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Daily Howler: We chuckled as a cable talker trashed Dems--and praised Tony Blair
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COMPLETE THOUGHTS ARE FINE—OVER THERE! We chuckled as a cable talker trashed Dems—and praised Tony Blair: // link // print // previous // next //

COMPLETE THOUGHTS ARE FINE—OVER THERE: Democrats are “inauthentic”—a big bunch of fakers and phonies! And the voters can spot this trait every time—why, they spotted it right away in Al Gore! (Uh-oh. Gore won the popular vote.) Last Sunday, a pundit panel on The Chris Matthews Show was off again on this favorite topic (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/26/06). Presidential Dems are fops and phonies. Presidential Reps are pleasing straight-talkers. Our Millionaire Pundit Corps loves this prime script. And Dems must start to deal with this now.

Yes, the pundit corps has amended its scripts on Saint McCain, due to his recent flip-flopping. And yes, this entire panel understands that a Republican—a man named George Bush—misstated and embellished our way into war. But nothing changes their basic script—it’s Democrats who won’t say what they mean! They love this script as they love life itself. And all facts on Earth seem to prove it.

Today, let’s draw one last chuckle from this Matthews Show segment. Tomorrow, some helpful advice.

Early on, Time’s Joe Klein got the chance to make a familiar complaint about Dems. The excitable Matthews had just played tape of three troubling statements by Hillary Clinton. In fact, they were perfectly normal, sensible statements—the type of statement which people in both parties make. But to Chris, they showed how fake Hill is—just like all those puzzling Dems. He turned to Klein for an explanation. And he heard that familiar complaint:

MATTHEWS (4/23/06): What's in the Democratic water? Why do they all talk like that? Why can't they say, “Here’s what I feel, damn it. I don't care what anybody thinks?” You say you have to go back to Bobby Kennedy to find a real Democrat.

KLEIN: Well, you know, Republicans speak in simple sentences, or sentence fragments: "strong defense," "low taxes," "family values." Democrats are the party of the compound sentence. “We have to invest in education in order to do this,” you know, and so on. The biggest difference, though, on the presidential level is this: Republicans believe that presidential campaigns are about character and Democrats believe they're about issues. And so Karl Rove goes to organize the Bush campaign in 2000, and he says this—this election's about three issues: Who's the stronger candidate, who's more trustworthy, who cares more about people like me? Democrats have never had a meeting like that, anything remotely resembling it. It's, “How do we construct our prescription drug plan to—to, you know, to get the approval of labor and environmentalists?”

Some of Klein’s statement is well worth considering; Democrats would be better off if they could offer their view of the world in a few simple snapshots. (Bill Clinton did so when he said that he fought for people “who work hard and play by the rules.”) But Joe overstated just a tad, as our pundits tend to do when they stage their well-scripted parties. “We have to invest in education in order to do this?” To Klein, this statement is far too complex! Why, you might as well try to read Finnegan’s Wake as to wrestle with such strange narrations!

Yes, it’s silly—no, it’s inane—to complain about such “compound sentences.” But this is fairly standard fare when pundits like Klein and Matthews convene to complain about fake, egghead Democrats. And omigod! Our analysts chuckled, later on in the show, when that very same cable talker explained why he likes Tony Blair so darn much. The BBC’s Katty Kay was reporting Blair’s political status:

KAY (4/23/06): Politically, however, Tony Blair is still looking shaky. And the question is, does he—does he see out the rest of the year?

MATTHEWS: Why would they get rid of Tony Blair? We all like him over here.

KAY: You all like him over here because he stood by you as a friend. We don't like him back home because he stood by you as a friend.

MATTHEWS: Huh! I have other reasons for liking him. I like the fact that he can speak in complete sentences, even paragraphs. I like the fact that he's articulate. I like the fact that when he's talking, I like to listen to him. It's not because of his war policy.

Klein and Matthews know the rule: Dems must be trashed for their compound statements. But why does Matthews like Blair so much? Because he can speak in full paragraphs! Surely, the gods on Olympus were rocking with laughter as they watched the talker’s performance. And surely they grasped that one key fact: This memorized script—Dems are inauthentic—will be flogged, once again, during Campaign 08. Dems and libs need to start planning now for this unavoidable problem. A few last thoughts on this matter tomorrow—including thoughts on our failures last time.

BOOK OF KLEIN: We’ve been reading Klein’s new book, Politics Lost; we’ll offer a piercing review of its puzzling outlook, most likely next week. But we thought one short passage was worth typing now. Our analysis? When human beings become rich and famous, they tend to get mentally lazy:

KLEIN (page 228): Also in June [2003], WHIG [the White House Iraq Group] became obsessed with a former U.S. ambassador named Joseph Wilson who had disputed the claim, made by Bush in his 2003 State of the Union Address, that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium in Niger. Wilson was right: the claim was false. There had been no uranium deal.
Klein is rich and famous—and spectacularly lazy. Yes, the entire press corps has struggled, from Day One, with the logical problem found in this passage. But we’ve never seen anyone get from “sought” to “bought” quite as quickly as Klein. To Klein, the fact that there had been no “deal” (no purchase) proves that there had been no “attempt.” He’s had three years to puzzle this out. But this is the best he can manage.

Klein is rich and famous—and self-indulgent, and spectacularly lazy. That one paragraph just made us laugh. Larger aspects of his book call for much greater scrutiny.

By the way: Before you conclude that Joe really is on your side, let’s note that he goes on to slander Saint Wilson. “The ambassador was a fat target,” he shamefully writes—“...a distressingly flamboyant fellow.”