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Daily Howler: Dowd and Collins pretend to be puzzled by McCain's ''stupid'' approach
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STUPIDIFICATION HAS WORKED! Dowd and Collins pretend to be puzzled by McCain’s “stupid” approach: // link // print // previous // next //

PROGRESSIVE SKANKIFICATION: Sadly, darlings, Gail Collins is back—and she’s just as phony as always (details below). In our view, her track record is long and gruesome. But even so, we were surprised that she was willing to go here:

COLLINS (8/7/08): This is energy week on the campaign trail. In honor of the critical nature of the debate, let's try to clear our heads of all thoughts of Paris Hilton ads, and questions of whether McCain knew, when he expressed a yen to see his wife compete in the bikers' Miss Buffalo Chip beauty contest, that the contestants frequently went topless.

Yes, that’s just minor skankification—and later, Collins says this, although coyly: “I truly do not believe he knew about the topless part.” Please don’t make us waste our time explaining the sheer stupidity here. But we did want to make a note about a few of our skanky male “progressives.”

Oh heck. Let’s restrict it to Olbermann.

For the past two nights, our own Mister O has pimped this matter extremely hard on Countdown. He keeps played his bump-and-grind footage of women competing in the “Miss Buffalo Chip” contest—and he has mentioned this nonsense endlessly. On Tuesday, we were surprised to see Rachel Maddow take part in an entire segment on this topic—the segment which ended the program. “These pictures are very distracting,” she said at one point, as Keith-O returned to his bump-and-grind footage. But Maddow spent an entire segment promoting this skankified nonsense.

In our view, Maddow does excellent work; we’d even throw her Meet the Press. But she’s willing to stoop for the team. This is twice that she’s done it.

The bump-and-grind footage continued last night, as Keith-O rewarded his young male viewers. And let’s say it again: He has pimped this nonsense over and over in his programs of the past two nights. On Tuesday, he promo’ed the topic five separate times before he did that final segment. When it comes to issues like this, he’s as big a creep as they get.

Two points:

First: Older men should be dragged out and whipped when they teach younger men to look down on women. For younger men who are heterosexual, their ability to respect those younger women will define a great deal of their happiness. And of course, it isn’t great for younger women when younger men are trained to despise them. But Olbermann pimped this disrespect for years with his nightly sneering at the young blondes—presumably, a tasty treat for the foolish young men he was recruiting to drive up his ratings (and his salary). That pleasing feature was dumped this year, as MSNBC tried to stave off complaints about its endless, blatant misogyny. In the last two nights, Keith-O ran as fast as he could to get back into the game.

Second: If you don’t understand how all that gender-trashing could have been dumped on Hillary Clinton’s head, Olbermann showed you again this week. Simply put, many men just don’t respect women. The problem seems to be bred in the bone; it has always bedeviled progressive movements, and the problem recurs in each generation unless young men are taught to be more wise. Clinton had all that gender-trashing dumped on her head because many of our “progressive” men have the retrograde attitudes of a loser like Olbermann. Gender-trashing ran wild at his network. Perhaps by coincidence, it seemed that Jack Welch had hired those kinds of guys.

Earlier this year, Olbermann had to stop mocking the young blondes each night—but it seems he was awaiting his comeback. His show has now bumped and ground for two nights. “These pictures are very distracting,” one bold progressive guest said.

STUPIDIFICATION HAS WORKED: The New York Times’ most famous columnist just couldn’t figure it out. Why would McCain, a man of such honor, be running such a “childish” campaign? We showed you this material yesterday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/6/08); let’s start with it again today. Why is McCain handing out tire gauges? Maureen Dowd had figured out “the only explanation:”

DOWD (8/6/08): John McCain is pea-green with envy. That’s the only explanation for why a man who prides himself on honor, a man who vowed not to take the low road in the campaign, having been mugged by W. and Rove in South Carolina in 2000, is engaging in a festival of juvenilia.

The Arizona senator who built his reputation on being a brave proponent of big solutions is running a schoolyard campaign about tire gauges and Paris Hilton, childishly accusing his opponent of being too serious, too popular and not patriotic enough.

