WERE WITH STUPID (PART 1)! Fawning hard to fun-lovin Fred, a Post piece says: Vote for Stupid! // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, MAY 21, 2007
RUSSERT DOES REAGAN: Excerpts from Ronald Reagans diaries appeared on Vanity Fairs web site on May 1; since then, theyve provoked little real interest. According to Nexis, the Washington Times has only cited the excerpts once—in a two-paragraph item in John McCaslins Inside Politics column. (The Washington Post and New York Times provided a bit more coverage.) Using Nexis, we can find no sign that the Reagan excerpts have been mentioned by The Weekly Standard or The National Review at all. The book of these excerpts, edited by Douglas Brinkley, goes on sale tomorrow.
To date, these diary excerpts have produced little interest. But over at NBC News, Jack Welch assembled a team of Reagan Democrats during the 1990s and he gave them enormous wealth and power. Yesterday, one of these famous Lost Boys of the Sconset used almost half his Meet the Press program to dither about these old diary entries with ex-Reagan aides Meese and Deaver. For a sample of the news he found in these excerpts, here is Tim Russerts first comment:
RUSSERT (5/20/07): It is extraordinary how the president puts into paper and pen his innermost thoughts. The one thing that just leaps from the pages is his devotion, his even dependency on his wife Nancy. Here's an entry from March 30th, 1981:. "I pray I never face a day when she isn't there. Of all the ways God has blessed me giving her to me is the greatest and beyond anything I can ever hope to deserve."Interesting, isnt it? In 1981, President Reagan loved his wife! Russert devoted almost half his program to such pressing matters, ignoring Iraq, ignoring immigration and ignoring the Comey revelations. The real problems of the real world didnt matter. What mattered, of course, was spreading the gospel about this greatest known human.
As weve told you, Jack Welch knew what he was buying when he turned these Lost Boys into multimillionaires. As you may recall, heres the first question one of them asked at this years first Republican debate:
MATTHEWS (5/3/07): In the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, just 22 percent believe this country is on the right track. Mayor Giuliani, how do we get back to Ronald Reagan's Morning in America?Matthews opened his program with Reagan; Russert wallowed in Reagan on Sunday. We libs would have screamed if theyd done it on Fox. But since they did it on Meet the Press, were fairly sure that it just doesnt matter.
ANOTHER COMPLETELY ACCIDENTAL MISTAKE: On Friday, we warned you about the lurking message inside that front-page profile of Michelle Obama (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/18/07). The next day, it turned out that the New York Times had accidentally misheard something theyd been told during their research:
NEW YORK TIMES CORRECTION (5/18/07): A front-page article yesterday about the role that Barack Obamas wife, Michelle, is playing in his presidential campaign rendered incorrectly a word in a quotation from Valerie Jarrett, a friend of the Obamas who commented on their decision that he would run. She said in a telephone interview, Barack and Michelle thought long and hard about this decision before they made it—not that they fought long and hard.The Times was told that the Obamas thought long and hard about their decision. Instead, in a profile which semi-reinforced a growing narrative—Michelle Obama is a big loudmouth—the Times reported that the Obamas fought long and hard. It was another accidental mistake.
And yes, it may have been a mistake; on balance, wed guess that it was. Of course, in December 1999, the Times accidentally misquoted Gore about the early work he did in the House concerning toxic waste sites. (Tape of Gores statement was played on TV. His words had been as clear as a bell.) This turned into a deeply damaging, month-long flap: Al Gore said he discovered Love Canal! The press corps toyed with this damaging tale for a month—and it was all built on a big, accidental mistake. Now, the Times has accidentally misunderstood something else it heard.
At this point, if you simply assume good faith from these people, that makes you what we call a Born Loser. But lets assume that it was a mistake when the Times misreported that comment about the Obamas. Funny! They just keep hearing things wrong at the Times—things which reinforce their negative narratives. Just last month, after all, Maureen Dowd pretty much called Michelle Obama a big loudmouth b*tch. And just like that, reporters misunderstood something theyd heard—and it tended to further that portrait.
Again, we strongly suggest that you read Dowds hiss-spitting column about Michelle Obama. In 2004, Dowd trashed Howard Deans wife in the nastiest way (excerpts below), and she didnt much care for Kerrys wife either. Last month, she even managed to complain about a web site John Edwards daughter founded—a web site that helped Dowd see what a big faker Edwards himself must be (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/23/07). Unfortunately, Dowd plays an outsized role in shaping the mainstream press corps narratives—and she has a broken-souled problem with Dem wives and children that she has put on display again and again. That nasty column about Michelle Obama was pretty much par for the course with Dowd. Liberals should speak up about this, now. But since this isnt happening on Fox, were fairly sure that it cant really matter.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: How broken-souled is Maureen Dowd? In case youve forgotten, heres some of what she said in 2004 about Howard Deans troubling wife, Judith Steinberg, a practicing family physician. In case youve forgotten how broken Dowd is, you might gain from this reminder:
DOWD (1/15/04): The doctors Dean seem to be in need of some tips on togetherness and building a healthy political marriage, if that's not an oxymoron.Darlings, you could imagine Rush doing that. But why bother? Dowd already had! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/15/04. Physician, heal thy spouse, she wittily typed at the end of this vile, stupid column.
Dowd got nastier before she was done; she returned to Deans deeply troubling wife in another nasty, stupid piece just ten days later. (It's impossible to know how her style of being a style agnostic would wear during a campaign, Dowd meowed, and some reporters thought that thrust into her first national television interview, Judy Dean seemed as fragile as Laura in The Glass Menagerie. Referring to an ABC interview by the Deans, Dowd said the couple seemed so far from mainstream American life...they were like characters who had walked into the wrong play. Astonishing.) But Dowd is a very big deal at the Times; the papers reporters tend to align themselves with her inane, tortured, broken-souled musings, and Dowd tore Michelle Obama up in her recent, April 21 column. Dowd loves teasing scandal from offhand comments (real and invented)—and she seems to love trashing Democrats spouses. Dems and libs would be very unwise to let this proceed without strong push-back. This is the way these broken-souled losers build frameworks abound Dem candidates.
Special report: Were with stupid!
PART 1—VOTE FOR STUPID: Some are born stupid. Some become stupid. And some have stupidity thrust upon them. Our analysts thought of those stirring old words when they read Sundays Post Outlook section, which focused on the search for a Dream [White House] Candidate—more specifically, on the wait for Fred Thompson.
Yes, that old bromide came to mind when they read this fawning profile of Thompson—a profile accompanied by two photos of Fred, and a sidebar which ties him to Reagan. The profile was written by Liz Garrigan, hapless editor of Nashville Scene, a Tennessee alternative newspaper. And good gravy! Garrigans fawning profile of Thompson is built around the stupidest framework of our recent presidential politics. Even after George Bush has destroyed the known world—even after Al Gore has become a world hero—Garrigan still is typing the Standard Framework: Vote for Thompson! Hes more fun to be with! And the Post continues to publish this pap—the pap that put George Bush in the White House and took the U.S. to Iraq.
How thoroughly does Garrigan fawn over Thompson? In paragraph 1, hes like John Wayne (twice); by paragraph 3, hes like Reagan. And, of course, hes not like that fake, phony fraud, his fellow Tennessean, Al Gore. Yep! By the time our analysts read paragraphs 2 and 3, they suspected it—they were with stupid:
GARRIGAN (5/20/07): [W]hile he's no admiral, he has played one in the movies. The former senator is also the third man from our humble horizontal Southern state to be touted as presidential material in the past year, after former Senate majority leader Bill Frist and former vice president Al Gore. Thompson has yet to raise a nickel—or a presidential posse—but grass-roots Republicans from the East Coast to the West already see the man with the low drawl and the towering stature as their political savior. But is he?Thompson is a refreshing contrast to the likes of Gore, the scribe said. So yes, the analysts were already groaning as Garrigan began to flog the old scripts. But they were certain who they were with when Garrigan, plowing dumbly ahead, talked about Thompsons remark luck. How does she know that Thompson is lucky as hell? Heres how: When he reinvented himself in 1994, the press corps didnt say a word:
