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Daily Howler: Angry villagers banded together, certain that Russert knew best
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RUSSERT KNOWS BEST! Angry villagers banded together, certain that Russert knew best: // link // print // previous // next //

RICH BEYOND COMPARE: We can now make the statement official: Frank Rich is simply insane. Or he’s just so insanely jealous of Gore that he’s willing to say any damn thing about Campaign 2000. In yesterday’s New York Times column, the High Manhattan Pseudo-Liberal blathered on—and on; and on—about Vile Clinton (this time, Hillary). But try to believe the first weird thing he typed up this fine day:
RICH (9/30/07): We are repeatedly told that with Barack Obama still trailing by double digits in most polls, the only way Mrs. Clinton could lose her tight hold on the nomination and, presumably, the White House would be if she were bruised in Iowa (where both John Edwards and Senator Obama remain competitive) or derailed by unforeseeable events like a scandal or a domestic terror attack.

If you buy into the Washington logic that a flawless campaign is one that doesn't make gaffes, never goes off-message and never makes news, then this analysis makes sense. The Clinton machine runs as smoothly and efficiently as a Rolls. And like a fine car, it is just as likely to lull its driver into complacent coasting and its passengers to sleep. What I saw on television last Sunday [when Clinton appeared on all five talk shows] was the incipient second coming of the can't-miss 2000 campaign of Al Gore.
“The can't-miss 2000 campaign of Al Gore?” What “can’t-miss campaign” can he possibly mean? Rich’s meaning wasn’t clear in this passage, but it’s worth recalling that Gore trailed Bush by 15 to 20 points in the national polls in the first half of 1999, when he began his run for the White House. Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial had just ended, and vacuous blowhards—blowhards like Rich—were still all a-flutter about it; plainly, they were taking their fury out on Candidate Gore. (Some of them came out and said so.) When did it seem, to any sane person, that Gore had been handed a “can’t-miss campaign?” Yesterday, we read a bit further, wondering if Rich would flesh out his meaning. And omigod! As he continued, his delusions deepened, as always seems to happen when Rich discusses the Clintons or Gore. As Rich continued, he offered a hall-of-mirrors account of the 2000 race—the one he helped hand to George Bush:
RICH (continuing directly): That Mr. Gore, some may recall, was not the firebrand who emerged from defeat, speaking up early against the Iraq war and leading the international charge on global warming. It was instead the cautious Gore whose public persona changed from debate to debate and whose answers were often long-winded and equivocal (even about the Kansas Board of Education's decision to ban the teaching of evolution). Incredibly, he minimized both his environmental passions and his own administration's achievements throughout the campaign.

He, too, had initially been deemed a winner, the potential recipient of a landslide rather than a narrow popular-vote majority. The signs were nearly as good for Democrats then as they are now. The impeachment crusade had backfired on the Republicans in the 1998 midterms; the economy was booming; Mr. Gore's opponent was seen as a lightweight who couldn't match him in articulateness or his mastery of policy, let alone his eight years of Clinton White House experience.
Never mind that slur about the teaching of evolution, a slur Rich will never stop advancing. Truly, that highlighted statement is astounding. “The signs were nearly as good for Democrats [in Campaign 2000] as they are now?” Once again, an utter fantasy—as is the ludicrous claim that Gore “had initially been deemed...the potential recipient of a landslide.” Let’s state those unfortunate facts once again: Gore trailed Bush, by as much as 20 points, in the first half of 1999, when the two began their campaigning. (By contrast, in the latest Fox News poll, Clinton leads Giuliani by seven. For Dems, signs are a lot better.) And of course, the nation’s pundits were calling Gore every name in the book as he trailed Bush in 1999—and were inventing a series of “lies” he had supposedly uttered. Of all people, Rich should remember that history well; after all, he had invented the first of these “lies,” the Love Story nonsense, in December 1997. In March 1999, Rich’s colleagues dragged out his old counter-factual slander, and they hounded Gore with the ludicrous tale all through the 2000 campaign. They added “invented the Internet” and “discovered Love Canal”—and in the process, they invented Bush’s route to the White House. And yes: This all began with Rich’s dissembling in 1997, a fact this pompous and stupid man has somehow forgotten. Again.

