THIS JUST IN FROM THE SWELLS! Bill Clinton praised someone who rented a houseand the Village press swung into action: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2008
Should Michelle Rhee give a crap: In todays Post, our old pal Bill Turque pens this report about Michelle Rhees high national profile. (He focuses on Times cover story about the DC schools chief.) Within DC, some major players are upset by Rhees abrasivesorry, outspokenstatements. Quoting from the Time report, Turque offers this latest example:
For the record, we plan to e-mail Ripley today, to ask if Rhee really has changed her long-standing story about the vast success her students achieved when she herself was a teacher (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/5/08). It seems that Ripley recorded the interview, so the answer to that should be clear.
Meanwhile, should Rhee give a crap about creativity? On that, we hold a mixed view. But again, well suggest that you ask a basic question as you read Turques report: Do you see Rhee, or anyone else, making any specific suggestions whatever about possible improvements in classroom instruction? Do you see Rhee suggesting anything specific teachers could do to improve the results from their classrooms?
Does Rhee have specific ideas?
On balance, were glad Rhee tilts to the head-banging side; we think you probably ought to err on that side if youre running a big urban system. But weve never seen any sign that Rhee has any specific ideas about classroom instructionabout the place where the actual rubber touches the actual road. Turque goes on at some length today, reporting the battles between Rhee and her critics. Well suggest once again: Whenever you look at stories like this, always read to see if anyone has any specific ideas about what goes inside the rooms where Jonathan Kozol describes those little desks.
For ourselves, wed be inclined to ask these questions about DCs schools:
Weve never seen Rhee say a word about specific instructional practices. No, were not hugely surprised by that. Well let you know what Ripley says about that other matter.
This just in from the swells: It would be hard to top the sheer inanity of the New York Times performance this weekend. Just consider the newspapers focus on Saturday alone.
Good lord! On the first page of the National section, Michael Luo offered the latest news report about the deeply disturbing cost of Candidate Palins makeup and clothes. Indeed, the gentleman stayed up late Friday night, typing some 33 paragraphs on the topic. (Almost 1300 words. Two photos.) Times readers were given such crucial details as the crucial details which follow:
It would be hard to overstate the sheer inanity of Luos report. But good news! Don Van Natta was trying to top it with his latest groaner about the vile rouster, Bill Clinton.
When last we reviewed the work of Van Natta, we recalled the time the hapless obsessive wrote an entire Week in Review piece about the way Clinton cheats at golf. (In 1999. 1254 words. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/25/07.) In Saturdays report, Van Natta was pretending that something was wrong, or at least semi-wrong, with a speech Clinton gave in Malaysia. You see, Clinton had said nice things about Vinod Sekhar, the Malaysian businessman who had invited (and paid) him to give the speech. But uh-oh! Van Natta had located several angry investors in Britain and Malaysia who say they disagree with the former presidents glowing assessment of Mr. Sekhar, whose company has suffered a rough few weeks. In fact, the several investors turned out to be two, judging from Van Nattas report. But Van Natta dragged his piece out to 1200 words (plus one large photo) by including such perfect nonsense as this:
If were reading that passage correctly, Vinod Sekhar once rented a house! In this absurd and destructive way, the Times pretended to report on Clintons speechthe final speech the mulligan mogul will make without prior vetting by the Obama Administration.
But then, Gail Collins column was almost as foolish. On Thursday, the doyenne of droll had devoted her entire column to an offhand comment by troubling Ed Rendell (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/5/08). In Saturdays column, she seemed to be informing the public that the Democrats wont have 60 votes in the incoming Senate. Of course, everyone has heard that by nowa million times. So Collins padded with this:
Some might have wondered! Go aheadlaugh out loud! In fact, everyone knows why McCain didnt pick Snowe to run for VP; the well-traveled lady from Maine is pro-choice, and her Republican Party isnt. But so what! Collins was only being fair! Having wasted your time with Rendell, she now wasted time with Snowe.
(For the record: Collins, like Van Natta, seems a bit golf-obsessed. She twice killed time with pointless asides about the exploits of Saxby Chambliss, whose greatest achievement [as a senator] was getting ranked the 33rd best golfer in Washington by Golf Digest.)
It would be hard to imagine a major newspaper whose scribes have more trivia cluttering their heads. Readers, were you wondering how much you could charge to manage the tresses of Lopez or Kidman? If so, the Times was the paper for you this weekend! But then, the Washington Post was semi-obsessing about which Obama advisers had managed to go to which elite schools (dont miss the graphic). And it presented the latest front-page piece about the great kids at Teach for America, who go to the finest schools too.
Because our big journalists are major authority figures, its hard for many people to see the sheer fatuity of their culture. This weekend, the fatuity was on display all around. Our review of this Village trivia will likely continue tomorrow. Darlings! Youll want to know what Tim the Guest Columnist thinks of a plumbers new book!