WERE ALL NEWT GINGRICH NOW! Gingrich explained the death of a child. Yesterday, we followed suit: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2010
Twice-delayed history appears: Over at our companion site, we have posted the twice-delayed Chapter 4 of our incomparable book, How he got there. The chapter is longer than we would have liked. But the episodes this chapter describes remain profoundly instructive.
Long chapter short: This chapter describes the sorry state of the mainstream press as Campaign 2000's primary races began to take shape. Key event: Late in October 1999, Gore and Bradley conducted their first Democratic debate. Three different journalists described the press corps hissing, jeering and laughing at Gore all through the hour-long session. One of them is now famousJake Tapper. (Reporters had to watch the event in a near-by press room.) In his own report of this astonishing incident, Times Eric Pooley compared his jeering colleagues to a gang of 15-year-old Heathers. With apologies for the gender denigration15-year-old Brandons will sometimes go badly wrong toowe think Pooleys description serves quite brilliantly as we review the press corps devolving culture and broken practices in the fall of 1999.
George Bush ended up in the White House, in case you no longer recall.
This chapter turned out a few thousand words longer than we would have liked. On the other hand, we had to leave out remarkable stuff to bring it in at this length. (Eventually, well add full appendices. We may still add a few tweaks.) By the way: Four days after that first debate, the press corps seized on Naomi Wolf, and they began to imagine wild things. A month of outright lunacy ensued. It was followed by a second month of lunacy, this time about Love Canal.
In those two months, the die was cast. Those months of lunacyand eight years of Bushwere brought you by Pooleys Heathers.
In modern times, some of this chapters leading Heathers have been re-purposed as liberal stars. They now appear on our own TV channel, filled with the highest integrity. Their keisters get kissed by grasping figuresby the kinds of pseudo-liberals who will simply never tell you the truth about the way we all got here. You see, the truth is very bad for business. Grasping stars have to get paid; grasping stars have to stay famous.
Chapter 4 describes astounding events. Chapters 5-7 will describe disasters. This is the real history of your time. Again, well ask your contributions, where possible, to help us complete this project.
Peter Baker devolves: We were struck by the way Peter Baker deferred to Lamar Alexander.
In this mornings New York Times, Baker reports on the recent changes in student loan procedures. (These changes were accomplished as part of the reconciliation package.) This was Bakers own explanation of what has occurred:
Lets say it again: That is Bakers account of the facts. That is his account of the changes produced by this new law. But alas! Weirdly but typically, a bit later on, he loaned two paragraph to Alexander. Are Alexanders claims true? Who cares?
Is that true? Will students be overcharged in some way? Will some proceeds somehow be used to pay for the health care law? If these claims are actually accurate, youd almost think theyd be included in Bakers account of the new law. But Baker simply lets Alexander make his statements. He makes no attempt to tell readers if these claims are accurate.
Are Alexanders statements true? As weve long told you: The very notions of truth and facts play a remarkably limited role in the press corps devolving culture.
Alexander was allowed to declaim. Are his claims true? Who cares?
WERE ALL NEWT GINGRICH NOW (permalink): Your DAILY HOWLER keeps getting results! This time, it was David Letterman himself who jumped to our tune!
Some weeks ago, David Barstow did a lengthy profile of the Tea Party movement on the New York Times front page. Barstow focused on Pam Stout, a 66-year-old Idaho woman, making her a principal face of the Tea Party movement. At the time, we said wed like to see Barstow asked why he decided to focus on Stout. And we said wed like to see Stout interviewed on the TV machine thingy, as our progressive clowns call it.
We said wed like to hear Stouts account of the Tea Party movementher account of her political views.
The silly children on MSNBC failed to jump to our tune. Last night, they played their schoolyard games as Letterman interviewed Stout! You can watch the bulk of the segment here, unless CBS has had the tape taken down. (The last few moments are not included.) We thought Letterman did a good job with the interview in certain ways. In other ways, his lack of political savvy showed.
But then, youve already grown accustomed to that if you watch our progressive channel.
Go aheadtake a look at that tape. If you prefer (and many will), youll be able to find some ways to insist that Stout is a snarling racist. (Though youll have to struggle a bit.) If youre alternately disposed, you may notice that Stout could play the title role if some producer ever decides to cast Santa Claus as a woman. For our part, we arent inclined to agree with Stouts viewsat least, with the emphases she places. And the interview only ran nine minutes. And, of course, it only involved one member of a large movement.