But then, has anyone ever dissembled as much on any subject as Rich dissembles on the subject of Gore? In the passage we quote above, Rich seems to applaud “the firebrand who emerged from defeat, speaking up early against the Iraq war and leading the international charge on global warming.” But this is all reinvention. What happened in the fall of 2002, when Gore spoke up against Iraq? Of course! As always, Rich trashed him as a fake and a phony! Rich essentially lied about what Gore had said on the Today show, and he insisted that Gore was just saying these things because he wanted to run for the White House again (links below). “[O]f course he is still running for president,” the pompous scribe all-knowingly wrote; he added this, with astounding condescension: “[W]hat else does the guy, a political lifer, have to do with himself?” But Gore didn’t run for president again; instead, he found something else to do with himself, becoming the firebrand who helped change the world’s discourse on global warming. And what happened in the spring of 2006, when Gore’s firebrand film first appeared? Of course! As always, Rich trashed him as a fake and a phony! Rich mocked Gore’s film from stem to stern—and, as always, he brilliantly knew that Gore was just running for president again. Here’s one small part of what this stupid man said about the film that helped change the world’s discourse—the film he agrees to praise today so he can trash another Dem that much harder:
RICH (5/28/06): If ''An Inconvenient Truth'' isn't actually a test drive for a presidential run, it's the biggest tease since Colin Powell encouraged speculation about his political aspirations during his 1995 book tour. Mr. Gore's nondenial denials about his ambitions (he has ''no plans'' to run) are Clintonesque. Told by John Heilemann of New York magazine that his movie sometimes feels like a campaign film, Mr. Gore gives a disingenuous answer that triggers an instant flashback to his equivocation about weightier matters during the 2000 debates: ''Audiences don't see the movie as political. Paramount did a number of focus-group screenings, and that was very clear.'' You want to scream: stop this man before he listens to a focus group again!
As always, the “Clintonesque” and “disingenuous” Gore was just so fake, so ambitious, so phony! For the record, Rich’s trashing of Gore’s brilliant film got even dumber in other parts of his column—and he quickly ran to speak with Imus to help us see how fake Gore is! So you’ll remember, here’s part of what this banal man told his pal about Gore’s film, the one he’s now out there praising:
RICH (6/1/06): Well, it’s, it’s like at the high end of those “good-for-you” movies that you used to have to watch in high school. It’s a compelling lecture about global warming with a lot of slides and power point stuff and intermingled with it, weirdly, are these sort of scenes from Gore’s personal life and scenes of him now sort of, you know, shlepping his own suitcase through security in airports and looking sort of like Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman.

[Group laughter from Imus and Bernie]

I guess that’s supposed to give it kind of a poignance, that this guy is on his last legs and is saving the world. There’s one other interesting, odd thing about it. Every single time they can, they show the logo of Apple computer—he’s got an Apple laptop throughout the movie—and then you find out later, reading, that he’s on the board of Apple. So that’s the sort of commercial aspect of it.
What a fool. Simply put, there are few ways on earth to get dumber than Rich. Today, as he praises “firebrand” Gore so that he can trash timid Clinton, we hope you can see a second key fact—there’s no way on earth to get faker.

Yesterday’s column by Rich is pure porn—but he’s done this for the past ten years, any time Gore’s name is involved. And then, there was Dowd, Rich’s original partner in crime, this time slurring the “hellish housewife” and “nag” named Hillary Clinton. (Gender hatred much?) But then, Dowd and Rich have long been disturbed—sick, untruthful, unlovely, unwell. There’s much more to be said about these two columns, but let’s make sure we understand this before we stop for today:

The notion that Gore was handed a “can’t-miss campaign”—the notion that he “had initially been deemed...the potential recipient of a landslide;” the notion that “the signs were nearly as good for Democrats then as they are now”—well, again, it’s just complete fantasy. It’s hard to see why these statements by Rich shouldn’t be regarded as lies—the kind of lies in which he’s long specialized. But over the years, it has been astounding to see the way this group has been willing to misstate the facts about Campaign 2000. Of course, if you’d played Rich’s role in that history-changing campaign, you might find yourself inclined to lie about what happened too.

TOMORROW: They’re baaaaack! More Rich and Dowd.

Also: More on Rich’s treasured claim about Gore and the teaching of evolution. Rich seems to recite this claim in his sleep—but then, he also said that An Inconvenient Truth was “at the high end of those ‘good-for-you’ movies that you used to have to watch in high school.” This is a man who is deeply unwell. And in his pomposity, he seems prepared to work, very hard, to elect a Republican. Again.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: In late 1997, Rich and Dowd invented the Love Story nonsense. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/5/06.

In May 2006, Rich mocked Gore’s “high school film.” But then, all through Campaign 2000, Rich insisted there was no real difference between the two candidates, Bush and Gore. You had to be a fool to believe it; Rich proclaimed it to the skies. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/9/06, for all parts of our six-part series.

Special report: Russert happens!

BE SURE TO READ EACH THRILLING INSTALLMENT: When NBC News fronts a White House debate, it’s inevitable: Russert happens! Be sure to read each thrilling installment of our current series:
PART 1: A multimillionaire couldn’t get over the cost of John Edwards’ vile haircuts. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/27/07.

