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Daily Howler: Richard Cohen played you for fools when he said that Gore is near-perfect
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WHY GORE ISN’T CURRENTLY PERFECT (PART 1)! Richard Cohen played you for fools when he said that Gore is near-perfect: // link // print // previous // next //

WHY GORE ISN’T CURRENTLY PERFECT (PART 1 OF 3): As usual, Richard Cohen is wrong on his facts. In yesterday’s absurdly disingenuous column, Cohen chats about Al Gore’s 2000 campaign—and bungles his facts, as usual. But let’s be clear. In the following passage, Cohen’s mistakes are fairly insignificant. His omissions are hugely important:
COHEN (4/17/06): "An Inconvenient Truth" is a cinematic version of the lecture that Gore has given for years warning of the dangers of global warming. Davis Guggenheim, the director, opened it up a bit. For instance, he added some shots of Gore mulling the fate of the Earth as he is driven here or there in some city, sometimes talking about personal matters such as the death of his beloved older sister from lung cancer and the close call his son had after being hit by a car. These are all traumas that Gore had mentioned in his presidential campaign and that seemed cloying at the time. Here they seem appropriate.
Gore “mentioned these traumas in his presidential campaign?” Actually, no, he did not. In fact, the near-death of Gore’s son was a basic element of Gore’s 1992 best-seller, Earth in the Balance—the prescient book about global warming for which Gore was ridiculed by Cohen’s colleagues over the course of the next dozen years. (Al Gore wants to ban cars!) And in fact, Gore discussed his sister’s death at the 1996 Democratic convention. The press plainly did find that episode “cloying”—and this led, in short order, to an amazingly nasty (and factually bogus) claim by Tucker Carlson in The Weekly Standard, a nasty and factually bogus claim which pundits were still voicing late in Campaign 2000 (links below). So no—it wasn’t Gore who was discussed these matters “in his presidential campaign.” It was actually Cohen’s stupid and nasty colleagues—colleagues for whom the disgraceful scribe is covering up in this column.

Can humans get dumber—or more disingenuous—than this hapless pundit? As he praises Gore’s prescience on global warming, Cohen makes the following statement—a statement which is almost criminally daft, for reasons we’ll explain all this week:

COHEN: Gore insists his presidential aspirations are behind him. "I think there are other ways to serve," he told me. No doubt. But on paper, he is the near-perfect Democratic candidate for 2008. Among other things, he won the popular vote in 2000. He opposed going to war in Iraq, but he supported the Persian Gulf War—right both times. He is smart, experienced and, despite the false caricatures, a man versed in the new technologies—especially the Internet. He is much more a person of the 21st century than most of the other potential candidates. Trouble is, a campaign is not a film. Gore could be a great president. First, though, he has to be a good candidate.
“On paper, Gore is the near-perfect Democratic candidate,” Cohen says. For tragic reasons, that statement is false. And Richard Cohen—can you get more dishonest?—knows he can’t say why that is.

Cohen is right about several things. Gore does have the perfect profile on Iraq; he gave a prescient speech on the subject in September 2002—for which Cohen’s colleagues attacked him as crazy. (Cohen said “Bully for Gore” at the time, then quickly began to walk that back. By November 2002, he was praising Bush’s brilliant leadership, and calling Gore an Adlai Stevenson-style egghead: “More and more, Bush is looking like Ike. And more and more, Gore is looking like Stevenson,” the Post dumb-ass wrote. By February 2002, Cohen was praising Colin Powell for his brilliant UN presentation. Embarrassing sample: “This time, for instance, when the by-now hoary charge was made that a link existed between al Qaeda and Baghdad, it was Powell who made it—and it hit with force.” No, that isn’t out of context.) And Gore does have the pluperfect profile concerning global warming, the subject discussed throughout Cohen’s column; the subject is reaching consensus status, and Gore has been there since the mid-1980s—with Cohen’s colleagues calling him crazy at all the important junctures. But that doesn’t make Gore the near-perfect candidate—because of the matter which Cohen omits. Uh-oh! Unfortunately, Cohen and his Millionaire Pundit Colleagues have spent the bulk of the past eight years turning Gore into a public buffoon. Result? Gore’s approval numbers are very low. When the Roper Center did a survey in February, for example, Gore’s “favorables” were 27 percent—and his “unfavorables” stood at 46. By contrast, Hillary Clinton was 42 percent favorable, 40 percent unfavorable. John McCain—the press corps’ greatest saint—was 40-18, favorable. Rudy Giuliani—another press saint—stood at 49-15. (Bush: 36-49. Cheney: 29-50. Gore: 27-46!)

