WHAT $5 MILLION BUYS! Chris Matthews tried to defend Obama. As always, he seemed unprepared: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2008
Belowa statistics guy speaks: Yesterday, we exchanged e-mails with a statistics pro about the Posts report on low-income students. Did the Post bungle its treatment, as we said? Below, we post the exchange.
Matthews claimed, throughout the show, that the McCain campaign was really trying to paint Obama as some sort of dangerous character. But it was sad to see the way he tried to frame Obamas connection to Ayers. Theyre both on the Democratic side, or left side of things, if you will, Matthews haplessly said. Of course, Matthews is almost always unprepared. This struck us as the latest example.
After all, it isnt just that Ayers is on the left side of things in Chicago. More specifically, he is tightly connected with the citys political establishmenteven with the citys mayor, Richard Daley. Whatever you may think of that fact, its a fact Obama supporters should stress in arguing the case the cable yakker was trying to make in that passage. For example, this is part of Scott Shanes news report in Saturdays New York Times:
Mayor Daley isnt a radical, a nut, a kook or a terrorist. His name is famous in American politicsand his middle name is Michael. If Mayor Daley works closely with Ayers, does it really make sense to think that Obama, as a young man in the mid-90s, should have shunned him? In a column in the Chicago Sun-Times, veteran Chicago journalist Lynn Sweet described this matter in more detail:
Sweet may be overstating a tad. But: Should the younger Obama have shunned Bill Ayers if those editorial boards did not? Whatever your answer to that might be, Mayor Daleys name belongs in any pro-Obama defense of this association. But last night, Matthews offered a vague and floundering characterization of Ayers political identity. He didnt say that Ayers works with Chicagos mainstream mayorthe one with that mainstream American name. Instead, he said that Ayers is on the Democratic side, or left side of things, if you will.
Why did Matthews offer so vague a characterization? Lets offer an educated guess: Most likely, Matthews was un- or under-prepared to discuss this topic. Most likely, he didnt know much about this matter, and made the best presentation he could. As long-time Hardball-watchers will know, Matthews almost never knows basic facts about the matters he raises. This was painfully apparent during Campaign 04, when he triedand failedto defend John Kerry against Swift boat guys who appeared on his show. Lawrence ODonnell was equally unprepared for those Swift boat discussions. As we described in real time, the two loud fellows ranted and railed, making fools of themselves in the process, doing nothing to clarify issues for viewersor to help Kerry advance.
Matthews is always under-preparedexcept when its time to advance his cohorts novelized narratives. (He was very good, in late 1999, at explaining the psychiatric disorders suggested by Gores three-button suits. He trashed Gore in such ways for two solid year, more aggressively than anyone else on cable.) Indeed, as late as last December, he still believed that Obamas familial connection to Islam was found on his mothers side of the family. We knowyoud think that couldnt be possible. But Matthews is paid $5 million per yearand in journalistic circles, its still very hard to get good help at that price.
Its hard to believe that anyone could be as clueless as this loud talker. But good news! In 2010, Pennsylvania Democrats may get a chance to elect him to the Senate.
THE END OF AN ERA: Joe Biden made some mistakes and odd statements last Thursdaybut pundits have tended to overlook them. Example: Given the vehemence of his presentation, its quite surprising that this giant error (we quote Michael Dobbs) has largely gone unremarked:
That was a ginormous misstatement. (For FactCheck.orgs treatment, click here. Careful, thoughat one point, its self-contradictory.) Bidens error has rarely been mentioned by pundits and columnists, who have tended to focus on Sarah Palins various misadventuresor on her vast, eye-blinking appeal. In recent days, weve even wondered if were present at the dawn of a new age in mainstream pseudo-journalism. Weve begun to wonder if a deeply destructive, 16-year era may be nearing its end.
For sixteen years, the mainstream press corps has reflexively adopted right-wing attacks against Major Dems. You could even accuse the Clintons of serial murdermainstream journalists wouldnt say boo. In his turn, Al Gore became the worlds biggest liarand his troubling suits had too many buttons, suggesting his psychiatric dysfunction. During this era, there was nothing so stupid that you couldnt say itif you said it against a Big Dem.