PART 2: Russert bungled Social Security, as he has done through the years. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/28/07.
Today, in Part 3, The Dean of all pundits insists that a Raccoon knows best:

PART 3—RUSSERT KNOWS BEST: They’re much more like a fraternal order than like something you’d call a “press corps.” And they tend to get extremely upset when their imperial leaders gets dissed. In effect, NBC’s Tim Russert is “Head Raccoon” to this simpering gang of Amos-and-Andies. And after Wednesday’s Democratic debate, all the villagers voiced their concern with the thing that vile Clinton had done.

How inane is this simpering crew? Yesterday, The Dean, David Broder, toted the list of Clinton’s deeply troubling errors. And omigod! In his second paragraph, Broder revealed the way these fatuous folk really do see such events:
BRODER (9/30/07): On the flight from Washington to New Hampshire to cover Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate, I was joined by a Hillary Clinton staffer who was headed to Hanover to prep her for the encounter with her seven rivals. "I expect fireworks," he said, anticipating that the challengers would try to shake up the race at one of the last confrontations before the January voting.

It didn't happen. There were several jabs—from Joe Biden, John Edwrads, Bill Richardson and Mike Gravel—but Barack Obama, who is her closest pursuer in the polls, had lost his voice to a bad cold and mostly stood mute. And Clinton smothered every question with a blanket of conditional responses, so reluctant to take a clear stand that she frustrated NBC's Tim Russert, the designated questioner at the two-hour MSNBC talkathon.
Go ahead—just laugh out loud! Hillary Clinton “frustrated” Russert! Among the dim-wits we still call a press corps, it simply mustn’t be done!

And so the Raccoons, with their latest Group Story, have set out to punish the frustrating hopeful. But how inanely does this group state a case? Just how dumb are they willing to be? Here’s The Dean’s first example of Clinton’s misconduct—his first example of the way she adopted the “classic front-runner pose” at the debate Wednesday night:
BRODER (9/30/07): Her posture during the debate was the classic front-runner pose: Don't make waves. The question is whether she can go through the next three months saying little or nothing without jeopardizing her lead in the contest.

The highly regarded Granite State poll released just before the debate showed Clinton had expanded that advantage, drawing 43 percent of the support, compared to 20 percent for Obama, 12 percent for Edwards and 6 percent for Richardson.

During the debate, she rarely came out of a defensive crouch, as if determined to protect her favored position. Answering the first question, she said her goal would be to withdraw all American troops from Iraq by 2013, but "it is very difficult to know what we are going to be inheriting" from the Bush administration, so she cannot make any pledge—as Richardson and others feel free to do. Troops might be needed for counterterrorism work for many years.
How dumb are big Raccoons willing to be? To Broder, Clinton’s answer about Iraq represented “the classic front-runner pose.” After all, she was at 43 percent in that poll, so she could afford to adopt it! But of course, Obama—at 20—and Edwards—at 12—adopted exactly the same position! Slickly, Broder fails to mention that fact; he knows the other Raccoons will cheer, and recite his scripts, no matter how dumbly he supports them.

The Dean offered two more tortured examples before he got to the actual problem: Clinton had stonewalled the Head Raccoon on his most favoritest subject! How foolish are the hand-picked grandees who meet inside the Grand Raccoon Lodge? Amazingly, here’s the way their tired old Dean described Clinton’s “greatest evasiveness:”
BRODER: Her greatest evasiveness occurred on the volatile issue of Social Security. Biden, the first to answer Russert's question about steps to save the system from bankruptcy, said he would lift the cap on payroll taxes and raise additional millions from people making more than $97,000 a year.

But when it was Clinton's turn, she argued that sound fiscal policies and economic growth could eliminate the problem—claiming that her husband's experience proved that point. Russert knew better and corrected her math, but she was adamant: "I'm not putting anything on the proverbial table"—meaning no painful tax increases or benefit cuts—until the budgetary and overall economic fixes are attempted. That is a position that would be hard to maintain in office, but it offers maximum protection for the campaign.
Good God—to think that he actually typed it! Russert knew better and corrected her math! Nothing could better capture the imperial tone these tired old fixers adopt toward the world. Beyond that, it would, of course, be hard to overstate how foolish The Dean’s statement is.

Is Social Security a “volatile issue?” We’re not sure what “volatile” means in this context, but it certainly isn’t a serious issue—sorry, Raccoons, not this year. For years, Broder and the rest of the order tried to pretend that it was a vast problem—and that we’d all be much better off if we’d just set up those private accounts! (Russert and Klein called Gore every name in the book when he opposed the idea in May 2000.) But privatization went straight down the lodge’s clogged drains way back when, in 2005—and Alan Greenspan told Russert, just eight days ago, that Social Security is a fairly minor problem (text below). But the Raccoons get mad when they don’t get their way, and they still prefer to recite the rants they’ve already memorized. And Oh! Our! God! He actually said it! When Clinton failed to bow and scrape to the chubby-cheeked Head of the Order, Broder actually typed these words: Russert knew better and corrected her math! And oh yes, the real complaint about this vile woman. The real offense: But she was adamant!

