WHO WILL OPPOSE THE WAGE CUT? Lou Dobbs asks a good question on Nagin. Jesse declines to respond: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2005
MILLIONAIRE COLLEGE PRESIDENT VALUES: Weve long discussed those Millionaire Pundit Values, the values driving your lackluster press corps. But such values drive most of our modern culture. On the front page of todays Post, Susan Kinzie describes the world of a D.C. college president. Well highlight our favorite element:
KINZIE (9/22/05): An independent report on the personal and travel expenses of suspended American University President Benjamin A. Ladner and his wife questions more than a half-million dollars spent over the past three years, including a family engagement party that cost hundreds of dollars per person, "professional development" trips for the couple's personal chef to Paris, London and Rome, and a lunch of more than $5,000 hosted by Nancy Ladner for a garden club...Such are the values that now obtain atop our academic prig-pile. But then, such values have come to dominate American culture over the course of the past fifty years, as we described in our incomparable 1994 one-man show, Material World. (Washingtons insightful City Paper: Bob Somerby turns a stand-up act into stand-up art...Material World is high comic art.)
These values are found at the top of the press corps—and at the top of many institutions painted as centers of liberal values. Thats why the pseudo-liberalism we have described now dominates so much of our politics.
WHO WILL OPPOSE THE WAGE CUT: Josh Marshall has been doing superlative work about the presidents Gulf Coast Wage Cut—the Bush Admins suspension of the Davis-Bacon act for post-Katrina rebuilding projects. (For an early post on the subject by Josh, just click here.) Predictably, the action has produced little reaction from the mainstream press corps (the New York Times did run a scathing editorial on September 10). Last night, though, Lou Dobbs did a lengthy segment about this matter. After a report by Lisa Sylvester and an interview with Ted Kennedy, Dobbs posed a question to Jesse Jackson. Dobbs made it clear that her disapproved of Bushs action—and he asked about a pair of Dem pols:
DOBBS (9/21/05): Well, let me ask you, Jesse: The mayor of New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana, why in the world aren't they protesting and representing their constituents in this? Because it is on the face of it—well, the nicest word I can put it is unreasonable, to allow open-ended contracts, cost-plus, and put a minimum—effectively, to reduce the minimum that workers will be paid.Where are Nagin and Blanco? he asked. But Jackson avoided an answer (in fairness, he may not have known):
JACKSON (continuing directly): Well, it is a federal bailout on the states' rights conditions deal. And they're using the excuse of the emergency to suspend prevailing wages which are below union wages, I might add. And to suspend affirmative action, to suspend workers' rights.Low-income workers are getting nailed by Bush—again. Why arent Nagin and Blanco speaking up? Jackson didnt opine.
We were pleased by Dobbs outlook—and intrigued by his question. Needless to say, this matter didnt intrude on Joyce Purnicks sloppy, fawning profile of Nagin in yesterdays New York Times—a profile in which she praised his distinctive shirts, but failed to ask why he wasnt supporting his regions low-income workers (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/21/05). But then, thats the nature of Manhattan pseudo-liberalism. Are lowlife rednecks being treated like dogs? Who on Gods good green earth cares?
Of course, Purnick did mention the fact, in passing, that Nagin was elected mayor with the support of the entrenched white business community. But that didnt seem to put questions into her head, or stop her from her addled gushing. (To Purnick, this was another sign that Nagin is just plain different.) Manhattan highbrow pseudo-liberals simply dont think about matters like that. After all, Millionaire Pundit Values define their horizon. Theyre enthralled by entrenched big-shots too.
NAGIN AND KERRY—AND ROVE: Some have asked if Nagin (who supported Bush in Campaign 2000) supported Kerry in Campaign 04. By that time, of course, Nagin was mayor—an official Dem—and yes, he ended up endorsing Kerry, although he didnt do so until after returning from the Democratic Convention. Heres the report in the Times-Picayune which announced his ringing endorsement:
RUCKER (8/7/04): While hes officially still neutral in the race for the 1st District congressional seat being vacated by Republican David Vitter, its no secret that New Orleans Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin may be throwing his weight behind Republican Bobby Jindal—again.Gee, thanks! One week earlier, the Times-Picayunes Stephanie Grace had described some back-channel chatter—chit-chat involving Karl Rove:
GRACE (7/29/04): [Nagin] may be the only local Democrat whos recently gotten a call from the other side, specifically Bush mastermind Karl Rove, who is well aware of Nagins business background and past willingness to cross party lines.As weve said, we dont know enough about New Orleans politics to judge Nagins performance in office. Nor can we tell you what he has or hasnt said about the Wage Cut. But weve been amused to see Dems and libs rush to endorse his Katrina performance despite his Bush-endorsing past—and to see the Times fall all over itself with praise of his celebrity. But then, thats pseudo-liberalism at its finest! Last night, Dobbs asked a good question: Will Nagin speak for working people? At the Times, of course, writers tend not to care about that.
By the way, did Nagin end up endorsing Jindal (R) for Congress? Sorry—we couldnt find the answer in our Nexis search.
HERBERT SEES NO EVIL: This morning, Bob Herbert simply had us roaring as he savaged incompetent Bush. But as weve told you again and again, big pundits refuse to tell you the truth about the conduct of their own cohort. Try to believe that he actually typed it, near the end of his piece:
HERBERT (9/22/05): There is a general sense now that things are falling apart. The economy was already faltering before Katrina hit. Gasoline prices are starting to undermine the standard of living of some Americans, and a full-blown home-heating-oil crisis could erupt this winter. The administration's awful response to the agony of the Gulf Coast has left most Americans believing that we are not prepared to cope with a large terrorist attack. And Osama bin Laden is still at large.As always, its the fault of the voters! But is it true? Did voters choose Bush because he seems like a nice guy, like someone who'd be fun at a barbecue? Some voters surely did; after all, Herberts cohort pushed this theme during Campaign 2000 until kingdom finally came. (Chris Matthews never stopped talking about it.) But then, many voters chose a president in that election because theyd been told, for two solid years, that his opponent was delusional and a big crazy liar. Indeed, the press corps astonishing War Against Gore was aggressively conducted in Herberts own paper—the same paper which invented the Whitewater hoax back in 1992. But Herbert didnt discuss that war at the time, and he refuses to mention it even today. Herberts heart is in the right place—but so is his wallet, right there in his pocket. Today, he takes the easy way out. But then, weve seen this again and again from big major pundits over the past dozen years.
WHAT HE SAID AT THE TIME: Remember what weve always told you; pundits never tell you the truth about their own precious cohort. Instead, they project its behavior onto others—onto late-night comedians, or onto the voters. And thats exactly what Herbert did in his final column of Campaign 2K.
How could Bush be so close, Herbert wondered, writing one day before the election. But here is his single reference to the press corps two-year war:
HERBERT (11/6/00): With the campaign in its final hours, Democrats are still wondering how a nation at peace and benefiting from the greatest economy in its history could consider deep-sixing a highly qualified vice president in favor of a man who frequently finds himself lost in the thickets of national policy...Herbert didnt even say who the medias fascination with the trivial was harming. But as he continued, he found the real demon. The Democrats had been ranting about Gores deficiencies, he weirdly said:
HERBERT (continuing directly): Forget all the chatter about education and prescription drugs and the finer points of a patients' bill of rights. For hard-core Republicans the big issues are the big tax cuts and the opportunity to raid Social Security, one of the Democratic Party's proudest achievements. George W. Bush has not wavered on those issues.Amazing, isnt it? According to Herbert, the Democrats had taken every opportunity to rant about Gore's deficiencies! As he continued, Herbert mentioned another problem the Gore camp had faced—but he absent-mindedly forgot to say who had been causing this problem:
HERBERT (continuing directly): The campaign has been anything but coherent. Now, with the election just hours away and Mr. Bush a half-step ahead in most polls, there is dismay among the party faithful.Herbert was right. From December 1999 on, Gore was portrayed as a viciously partisan fighter. And Herbert was right about something else: Gores campaign was not like that at all. But who had portrayed Gore in that dishonest manner? Duh! Herberts own colleagues—the mainstream press corps! (Links below.) But Herbert was too big a coward to say so (or to do so earlier, when it might have made a difference). He had his wallet to protect—and today, Bush sits in the White House, being torn up by Bob Herbert.
These people never tell you the truth about the conduct of their own cohort. A dissembler back then, a dissembler today. Say hello to our great liberal conscience.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: We dont think weve ever posted the full story on the Al-Gore-is-nasty-and-negative theme. But that theme was endlessly pimped during Campaign 2000—by the mainstream press corps! In December 1999, a string of pundits falsely claimed that Gore introduced Willie Horton to the voters, and they attacked his negativity as they pimped this bogus claim. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/1/02 to see their well-scripted statements. During this same period, the press was savaging Gore for his nasty negativity in daring to criticize Bradleys health plan. Even though they ended up saying that Gore was right in his claims, they still attacked him for being so negative! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/6/02, to see how absurd this finally became. And then, by the spring of 2000, Gore was savaged when he dared to criticize Bushs privatization proposal. Attack attack attack, they recited. Indeed, we mentioned this inane press corps onslaught this Tuesday. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/20/05, with links to prior reporting.
By the summer of 2000, of course, Gore was on the cover of the Atlantic Monthly—with a fang coming out of his mouth! The synopsis said it all: Gore was a ruthless combatant who will say whatever it takes to win, and who leaves opponents not just beaten but brutalized. To review this astonishing profile—by liberal pundit James Fallows—see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/11/00. Prepare to be fully amazed.
Its true! Gore was portrayed as a viciously partisan fighter. Indeed, he was portrayed that way all through the race; it was a major theme of Campaign 2000. But that theme was pushed by the mainstream press corps, and Bob Herbert knew the rules—he knew he mustnt say so. The Democrats had been ranting about Gore, he said! Today, George Bush is bungling the world—and Herbert is very upset.
WHY MUST THEY FIGHT: The Post tried to top the City Paper in its praise for Material World. Think Will Rogers without the corny rope tricks, or Thoreau with a credit card, the paper said, causing our cheeks to rouge. Somerby offers a rare treat—jokes based on ideas.
Of course, that was back when the Washington Post knew what it was talking about!