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Daily Howler: Ruth Marcus catches George Bush. Incomparably, we catch ourselves
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WHY WE AREN’T COMPLETELY THANKFUL! Ruth Marcus catches George Bush. Incomparably, we catch ourselves: // link // print // previous // next //

HOLIDAY WORK STOPPAGE: We’ve been informed that Thanksgiving approaches. THE HOWLER returns on Monday.

WHY WE AREN’T COMPLETELY THANKFUL: During the recent election campaign, we noticed—or we thought we noticed—the same thing Ruth Marcus did. We noticed George Bush saying “Democrat Party” to refer to his opposition. And we thought—although we weren’t sure—that this was a new deal for Dubya. We took it as a possible sign that the Republicans knew they were in big trouble. If the president really had been instructed to go out and play this inane schoolboy game, they had been reduced to the dumbest appeal to the dumbest part of their party.

At any rate, Marcus also noticed this usage by Bush, as she notes in this morning’s Post. “The derisive use of ‘Democrat’ in this way was a Bush staple during the recent campaign,” she writes—after earning her stripes as a sensible centrist with this perplexing locution:
MARCUS (11/22/06): If he wanted to, President Bush could change the tone in Washington with a single syllable: He could just say "ic." That is, he could stop referring to the opposition as the "Democrat Party" and call the other side, as it prefers, the Democratic Party.
“As it prefers?” Ruthie! The Democratic Party doesn’t “prefer” to be called the Democratic Party—that’s the actual name of the party! Doubters can even confirm what we say. The name appears on this group’s letter head—and you can even check it out here, right at the Dem Party’s web site.

At any rate, Bush was willing to play the fool in hopes of dragging in talk-show conservatives—the blinkered breed who are endlessly played by a potent pseudo-con establishment. Just how childish can this group be? At one point, Marcus explains it:
MARCUS: Democrat Party was used, pardon the phrase, liberally by Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy. According to the Columbia Guide to Standard American English, “Democrat as an adjective is still sometimes used by some twentieth-century Republicans as a campaign tool but was used with particular virulence” by McCarthy, “who sought by repeatedly calling it the Democrat party to deny it any possible benefit of the suggestion that it might also be democratic”...

But Democrat-as-epithet has seen its fullest flowering—on talk radio, among congressional leaders and, more than with any of his predecessors, from the president himself—during the recent Republican heyday. As Hendrik Hertzberg pointed out in the New Yorker in August, the conservative Web site takes pains to scrub Associated Press copy “to de-'ic' references” to the party.
How childish is the branch of his party to which the president seemed to be stooping? When NewsMax syllabically cleanses its site, we think the answer is clear.

But then, who are really the stupid ones here? Perhaps it’s really us Democrats! For ourselves, we don’t think that contemporary kooky-con radio hosts say “Democrat Party” for the reason Marcus suggests—to “deny it any possible benefit of the suggestion that it might also be democratic.” We think they do so to establish a sniveling connection with their juvenile voter-listeners—voter-listeners who have an extensive alternate reality sketched out for them by these well-scripted hosts. When kooky-con voters hear “Democrat Party,” they know the Dems are being dumbly disrespected—just as they themselves used to do when they lurked on the schoolyard. But then, these voters get more than an alternate name; they get endless alternate versions of reality. Over the past fifteen years, for example, they have heard, again and again, a string of bogus mantras. Like these:
  • Bill Clinton’s haircut shut down LAX!
  • Al Gore said he invented the Internet!
  • When Reagan cut taxes, federal revenues rose!
  • Social Security will run out of money in the year 2040!
Aw heck, let’s even include: John Kerry seems French! Different problems afflict those statements, but they all represent flights from fact or logic. And guess what? Kooky-con voters hear such statements again and again. And again and again—and again and again—they see us Dems sitting silent.

It’s true. You have to be a moron—a child—to perform the cleansing Hertzberg described. But just this past Sunday, the Washington Post recycled the fourth of those well-crafted statements—and two of our fiery liberal leaders sat on C-SPAN and didn’t say squat (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/20/06). But then, that’s how we liberals and Democrats have responded to pseudo-con scripts over the course of the past fifteen years. When Gene Lyons wrote Fools for Scandal, we just sat and dozed and ignored it. (So did Ruth Marcus.) When Marcus’ cohort conducted its subsequent War Against Gore, we lazily sat that out too. Indeed, seven years later, we still won’t discuss it! You can’t make us discuss our own recent history. And you can’t make us correct bogus “facts” about our retirement programs.

On Sunday, why did our leaders sit and stare while that well-crafted lie was brought forward again? We don’t have the slightest idea. But in that moment, you saw the shape of American politics of the past fifteen years. Very skillful conservative spin-shops design and disseminate feed to the herd. And very hapless liberal leaders endlessly sit there and let them.

Bush was pandering to his dumbest element. Our dumbest element? Readers! Please! This is a day to give thanks!

A TWO-PART PROGRAM: "What can we do about the media issue?" Christy Harden Smith sensibly asked (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/21/06). It's a two-part program. First, we have to correct the specific misstatements—that carefully-crafted SS howler, for example. We can't just sit there as they're recycled! Second, we have to tell the meta-story. We have to tell voters that conservative spin-shops invent bogus claims—and misdirect their frayed attention to complete, utter, consummate trivia.

More than forty years ago, conservative began to tell their story, the one concerning liberal bias. Every voter has heard it now. We haven't even begun to tell ours. Example: Seven years after the War Against Gore, you still can't make liberal "leaders" discuss it. Voters will never understand our world if we refuse to describe it. Often, we liberals seem thankful for the right to doze and gaze off into air.