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MAKING ELLEN MAD (PART 3)! Goodman’s hatred of “cheap shots” didn’t do much for Clinton or Gore:

BE SURE TO READ EACH THRILLING INSTALLMENT: What makes Ellen Goodman mad? Read each exciting installment:
PART 1: George Bush lied the nation to war. But that’s not what riles Ellen Goodman. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/6/04.

PART 2: Goodman listed Moore’s “cheap shots.” We puzzled at what makes her mad. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/7/04.

Now, for today’s third installment:

MAKING ELLEN MAD (PART 3): According to Ellen Goodman’s explicit assessment, George Bush misled the nation to war, then used his terror warnings as a political “toy.” But the scribe didn’t seem offended by this; instead, she was troubled by “cheap shots” taken at Bush, and by the behavior of young film-goers who seemed to be “rooting” against him! And yes, we find this comically odd— that a pundit accusing Bush of such crimes would be so troubled by those who oppose him! Indeed, the Globe scribe was so easily riled that she slammed a brief segment in Michael Moore’s film— a brief little segment which shows the faces of children at play in pre-war Iraq. Might these children have died in the subsequent bombing— the bombing into which (she says) we were misled? Goodman doesn’t seem troubled by that. Incredibly, she is troubled that Moore would be so “cheap” and unfair as to ask.

Yes, you’d really have to hate “cheap shots” to be offended by a “cheap shot” like that one! But that’s another puzzling part of Goodman’s bewildering column. In fact, her piece simply teems with cheap shots of its own; if it’s (literal) name-calling you like, Goodman’s the person to go to. Moore himself? He’s another Rush Limbaugh. Note the slick way the scribe does it:

GOODMAN: Michael Moore has been called the left-wing answer to Rush Limbaugh. Rush without the OxyContin. But is it heresy to ask whether the left actually wants its own Rush?
Moore “has been called” a left-wing Rush; on that basis, Goodman launches the notion. But then, a string of lefties get name-called this way. For example, Al Franken get dissed by Goodman too, for conduct she doesn’t ever specify:
GOODMAN: Politics isn’t polarized between ideas as much as it is divided between teams in an endless color war. The famous geopolitical map of 2000 painted the states red and blue. Now we have added red and blue talkmeisters, red and blue books, red and blue movies.

If the reds have Bill O'Reilly, the blues now have Al Franken. If red people read “Treason,” blue people read “Thieves in High Places.” Log onto, and one click takes you to the literary red team, another to the blue team.

But is Franken really as bad as O’Reilly? Indeed, what’s wrong with Franken at all? For that matter, what’s wrong with O’Reilly? Goodman— who simply hates “cheap shots”— never quite bothers to say. Meanwhile, in that reference to Treason and Thieves in High Places, Goodman actually goes so far as to compare Jim Hightower to the crackpot Ann Coulter. Let’s see— Coulter lamented the fact that al Qaeda didn’t blow up the New York Times Building. And Hightower? What did Hightower do? Goodman, trashing all, doesn’t say. But so it goes inside your press corps. Goodman, comparing Jim to Ann, is troubled by Michael’s “cheap shots!”

Yes, Goodman’s concern about “cheap shots” strikes us as weirdly selective. And when we look at her work in the past dozen years, we’re even more puzzled by her standards. Goodman flares when Moore takes shots at a man who has lied his nation to war. But has she railed against other “cheap shots” in the past? A quick review of the Nexis files says she has been weirdly silent.

How about “cheap shots” aimed at Gore— the shots which lasted for two solid years, eventually putting Bush in the White House? AL GORE, LIAR, the New York Post headline said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/1/04), and we saw such headlines for two solid years. Meanwhile, almost all the Gore Lore had been made up— invented. But those “cheap shots” didn’t draw Goodman’s ire. She never wrote a column about them.

Nor did Goodman seem to rail when “cheap shots” were aimed at Bill Clinton. Fahrenheit 9/11 is unfair? How about the Clinton Chronicles, peddled by Preacher One, Jerry Falwell? Moore’s troubling film dared to show the lovely face of a nine-year-old boy. By contrast, Falwell’s favorite film suggested that Clinton had been involved in a long string of murders. But Goodman— troubled by Moore’s misconduct— didn’t say squat about those “shots.” Nor did she gripe when Rush Limbaugh (among others) suggested the Clintons had helped murder Vince Foster. For years, this nasty story was told. Goodman said nothing about it.

Because Goodman seems eager to compare Moore to Limbaugh, it might be worth reviewing her treatment of Rush’s “cheap shots.” God knows, there’s been a number to choose from. Clinton? He may have murdered his lifelong friend, Foster. Tom Daschle? By the fall of 2002, he was “Hanoi Tom;” he “wants to sabotage the war on terror,” Rush said, and “to demoralize the troops and destroy the country” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/22/02). But somehow, this failed to arouse Goodman’s ire; according to Nexis, she never devoted a column to Rush until his drug problems surfaced last autumn. Indeed, over a crucial five-year period— from late 1997 through the fall of 2002— Limbaugh’s name never appeared in her column at all. Last week, though, she climbed on Moore. What was wrong with Michael’s conduct? He’d “been called the left-wing answer to Rush!” “The Left Doesn’t Need a Limbaugh,” said the headline in the Washington Post which appeared above Goodman’s column.

What explains the selectivity in Goodman’s rage? Does she only flare when people take “shots” at those who have actually lied us to war? Limbaugh-on-Foster? That was OK. But that kid who “rooted” for Moore? To Goodman, that called for instant rebuke. More thoughts about what makes Ellen mad in finale tomorrow.

TOMORROW: First in her class

GOODMAN, A STUDY IN CLASS: When Goodman discussed those “cheap shots” at Gore, she gave us a look at the broken values of the “liberal” press establishment. On the few occasions when she went near the subject, she kept pretending that Gore and Bush were being mistreated equally. Here, for example, is something she wrote in the wake of the first Bush-Gore debate. Gore was being trashed as a LIAR, for the ten millionth time, as she typed this column:

GOODMAN (10/12/00): [E]ven investigative journalists this year are grinding their teeth on political snack foods:

Gore did not go down to Texas with the head of FEMA— the Federal Emergency Management Agency— to tour the fires. He just held a press conference there. Gotcha!

Bush could not have read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” when he was a child. It wasn't written until he was in his 20s. Gotcha back!

But trivia is not the only reason this campaign may be obsolete as soon as it's over. For all our obsession with the speed of change, we have forgotten how vulnerable we are to it. We have forgotten how what goes up— the economy— can come down. We have forgotten that peace is fragile and the world is a dangerous place.

According to Goodman, the press corps was playing “gotcha” with trivia. (They were “a dangerously bored media,” she said.) But look at the pair of examples she offered. As she wrote, Gore was being beaten to death about the silly FEMA matter. (And about the school desk in Florida. And about those doggy pills. And about that union lullaby.) But Bush and The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Most readers won’t even know the reference; it was an example of total trivia, and was almost completely ignored. (We criticized the handful of pundits who spun it. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/11/00.) But Ellen Goodman, fiery liberal, refused to say what was actually happening. Heroically, Goodman defended her class. More on the topic tomorrow.