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BLOW’S SONG! On the day Bob Bennett got kicked to the curb, Charles Blow sang a favorite old tune: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, MAY 10, 2010

Last pitch for some ugly history: For our money, Sally Jenkins got it very much right in Saturday’s Washington Post. She wrote about three recent incidents involving assaults against women committed by male athletes. As she described George Huguely’s apparent killing of Yeardley Love, she asked a very good question:

JENKINS (5/8/10): In 2008, a drunken Huguely was so brutally combative with a female cop that she felt she had to Taser him. Last year, he assaulted a sleeping teammate who he believed had kissed Love, several former players say, and this year, he had other violent confrontations with Love herself, witnesses say. We can argue about gaps in the system, but one constituency very likely knew about Huguely's behavior: his teammates and friends, the ones who watched him smash up windows and bottles and heard him rant about Love.

Why didn't they tackle him? Why didn't they turn him in?

Undoubtedly, many of the young men on the Virginia lacrosse team are fine human beings. I don't mean to question their decency. I don't mean to blame them. But I do mean to ask those who knew of Huguely's behavior an important question. Why did they not treat Yeardley Love as their teammate, too?

As she continued, Jenkins cited Professor Jay Coakley’s account of the types of social settings in which this conduct tends to flourish:

JENKINS: According to Coakley, the data is clear: Certain types of all-male groups generally have higher rates of assault against women than the average, and their profile is unmistakable. They tend to include sports teams, fraternities, and military units, and they stress the physical subordination of others—and exclusiveness.

We think Jenkins’ column is superb; we strongly recommend it. But as we read it, we couldn’t help thinking of the sexual trashing another fraternal order administered in 1999—the nasty sexual trashing the establishment press corps dished to Naomi Wolf. The psychosexual disturbance of several major pundits has been astoundingly clear for years. (Start with Maureen Dowd and Chris Matthews.) But as a group, the fraternal order hit very hard at that time—and it changed the course of world history.

We describe those ugly, inane events in the large chunk of Chapter 5 we have now posted at How he got there. (Our account of the sexual trashing of Gore is yet to come.) As you read about what the press corps did, you might ask the truly superb questions Jenkins eventually asked:

JENKINS: Common sense tells me that "sport" in general is not the culprit in all of this so much as excessive celebration and rewarding of it: binge drinking, women-as-trophies, the hubris resulting from exaggerated entitlement and years of being let off the hook. We are hatching physically gifted young men in incubators of besotted excess and a vocabulary of "bitches and hos."

What has happened to kindness, to the cordial pleasures of friendship between men and women in the sports world? Above all, what has happened to sexuality? When did the most sublime human exchange become more about power and status than romance? When did it become so pornographic and transactional, so implacably cold?

Those highlighted questions needed asking in the 1990s, as the establishment “press corps” staged its long psychosexual breakdown. Within the fraternal order, of course, everyone knew not to notice or ask.

It gets worse. Within the fraternal order, the remarkable events of that era have rarely been discussed, to this day.

Special report: How liberals lose!

PART 1—BLOW’S SONG (permalink): Robert Bennett (R-Utah) will not be serving a fourth term in the United States senate. Over the weekend, Utah Republicans, in their state convention, denied him a spot on the primary ballot; Bennett won’t even be able to ask Republican voters to re-nominate him for his post. On the front page of Sunday’s Washington Post, Amy Gardner described the carnage:

GARDNER (5/9/10): The national "tea party" movement toppled its first incumbent Saturday as long-serving Sen. Robert F. Bennett was defeated at the Utah Republican Party's nominating convention, the most powerful demonstration yet of the anti-Washington tide that is altering the nation's political landscape.

Bennett, seeking a fourth term after 18 years in office, became the first sitting senator to fall in the ideological battle being waged in his party. Although he has long been viewed as a reliable conservative with deep Mormon roots, Republicans rallied behind two other candidates—neither of whom has held political office—who will compete for the nomination at a June primary.

