery. But Bernstein soon quoted Mindy Tucker’s complaint about Vile Gore’s “yelling”—and this critique was soon found all over the pundit corps, complete with that highly selective tape from the very tail-end of Gore’s speech.

But as with Gore’s speech, so too with Clinton’s. There was almost no shouting—and very little drawling. But if you clip a speech in the way you want, you can support almost any critique—especially if you doctor your case by leaving out Clinton’s attribution. Clinton was quoting James Cleveland’s words—but your pundit corps didn’t want you to know that. So, once again, they doctored a tape—and told us how fake Clinton is!

Liberal “leaders” have accepted this treatment over the course of the past fifteen years. They won’t speak up; they won’t fight back; they won’t do their duty to American voters. They know it’s safer to keep their mouths shut. Lord, how Massa do laugh every night at the way he has picked his fine house slaves!

LET’S NOT LEAVE ARIANNA OUT: Oh, and let’s not forget Arianna! On Fox News Channel’s Crier Report, she pimped the scripted tale too. Cover the eyes of the children:

CATHERINE CRIER (6/25/99): Arianna, if George W. wasn't “George W.”—with his policies, could he get out of the Republican primary?

HUFFINGTON: You mean if he didn't have the name recognition and the money and the establishment behind him. And—

CRIER: Exactly. Because we're talking about a real centrist move. Would this be legitimate without it being George W.?

HUFFINGTON: Yes, I think it would for two reasons. First of all, because he has the record. Already he has proven that he can bring in minorities, that he got 47 percent of the Hispanic vote, 27 percent of the black vote, remarkable numbers for Republicans.

His personality is very warm, very appealing. It really sort of shows up Gore for the stiff he is. And he cannot be a stiff person screaming the message rather than speaking it, which is even less attractive.
Good God. That is just loathsome.

On that WBUR program a few weeks ago (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/2/07), Arianna said she could support Gore today because “he would be a very different Al Gore than he was in 2000.” Descending to earth from her very high platform, she said she could support Gore today “since I believe in political redemption.” (Good God.) Our question: Is there a bigger phony on the face of the earth than the person who made that fake, phony comment? Go ahead! Reread what Arianna told Crier in 1999. Then remember: It’s Gore who has changed!

What an utterly loathsome person. Sorry though, kids! We can’t discuss what was done in the past because it was often done by our “leaders!” We’ll send our next hopeful down to defeat to defend the reputations of these!