Within the mainstream press corps, pseudo-liberals widdled in their pants as these jihads occurred, politely staring off into air. At the pseudo-liberal journals, toilet-trained mommas boys kept their traps shut, hoping theyd get the next job at the Post.
You got what you got in the past eight years because these cowards rolled over and died. Pseudo-con lunacy ruled.
Recently, weve begun to wonder if this 16-year consensus might be nearing its end. In the minds of many mainstream journalists, financial disaster now joins the culture of war as legacies of pseudo-conservative rule; as weve put our ear to the ground in recent weeks, weve begun to wonder if these weak-minded hacks arent adjusting their novels accordingly. Example: Eight years ago this very month, the Gotham dough-boy known as Frank Rich was still pushing a deeply foolish ideaGeorge Bush and Al Gore were just peas in a pod, a fatuous pair of boomer princes. (Link below. In those days, it was a liberal view if you said that Gore was as bad as Bush, but no worse.) This week, though, Rich was found in the New York Times typing sheer nonsense like this:
To Rich, it was apparent that Palin thinks she will be president...and perhaps soon when she bizarrely extolled Truman as a small-town hero, as opposed to one of the many Republican vice presidents who fit that bill. Patently, this idea is sheer lunacy. But at long last, Richs lunacy tips against Republicans only as we decide who should go to the White House.
Was it bizarre when Palin cited Truman? Did it indicate that she hopes her mentor, McCain, will rapidly croak in office? In fact, extolling Truman is a familiar two-party ritual; at this point, its about as bizarre as saluting the flag or saying that the voters are smart. And in fact, there are very few Republican veeps who fit the bill Palin was seeking. Who was she supposed to extol? A small-town veep like Richard Nixon? A big-city guy like Spiro Agnew? (A Joe Six-Pack like the elder George Bush?) Only a crackpot could really believe that Palin cited Truman, in some part, because his president died in office. But over the course of the past sixteen years, our press corps has crawled with this kind of cracked pottery. During that period, the press corps persistently peddled perfect crap of this type against people with names like Clinton and Gore. In the past few weeks, weve begun to wonder if were seeing the end of that gruesome era.
You really have to be out of your mind to put perfect nonsense like that into print. But good God! Rich kept trashing Gore as a fake (to his bosom pal Imus) even after he saw An Inconvenient Truth. The big phony only began to kiss Gores keister when he won the Nobel Peace Prize! By that time, he had to fight off Arianna to do it!
People like Rich will always be kooksbut this may be the end of an era. No, theres no sign that their work will improve. But we sense that their aim may be changing.
Hard to believe, even now: In Sundays piece, Rich referred to Gores sarcastic sighing in 2000. It made us wonder what hed said in real time. We almost wish we hadnt looked, given the shape of this column.
No, Rich didnt mention that sarcastic sighing in his column about Bush and Gores first debate. But good God! Even then, Rich wouldnt abandon his great brilliant framework, the one he had debuted in March. Bush and Gore were peas in a poda pair of princely nobodies. (Headline: The Bland Leading the Bland.) One of the two was the Gap, Rich intonedthe other was the Banana Republic. Good God! Rich was still pimping that bull-sh*t in October, four weeks before we would vote:
What a cosmic fool Rich is! Even then, with weeks to go, he thought he was looking at two princely boomers in identical outfitsone the Gap, one the Republic. Hed introduced this brain-dead framework on March 7and he carried it right to the end.
Rich is a pompous foolalways has been. (If anything needs to go in a time capsule of America2000, it would be that heart-breaking column.) But then, his cohort is full of scripted ninniesand theyve long followed the RNC line. Is the end of that era dawning? That will depend on many things. But, to our watchful eye, a few stars have begun to align.
Final point: In the past sixteen years, youve suffered from terrible liberal leadership. Dont let your sense of team membership blind you to that blatant fact.
ABOUT THOSE LOW-INCOME STUDENTS: Did the Post bungle its recent report about low-income students? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/4/08. This e-mail exchange came later:
With lightning speed, we replied, adopting our e-mailers numbering system: