THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2003
INVASION OF THE PUNDIT SNATCHERS: Readers convince us that we've confused Night of the Living Dead with Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (With cable, who ever sees the opening credits?) We accept one reader's incomparable admonition: "You need to brush up on your cheesy horror films. They're such an apt metaphor for what's going on in our country today."
NIGHT OF THE LIVING BORGER: Always remember: They simply arent human. They may have been overcome by pods, as in Night of the Living Dead. They have may come from other planets. But clearly, your zombified Washington pundits arent human. And because you know that, youll understand the closing paragraph on Gloria Borgers U.S. News column this week. Like the rest of her scripted cohort, Borger is keeping busy these days saying that Kerry is just like Al Gore. Therefore, the pundit typed this:
BORGER: It is, of course, very early. Kerry, like Gore, is not a natural on the campaign trail. Yet unlike Gore, he listens. He doesnt always think that he knows more than anyone else in the room, says an adviser. Thats a start. Now all he has to do is try and build his own base, he adds. Without looking too calculating. And without claiming he invented the Internet. [END OF COLUMN]You think we must be making this up. Youre surely exclaiming: She couldnt have said it! But Borger did say itgo ahead, just click here. The reason? Your glassy-eyed Washington pundits arent human. And Borger is one of their breed.
How zombified is Gloria Borger? We emitted low, mordant chuckles when she sat at her keyboard, arms weirdly extended, and risibly typed up this:
BORGER: Then theres the question of what to do about Howard Dean. At last weeks presidential debate, Kerry did not go on the attack. Within the Democratic campaign establishment, theres a feeling that Kerry waited too long to attack Dean, and now if he attacks him, it looks desperate, says a Kerry ally. Gore, you may recall, refrained from attacking his only primary opponent, Bill Bradley, until Bradley started gaining real ground. So whats Kerry supposed to do? Stop waiting for people to come to you because everyone in Washington thinks youre really good, says a former top Gore adviser.Of course, when Gore attacked Bradley in 1999, Borgers cohort called him every name in the book. Now she says that Kerrys a dumb-asshes all stuck-upbecause he hasnt yet done the same thing.
Borger walks with her arms out straight, and she has a glassy stare when she speaks. But she knows the rules for discussing Al Gore. He thinks hes the smartest guy in the room (alternate: he acts like the smartest kid in the class.) He clearly doesnt know who he is (he struggl[ed] to find his true self on the stump). And most important, Al Gore said he invented the Internet! By now, even the zombified Borger knows how rank that statement is. But Borger is a Grade A press courtier. How long will we let them, with their glassy-eyed stares, make a joke of Americas discourse?
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Guesting on CNBCs Russert, Borger gave one of the most ludicrous interviews in all of Campaign 2000. On July 8, 2000, she appeared on the hour-long show with her Face the Nation co-host, Bob Schieffer. The most ludicrous moment? The pair pretended they didnt know why George Bush had spoken at Bob Jones University. (Bad staff work, Borger said, arms extended.) But the glassy-eyed Schieffer was there at her side, and he engaged in rank clowning too. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/13/03, with a link to earlier reporting. No one could read this programs full transcript and believe that such people were real.
A VOICE IN HER HEAD: Then theres the New York Times Elisabeth Bumiller. Yesterday, Dan Quayles vice presidential bust was unveiled in the Capitol Rotunda. So Bumiller flipped through the index cards that clutter the pundit corps heads:
BUMILLER (pgh 1): Dan Quayle, the politician who will be remembered for his youth, conservatism and mishap in spelling, proudly assumed his place in marble today alongside John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and 41 other vice presidents of the United States.Amazing, isnt it? Bumiller has spell check software on her computer. Proofreaders hover over her shoulder. But Quayle is known to have misspelled a word, and a voice keeps shouting it out in her head! Normal people would pay it no mind. But rememberthese people arent human.
Meanwhile, get ready for the next marble bust story. According to Bumiller, Senate curator Diane Skvarla hope[s] that the next one in line, of Al Gore, would not take 12 years to complete. Uh-oh! A marble bust of stiff old Al Gore? Bumillers arms will reach for her keyboard. And you already know what shell type.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: On April 14, 1999, Quayle formally announced he was running for president. In the Washington Post, David Von Drehles front-page news report was a startling example of press corps dysfunction. His open mockery of Quayle was stunning (see links below), but he included some screaming factual blundersin a piece designed to show how stupid Quayle is! (Quayle had said ddC, not DDT, in discussing the treatment of AIDS years before. The Post had bungled the matter in real time, and then had quickly corrected its error. But years later, on the day Quayle announced, Von Drehle went out and re-bungled the topicas he told us how stupid Quayle is.) Who could believe that these people are human? To sample Von Drehles front-page news report, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/27/99.
A HUMAN BEING WOULD KNOW TO INCLUDE IT: Your press corps is skilled at reciting stale spin. But they bungle the simplest technical matters. In todays NYT, David Halbfinger reports on the recently failed Alabama tax referendum. He stresses how deeply the states budget will have to be cut. At one point, he writes this:
HALBFINGER: The Legislature must convene in a special session on Monday to write a new budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Mr. Riley has put the budget shortfall at $675 million, and lawmakers said that the governor made clear no one and no program would be spared.Yikes! The budget shortfall is $675 million! But oh yeahhow large is the total Alabama budget? To state the obvious, theres no way to judge the size of the shortfall unless you know the size of the budget. But Halbfinger never says how big the budget is. Later, he warns that [t]he education budget alone is in for cuts of $268 million. Wow! $268 million! But $268 million out of how much? Again, he fails to say.
A human would know to include those numbers. But this sort of thing is really quite typical. Youve heard and heard, again and again, about Californias recent $38 billion budget deficit. But readers, how big is the annual California budget? Well guess that you never have heard. Pundits are good at reciting stale spin. They forget to include basic numbers.
SCRIBES IN THE HOOD: Finally, we cant ignore the ridiculous question asked by Juan Williams at Tuesdays Dem debate. Fox News Channel sponsored the session, and they apparently felt they had to showcase their straight-from-the-hood, number-one pundit flunky. Believe it or not, he asked this:
WILLIAMS: Ambassador Braun, Governor Dean has suggested that states like Vermont, Montana and Wyoming with overwhelmingly white populations really dont need gun control, in part because of their rural character. But urban areas, such as Baltimore, Maryland, with large minority populations do need gun control. Do you agree?Incredible, isnt it? To state the obvious, Dean has never made such a statement, as he later had to waste his time saying. But why did Williams ask such a racially super-charged question? Duh. The pampered, perfumed, overpaid dandy serves The Man when he works in DC. But the debate was held at Morgan State, and Williams was showboating for the community. Weve seen him engage in this faking before. But rememberJuan is a Washington pundit. Hes a very down dudebut not real.