Of course, the problem goes well beyond the current state of Gore’s polling. In the course of buffoonizing Gore, the press corps created a string of Clownish Scripts—the ones they always turn to with Gore—and the instant Gore puts his toe in the race, these scripts will be dragged out again, in full force. Remember—these life-forms plainly aren’t human; they’ve been programmed somewhere to type their daft themes, and nothing on earth can stop them. Yesterday, Cohen’s computer began to access Prime Pundit Narratives right in its opening paragraph:

COHEN: Boring Al Gore has made a movie. It is on the most boring of all subjects—global warming. It is more than 80 minutes long, and the first two or three go by slowly enough that you can notice that Gore has gained weight and that his speech still seems oddly out of sync. But a moment later, I promise, you will be captivated, and then riveted and then scared out of your wits. Our Earth is going to hell in a handbasket.
Al Gore is boring! Al Gore has gained weight! Al Gore’s speech is “oddly out of sync!” And this is the way these life-forms type in columns designed to flatter Gore! At The New Yorker, David Remnick has written a similar column (as you know, these people all type The Same Approved Columns) and he too—these creatures can’t help it—types the familiar Gore scripts. Just drink in the cosmic irony of this tragic passage:
REMNICK (4/24/06): Last week, Gore dropped by a Broadway screening room to introduce a preview of “An Inconvenient Truth.” Dressed in casual but non-earth-tone clothes, he gave a brief, friendly greeting. If you are inclined to think that the unjustly awarded election of 2000 led to one of the worst Presidencies of this or any other era, it is not easy to look at Al Gore. He is the living reminder of all that might not have happened in the past six years (and of what might still happen in the coming two). Contrary to Ralph Nader’s credo that there was no real difference between the major parties, it is close to inconceivable that the country and the world would not be in far better shape had Gore been allowed to assume the office that a plurality of voters wished him to have. One can imagine him as an intelligent and decent President, capable of making serious decisions and explaining them in the language of a confident adult.
Ah yes! Gore reminds us of what might have been—what might have been if Remnick had written this column in 1999, for example. But if you search for that column, you’ll never find it—Remnick was too big a coward to oppose his cohort’s views back when it actually mattered. Back then, he typed their Conventional Wisdom, just as he safely types it today. (Transcript from February 2000 below. Do not—repeat, do NOT—miss.) And today? Remnick imagines Gore as “an intelligent and decent President,” making serious decisions “and explaining them in the language” of adults. But alas! Even as Remnick imagines these things, he himself types the language of children; he’s still unable, after all these years, to stop typing that bullshit on “earth tones.” And so too at The New Republic, where a bright young Yale graduate, Eve Fairbanks, offers Perfect Scripted Drivel in a new profile of Naomi Wolf. Where in the cosmos are these strange life-forms hatched? Really, folks—where do they come from?
FAIRBANKS (4/11/06): Over the years, Wolf's brand of feminism has become increasingly hard to pin down. She's reversed her opinions to coincide with the feminist fads of the moment, from "victim feminism," to "power feminism," to a sort of New Age feminism: By 2000, she was helping to run an institute that hosts retreats on compassionate leadership and advising Al Gore, for $15,000 a month, to wear "earth tones" to better exude his steaming inner manliness.
If TNR provided e-mail addresses, we would have e-mailed this bright up-and-comer to ask for her source on that inane, scripted narrative. (A friend explained yesterday—she got it from Letterman! Link below.) But perhaps you see our overall point; this is the way these life-forms type in columns and journals which are friendly to Gore! Surely, everyone knows what will happen in the wider mainstream press corps the instant Gore dunks his toe in the race. The nasty scripts will all be dragged out, and they’ll be out to use again. And the Richard Cohens will put their toes up and die—or they’ll turn, and go after Gore themselves, just as Cohen ended up doing in the fall of 2002. And one more thing—everyone in Cohen’s brainless corral knows this matter can’t be discussed. They know why it would be extremely hard for Gore to run—and they all know they mustn’t discuss it. Idiots like Cohen understand this. So do good guys—whom we’ll name.