According to Gardner, Bennett fell as part of an “ideological battle” within the Republican Party, as part of a powerful “anti-Washington tide.” She didn’t mention race, for an obvious reason: Bennett is the whitest politician on the current American scene (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/5/10).

On Saturday, the Tea Party movement took its biggest scalp yet; that scalp belonged to a white Utah Mormon. But on the very day Bennett was thus turned out, Charles Blow wrote his latest paint-by-the-numbers column about the Tea Party, in the New York Times. Let’s face it—Blow knows only one song. This was the start of his column:

BLOW (5/8/10): Racist. Tea Party.

If it weren’t for his colleagues Rich/Collins/Dowd, Blow would be making a case for himself as perhaps the most hapless major columnists in American journalism. He seems to know only one song—and he sings it incessantly, even on the day when the whitest pol in the land is getting blown away.

This is one of the obvious ways the “liberal world” keeps conspiring to lose—now that it has emerged from the decades-long hibernation in which it engaged until the war in Iraq.

Like many other pseudo-liberals, Blow has accused the Tea Party movement of racism, again and again. He rarely finds anything else to discuss about this potent political movement. If he isn’t making direct accusations, he gives us the thrill of insinuation. Somewhat comically, he soon said this in Saturday’s column:

BLOW: There is no way to know how many Tea Party supporters—or supporters of any group—are motivated by racism, or to what degree. For instance, one could legitimately ask: to what degree is African-American support of the president motivated by racial pride, and when does that pride cross over into prejudice?

There are no easy answers, but blanket accusations and denials are worthless and disingenuous.

That high-minded sentiment was a bit comical, given Blow’s endless focus on race within this movement. But you know how the liberal world is! No matter how many disclaimers we may offer, we will quickly return to our sweeping accusations about race. As he continued, Blow cited Amy Kremer, a Tea Party honcho, who said, while appearing on The View, that racists aren’t wanted within the movement. And he cited one of the most inept pieces of “social science” we have seen in some time:

BLOW (continuing directly): Kremer credits the Tea Party’s racial problems, to the extent that she would agree they existed, to an unwelcome “fringe.” This seems plausible at first blush. There is often rabble at rallies.

However, widely cited polling, like the multistate University of Washington survey released last month, has found that large swaths among those who show strong support for the Tea Party also hold the most extreme views on a range of racial issues. The fringe theory is a farce.

Their other strategy is to repress, deny and redefine. Following their logic, racial views not visible are nonexistent and those who raise the issue are simply projecting. It’s a fete of Freudian delusions.

Tea Party organizers may want to run away from the facts, but they’re not that fast, and the American people are not that slow.

Classic Blow! First, he says “there is no way to know how many Tea Party supporters are motivated by racism, or to what degree.” Three paragraphs later, he announces that “large swaths among those who show strong support for the Tea Party also hold the most extreme views on a range of racial issues.” He didn’t give any examples of these extreme views, of course. But shortly after his heartfelt disclaimer, he was happy to let us know that “the fringe theory is a farce.”

It if weren’t for the follies of Collins/Rich/Dowd, Blow would be making a case for himself as the dumbest American columnist. But in citing that University of Washington study, he did provide a key service. When the study appeared a few weeks back, it was lovingly embraced all through the “liberal” world, despite the hapless work of the young “social scientist” who had presented it.

In how many ways did Christopher Parker bungle his study of race? He failed to explain where his data came from. He failed to present his full data. He took results from a standard type of question and thoroughly mis-analyzed them. At 538, our own Professor Tom Schaller just made the bungling worse.) And then, the liberal world jumped in! Liberals seized upon relatively minor differences between the responses of Tea Party supporters and the responses of Tea Party opponents to create the kinds of foolish statements which litter Blow’ latest piece.

In this way, the liberal world conspires to lose. It’s hard to believe how inept we “liberals” turned out to be when we emerged from our decades-long naps and returned to the political wars.

In Utah, the Tea Party kicked Bennett to the curb because of some votes he cast in the senate. But pseudo-liberals know only one song. Singing that song again and again, we strongly conspire to lose.

Tomorrow: Among the world’s strangest questions