Even his own mother, the magical 96-year-old Roberta McCain, let slip that she thought the Paris Hilton-Britney Spears ad was “kinda stupid.”

Even his own mother said it! And since McCain’s approach had been “kinda stupid,” Dowd could discern what it had to mean. “McCain is pea-green with envy,” she brightly divined. Indeed: “That’s the only explanation.”

That’s a good example of how balls-out stupid our number-one Antoinette columnist is. Beyond that, it helps show us the shape of the political world we’ve been handed, in the past decade, by our Democratic and “liberal” elites.

Why has McCain been running this “stupid” campaign? Could it be for an obvious reason—because stupidifcation has worked in the past? In fact, in the spring of 1999, the Republican Party announced its plan to create such a clowning discussion. And with the help of the mainstream press corps, it has worked out quite well—until now.

What has happened since this plan was disclosed? We’ve had cheese-steak debates—and wind-surfing wars. We’ve had inane reductions of major issues. (Al Gore wants to eliminate the automobile as we know it!) We’ve been told that one Dem nominee looked French—and that another was raised at the Ritz. Through it all, the mainstream press corps has clowned along with almost every one of these inanities. Dowd can’t seem to remember that now. We’ll take a guess: John McCain can!

Why is a man of such honor running a “stupid” and “childish” campaign? Why is he handing out tire gauges? Presumably, because stupidification has worked in the past. Let’s return to 1999.

Stupidification unveiled: The approach was announced in May 1999, though it was two months old at the time. Alison Mitchell described the effort in an informative report in the New York Times (just click here). She started with this:

MITCHELL (5/19/99): After years of battling with President Clinton, House Republicans are shifting their sights to Vice President Al Gore and using ridicule as their weapon of choice.

Duh. “Ridicule” would be the GOP’s “weapon of choice,” major Republicans had said, on the record. As she continued, Mitchell described this new GOP approach—a campaign of ridicule and mockery which had actually started in March:

MITCHELL (continuing directly): The office of the House majority leader, Representative Dick Armey of Texas, has become an unofficial clearinghouse of anti-Gore press releases and activity, with Mr. Armey mocking Mr. Gore over his pronouncements on air travel, the Internet and traffic congestion.

On Wednesday, House conservatives plan to enter the fray. Four or five members of the "Conservative Action Team" are to go to the House floor after the day's business and with television cameras running, give readings of what they consider to be the most provocative, or perhaps most inscrutable, sections of "Earth in the Balance," Mr. Gore's 1992 book on the environment.

The readings will come after another slap at Mr. Gore. A bill authorizing programs for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, scheduled to be voted on by the House on Wednesday, has been stripped of money for the Triana project, Mr. Gore's proposal to have a live video image of the Earth spinning in black space transmitted 24 hours a day on the Internet...

"If we're just going to put satellites up and look at Earth, that's silly," said Representative George Nethercutt, Republican of Washington. "It just happens to be a bad project dreamed up by Mr. Gore. It doesn't matter to me who came up with the nutty idea; it's a nutty idea that should go.”

As even Dowd has heard by now, Gore currently holds the Nobel Peace Prize. But back then, the GOP had devised a plan to attack him for “nutty” and “silly” ideas.” They explained this to Mitchell, on the record—no doubt hoping that this would help the press corps know how to support their efforts. (By this time, the press corps’ eagerness to play these games against Gore was crystal clear.)

At any rate, to use the language of Mitchell’s report, the GOP had decided to “mock” and “ridicule” Gore over his “nutty” and “silly” ideas. They even planned to stage public readings of his best-seller, Earth in the Balance—of its most “provocative” and “inscrutable” parts. In fact, the book had been brilliantly reviewed in 1992; later, it formed the basis for An Inconvenient Truth, the film for which Gore would win the Nobel Prize—and an Oscar. But so what? In the spring of 1999, mockery and ridicule were in the air. The GOP announced its plan to take that route—and the mainstream press corps was already playing a leading role in spreading the nonsense.

The GOP was going to make it stupid, big players told Mitchell. Dowd can’t remember this now.