If we lived in that “serious,” “intelligent,” “adult” world, Gore would have the perfect profile. He was right on Iraq; he was right on warming; and yes, he speaks the language of adults. But uh-oh! Our press corps doesn’t speak that language—and no, we don’t live we don’t live in that serious world. As part of that package, Cohen knows he mustn’t mention the factor which keeps Gore far-from-perfect. And he knows that he mustn’t mention this fact: No one did more to make Gore a public buffoon than Cohen himself, who now pimps him.

REMNICK, WHO COWERED WHEN IT MATTERED: Today, Remnick longs for what might have been; he swoons about how intelligent and adult Gore is. Wow! He can barely hold it in:

REMNICK: It is past time to recognize that, over a long career, [Gore’s] policy judgment and his moral judgment alike have been admirable and acute. Gore has been right about global warming since holding the first congressional hearing on the topic, twenty-six years ago. He was right about the role of the Internet, right about the need to reform welfare and cut the federal deficit, right about confronting Slobodan Milosevic in Bosnia and Kosovo. Since September 11th, he has been right about constitutional abuse, right about warrantless domestic spying, and right about the calamity of sanctioned torture. And in the case of Iraq, both before the invasion and after, he was right—courageously right—to distrust as fatally flawed the political and moral good faith, operational competence, and strategic wisdom of the Bush Administration.
Go ahead—emit dark chuckles! “It is past time to recognize” Gore, Remnick types. But back when such recognition might have mattered, this brave little coward kept his trap tightly shut. Example: Here’s what Remnick had to say in February 2000, when he played a few innings of Hardball—when he had the perfect chance to react to a crackpot host’s favorite insult:
MATTHEWS (2/15/00): You know, up in New Hampshire recently, I went around—and I was cruel, but I went around and asked a lot of reporters: Who they think, of the four major candidates, the four front-runners, two on either side, would lick the floor they were standing on at any given moment, every quarter inch of it, every square inch of it, to become president if that's all that required? And everyone agreed there would be only one person who would do that. And you know who I'm talking about?
Al Gore would lick the bathroom floor to be president! It was Matthews’ favorite variant on a Standard Press Corps Script: Al Gore will do and say anything. What a great chance for Remnick to speak—to say how intelligent and adult Gore was! But Remnick (David Remnick, that is) showed what he is—a stone coward:
REMNICK (continuing directly): Yeah, I think you mean Gore—


REMNICK: But that's a very eleg—elevated discussion you were having up there. I can only imagine who was at the bar, Chris.

MATTHEWS: But it captures a certain—it captures a certain essence of ambition here that may not be lacking—may be lacking in some of the more intellectual discussions. He really wants this job in the worst way.

REMNICK: Oh, I think he, it—it's clear that he really is, is, is really hard after it, and he's campaigning the way he looks lately, which is very trim.

MATTHEWS: Yeah. He is pretty buff.

Al Gore would lick the floor to be president! Here was Remick’s chance to dissent—and the best he could do was to say Gore looked trim! And everyone knows that these gutless bastards will simply roll over and do this again, as soon as their cohort’s alpha male thugs—crackpots like Matthews—start pimping their insults of Gore again and singing their praise of McCain. By the way, here was Remnick, going after that Sainted Press Figure:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Let me ask you about this McCain thing. I talk to a lot of people who are liberals who voted Democrat all their lives, I think, and their parents are Democratic liberals—

REMNICK: And find him attractive.

MATTHEWS: —and they really like McCain, and it has nothing to do with any particular point. Do you get that?

REMNICK: Well, you know, I, I think it's quite clear that McCain is more conservative than some of the press has been writing or indicating lately. But what's so deeply attractive about him at this moment in time and, and this moment of political history is that he has opened himself up in the most—well, it's really unprecedented, and certainly in recent political history—in a way certainly the other candidates haven't done. He will sit down with you on that bus and you—and would say, “Here's what's wrong with me,” and one, two, three, four and five.

MATTHEWS: We like that.

REMNICK: Yes—“I had a terrible first marriage, and, and here's the phone numbers to call about it.”


REMNICK: It's really an incredible performance, and in many ways, considering what we've been through for quite a long time—


REMNICK: —and I don't mean just the Clinton administration, but for a very long time, this is very attractive to a lot of people.

