Companion site:


Google search...


Daily Howler: Edsall, Marshall and Dionne all recite requisite liturgy
Daily Howler logo
HUSH HUSH SWEET LIBERALS! Edsall, Marshall and Dionne all recite requisite liturgy: // link // print // previous // next //

STILL COMING: We strongly recommend this report in the Washington Post about remedial algebra classes. Are you concerned about the way our low-income schools work? Please note: These are the students who are willing to make an extra effort to graduate! And yes, the final part of our Tough-talk series is still on the way. This week.

THE INNER INKA, OR THE EDSEL WITHIN: The modern pundit lives to recite. Like Inka high priests, he straps on his ceremonial garb and recites his cohort’s liturgies:
EDSALL (12/11/06): The head of the pack is a dangerous place for a Democrat to be. Democrats excel in cannibalizing their front-runners. Just ask those who were knocked out in the primary season (Lyndon Johnson, Ed Muskie and Howard Dean) or those who limped from the ring after 15 rounds (Walter Mondale and Al Gore).

Republicans, by contrast, honor hierarchy. For four decades the G.O.P. has nominated the early favorite. Unlike Democrats, Republican voters have a long history of rejecting rebels and underdogs.
That’s Thomas Edsall, in today’s New York Times, reciting one of his tribe’s sacred texts. You’ll hear it said again and again. Please note how absurd Edsall’s tale is.

According to Edsall, Republican voters “resist rebels and underdogs.” By contrast (there always must be a contrast), Democrats “excel in cannibalizing their front-runners.” High priests like Edsall never stop saying this. But look how hard he has to work to find his three Dem “examples.”

Yes, Lyndon Johnson dropped out of the race—in 1968. And Edmund Muskie went down to defeat—in 1972. But in the 34 years since Muskie wept, Edsall can find only one instance where Democrats “cannibalized their front-runner”—and that occurs in 2004, with Howard Dean the alleged example! But Dean was the classic “rebel and underdog”—and, starting in the Iowa caucus, he was soundly rejected by Dem voters, in favor of a long-time party insider. But you can see why Edsall cites Dean. Over the course of the past 30 years, there’s really nowhere else to go if you want to “prove” his priesthood’s story. Just consider how hard it is if you start in 1980:
1980: Carter re-nominated. Dems reject the rebel campaign of Ted Kennedy.

1984: Mondale, the next in line, is nominated. Dems reject the rebel campaign of Gary Hart.

1988: No real front-runner. But to the extent that there is one, it’s Michael Dukakis—and he gets nominated. Rebel campaign of Jesse Jackson: rejected.

1992: No front-runner.

1996: Clinton re-nominated. No rebel appears.

2000: Al Gore, next in line, gets nominated. Rebel campaign of Bill Bradley: defeated.

2004: No real front-runner. Kerry, an establishment figure, gets his turn. Dean, a classic rebel: turned back.
Go ahead. Just try to “prove” this priesthood’s liturgy based on real-world Democratic events. But nothing stops our Inka priests from reciting their cohort’s Ancient Tales. (Note: We have very few presidential elections. Intelligent people wouldn’t base sweeping theories, about either party, on such a limited “n.”)

By the way: In Campaign 2000, did Gore “limp from the ring after 15 rounds?” Gore won every primary, the only Democrat to do so in a contested race. He led Bush in the polls after Super Tuesday—so Edsall’s priesthood swung into action, inventing new tales about Gore’s troubling character. In the Post, Edsall himself had passed on a real whopper back in 4/99.

Where does this priesthood find adepts like Edsall? Belching and coughing, he chants their prime tales, suggesting an Edsel within.

ANOTHER EDSEL SPUTTERS AND ROARS: Then there’s Josh Marshall, who is shocked, shocked—for reasons unknown—when Jeff Greenfield offers a weird review of Barack Obama’s deeply troubling wardrobe. Question to Josh: When do you plan to return to this planet? During Campaign 2000, this same priesthood conducted an endless discussion of the two Democrats’ dueling wardrobes. