THIS JUST IN FROM PROFESSOR PANGLOSS! Everyone on earth knows this. Except our progressive leaders: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2009
Perusing Wills deduction: George F. Will made some a slick deduction in Sundays column in the Washington Post.
Nobody can fool this guy! Thanks to the work of conservative analysts, Will thinks he may have solved a puzzle. Why does Obama want a public optiona government insurance planas one part of his health care package? Thanks to some leading conservative minds, George Will thinks he may know:
Huh! Obama wants a public plan because it would lead to a single-payer system! Will was able to make this deduction because of the things some conservatives say.
We cant read minds here at THE HOWLER. We dont know if Obama will insist on including a public plan in a final package. Nor do we know why he has proposed such a plan in the first place. But next time ,Will might try reading the work of some liberals if he wants to know what may be up.
Below, we give you Paul Krugman, more than two years ago, writing about the release of John Edwards health reform package. Edwards had become the first Major Dem to release such a package. His package contained a public planand Edwards had explained why:
Duh. Later plans by Obama and Clinton included this same featureand Edwards had explicitly said it might lead toward single-payer. And its not like this notion went underground after that. One year later, Edwards withdrew from the raceand Krugman discussed the contribution hed made through his health care proposal:
Given the control of societys bosses, many aspects of world health care cant be discussed in our mainstream press. For the most part, citizens arent allowed to know that other countries provide full coverage at half the cost. Citizens never see front-page reports examining how these countries have done it.
In a rational world, youd see such reports. But your knowledge is rationedby power.
That said, we would have thought that everyone knew the dream behind that public plan. As Edwards said in February 2007, such a plan might lead to single-payer! Until we perused Wills deduction this week, we thought that everyone knew.
THIS JUST IN FROM PROFESSOR PANGLOSS: According to Professor Jay Rosen, history began in 2001or a year or two later perhaps.
Granted, Jay isnt a history professor; this may help explain this unusual theory. But many liberals get their ideas of our recent history from Rosenfrom last Fridays interview with Salons Glenn Greenwald, to cite an unfortunate example. (Click here.)
Well leave it to parents of NYU students to demand tuition money back. But in the following passage, Jay explained the recent history of Americas political press corps. As we said yesterday: If societys bosses invented a critique of the press, this perfect screaming nonsense is the critique theyd invent:
After three or four years of blogging about this subject, and well over 20 posts written about the larger story, Jay churned out that perfect nonsense. And Glenn acted as if it made good sense. Indeed, he actively affirmed Jays history lesson near the end of the interview, referring to the way that the Bush era has affected political journalism as you just described it in several of your earlier answers.
Why is the progressive world eternally helpless? Because we reason like that.
Lets examine the ludicrous premises implied by Rosens history. According to Jay:
Each of those notions is utterly daft. This is history as written on Neptune.
Whats wrong with the professors notions? Let us count the ways:
To state the obvious, the mainstream press corps had melted down long before Bush reached the White House. Nothing changed when they encountered Bush. During the 1990s, the elite-level press accepted every bit of outlier conduct from the right, no matter how inane or daft. Claims of presidential murder and drug-running made perfect sense. And, of course, Clinton, Gore and Clinton were all big world-class liars.
Sorry. The professional press corps lay in ruins by the time of the mid-decade Medicare pseudo-debate (1994-1996). And their conduct went downhill from there.
That in mind, its lunacy to suggest that the press corps problems began when they couldnt figure out Bush. (Because he was such an outlier!) Its almost as strange to keep asserting what Jay fairly clearly assertsto claim that the press corps was trying to do its job in the Bush era, but lacked sufficient imagination. If societys bosses wanted to con you, that is exactly what they would say. But they dont have to invent such tales. Our professors are there to do that!
Was the press corps trying to do its job under Bush? Motive is famously hard to assess. No doubt, some individuals were acting in something resembling good faithand it seems fairly clear that many were not. But a deeply gonzo group dynamic was clearly driving this professional cohort long before Bush ever entered the White House. The examples from the 1990s are legionthough Jay and Glenn seem to have been off the planet during that particular decade. This allows Jay to muse about the good intentions that were foiled by Bushs outlier ways. And about the well-intentioned press corps lack of imagination.
Did something new begin under Bush? Please. Thats utterly ludicrous. If anything, the press corps conduct was much more ridiculous in the previous decade.
Examples of ludicrous press corps conduct from the 1990s are of course legion. (And yes, were discussing group conduct.) Gene Lyons wrote an entire book about same, Fools for Scandal. It was published in early 1996and had therefore been written earlier. But for unknown reasons, of all such examples, Rosens history has brought Mark Shields to our mind in the past few days. To see the way your professional, elite-level political journalists were working before Bush reached the White House, consider the conduct of this famous liberal on June 23, 2000.
This involves the execution of Gray Graham, star of one of Texas most famousand most unfortunatedeath penalty cases. Indeed, this happened to be one of the worst such cases the Texas system had ever created. It was clear there was no way to know that Graham had really committed the murder in question; beyond that, he had been defended by the hapless Ronald Mock, one of the gonzo public defenders famously employed by the state in such cases. Plainly, there was no way Governor Bush could have known that Graham was guilty of the murder in questionbut Graham got fried all the same! And sho nuff! When Bush held a press conference to ponder the execution, no one in Rosens elite-level press asked him how hed decided not to extend such clemency as his office permitted.
Why hadnt Bush acted in this case? Nobody bothered to ask!
The failure to ask this question was stunning. But the next night, on the elite-level NewsHour, Shields offered these gonzo thoughts about Bushs masterful brilliance:
Incredibly, Shields praised Bush for wearing a suit, and for adopting an appropriately serious manner. For these reasons, this was probably the finest moment of his campaign, the deeply principled professional pundit very soberly said. (Paul Gigot quickly echoed these thoughts.) So youll know: This was one month after Shields cohort had endlessly trashed the vile Candidate Gore for opposing Bushs plan to privatize Social Securityrepetitively praising Bush for the bold leadership he displayed by making his proposal. (For a fuller account of the Graham/Shields matter, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/6/02.)
Of course, such ludicrous conduct had long been the norm in the White House campaign then under way. Shields cohort had spent a astounding amount of time the previous autumn discussing the wardrobe of Candidate Goretrashing him for his three-button suits, for his polo shirts, for the fact that he wore a brown suit. (For his cowboy boots! For the way he hemmed his pants!) Do you mind if we tell you something obvious? By now, the elite-level press corps were tribunes to power. They existed to bash the more liberal partyand to praise every notion, no matter how inane, which came from its more conservative counterpart.
But then, this had been going on for years by this point in time. The press didnt have an outlier Republican president to sympathize with during this eraso they had sympathized with an endless stream of gonzo claims from an outlier Republican congress. They couldnt quite see how strange it was when Vince Fosters suicide was investigated four times. Starting in the summer of 1994, they couldnt make out the problem with the poll-tested GOP claim that no one is cutting Medicarewere just slowing the rate at which it will grow. (When Clinton accurately disagreed, they called him a liar. Much as they would later do when Gore opposed privatization.) In short, when Bush became president, nothing changed the press corps continued its ludicrous conduct in service to conservative power. Before, they had served an outlier congress. Now, an outlier president.
Rosen was living on Neptune then, or he would know these things. Of course, if he ever sat down and did some reading, he could learn that way too.
Tell us, readers! Do you think Mark Shields was acting in good faith that night, but somehow lacked sufficient imagination to offer a more sensible analysis? For ourselves, we dont know how to explain his ludicrous, disgraceful conduct. But because we arent fools, and we dont live on Neptune, we do somehow know this:
By the late 1990s, the professional, elite-level political press corps had long since become a clowning disgraceand it was a reliable mouthpiece for conservative/Republican blather. Nothing changed when Bush came in. The process had been established for years. The process simply continued.
We have no idea why wed want to pretend that the press corps tried its best, but failed, to deal with President Bush. Quite blatantly, they had been fools for power for many years before they became fools for Bush. Everyone alive knows this. Except our progressive leaders.
Its hard to contain the anger we feel when people like Rosen peddle such pap. (Good God. He even cited the noble Wilkerson!) But if we believe that the press corps noble professionals simply suffered a failure of imagination under Bush, we might want to extend their powers as we move forward from here. Thats what Greenwald keeps suggesting. Its a deeply gruesome idea.
Tomorrow: Let them yell liar!