Good God! Where was the “serious,” “adult” conversation when Matthews and Remnick were playing the fool? Back when Perfect Fools like David Remnick stood in high praise of the transparent way McCain was pandering to their High Vanity? Remnick had nothing good to say about Gore—but couldn’t stop gushing about Saint McCain! And then, just like that, it was back to Gore. “What do you think of Gore?” Matthews asked—and he spun out the latest of the three thousand “lies” the press corps invented to take this Dem down. He even used the L-word—“lies.” But once again, Remnick played coward:
MATTHEWS: Yeah. What do you think of Gore? Because Gore says things like, “I didn't know those hecklers attacked Bob Kerrey.” You know, “I wasn't—I was having iced tea at the Buddhist temple, so I didn't know it was a financial deal going down.” These—what are called now strategic lies where he's just saying it because he thinks he can get away with it.

REMNICK: On the other hand, you know, McCain does have his flaws. It's nice that he admits it. It's nice that he admits these flaws—


REMNICK: But on the other hand, he really does not have all that much to say except on a couple of core issues. And he admits this, which is all very nice, but he's going to have to be fed up.

What a cowardly, gutless bastard! Matthews directly accused Gore of “lies”—offering two more gimmicked examples—and noble Remnick changed the subject! Today, he tells us how great Gore is, and imagines what might have been. But back when thoughts like that would have mattered, this gutless man turned tail and ran.

Readers, that is why we’re now in Iraq—and the Cohens and Remnicks will never discuss it. And that is what will happen again the instant Gore puts this toe in the race. The press corps’ dissembling “alpha males” will start their trash-talk all over again— and the gutless cowards, the weak little Remnicks, will beat their standard hasty retreats, just as Cohen did in the fall of 02 when the alpha males began trashing Gore for being right in that speech on Iraq. Within weeks, Brave Cohen had flipped. This is why Gore—despite that admittedly fantastic profile—is not, at present, the “near-perfect” candidate. More on this point for the next two days—the point Cohen knew to omit.

TOMORROW: What Cohen said when it mattered.

FRIDAY: Silence—from Ezra and Eric.

THEY NEVER ABANDON THEIR STORIES: Once again, this is what these life-forms do in journals which are friendly to Gore:

FAIRBANKS (4/11/06): Over the years, Wolf's brand of feminism has become increasingly hard to pin down. She's reversed her opinions to coincide with the feminist fads of the moment, from "victim feminism," to "power feminism," to a sort of New Age feminism: By 2000, she was helping to run an institute that hosts retreats on compassionate leadership and advising Al Gore, for $15,000 a month, to wear "earth tones" to better exude his steaming inner manliness.
Amazing. Fairbanks—the youngest, newest hot pimp—goes out of her way to be insulting about Gore’s search for his “steaming inner manliness.” (The word “inner” is a play on the false claim—a claim invented by Maureen Dowd—that Wolf had discussed her “inner slut” in her superlative, non-smutty book, Promiscuities.) But what makes this latest up-and-comer think that this story is true in some way? We discussed this tired old tale just a few weeks ago; see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/21/06. But Fairbanks includes a tired old point, a point which is so completely tedious that we didn’t mention it there: Fairbanks, amazingly, throws in Wolf’s salary? In fact, that was fairly standard money for someone in a major campaign slot; in South Carolina, at the same time, McCain was paying $20,000 a month to race hustler Richard Quinn—and the press corps never said boo about it! (Neither does Fairbanks, of course—it isn’t in My First Golden Book of Acceptable Scripts, and so she’s never seen it.) But your “press corps” was looking for every way to slime and disparage unworthy Wolf, so they threw this misshapen root in their stew. And omigod! Seven years later, Fairbanks actually types it again! Go ahead—try to say that these life-forms aren’t here from some alternate universe.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: For a note on the salaries of Wolf and Quinn, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/15/00. Quinn’s higher salary was mentioned once; Wolf’s lower salary is still being pimped. This is why Gore isn’t currently perfect. It’s the point Richard Cohen left out.

By the way, all praise to USA Today’s Jim Drinkard, the dude who reported Quinn’s salary. And omigod! Who trashed Wolf for her troubling salary? Go ahead—click the link! Richard Cohen!

Special report—The logic of failure!

PART 4—NEW, IMPROVED SEARCH FOR THE FAILING: Tomorrow, we hope. Do you see the way the world’s worthwhile efforts get knocked to the curb by these people?