Question: Can you watch that interview and imagine that Stout is a decent person? By now, many liberals quite likely cannot. Just consider the question of who killed Phoebe Prince, age 15.
With apologies for the need to politicize the death of a child:
Yesterday, the New York Times published this news report about Phoebe Princes death. About that death, we will only say this: Yesterday, the blogger we read first every day tied the death of this child to the violent, apocalyptic rhetoric of the right over the past few years. (Click here.) For the record, we read this person first every day because her work deserves attention.
Anything can be true, of course. Every possible cause of an action can at least be imagined. In the present case, quite a few commenters called this bloggers analysis a stretch. A few said it had merit.
Everything is possible. For ourselves, when we read that post, we thought back to Newt Gingrich.
In 1994, a South Carolina woman named Susan Smith drowned her two young children. In one of his least-hinged moments ever, Gingrich tied these killings to party politics. One day before the 1994 congressional elections, the APs David Pace penned this fair-minded report on Gingrichs statements:
For the record, you can even imagine that Gingrichs analysis was correct. But, along with that possibility, many people could pretty much see that it was virally tribal.
Love of the tribe is bred in the bone; love of the tribe can make us all blind. But are we all Newt Gingrich now? When we watch the well-twinned children on our corporatelib channel, we and the analysts wonder.
Might we tie this rumination to this recent post by Steven Benen? In the post, Benen discusses the recent spitting and racial epithet incidents outside the Capitol building.
Unless were mistaken, there is barely a fact about these incidents that Steve doesnt tilt or misstate. He says the person who spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was arrested. But according to the AP, the Capitol police issued a statement explicitly saying that they didnt make an arrest. Steve says theres a tape of this incident; while this is true, the tape leaves some question about what happened, especially about the question of intent. (It seems quite clear that Rep. Cleaver felt he had been spat on.) And Steve says that many journalists witnessed the racial insults hurled at Reps. Andre Carson and Lewis. As far we know, that isnt the case. In its original reporting, the AP reported what Rep. Carson and a spokesperson for Lewis said about the incident. The AP didnt claim to be a witness, although one leading liberal gave a different impression in her own high-minded report.
After that, she ran off and kissed Chris Matthews keister. As you know, the corporation has re-purposed Chris as a fiery progressiveeven on matters of race!
Have other reporters claimed to be witnesses? As far as we know, the answer is no. Well be happy to stand corrected, though Steve gives no examples.
We make these observations for a reason, offered in the form of a question: How respectful are we about matters of race when we treat racial incidents in this manner? When we use racial incidents to fuel our own preferred tribal tales? When we dont even learn basic facts about such incidents?
Are we all Newt Gingrich here too?
Weve seen a string of liberals and ranking mainstreamers prance and play with these recent incidents, while embellishing or misstating obvious facts. We saw Jon Meacham clear his throat and declaim grandly on these events, while thinking that Lewis had been spat on. We saw Joan Walsh spin up a number and imply that the AP had witnessed the slurs. We saw a Democratic strategist on the OReilly Factor say that Rep. Clyburn had been spat on. We saw Al Sharpton claim he had seen a tape of the slurs; he quickly backed down when OReilly told him there was no tape of the slurs. (For the record, were fans of Sharpton around here. In this matter, fairly plainly, he was not being truthful.)
How respectful are we about race when we make these kinds of misstatements? And by the way: If Republicans confused Reps. Lewis, Clyburn, Carson and Cleaver this way, cant we pretty much all write the jokes our top schoolboy would deliver?
Because of their work at an earlier time, every person in the country owes a debt of gratitude to Lewis and Clyburn. Is it possible we could get our facts straight when we discuss these men? Or does tribal pleasure come first?
By the way: Remember when we all longed to pretend that some tea-bagger hanged Bill Sparkman? (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/25/09.) How decent was our tribe in that case? Were we all Newt Gingrich then too? Werent we behaving like children?
In one of his least hinged moments ever, Gingrich explained the death of two children. Are we all Newt Gingrich now? To answer, watch the tape of Stout. Ask yourself a simple question: Can imagine that Pam Stout, 66, could be decent, well-intentionedbut wrong?
Final point: Tribal claims produce tribal rage in return, perhaps delaying wider progress. Questions: Did Dr. King conduct himself this way? How about Mandela?