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Daily Howler: Matt Dowd said that Bush was bad. So we ran to vouch for his motives
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THE LIVES OF CHILDREN! Matt Dowd said that Bush was bad. So we ran to vouch for his motives: // link // print // previous // next //

NEW LOVE GROWS: Love began to deepen last night as a multimillionaire “press corps” fixer settled his clan’s latest script into place. Fickle man! As he seeks a winner for Campaign 08, he’s now on his third love affair!
MATTHEWS (4/2/07): Lynn [Sweet], let’s talk for a minute—because I want to talk, when we come back, about Fred Thompson. It looks to me—and this is my seat-of-the-pants judgment—he looks like the daddy figure the Republican Party has been looking around for. He looks classic wise man. He has gravitas. He’s no Dan Quayle, a guy when he says something’s got that Colin Powell feature, where you just sort of trust him. Is he going to jump in this race and take over?
Fred Thompson? He “looks classic wise.” “He has gravitas,” the talker insisted. And when he says something, “you just sort of trust him.” Previously, this talker has pimped Saints McCain and Rudy. But their polling woes have moved him on—and a new love is starting to grow.

On Sunday, of course, things were different as the talker mocked the Clintons, comparing their marriage to I Love Lucy in an extended, dim-witted metaphor. After playing tape of a spanking scene from the famous old program, the disordered fixer even said this: “By the way, I don't think Hillary ever spanks Bill, but I'm just guessing.” But then, Matthews is the classic m*ck. Jack Welch went out and bought him years ago—and he knew just what he was buying.

Around the web, fiery “liberals” and “feminists” simply ignore this, hoping he’ll knock Clinton out the race. They’ll step in when he starts to mock their favorites, they foolishly think. But then, we liberals keep living the lives of children, as explain in more detail below.

WE’D JUST BE GUESSING: Does Matthews spank his “queen,” Kathleen? Readers, we’d just be guessing! However, we can tell you this: When his queen is present—just yards away—he scans hotel lobbies looking for prostitutes and he helpfully tells the boys about the way to ask for “pink sheets.” Yes, we were surprised by his conduct; see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/30/07.

But don’t worry! We “liberals” and “feminists” will rein his *ss in—once Clinton is out of the race!

THE LIVES OF CHILDREN: Perhaps it’s time to admit a fact; in the year of our lord 2007, we American liberals are simply too dumb to play the political game. The other side has highly skilled dissemblers who understand the dumbness of the American voter; they invent (and focus-group) bogus tales, then send them out to the public at large. Mars is warming, the public is told. We liberals are too lazy and dumb to notice, react or respond.

Indeed, how dumb are we modern liberals? One sometimes learns at The Huffington Post—for example, in this current post by well-intentioned Dan Brown, concerning No Child Left Behind:
BROWN (4/2/07): The core of the No Child Left Behind legislation demands proficiency, measured by standardized tests, from one hundred percent of students by the year 2014, a goal that is by all measures ludicrous. As Linda Darling-Hammond points out in her contribution to the incisive essay collection Many Children Left Behind, "...there is the fundamental problem that it is impossible to attain 100 percent proficiency for students on norm-referenced tests (when 50 percent of students by definition must score below the norm and some proportion must score below any cut point selected)..." Did the people writing and voting for NCLB somehow miss that in their own proficient math?
We haven’t read Darling-Hammond’s essay, but she’s semi-right about one thing; as a matter of elementary logic, it is “impossible to attain 100 percent proficiency for students on norm-referenced tests.” (Although, for that reason, such tests aren’t normally used to measure “proficiency.”) Sadly, though, for Brown’s heartfelt point, NCLB doesn’t use norm-referenced tests; on the types of tests the program does use, it is entirely possible for 100 percent of some group to attain “proficiency.” (Just make the test easy enough, and you’ll see it happen in many schools.) But is it surprising to see such groaning errors at a site whose founder spent Campaign 2000 calling Gore every name in the book—even miscounting the number of buttons on his suits? Today, she tells HuffPo readers that she’d like to see Gore run for the White House—and she keeps forgetting to tell her readers why that would be so hard. Yep! We liberals live the lives of children, helped along by such facile users. Result? The other side—the one with the skillful adults—eats us for three-martini lunch. Their president has virtually destroyed the known world—and their leading candidates in Campaign 08 are currently running ahead of ours. How do you think that sh*t happens?

