CITIZEN DREW! Elizabeth Drew considers a thoughtMcCain conned the press in the past: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2008
HOW TO SPOT RACISTS IN SWEAT PANTS: By now, Alaskans have surely suffered enough! The New York Times sent Maureen Dowd to Wasillaand just like that, she showcased her skill at spotting rube racists in sweat pants:
Next time around, Betty Necas, 39, may know to avoid Maureen Dowd.
Not since Capucine starred in North to Alaska has so unlikely a lady ventured north to the 49th state. Earlier in the current campaign, Dowd amused her own simpering self by calling Obama legally blonde; by comparing him to Scarlett OHara; and by describing him as a wide range of boys. Today, the lady redeems herself by locating red-state racists. And darlings! They shop in their sweat pants!
Note to Dowd: Wal-Mart shoppers have been calling white Democrats names over the course of the past sixteen years. You never found this name-calling noteworthy before this, since it also was coming from you.
(Note on method: Was Necas responding to a question about race? Dowd forgot to say.)
WHAT DO WHITE WOMEN WANT: Since we enjoy blaming George Stephanopoulos, lets start with his overstatement. On Sundays This Week, he said the thing that everyone else had been saying:
That was a 20-point swing toward McCain, after Hockey Mom Palin was picked. The big swing had been announced on the Posts front page by over-certain Jon Cohen:
Wow! There you saw that 20-point swingexcept Cohen forgot to voice a disclaimer. These data were based on a fairly small sample of white womena smaller sub-set of the larger group polled. Because this sample was fairly small, it would yield a fairly large margin of error. As such, you couldnt be sure that a 20-point swing had really occurred among white women. Indeed, the possibility of error was larger here than is the norm with key data from polls.
But so what? All good pundits began to marvel at that 20-point swing to McCain. Until this morning, when the New York Times reported its own brand-new poll. Who do white women favor now? In paragraph 2, Robin Toner reported a change in the weather:
Uh-oh! In this latest New York Times/CBS poll, white women seem to have shifted toward Obama! Toner supplies the details:
Say what? According to this brand new poll, Obama has gained seven points among white women since the pit bull with lipstick got picked. But all this past week, weve been hearing about a twenty-point swing among white womena swing the other way!
Toner keeps things fairly smooth today, using words like suggested. But in all these polls, a limited numbers of white women were sampled, thus producing large margins of error. No poll can ever tell you exactly how large a switch may have occurred among some group. But in these cases, the margins of error were especially high. In reality, we never knew that a 20-point jump toward McCain had really occurred. Nor do we actually know today that Obama has gained seven points.
But so what? All over cable, pundits have been loudly pimping that 20-point jump toward McCain. Did that gigantic jump really occur? We dont know nowand they didnt know then. But remember: Americans pundits are technically weakand they enjoy rattling off simple tales.
CITIZEN DREW: Yesterday, it was Elizabeth Drew who sadly announced her switch away from beloved McCain. She too has flipped on this greatest saint, she sadly announced at Politico. And breaking up was hard to do, as it has been for so many others. I have been a longtime admirer of John McCain, Drew sobbed as she started her piece. Indeed: I published a positive book about him, Citizen McCain, she soon confessed. (The book appeared in 2002.)
Why had Drew once admired McCain? At the start of her confession, she outlined the old love affair. But lets give Drew a bit of credit for what shes willing to say in this passage. Unlike others who have recently flipped, Drew admits that the saint she once loved may have fooled her in the past:
Ouch! Kinsley, Cohen, Marcus and Klein have insisted that the man they revered has now unaccountably changed. It isnt that they misjudged McCain; no, the once-great man is now different. To her credit, Drew is willing to consider a different possibilitythe possibility that she and her colleagues got conned by a slick politicians maneuvers.
But if Elizabeth Drew got conned by McCain, one must say thisthe conning was easy. Late in her piece, Drew explains why she decided, starting in 2006, that McCain was not as great as shed thought. She posts a tough brief against McCain. But its hard to see which part of her brief was hidden in 1999.
Why did Drew change her mind on McCain? Her explanation includes this:
Good God! When it came to domestic issues, McCain was little more than a rollicking clown during Campaign 2000. In December 1999, he formally released his health plana health plan whose bungles were instantly obvious. (It was almost laughably sketchy, Joe Klein later wrote. Even the accompanying fact sheet was filled with errors.) Later, speaking with Jonathan Chait, McCain displayed an astounding ignorance of his own budget planan awkward, embarrassing ignorance. But the press corpspeople like Drewagreed to look away from these car wrecks, and from a string of others. (Many profiles of McCain included an amused account of some domestic issue or other on which hed made the worlds most clueless remark. For some examples, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/4/07.) Theres a certain lack of seriousness in McCain? He does not appear to be a reflective man, or very interested in domestic issues? If Drew didnt suspect these things when she wrote her book, she ought to retiretoday.
A bit later, Drew says this:
His willingness to lie repeatedly? Well let Drew decide when McCain is lying, but he endlessly misstated a wide range of matters during Campaign 2000. McCain himself later said that he lied about the confederate flag matter, and he fairly plainly lied about the anti-Bush robo-calls he paid for in Michigan. Meanwhile, he endlessly misstated Bushss budget plan, and he paraded about making a claim about Gore and the Buddhist temple that was cutting, and baldly inaccurate. But the press corps laughed and clowned through all that. You see, they were on a saints side.
One more part of Drews lament deserves direct approach. One glances away in embarrassment when Drew pens these mournful lines:
His cultivation of the press now seem to have been a maneuver, Drew says. One is embarrassed to think that she didnt suspect this in real time. Regarding McCains embarrassment over the Keating Five scandal, lets recall how McCain framed this matter in real time. In November 1999, Jill Abramson reviewed the episode in the New York Times:
As with every event in his adult life, McCain sought sympathy for what he had done by framing it in terms of his POW years. And this tended to work with the press corps. In her report, Abramson said McCain had been exonerated. In fact, the Senate Ethic Committee had ruled him guilty of exercising poor judgment.
Whats the state of John McCains soul? We dont know how to answer that question. But plainly, McCain was never the sanctified saint invented by our childish press corps. (They invented this saint even as they were inventing an equal-and-opposite demon named Gore.) In her profile, Drew at least is willing to say that she may have misjudged McCain in the pastin effect, that she may have been conned by the sanctified solon. Kinsley, Cohen, Marcus and Klein just arent willing to go there. Youll also note that none of these pundits have ever explained that other key point. Theyve never explained why they demonized Gorewhy they put George Bush where he is.
Drew at least is willing to say that she may have misjudged McCain. For a more typical gang of pugs, such outrageous thoughts cannot stand.