THE USES OF PAPA CASS! On Glenn Becks show, Cass Sunstein loves Mao. Why wont David Brooks say so? // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 2010
History takes time: Darn it. Chapter 5 for our companion site, How he got there, is taking longer than wed hoped. (On the other hand, we like the way its shaping.)
In Chapter 5, were discussing the month of Wolf, November 1999. It was during this month that our mainstream press corps conducted their wilding of Naomi Wolf, who was advising Candidate Gore. Weve discussed this episode at some length beforein a five-part series in 2003, for example. (For links to all five parts, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/10/03). But an astonishing moral and intellectual squalor lay at the heart of this stunning episodean episode which went on for a month, with few words of complaint from your liberal heroes. We think the story should be told in full, at something resembling full length.
That is taking some time. Heres the deal:
Next Tuesday, well post at least the first large chunk of the chapter, concerning the remarkable sexual trashing of Wolf. (Needless to say, this involves several bogus claims about the post-Lewinsky press corps favorite topic, oral sex.) This leaves untold the part of the story which became truly iconicthe press corps endless, vacuous claims about Al Gores disturbing earth tones. Incredibly, the New York Times was still correcting its gong-show assertions about this matter as late as July 2007 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/30/07). George Bush would not have reached the White House had the press corps not staged this group breakdown.
Maureen Dowd is right in the center of this story, of course, describing Wolf, in a pair of mocking columns, as wacky, airy, a flashy Culture Babe who was the moral equivalent of an Armani t-shirt. Wolf had urged women to release their inner sluts, Dowd smuttily declared, not even remembering which of Wolfs three honored books this non-existent claim was supposed to reside in. (For a bit of perspective on this morons performance, two of Wolfs books had been selected as New York Times notable books of the year. In 1998, the Times had included Wolfs first book, The Beauty Myth, in its retrospective volume, Books of the Century.) This morning, we thought of Dowds smutty, death-dealing performance when we read her newest column, in which she complains about the bad faith of one of Manhattans finest:
Look whos talking, the analysts cried. Dowd seemed to be describing herself, the idealistic young workers complained.
Dowd has sold a lot of toxic work to a lot of people over the yearsand theres little sign that shes feeling too guilty. The miracle lies in the fact that this squalid, broken-souled smut-hustler still holds her high-level job.
Very few of your fiery heroes complained! Or did we already say that?
PART 2THE USES OF PAPA CASS (permalink): David Brooks has written some extremely weak columns in the past several weeks. But last Tuesdays column was really a dumb one (just click here). In this column, Brooks discussed a new study which explored the way people cruise around on the Net. Absurdly, he claimed that the studys findings suggest that we Americans are not restricting ourselves to media which confirm our [political] suppositions (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/27/10).
Politically, we arent all locked in our own little worlds in the way we might have thought!
David Brooks was playing Pangloss in this foolish column. People who visit Glenn Becks web site also visit the New York Times site, he cheerfully said. And not only that! People who spend time on the most liberal sites are more likely to go to foxnews.com than average Internet users! Rosily, Brooks used these facts to suggest that things may not be quite as bad as it seems. These facts suggest that Internet users are a bunch of ideological Jack Kerouacs, Brooks rosily claimed. They're not burrowing down into comforting nests. They're cruising far and wide looking for adventure, information, combat and arousal.
Were not as self-segregated as it has seemed! We really do seek all points of view! Unfortunately, very little about this new study seems to suggest this rosy conclusion. And Brooks really queered his case by starting his column with Cass Sunstein, who wrote an essay in 2001 about political self-segregation.
Can a major columnist possibly be as clueless as Brooks seemed to be in this piece?
Who is Cass Sunstein? Until recently, he was a pillar of the mainstream establishment. According to Wikipedia, Sunstein is an American legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioral economics. (Are there any other fields of law?) He taught for 27 years at the University of Chicago Law School, before accepting his current post at Harvard. Currently, he is Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
In an April 10 report in the Washington Post, Sunsteins name appeared on a medium-length list of possible Supreme Court nominees. Just a guess: Whoever assembled that list for the Post is just as clueless about our devolving political/journalistic world as the panglossian Our Mister Brooks. (We cant find a link to this piece at the Post web site, although it appears on Nexis.)
Why is it extremely unlikely that Sunstein could be a Supreme Court nominee? Because Sunstein took on a whole new life last summer, as one of Glenn Becks favorite Communists! Since last July, Sunstein has stood at the very center of the crackpot political world whose power and prevalence Brooks downplayed in last weeks know-nothing column. On a regular basis, millions of people hear Sunstein named as one of the people around Obama who are plotting to bring down their country.
These people go to Glenn Becks siteand sometimes, to the Times site too. Over the course of the past twenty years, people like Brooks have been too clueless (or too cowardly) to tell these people, and us, the truth about our political world.
Lets treat ourselves to a lightning-fast tour of Sunsteins reinvention:
According to the Nexis archives, Sunsetin made his debut on Becks Fox program on July 22, 2009. At first, he got off easy, described as follows by David Martosko of the Center for Consumer Freedom:
Trust us: On Becks program, this was one of the last times anyone would attempt to be fair to Cass Sunstein! Within minutes, Beck linked Sunstein to the idea that you can turn grandpa into soylent green. Moments later, Beck played audiotape of himself to help prove this hypothesis:
Beck went on and on this day. Since that time, Sunstein has been discussed on 32 more broadcasts of his Fox program. Keeping a ludicrous story short, this is some of what was said on October 15, 1999, on a program Nexis headlines, Radicals Around Obama:
We arent going to waste our time hunting the most ludicrous claims about Sunstein. But this has gone on for almost a year on Becks highly-watched Fox program. And yet, at the Washington Post, Sunstein is still being listed as a possible Supreme Court nominee. And just last week, Brooks put Sunstein and Beck in the same columna column in which he assured the world that we arent as politically segregated as we might have thought.
Over and over, Glenn Becks viewers are told that Sunstein is a dangerous radicalan enemy within, a lover of Mao. At some point, in a rational world, it would fall to privileged people like Brooks to warn these people that their hero may be running a bit of a con. But Brooks seemed totally clueless last week about the oddness of his conjunctionthe oddness of a column which discusses Sunstein and Beck, then draws a happy conclusion.
Plainly, Brooks thinks Sunstein is an intelligent social observer. And he thinks that people who visit Becks site arent as segregated as we once might have thought! Question: Is David Brooks really this clueless? Or is he just playing it safe? In fact, our world is sinking deeper and deeper into an intellectual abyssa descent which, left unchecked, will lead to Death by Dumb.
Why wont David Brooks stand and complain? Why wont our high lord Dionne?
TOMORROWPART 3: Let this Cupp pass from our ears