Truly, it’s just the way it seems. These are the fattest and dumbest raccoons who have ever clattered their way through the garbage cans outside the lodge.

But then, the others all lined up to say the same thing—Healey and Collins, for instance. (We Irish! We always fall into line.) Healey, of course, is a useless child, typing his thoughts on the way Clinton laughs; it deeply troubles a lad like Patrick when a lady cuts loose with a “Cackle.” So let’s ignore his flyweight statement about SS—about the way Clinton failed to address it. Instead, here is the utterly useless Gail Collins, allowed to type her worthless pap from the Ladies’ Auxiliary. We apologize for the length of the quote, but Collins really was feeling it:
COLLINS (9/29/07): [Clinton] thinks she's got it nailed as long as she doesn't make any mistakes, and that can be a trap. It is possible to be so careful that you drive everybody crazy, make them so itchy for adventure, for a noble mission instead of a winnable hand of poker, that they'll be willing to undo all your hard work just to juice things up.

During the latest Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton was exactly that kind of candidate. When she was asked if she favored lifting the cap on Social Security taxes (currently only the first $97,500 in income is taxed), all she would say was that she wanted to ''put fiscal responsibility first.''

As opposed to all the other people who want to put it last.

When the moderator, Tim Russert, asked whether she was completely ruling out the idea of lifting the cap, this is what Clinton had to say:

''Well, I take everything off the table until we move toward fiscal responsibility and before we have a bipartisan process. I don't think I should be negotiating about what I would do as president. You know, I want to see what other people come to the table with.''

This is an excellent example of how to string together the maximum number of weasel words in one sentence. It was also pretty typical of Hillary's entire evening...
“As opposed to all the other people who want to put it last!” That jibe is so spectacularly dumb that we hope you won’t make us unpack it.

As you can see, Collins was working very hard to Say The Same Thing That Dean Broder Would. Because, by the weekend, it was perfectly clear that this was what all good Racoons would be saying. (Matthews and Russert established the script in the first hour post-debate.) And none of the Raccoons would say what was true: That Russert had wasted everyone’s time with a useless, incoherent discussion. That it’s easy to fix any future shortfall in Social Security—a future shortfall which may never exist. That it’s Medicare where the real problem lies—but Russert was too dumb to go there. That Clinton declined to say such things—but was being polite to the Head Raccoon when she kept such thoughts to herself.

What would Clinton do to “fix” Social Security? Raccoons, stop rooting through the trash and listen to the answer for once: Nothing! She would likely do nothing to fix the program, because there’s nothing much about it to fix! Your fat-faced, fatuous Head Raccoon wasted everyone’s time with this segment, as he’s done for many years. But within this fraternal order’s old lodge, you’re supposed to bow to the Head Raccoon. And so Broder typed the funniest frameworks ever presented by these old hacks: Clinton had “frustrated” Head Raccoon Russert! Russert “knew better and corrected her math!” But omigod! Even after correction by the Raccoon, the troubling female “was adamant.”

And Oh. Our. God. Can you even believe where Russert went on Meet the Press?

TOMORROW—PART 4: We still can’t believe that he said it. And of course, even Smiley semi-laughed.

WHAT GREENSPAN SAID: Good God! Russert knew better and corrected her math! And then, the key part: But she was adamant! Next to these utterly worthless old mossbacks, Alan Greenspan really is hip. And just so you can read it again, here’s what Greenspan told Russert on Meet the Press, just three days before the Raccoon conducted last week’s great debate:
RUSSERT (9/23/07): Do you believe either political party has stepped up to the crisis we face with Social Security and Medicare in the coming years?

GREENSPAN: I do not.

RUSSERT: How big a crisis will that be?

GREENSPAN: Social Security is not a big crisis. We are approximately 2 percent points of payroll short over the very long run. It's a significant closing of the gap, but it's doable, and doable in any number of ways.

Medicare is a wholly different issue... We're going to double the size of the retired population, and by all of the analysis I go through in the book, it's very evident to me that we are not able to actually deliver on the Medicare we are promising.
Why did Clinton say what she did? We don’t have the slightest idea; amazingly, other candidates said truly ridiculous things in the course of the SS discussion. But trust us as we offer you the most obvious statement on the face of the earth: Clinton understands this topic much, much better than Tim Russert does! Russert remains a chubby-cheeked Head Raccoon, frolicking out back, with all the spilled garbage. When will we liberals find a way to deliver this news to the public?