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Daily Howler: When will pundits decide that the ''Freak Show'' has to be cited--and stopped?
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THE END OF AN ERA—NOT! When will pundits decide that the “Freak Show” has to be cited—and stopped? // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2006

POST-MORTA: On a set of questions:

Was Karl Rove ever a “genius?” This script got its start in Campaign 2000, when Rove’s guy lost the popular vote. (Bush led in the polls by 15 points when the genius’ campaign started, in June 1999.) Beyond that, it isn’t hard to be a “genius” if the mainstream press corps is prepared to accept every BS thing your guy says. One example: Around noon on the day after Bush and Gore’s first debate, Bush began lying his keister off about the effects of his tax cut proposal. Earlier that day, on Good Morning, America, Bush had seemed to agree with Gore’s claim that 43 percent of his tax cut would go to the top one percent. But around noon, Bush and the campaign began releasing a blizzard of absurd (and contradictory) statistical claims—laughably misleading presentations designed to make it seem that Al Gore had been lying again. Needless to say, the press corps pretended not to notice the sheer absurdity of the Bush camp’s presentations. Again: It isn’t hard to be a “genius” when the mainstream press is prepared to accept every dumb-ass thing your guy says. For Republican consultants, it wasn’t hard to be a genius under the rules of the late Clinton years.

Was Michael Steele ever a talented candidate? He spent his entire campaign trying to obscure his policy views—even trying to confuse the voters about which party he was in! To the press, of course, this was a sign of his “talent.” Of course, we can remember the days when this cohort pretended to be deeply upset at the thought that a hopeful might be “reinventing” himself. Translation: This fatuous group doesn’t even pretend to be consistent from one situation to the next. Now, Steele seems headed for the RNC—a place where his instinctive dissembling will likely serve him well. Steele seems to be an affable person—but his campaign was an absolute joke. Boo hoo—Steny called me a slave! Absolutely ridiculous.

Do Dems face a structural disadvantage in the House? In April and again in October, Paul Krugman said/suggested that the Dems would need to win by seven points just to break even in the House. In October, Morton Kondracke said the same thing, citing Democratic strategists. But that doesn’t seem to be how it turned out—at least in this election. (Who knows? In the future, results may vary.) Kevin Drum has spiked his vote totals in the end zone (thereby adding to our understanding). You know what to do—just click here.

THE END OF AN ERA—NOT: We strongly recommend Lynn Duke’s profile of Nancy Pelosi in this morning’s Washington Post. Pelosi grew up down the street from us in Baltimore’s Little Italy, where her father was a working-class mayor. Duke takes it from there:
DUKE (11/10/06): Theirs was the politics of the New Deal, of the hand up for those who were down.

"It was always about the progressive economic agenda for a fair economy, where many Americans, all Americans, could participate in the economic success of our country," Pelosi said yesterday when asked about the influence of her family's politics on her own.

"What I got from them was about economic fairness," Pelosi said. "That was the difference between Republicans and Democrats all those years ago." She also learned about the power of loyalty, both extending it and enforcing it.

And even though the D'Alesandros could have moved away from the neighborhood's narrow streets and tight rowhouses, they stayed, no matter the patriarch's success.
"She wasn't born with a silver spoon, growing up around here," an 84-year-old Little Italy denizen tells Duke. "She grew up like the rest of us.” But then again, somewhat differently: “When she wasn't racing to school at St. Leo's in her blue uniform or buying sweets in Mugavero's Confectionery or playing on front stoops up and down the block, Little Nancy sometimes worked the front desk at the family home at 245 Albemarle St., taking down the requests and sad stories of the folks who arrived to seek help from Big Tommy, her dad.”

Of course, many Americans will now be hearing about a different Pelosi. As has been the norm for the past fifteen years, much that they hear will be factually false and/or logically bogus—and it will of course be tied to highly evocative phrases. For example, here’s Bill O’Reilly, doing his best “Tailgunner Joe” shtick on Monday’s Today Show:
LAUER (11/6/06): Let's say the Democrats—and pure speculation right now—the Democrats take control of the House. That means Nancy Pelosi of Cali—

O'REILLY: San Francisco values.

LAUER: Nancy Pelosi of California's going—

O'REILLY: No!

LAUER: —to become the speaker of the House. You called her “the wicked witch.”