We modern libs live the lives of children. Indeed, we thought of that problem just yesterday when we saw several fiery on-line liberals side with Jay Carney and Ana Marie Cox, assuring us about the blatant good faith of long-time Bush/RNC fixer Matt Dowd (example below). We thought of it when we saw our two of our brightest web liberals linking to two mainstream press corps accounts of Campaign 2000—accounts which were of course baldly wrong, in the way the mainstream press corps prefers (no links below). It really seems that we’re simply unable to process the way our system now works. And alas! This same thought came to us this morning, when we read Richard Cohen’s accurate but incomplete column in the Washington Post.

Cohen bangs on “Gonzalez the Cipher,” correctly noting the way the AG dealt with Texas death penalty cases when George W. Bush was still governor. How big as a cipher was Alberto Gonzales, then general counsel to Governor Bush? Cohen gives an accurate summery:
COHEN (4/3/07): The first 57 of the 152 death penalty cases [Governor] Bush presided over occurred when Gonzales was general counsel. It was his job to prepare a document summarizing the facts of the case. Those memos were examined by Alan Berlow of the Atlantic magazine, who reported on them back in 2003. What he found was that of the 57, there was hardly a case that gave Gonzales pause—not the mental retardation of the condemned, not the stunning negligence of some lawyers and not the occasional use of questionable police methods. Gonzales was always the imperturbable cog in Texas's killing machine.
Ouch! Cohen goes on to summarizes the moral squalor Gonzalez brought to his oversight role in those Texas death penalty cases:
COHEN: It's not that Gonzales never questioned a condemned prisoner's guilt; it's rather that he never wondered about the process, either. In some cases, the lack of competent legal representation was startling, or the use of dubious experts— the infamous and discredited James Grigson ("Dr. Death"), for instance —was appalling. Nonetheless, Gonzales's memos to Bush were serene. He apparently knew what his customer wanted and stocked his shelves accordingly. Executions, almost no matter what, were to proceed.
We liberals simply luvv stories like this—and Berlow’s Atlantic piece was very important. But Gonzalez wasn’t the only person who refused to consider the Texas death cases. So did the Washington Post’s Mark Shields, during Campaign 2000, when his cohort was working hard to dispatch Al Gore and send George Bush to the White House. And we liberals, living the lives of children, still refuse to discuss this ongoing problem! We luvv to roll our eyes at Gonzales—and refuse to understand the process which sent this man, and his patron, to Washington. When we get the head of Bush—or Gonzalez—we’re happy. For us kids, that’s enough.

Yep! In May 2000, the mother of all bad capital cases crossed the desk of Governor Bush. It concerned the pending execution convicted murderer of Gary Graham. And uh-oh! The court case in which Graham had been convicted had been a real Texas classic. There was essentially no evidence convicting Graham of the crime, and he had been “defended” by one of the worst of the sleeping, drunken, “public-interest” lawyers for which the Texas system was famous. But in May 2000, on the day of Graham’s execution, Bush held a press avail, at which he said he’d been sure that Graham was guilty—and the “press corps” knew that they mustn’t ask the governor how he could know that. How did the “mainstream” “press corps” treat this case—a case which had received world-wide attention? Although Cohen forgets to say so today, they treated it just like Gonzalez did! Indeed, one day after Graham’s execution, Jim Lehrer asked Mark Shields about the case—and Shields praised Bush for the way he had acted. It was one of the most remarkable moments in recent press history, and it captured the way Richard Cohen’s “press corps” behaved throughout this astounding campaign—the one which let Gonzalez take his moral squalor to Washington:
LEHRER (6/23/00): Okay. Now on to other matters. Governor Bush, the [Graham] capital punishment issue—is that going to dog him from now on?