Their model—remembering Quayle: As Mitchell continued, she described the method to the GOP’s new form of madness. And she described the motivation. Dowd can’t remember any of this. But the problem went back to Dan Quayle:

MITCHELL: For years Congress ran multiple investigations of [President Bill] Clinton. But with Mr. Gore, Republicans are betting that well-timed ridicule can be more devastating than any inquiry. In essence, they are trying to do to him what Democrats tried to do to former Vice President Dan Quayle: make him the foil for comedians on late-night television.

"On the Republican side, we are more sensitive to this, having watched what happened to Quayle," said Representative David M. McIntosh of Indiana, a former Quayle aide who is one of the organizers of the readings from Mr. Gore's book. "You can't make somebody funny when they are not providing the material," Mr. McIntosh said, adding that Mr. Gore "provides a lot of it.”

In fact, the parts of Gore’s book which they planned to ridicule were perfectly accurate—a fact which was already perfectly clear. But Republicans recalled the mountains of ridicule heaped on Quayle’s head by the mainstream press. They had every reason to be angry about it—and given the climate which had developed in response to Bill Clinton’s troubling bl*w jobs, they had perhaps correctly guessed that the press corps was willing to change its aim. Whatever! They were going to do to Gore what had been done to Quayle, they announced. As they spoke, the campaign was already two months old. Today, Maureen Dowd can’t remember.

And yes, they had reason to be angry. For example: Just one month earlier, Quayle had announced his run for the White House—and the Washington Post ran a front-page report which gave a taste of what would be coming for Gore. David von Drehle openly ridiculed Quayle—and he instantly made a groaning error, the kind of imbecilic error which would be dumped on Gore’s head for two years. For our fullest review of von Drehle’s inexcusable piece, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/13/05.

Republicans had every right to be angry about work of this type. And they may have seen that a tide had turned—that the press might now be prepared to treat Gore in the way they had once treated Quayle. (In fact, Quayle was the last Big Republican mocked this way. In the years since, a string of Big Democrats have been trashed—and Big Reps like McCain have been lionized.)

At any rate, Mitchell described the plan to “mock” and “ridicule” Gore. And the plan was already humming along, thanks to the work of the press corps. In the passage we’ve quoted, she said the campaign was aimed at late-night comics. Those are code words for “aimed at the press.”

The program had started in March: Nethercutt and McIntosh described their plan in May 1999. Two months earlier, their plan had gone into effect—and the press corps had raced to promote it. The stupidification was already working—and it was doing great damage:

MITCHELL: Mr. Gore's assertion recently that he had been instrumental in creating the Internet provoked jokes not only from Mr. Armey and Senator Trent Lott, the majority leader, but also from the House Science Committee. "Delusions of Grandeur: Vice President Gore Takes Credit for Creating the Internet," said a statement from the committee.

Today, Maureen Dowd has no clue about this. But the stupidification had started that March, with a history-altering claim: Al Gore said he invented the Internet! “Delusions of grandeur,” Dick Armey had said. One night later, a major broadcaster said the exact same thing, seeming to speak in his own voice:

DOBBS (3/12/99): A case study tonight in delusions of grandeur. Vice President Al Gore, the man who once claimed to be the model for Ryan O'Neal's character in Love Story, has apparently done it again. In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the vice president seems to call himself the father of one of the most extraordinary inventions of our time.

“Father of the Internet? He apparently thinks so,” Lou Dobbs said on CNN, reciting more of the GOP’s mocking language. Dobbs went on to quote Armey, Trent Lott and James Sensenbrenner as they ridiculed Gore’s statement about his leadership role, within the Congress, in helping develop the Net. A campaign of ridicule had now begun. Dobbs was the first to recite for the GOP—but he would hardly be the last. “Delusions of grandeur” and ”delusional” became familiar buzz-words as the mainstream press corps ridiculed Gore for the next two years. The campaign began that day; two months later, Republicans explained it.

As Mitchell continued, she described more of the stupidification. We have to chuckle at one thing she said:

MITCHELL: If anyone in Congress runs short of lines, the Republican National Committee puts out a regular fax and E-mail feature called "The World According to Gore."

