WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2003
EMINENT CANT: Russell Baker sat back from high table and he began blowing smoke. Why hadnt other Big Scribes criticized Bush in the way Krugman did? Only Krugman knew, he kept saying (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/21/03). Krugman had the professional skills needed to tell when the political rhetoric was nonsense. Not only that, his training as an economist enabled him to see what most journalists couldnt. Indeed, [f]ew [journalists] are equipped to challenge the mathematics and economic theory underlying the Bush budget. All these statements are complete, utter nonsense, but they make Powered Pundits feel good. According to Baker, his class didnt know. It feels better than telling the truththan saying that his powdered class has long since abandoned its role as stewards. Baker doesnt want to tell you the truththat the watchdogs arent working any more.
And what happens to your public discourse when its watchdogs fall asleep? In a phrase, Things fall apart. Your discourse is left to a striving classto a class which is willing to do and say anything in pursuit of its crackpot agendas. General Strangelove comes out to playand pundits pretend that his statements make sense. And your discourse is handed to Jonah Goldberg, typing the latest scripted cant in this mornings Washington Times:
GOLDBERG: Jimmy Carter never used the word malaise in his malaise speech. Abraham Lincoln never said, God must have loved the common people, he made so many of them.Youve read this cant a thousand times; people like Goldberg type what theyre handed. But Goldbergs claim is complete, utter nonsensenot that Bakers class will ever know.
Did President Bush ever say that the threat from Iraq was imminent? Goldberg puts the word inside quotes, and peddles his script to his readers. But did Bush ever say that the threat was imminent? If you speak English, he certainly did. For example, in his seminal speech of October 7, 2002, President Bush said this:
BUSH: Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proofthe smoking gunthat could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.According to Bush, the U.S. faced clear evidence of peril. In the face of that clear evidence, we couldnt wait for the final prooffor what might be a nuclear attack! Jonah Goldberg will type what hes told. But whatever you think of Bushs war in Iraq, for those who speak the English language, what Bush said in that speech is quite clear. There wasnt a bit of time to waste. And yes, Jonah, those words mean imminent.
But when stewards slumber, Things fall apart. Scripted robots type pure cant; your discourse is handed to the beasts. There is nothing so stupid they wont affirm itand see it repeated again and again. And why, oh why, are you reading this here? Why dont you read it from Bakers fine colleagues? Simple. Here at THE HOWLER, we alone have the professional skills needed to tell when the political rhetoric is nonsense. Not only that, our training as logicians enables us to see what most journalists cant. Indeed, few journalists are equipped to challenge the semantics underlying the Bush nonsense. And oh yes, one other thingwe arent part of the powdered class that puts its leisure ahead of your interests. When poodles like Baker walk away from their watch, its inevitable: Things fall apart.
TOMORROW: Things fall apart! Saving Strangelove.
BROOKS BROTHER: Yep, Bush-never-said-imminent is one of the scripts todays well-paid poodle is told he must type. So too another great script: Bushs-critics-are-driven-by-hatred. Indeed, doing exactly what hes been told, the poodle Brooks typed up that script it in his column for last Saturdays Times. When Dems opposed that $87 billion, David Brooks knew just why theyd done it. Their hatred for Bush is so dense, its hard for them to see through it to the consequences of their vote, he cut-and-pasted. And then, the scripted fellow jumped ugly. Saddam Hussein would be jubilant in [Nancy] Pelosis Iraq, the predictable lad bravely typed.
Well, its time for Brooks to get typing again! In this mornings Post, Jonathan Weisman bears quite a message: Senior advisers to President Bush will recommend that he veto a spending measure for Iraqs military and reconstruction needs if it requires Iraq to repay any of the money, White House officials said yesterday. So go ahead, David, we suggest you start typing! You knowabout how Bushs hatred of Congress is so dense, its hard for him to see through its consequences. Be sure to say this, as you did last Saturday: If Bushs arguments carry the day, our troops in Iraq will be reading about the ruination of our efforts to rebuild Iraq. And dont forget to say how jubilant Saddam will be in Bushs Iraq. Nor should you forget to say this: France, Russia and Syria dont oppose the Bremer plan, but Bush is to the left of Bashar al-Assad. Dont forget to say all those things! But oops, we forgotyou havent been scripted! And you know that Bakers fine, high class wont say a word about your descent into cant. Readers, things fall apart when watchdogs quit. If you doubt, it just read Brooks column.