SHIELDS: Well, Jim, this is a perfect example. It’s an important issue, don't get me wrong. But a perfect example and sort of the quiet time of a campaign, when folks who have a cause—and the cause obviously being the abolition of capital punishment, a growing cause in the country—grab an opportunity to make this into a media event, which was done in Texas, put it on the spotlight, put him on the spotlight. That was intended. But I think the cause is to get this as a full-fledged debate. I think they did.

I thought, as somebody who has mentioned on this broadcast, that George W. Bush—the doubts voters have about him is that he fills the chair, whether he’s big enough, whether he really has the heft to be president. I thought this was probably the finest moment of his campaign as he explained his position. He did it as, outside of a press conference in a suit and tie, with appropriately serious words and manner. And I thought ironically that it worked for him politically without being overly analytical.

In jumbled prose, Shields said that Bush’s press event “was probably the finest moment of his campaign.” And what had made Bush’s performance so impressive? He had worn a suit and tie, Shields said, and he had displayed a serious manner. Of course, Bush had also failed to say how he knew that Graham was guilty (in part, he failed to say because the “press corps” never asked him, then or later). But so what? Wearing a suit was enough for Shields. That and the fact that Candidate Bush had managed to smother all joking.

We’ve discussed this incident in much more detail; see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/6/02, with links to real-time reporting. Predictably enough, Shields was not alone in this stance; other major press figures (Richard Berke; Frank Bruni) also praised Bush for his serious manner, while failing to mention the fact that their cohort had failed to ask Bush how he knew Graham was guilty. Today, Cohen correctly critiques Gonzalez—essentially, describing him as a sociopath. But Mark Shields played sociopath that day too. Living the lives of innocent children, we liberals still don’t know and don’t care.

We liberals simply luvv to complain about those bad men in the White House. It’s too much work—perhaps too challenging—to notice the others who put them in place. And yesterday, we even chose to pretend that Matt Dowd’s motives were wonderfully clear. Good God! Paul Kiel has done a ton of good work at TPM. But yesterday’s post, about Dowd’s motives, reflect ed the lives of children:
KIEL (4/2/07): Matthew Dowd, principled dissenter? Or grieving, over-protective parent driven mad by heartbreak?

Yesterday, Matthew Dowd, a former top strategist for Bush, publicly broke wtih the administration in The New York Times. His reasons were clear from the piece: Bush, he said, had become more "secluded and bubbled in.” And he cited a series of President's Bush's blunders (Abu Ghraib, Katrina, the war in Iraq) to explain his loss of confidence in Bush's leadership.
Kiel gave us two choices about Dowd—and then, he said that Dowd’s “reasons [for breaking with Bush] were clear.” And yes, that last statement is perfectly accurate—if we liberals plan to keep living the glorious lives of children.

Why did Dowd give that interview about Bush? We don’t have the slightest idea. It’s always possible that Dowd is sincere—but, of course, it’s also possible that he’s simply finding his way off a rapidly sinking ship, the way he and his former partner, Mark McKinnon, did in Texas in the mid-to-late 90s. During that period, Dowd and McKinnon abandoned their posts as “top Democratic strategists”—and suddenly surfaced working for Bush! And of course, they told sad, high-minded stories then too—stories which were very much like the stories Dowd told the Times last week. We’ll pass those stories along tomorrow. And we’ll suggest that there’s no earthly reason why you should believe these past words.

But we liberals! Because Dowd told the Times that Bush is bad, we ran to insist that he must be sincere. If Cohen says that Gonzalez is bad, we’re happy to forget about Shields. In this way, we keep living the lives of children—and we make ourselves easy meat for the next group of highly-skilled fixers who will come along and carve up our White House hopefuls. But then, we liberals always settle easy; we’ve lived these lives for the past fifteen years. In this way, we’ll likely lose the White House again in 08.

Yep! We fiery liberals just keep settling. We just keep living the lives of children—and paving the way for the glorious day when we bow low to President Thompson. After all, he looks classic wise man. When he says things, you just sort of trust him.