GARRIGAN (continuing directly): And he knows how to play the political game. At the start of his Senate race in 1994, Thompson was a high-dollar Washington lawyer and lobbyist who drove a Lincoln Continental, lived in a condo and wore dark suits and ties to even the most folksy barbecue-and-beans Tennessee campaign appearances. But nobody—nobody with an echo, anyway—accused him of being phony when he eventually decided to prop up his flailing bid with, well, props: a getup of jeans and work shirt and some down-home locomotion in the form of a used cherry-red Chevy pickup truck that he drove across the state and featured in television ads to transform his campaign.Lets paraphrase: In real life, Thompson was a millionaire lobbyist who slithered around in fancy suits. But omigod! When he pulled on his blue jeans and campaigned with props, nobody called him a phony! To Garrigan, of course, this means one thing: Fred Thompson is just amazingly lucky. It doesnt enter her mind that something else might be involved here—that the press might have one set of scripts for Big Famous Reps and another set of scripts for Big Dems. Indeed, Garrigan quickly took her own turn with her cohorts dim-witted scripts, trashing Gore for (supposedly) reinventing himself—for allegedly doing the very same thing that had made Thompson seem to be brilliant:
GARRIGAN (continuing directly): But there's more to it than that. Unlike his Democratic native-son counterpart Gore, who was picked apart like so much Tennessee roadkill in 2000 for his campaign-consultant-directed wardrobe transformation from dark suits to warmer tones, Thompson was rewarded for his makeover from slick silk-stocking lawyer to accomplished hayseed. In 1996, when he won election to his first full term, more Tennesseans voted for Thompson than for any other politician in state history.Simply put, these narratives never end. In the last year, even mainstream journalists have been forced to acknowledge Gores brilliant work on global warming—and theyve even been forced to admit that he was right on Iraq. (More on their own reinventions on Thursday.) But so what? For Garrigan, images of roadkill still roll off the tongue as she recites the time-honored scripts about Gore—scripts with no clear tie to reality. Did Naomi Wolf tell Gore to wear earth tones, as Garrigan suggests in this time-honored passage? Wolf denied it; Gore denied it; and no one ever presented evidence that it had actually happened. (Nor did anyone ever explain why it was supposed to matter.) But so what? Garrigan knows her cohorts treasured scripts, and shell never stop repeating them. In her blinkered world, Bush still hasnt destroyed the known world, and Gore still hasnt become a world savior; she still lives in the road-kill days, when the press mocked Gore for his fake, phony wardrobe. And she sees no pattern—other than luck—in the fact that Gore got trashed for his clothes, while Thompson only got praised for his blatant makeover. Thats just luck, this daft woman says. Luck—and Fred Thompsons brilliance.
But then, Garrigan is still churning the dumbest framework from Campaign 2000—the dumbest framework known to humanity. Why would Thompson be a dream candidate? Of course! Hes more fun to be with:
GARRIGAN (continuing directly): Course [sic], Thompson also tends to catch some slack because, at 6 feet 6 inches and with a charm and sense of humor that can crack even the most tightly clenched among us, he's someone men want to be and women want to be with. He's the John Wayne to Gore's professor. Gore was the prep-school son of a U.S. senator from Carthage, Tenn., spending most of his formative years not in the green hills of the Volunteer State but in the monument-dotted confines of Washington. Thompson was the son of a used-car salesman from Lawrenceburg, Tenn., who, like Thompson's mother, never graduated from high school.Gore went to a prep school—and Thompson goofed off. Even today, hes great fun to be with. For sane people, Bushs destruction of the known world has put some dents in this mindless narrative, in which were asked to select our president based on who was dumber in high school—based on who we think would be fun to drink beer with. But the world is full of people like Garrigan, people who live to recommend presidents because they were underachievers and clowns. And at its upper end, the press corps is full of people like Susan Glasser, the appalling Gore-trasher—and now, Outlook editor—who keeps putting this absolute nonsense in print even after the downfall of Bush.
Even now, after Bush has destroyed the known world, the Washington Post still likes to tell readers: You should pick the hopeful who seems to be fun. Readers, please: Just vote for Stupid!
For the record, Glassers work on Gore in 1999 was on the far side of inexcusable. In other industries, people who invent fake facts the way she did get fired, then sued—sometimes prosecuted. (Details on Wednesday.) But in the world of your multimillionaire press corps, work like that earns its authors promotion. Eventually, they end up editing sections like Outlook, putting fools like Garrigan into print. Some are born stupid—and some have this powerful status thrust on them. To state the obvious, Glasser is serving the will of her class when she keeps putting this nonsense in print.
When a middle-class democracy has a multimillionaire press corps, this is what will always happen; you will always get mindless road-kill jibes aimed at the leaders of the more liberal party. Brilliant guys will get trashed for seeming too smart; big, dumb rubes will get praised for their dumbness. And youll also get what we got in Sundays Post—youll get faux liberals providing the balance. Tomorrow, lets look in on Lawrence ODonnell, offering this second, hapless approach to the search for the Dream White House Candidate.