O'REILLY: Yeah.
Soon, Tailgunner Bill was explaining those “San Francisco values”—and, as usual, misinforming Lauer’s viewers:
O'REILLY (11/6/06): I don't have anything against her, you know, personally. But I don't know what she's talking about, Lauer. You know, how are you going to fight these jihadists? All right? Your city passed a referendum banning military recruiting on every campus in town. What’s that all about, Miss Speaker? You know you've got to zero in, and this is why I don't think anybody's going to show up tomorrow [to vote]. Because you've got a losing war, or a stalemate war, a bloody mess. And then you've got Nancy Pelosi saying, “We don’t want you to come and recruit on our campuses.”
Were people frightened about this “wicked witch?” God knows Mr. O has been trying! Unfortunately, he has also been telling them things that are false; for example, Pelosi didn’t support the recruitment ban—something Bill acknowledged, under his breath, on that night’s O’Reilly Factor. “She did not support the ban of military people,” he could be heard to mutter during crosstalk, providing no context for his remark. But then, moments before, Michelle Malkin had also been spreading the logic. “I mean, she is what San Francisco is,” Malkin sweetly declared.

Malkin’s statement captured O’Reilly’s recent approach to Pelosi. Indeed, Tailgunner O has adopted an unusual approach in decrying the gentlelady’s “San Francisco values.” Here’s how it works: He rattles off things some San Franciscans have done—then imputes those views or actions to Pelosi, whether or not she supports them. Here’s how Bill explained his deathless “logic” to Chuck Schumer on Wednesday night:
SCHUMER (11/8/06): I think, you know, a lot of people, maybe yourself included, judge Nancy Pelosi wrong. She is from San Francisco, but she comes from a strong Italian-American political family from Baltimore, and she's a very pragmatic person. She's not going to do things—

O'REILLY: But I don’t want dinner with the woman. I just want her not to support unfettered abortion, legalize narcotics and other things, and her district does. So I have to judge her by her district, not by—again, I'm not looking for a big Italian meal from Ms. Pelosi. Although if she invites me, I'll consider it.
How does Mr. Bill “have to judge her?” Not by the things she herself has done—but “by her district!” Of course, that means that Mr. O can create a string of rhetorical horror shows for his viewers. Here he was on October 12, the evening he introduced his thoughtful “San Francisco values” concept:
O’REILLY (10/12/06): Nancy Pelosi is a committed secular progressive who embraces San Francisco values. Those are: a massive federal government that dispenses entitlements paid for primarily by affluent Americans. That is called income redistribution, or the shorthand, "tax the rich." San Francisco values also seek to exclude spirituality from the public square but embrace displays like the Bay City's gay pride parade, where Christianity is often mocked and demeaned.

Now, I’m not saying Congresswoman Pelosi is on board with that, but I am saying her district wants to ban military recruiting while setting up city-wide pot shops, and that San Francisco is now perhaps the most far-left city the United States has ever seen.
There we see Mr. O’s deathless “logic.” No, Pelosi herself isn’t “on board with that.” But boo! I’ll scare you by citing it anyway! As he did, he mentioned that ban on military recruiting—the thing his “witch” didn’t support.

But then, this has gone on for the last fifteen years. And we Dems and libs have been remarkably passive about it. We’ve let a long string of Tailgunner Bills pollute our discourse in such ways; at one point, this kind of cracked pottery actually changed U.S. history, sending George W. Bush to the White House. Now, another Big Dem has begun to emerge—and the “Freak Show” is getting itself cranked again. That produces an obvious question: This time, how will we respond?

For years, we’ve watched as Democratic and liberal elites permit this utter nonsense to flourish. Here’s a question: Isn’t it time for smart, decent pundits to defend our discourse against these approaches? Such pundits said nothing while Gore was slimed. Isn’t it time they rethought that?

Yesterday, E. J. Dionne declared the end of an era (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/9/06). His column was right as far as it went—but the “Freak Show” era is still going strong. Will decent journalists ever decide to stand and challenge this crackpot culture? Will they decide to call the “Freak Show” by name? Will they say that it just has to stop?

A MASTERFUL WORDSMITH: The San Francisco Chronicle—still able to reason—responded to the burgeoning spin, from O’Reilly and others, about those “San Francisco values:”
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE EDITORIAL (11/6/06): It's easy to caricature the fringe elements of our politics and culture—the medical-marijuana clubs that cross the line into party halls, the wacky supervisors who say the outrageous for 15 seconds of fame, the street fairs for adults only. Just remember, San Francisco didn't send any of these characters to Congress. It sent Nancy Pelosi, a representative of great decorum and considerable ability...
Somehow, the Chronicle is able to distinguish Pelosi from her city’s “wacky supervisors.” Mr. O responded that night—and asserted the pride of authorship:
O’REILLY (11/6/06): Our pals at the San Francisco Chronicle address the “San Francisco values” deal today. By the way, I believe I coined that term.
Sorry, Bill! You’ve bungled your facts once again! According to Nexis, a Shakespeare named Gingrich was using the deathless phrase first.