TUESDAY, JUNE 3, 2003
RIP VAN RASPBERRY: Theres no liberal quite like a Washington Post liberal. On Monday, William Raspberryreporting in from the Gingrich eraactually said this in his column:
RASPBERRY: Nor do [Republicans] ever seem embarrassed by the gap between their rhetoric and reality. Columnist Arianna Huffington, herself an outspoken conservative, offers a possible explanation:Our blueberry bagel fell to the floor. In fact, Arianna had ceased to be an outspoken conservative by the time Bob Dole staged his run for the White House. By Election 2000, she was anything but. Everyone else in the universe knows this. Raspberry, though, has been Rip Van snoringsound asleep in a snug, secure log. Weve described this problem at the Post before. To all appearances, the Posts liberal pundits rouse from deep slumber to type up their twice-weekly columns.
The Huffington howler is easy to spot. (So too Raspberrys oddball claim that Bush supporters think hes a lightweight.) But the rest of this column is deeply instructive. It helps show the problems Democrats face in the world of the modern pressa world with an energetic conservative cohort and a gaggle of sleep-walking liberals.
Raspberrys thesis? Those maddening Dems have been strangely struck dumb. They keep refusing to challenge the Reps. But Raspberry cantor wontsee the fact that the modern press plays a role in that process.
For example, lets watch as Raspberry pens Standard Cant about Campaign 2000:
RASPBERRY: Conservative Republicans continue to set the national agenda Part of it is the Democrats own fault, of course. They lost an election that should have been theirs on a gimme, requiring, for instance, only that their standard-bearer carry his home stateor that the Supreme Court stay out of the matter.This, of course, is the Standard Press Line, in which the press corps pretends to be deeply puzzled over How Gore Could Have Lost Such A Sure-Thing Election (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/19/02). In the Official Approved Standard Press Corps Account, Gore had overwhelming advantagesincumbency during peace and prosperity. Never mentioned is the Clinton impeachmentand the howling press mobs that chased after Clinton, then transferred their enmity to Gore. Good-guy liberals like William Raspberry simply never discuss this matter. Of course, he also failed to discuss this press corps assault in the twenty months it was aimed straight at Gore.
In part, todays Dems proceed with caution because of the press. But Raspberry misses this matter completely. At one point, he offers a key observation, but totally fails to connect the key dots. On issue after issue, the Republicans have proposedand the Democrats have compromised, he complains. Iraq is the scribes prime example:
RASPBERRY: Democrats who thought the war in Iraq was at best premature couldnt find their voice to say so Few besides West Virginias Sen. Robert C. Byrd have stood up to decry the presidents extraordinary policy of preemption, or to point out how dangerous a precedent it sets, for us and the world.Byrd is ignored in the media, he says. Even worse, the press makes Byrd seem out of order. But Raspberry magically fails to see that this helps explain why some Dems are struck dumb. Why exactly would Dems want to fight if the press rules such work out of order?
Lets close with Raspberrys stance during Florida. In his column, he says that Dems didnt fight that Supreme Court decision. But lets recall what he wrote during Florida. With liberals like this in the mainstream press, do you wonder why Dems may be cautious?
RASPBERRY (11/20/00): Just so youll know, I voted for Al Gore.The point is that because the Republicans believe theyve already won fairly, however narrowly, any procedure that threatens that outcomeincluding recounting or revotingwill be seen by them as an attempt to steal the presidency, Raspberry wrote. Therefore, the best I can hope for is that Bushs narrow vote lead will withstand both the overseas ballots and whatever additional votes Gore picks up in the recount.
Raspberrys piece made a type of sense. But if that is the voice of our key press corps liberals, do we really have to ask ourselves why todays Dem will sometimes show caution?
ANOTHER OUTSPOKEN LIBERAL: And then, of course, theres Richard Cohen, another of the Posts fiery liberals. Last Thursday, he offered more of the puzzling work that has become his great trademark. Throughout his column, Cohen implied that Donald Rumsfeld gilded the lily about WMDs. But at the end, he drew this weird conclusion:
COHEN: Now elements of the Bush administration, particularly within the Pentagon, are rattling their sabers in the direction of Iran, making some of the same arguments they made about Iraq: links to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, etc. Given what has happened in Iraq, should they be believed?The answer is yes, Cohen says. [T]he Bush administration should be believed about Iran. But in the very same paragraph, he says the administrations findings will almost surely be dripping with spin. Many readers wrote to complain about the absurdity of this column. But Richard Cohen is a Post liberal. Theres no one quite like them on earth.
TOMORROW: Was Carroll right about that abortion report? As things stand, you really cant tell.
Thats why we were mightily pleased to see Chaits useful opening. Its a very rare day when American citizens are asked to consider these facts:
CHAIT (from pgh 1): [I]n truth, Reagan reacted to the consequences of his 1981 tax cuts in a way that would have put him far out of step with Bushs Republican Party. When the scope of the budget deficit [caused by his tax cut] became apparent, Reagan acceded to a series of tax increases in 1982 (in the midst of a severe recession, no less), 1983, and 1984. In 1986, reacting to complaints that his 1981 tax cuts opened too many loopholes for the rich, Reagan enacted a sweeping tax reform that liberals, including this magazine, hailed for making the tax code more progressive. Reagans record on taxes, in short, consisted of one year of unvarnished conservative ideological warfare followed by seven years of retreat and consolidation.Those are facts which talk-show listeners never hear. For that reason, those are facts which you must learnand recite, applying as needed.
Reagan cut taxesand revenues soared. This silly tale is spun many ways. Fantasists like to ignore basic factsthat federal revenues almost always go up because of population growth and inflation. And they like to look at all federal revenuesadding in those payroll taxes, which Reagan actually raised. (Duh! We wonder why those revenues soared.) Meanwhile, snoring liberals dont dirty their hands engaging in this crucial discourse. Sean and Rush keep pounding the piffle. Richard and William sleep in their logs. At THE HOWLER, were sick of this inane, corrupt culture. We were pleased to see Chaits basic facts.
TOMORROW: Dudes! What really happens when we cut federal taxes?