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WHO’S DOOMING WHOM! Kevin thought that Rudy was doomed. This morning, Richard Cohen thinks different: // link // print // previous // next //

RESURRECTION: We’re back on-line—and man alive, is dial-up slow! But it will be our burden for the next week or so. Don’t ask.

Today, we review a post from last week. It made all the analysts cry.

WHO’S DOOMING WHOM: “Frankly, we’re puzzled,” the credit cards write, when you haven’t paid them their due. (We base this on what we’ve heard in comedy clubs.) And that’s how we felt when Kevin Drum, just about our favorite analyst, offered the following puzzling prediction about Giuliani’s fate. Last Thursday, Kevin had watched “America’s Mayor” respond to Bush’s speech:
DRUM (9/14/07): Aside from the bugeye thing, which makes Giuliani look just plain weird, I was struck, as I usually am, by how completely lacking in substance Giuliani is. He's literally a candidate built purely on attitude, like some hastily sketched-in part in a B movie. I'm surprised he's done even as well as he has so far, but there's no way the press is going to give him a pass on his pull-the-string-and-hear-a-buzzword candidacy for much longer. He's doomed.
How will Giuliani be treated by the press? We wouldn’t make a blanket prediction. But after all these years, we can’t imagine why Kevin would make that particular guess. Is Giuliani “doomed” to rough treatment? Because he’s so utterly lacking in substance? Nothing in the past fifteen years tells us why any liberal would think such a thing. Indeed, major blocks of the mainstream press corps—we think of the Chris Matthews gang at this point—have made it clear that they very much like Rudy’s “attitude,” which Kevin references. We find it hard to imagine that “America’s Mayor” is about to be jumped by the mainstream press—by the people who have childishly called him that name for the past six years.

Indeed: Kevin made his prediction last week. This morning, “progressive” columnist Richard Cohen is trashing the current Democratic front-runner for her tie to the pseudo-scandals of the 1990s. He even lists her ties to Whitewater, which Gene Lyons left for dead in 1995, with Kenneth Starr’s gang doing likewise years later. (At least, Cohen skips Vince Foster’s death.) But how about Rudy, allegedly doomed? As is common, Cohen gives the mayor a a pass for his recent stupid dissembling:
COHEN (9/18/07): Certain Republicans, especially Rudy Giuliani, have attempted to exploit the MoveOn.org ad for their own political purposes, even wondering whether the Times violated election law by selling the page at a (standard) discount. This is silly. But it is not silly to wonder—yet again—about what makes Hillary run.
In this column, Hillary Clinton fails to challenge a rude statement by somebody else—and we’re instantly wallowing in Whitewater! The whole column concerns about her bad character. By contrast, Giuliani himself makes a bogus, fake claim—and this is quickly dismissed, in two sentences. It’s just “silly,” this progressive says. And he goes back to trashing Vile Clinton.

But this is the way the mainstream press corps have played this game for the past fifteen years—including the Potemkin “progressives,” like Cohen. And Kevin’s post—yes, he’s one of our favorite analysts—helps us see an essential fact: Our side simply can’t come to terms with this essential fact. We can’t seem to see or describe the way “presspolitics” has worked in the Clinton/Gore/Kerry era. We keep expecting these people to behave as they should—not as they constantly have.

In our view, Giuliani is an endless dissembler. But why would this press corps ever say that?

Our side can’t seem to play this game. As proof, we marveled when our new Vanity Fair finally arrived in yesterday’s mail. There was the cover blurb for Evgenia Peretz’s superlative piece:
Yes, that’s right—it said “in 2000.” Seven years later, we finally get around—in one magazine—to describing this history-changing event. Seven years later, we complain—in one publication—about one of the most remarkable press events in American history.

But the other side plays a different game. Last week, Giuliani moved very quickly to make that absurd, bogus claim about the Times. Result? Cohen dismisses his dissembling as “silly”—as he trashes Clinton’s character, much as his cohort trashed Gore’s.

In our view, someone should tell our “progressive” Post pundit that Whitewater ended up as a bust. It has been a full twelve years since Lyons began to make this clear. But on our side, we hate to complain—and we seem completely unable to see the modern press as it is.

COMMENTERS: We insist on saying it one more time: Kevin is a superlative analyst. But what restrains our brightest liberal leaders from seeing the shape of the modern press? For the record, many commenters responded to Kevin’s post in pretty much the way we did. But there, on the cover of Vanity Fair, was a tribute to the way we all have failed in the past.

Note: In November 2001, Rolling Stone published this superb piece by Eric Boehlert about the press corps’ trashing of Gore. Like Peretz, Boehlert did a superlative job, sketching the shape of this cosmic scandal. (Its effect on world history wasn’t clear yet.) And the liberal world did what it does best when the mainstream press corps’ conduct is involved. Handed Boehlert’s superlative piece, we sat and we stared into air.

Six years later, Vanity Fair correctly assessed the state of play: This story would be news to its readers. Need we make the obvious point? If a Republican had been treated this way, the screaming would have been loud and endless. Just what keeps our stumbling side from confronting the world as it is?