MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2004
ABSOLUTELY FATUOUS: This mornings New York Times is a piece of work, but lets take a look at Elisabeth Bumillers fatuous White House Letter. Incredibly, Bumiller offers another profile of Bushs bed-time habits and impressive punctuality. Its 10 OClock. Do You Know Where Your President Is? In Bed, the headline says.
President Bush may be in bed, but Bumiller seems to be in a coma. She embarrassed herself with her fatuous work at that Democratic debate (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/2/04), but todays mornings piece adds to her growing reputation for utterly airhead reporting. Is President Bush a punctual person? This story was already pointless in 2001, when the White House first began pushing it. But since then, scribes have typed and retyped it a million times. There is no imaginable reason why it appears once again in the Times.
Bumiller embarrassed herself at that Dem debate. This mornings pointless report is three years old. The Times sleepwalks its way toward a White House election. Will someone do the charitable thing? Will someone wake Bumiller up when its over?
IGNORING HIS FRENCH (PART 1): David Brooks has made it official. Alas! The Timesman is a consummate idiot. In Saturdays column, Brooks was busy pleasing the rubes. He produced isolated sentences from old Kerry speeches, sentences that wereyes! too long and complex. For example, Brooks found a long sentence about Somaliaa sentence spoken in 1991. And other sentences were much too lengthy, one from 1989! One troubling sentence, from 1998, had too many subordinate clauses, Brooks wrote. Showing off his masterful wit, Brooks savaged the Boston Fog Machine, the man who emitted these lengthy locutions. Meanwhile, Brooks forgot to say whether Kerry had been right about the issues at question.
But then, this is all part of the studied clowning Brooks now brings to the Times op-ed page. The scribe has become a scripted clownan expert on haircuts and yachts. But as he worried about Kerrys long sentences, Brooks cemented his own place in history. Struggling hard to please the rubes, the fatuous fellow typed this:
BROOKS: The Iraq problem returned in 1998, and Kerry proved again that there is no world crisis so grave it cant be addressed with a fusillade of subordinate clauses. Teams of highly trained spelunkers have descended into the darkness of the floor speech he gave on Oct. 10, 1998, searching for meaning, though none have returned alive.There were just too many subordinate clauses! Yes, Kerrys sentence did flow onalthough it was spoken in the Senate, six years ago, to people equipped to follow it. But how big a clown has Brooks become? This big: Kerrys sentence sounds better in the original French, he types, showing that there is no spin-point so stupid that he wont reinforce it. You see, John Kerry has a plummy accentand the troubling fellow even looks and sounds French! Pseudo-con half-wits have insulted the public with this clowning spin-point for months. Now, the New York Times greatest poseur pushes the point to subscribers.
But Brooks, a tool, did know enough to avoid a recent Kerry sentence. Just last week, the solon spoke near an open mike. His constructions were crisp and unadorned:
KERRY: Thank you. Were going to keep pounding, let me tell you. Were just beginning to fight here. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group of people Ive ever seen.Wow! That last sentence contained so few clauses that even a fellow like Brooks could get through it. No, Kerrys point was perfectly clearso Brooks, a faker, knew what to do. He ignored the candidates pithy remark, and searched for long words from past decades.
Yes, Kerry was direct and insulting this day. Indeed, some irate pundits quickly suggested that Kerry should even say, Pardon my French. But the next day, the Boston Fog Machine didnt take his words back, for reasons that strike us as fairly clear. But Brooks was hardly the only scribe who seemed kerflubbled by Kerrys crisp comment. In fact, leading pundits were quite perplexed when Kerry called his foes Big Liars. How did pundits respond to this comment? Well emit those mordant chuckles all week as we look at what pundits have said.
TOMORROW: Ignoring Pincus and Goldstein
SAFIRE-ING BLANKS: For the record, the most inane response to Kerrys remark can be foundwhere else?in this mornings Times. William Safire is deeply troubled by Kerrys comment. No, were not making this up:
SAFIRE: Was it wise for a candidate for president to characterize Republicanstens of millions of American voters, including even veteransas thieves and liars? And if the double slur had been part of a pour-it-on strategy, was it tactically smart to take the low road so early?When Kerry mentioned those crooks and liars, did anyone think that he was referring to tens of millions of American voters? Including[cue the fiddles]even veterans? Obviously, no oneincluding Safirethought any such thing when they heard Kerry speak. But the Times op-ed page is the place to go if you want to see pundits laugh in your face. Throughout his column, Safire pretends that Kerry was reviling millions of crooked, lying Republicans. Clearly, he doesnt think this is true. Cant you hear what hes saying? Hey, rubes!
To whom was Kerry really referring? It isnt especially hard to guess. But many scribes have played very dumb, just as Safire plays it this morning. They couldnt imagine what John Kerry meant. Mordant chuckles will follow all week.
CONDEMNING THE CAVE MEN: Where does Brooks get his clownish points? Just a thought: Is there any chance that his highly trained spelunkers do their great work for the RNC? Any chance theyre the same subterranean types who gave him his script about Kerrys haircuts? Readers, do you really think that David Brooks sifted through Kerrys old speeches himself? Or has Brooks become a Total Toola man who is handed his fatuous points, and knows he must call Kerry French?
At any rate, we offer a question for our effete Mr. Brooks: Just how French did Kerry seem when he was pulling men from the Mekong Delta? Go ahead, David! Let us all know! How French did Kerry seem back then? Of course, we know that Brooks cuts-and-pastes from the originalfrom the pleasing scripts of Karl Rove. So well give him time to ask his master: How French did John Kerry seem then?
At any rate, Brooks indictment of Kerry keeps growing. Just in the past few weeks, Brooks has used his perch at the Times to list these disturbing transgressions:
NO SAP: Were always glad when readers thank us for recommending Jim Sheridans In America. We received such a pleasing e-mail this Saturday:
E-MAIL: Thanks. My wife and I spent a rare night out watching In America, largely on the strength of your recommendation. I thought it a very sweet movie, exactly what Id hoped. Of course I am a hopeless sap. I can see how some people might have found the sentimentality over the top. But I really have to pity them their cynicism. Keep up the good work.Incomparably, we replied to our friend. With the analysts standing down for the weekend, we used the first person singular:
REPLY: Yes, but on the other hand, the older daughter shows a spine of steel in the end. Dont apologize or call yourself a sap! Upper-end critics tended to think that Mystic River was deep because it was all about hopelessness, and that In America was shallow because it concerns the search for inspiration and hope. This remains the silliest prejudice of our upper-end culture. I loved this movie because it was about something children (and adults) wish for all over the world: Mam, dad, Christy and Ariel all together in one happy family (to quote the next-to-last line of Christys prayer). And Christy doesnt just wish for this boonin the end, she battles her father to show him the way to provide it.By happenstance, we saw In America again on Saturday night. The trick-or-treat scene is a glorious classic. The Halloween dinner is surpassingly beautiful (along with its two short sequel scenes). The scene which concludes with Christys prayer is a perfect 75 seconds of film. And Richard Roeper called the films brilliant ending one of the most heartbreaking and yet uplifting moments in recent film history. Or was he talking about the scene where Mateo tells Ariel why he has sores? This film has so many memorable scenes, it wasnt clear which one Roeper referred to.
Were glad our reader enjoyed the film. Amazingly, despite rave reviews and three major Oscar nominations, In America has done only $15 million in the U.S. and Canada. You just cant make people go to some films. Meanwhile, readers who havent seen the film will surely want to send irate e-mails explaining what it was really about, and telling us all about the way it slanders the Irish people.