TOMORROW: Lawrence ODonnell, direct from Hollywood.
WEDNESDAY—PART 3: Who is Susan Glasser?
THURSDAY—PART 4: The role of the liberal web.
GARRIGAN TRIES TO IMAGINE: Garrigan—breast-fed on script, then weaned onto narrative—cant imagine a teenage Gore driving a pickup along Massachusetts Avenue on his way to the privileged academic bastion of St. Albans. But can she imagine the following passage? The passage appeared in the Washington Post, excerpted from David Maraniss and Ellen Nakashimas 2000 biography of Gore. The passage describes Gore as a teen-ager, doing precisely the sort of thing Garrigan cant imagine. This is precisely the sort of thing she says young Freddie must have done:
MARANISS/NAKASHIMA (10/10/99): The Tennessee life took much of the stiffness out of Gore. As soon as he arrived in town, he and Steve Armistead would have a contest to see who could sneak up on the other first and shout "Punk!" He would impress [girl friend] Donna [Armistead] by unscrewing the receiver on a telephone in his basement room so they could listen secretly to his father's conversations with important people in Washington. After taking in several lectures on sex from his mother and her grandmother, they once teased their concerned elders by jumping on a bed until the springs squeaked loudly. Donna's mother came hurtling into the room only to find the young couple "dying laughing, holding hands, jumping."These youthful episodes have been widely described; Gore himself describes his youthful Tennessee car wreck in his film, An Inconvenient Truth, which Garrigan may have avoided. (Too phony.) But the Garrigans of this world cant imagine such things because they live and breathe script. They drank script at their mothers breast; their lungs draw script from the air. Of course, this makes them useful to climbers like Glasser, who is currently working her way up a multimillionaire press establishment. Tomorrow, well see what Glasser found when she sought a tough-talking Dem to counter poor Garrigans dumbness.
EQUALLY HARD TO IMAGINE: Almost surely, Garrigan cant imagine the following either. This passage comes from a Nakashima/Maraniss article about Gore and race, this time in the Washington Post magazine. We highlight a passage at the end, but all of this is relevant to Garrigans profile of Thompson. Gore, still young, is now in college:
NAKASHIMA/MARANISS (4/23/00): It was Gore himself who made certain that he would interact with blacks at his next school, Harvard. "I actually requested a black roommate, just because I wanted to learn what I didn't know," he said. There were 42 African Americans in the 1965 freshman class, to that point the largest such group ever in Harvard Yard. During their first year, one of Gore's roommates was Ballinger Kemp, a Californian whose knowledge of jazz and blues and the hip scene in Boston enlightened all the white kids at Mower, their freshman dorm. Gore then became closer friends with another black classmate, John Tyson, his roommate in his junior year at Dunster House.Its the motorcycle which Garrigan cant imagine. Its the desire to understand the wider world that she still cant respect, even after fun-lovin Bush managed to destroy the known world. You see, Thompson would be much, much better this time because he was his high schools class clown! Because hes just so much fun! Garrigan cant let this stupid script die. And, despite all the bios of Gorte, she still cant imagine Gore doing the things that arent in the scripts shes ingested.
Glasser, of course, has read the Gore profiles. But she still puts this trash into print.
For those who are able to read and write, the tales of Gores motorcycle exploits have been widely reported. But so what? Because her mother fed her on script, Garrigan cant imagine a passage like this, from a New York Times profile of Gore. The year is 1966; Gore is a sophomore in college:
HENNEBERGER (6/21/00): That same year, [Gore] rode a motorcycle back to school from Washington in the rain, and gave friends high-speed rides around Boston.But that sounds like something young Freddie would have done! Therefore, Garrigan cant imagine it. And Glasser—useful tool of elites—rushes Garrigans work into print. The result is clear. If you read the Post, Youre with stupid!
STILL STUPID AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: Ole Fred was an under-achiever in high school? Based on a recent commentary, wed say hes still under-achieving today! (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/30/07. This is the bottom of the talk-show barrel.) But so what? Garrigan still loves the brainless narrative that loosed George Bush upon the world. Like Bush, Ole Fred is just more fun! Readers, please: Vote for Stupid!