Mr. Lehane, the Gore spokesman, was dismissive of the mockery, saying, "We can stand after six and a half years and say we have a stronger economy and cleaner environment and that absolutely terrifies the Republicans.”

And Geoffrey Garin, a Democratic pollster, said, "This is petty politics as opposed to grand politics.”

According to Mitchell, the RNC was creating that regular, mocking feature in case “anyone in Congress” ran short of lines. In fact, the RNC’s work was aimed at the press—and the boys and girls of the mainstream press corps were very much buying those lines.

In this way, a campaign of stupidification was formally announced and unveiled. And as everyone knows (except Maureen Dowd), this campaign of ridicule played a leading role in the next two White House campaigns. Ludicrous claims about Gore were churned—and were repeated by “journalists.” (Al Gore was raised at the Ritz, Anne Kornblut compliantly typed from an RNC text.) Four years later, Kerry looked French, and he wind-surfed—and he ordered the wrong kind of cheese! Inanities like these were endlessly churned—and people like Dowd ran to pimp them. Today, of course, she has no idea why McCain might head down this same path.

Darlings, it simply has to be envy! It’s “the only explanation,” Dowd says.

Let’s make sure we understand the shape of this campaign of ridicule.

Sometimes, the stupidification has involved real issues, as was the case with those tire gauges. More often, of course, the stupidification was designed to create phony issues of “character.” The ludicrous claims against Gore were endless. Four years later, John Kerry looked French.

Why has a man of honor engaged in a “childish” and “stupid” campaign? On Sunday, Dowd could imagine only one reason. In this way, the public is kept from knowing the shape of the times.

TOMORROW: Obama’s retort—and a tool that he lacks.

Gail Collins is puzzled too: This morning, Gail Collins pretends to be confused by McCain’s conduct too. The whole thing strikes her as “weird.” This comes from the world’s biggest poser:

COLLINS (8/6/08): “My opponent doesn’t want to drill. He doesn’t want nuclear power. He wants you to inflate your tires,” McCain continued. This is part of a weird Republican attempt to make fun of Obama for saying that if people kept their tires properly inflated it might save as much oil as we could gain by offshore drilling. To keep the subject alive, McCain supporters have been running around handing out tire gauges.

People, what sort of point do you think the Republicans are trying to make here? That Obama was being trivial? In my experience, Americans tend to regard the tires on their cars rather seriously. A tire gauge actually sounds like a handy little gift, like campaign potholders.

The dead of Iraq stare up from the ground, into the faces of posers like Collins. In fact, there’s nothing “weird” in the slightest about this “attempt to make fun of Obama;” it’s an extension of a nine-year effort which has worked amazingly well in the past.

In those days, posers like Collins repeated the items of mockery aimed at Kerry and Gore. Today, though, Collins grows tired of the culture of war which she purchased. And so, she pretends it’s all very “weird!” Darlings, she simply can’t figure!

By some miracle, Sammon understands: There’s nothing strange about this at all. Last night, by some miracle, Bill Sammon understood perfectly, appearing on Special Report:

SAMMON (8/6/08): I think the ad wars have been a big plus for McCain. I think John McCain has gotten his mojo back in the last week or ten days largely because of these ads.

I think up until then, he spent weeks and weeks walking on eggshells—like, “How am I going to attack Barack Obama?” He was hesitant.

And I think the campaign made a decision, Steve Schmidt and other in the John McCain campaign made a decision to go for a frontal assault, go after his inexperience, go after-paint him as defeat—arugula eating, works out at the gym three times a day, that kind of thing, go after his liberalism.

And don't be afraid to use humor. I think that was a key decision. They went for the mockery, for the ridicule.

Duh! Sammon explained the obvious here. He didn’t pretend the whole thing was “weird.” He didn’t say that it must be pure envy. He used the very same words—mockery and ridicule—used by Mitchell. In 1999.

Whatever you think of McCain’s new approach to Obama, it’s an obvious extension of the RNC’s approach to Kerry and Gore. They announced this approach more than nine years. It is today what it was back then—a campaign of “mockery” and “ridicule.”

Dowd and Collins played along—back then. Today, they pretend to be puzzled.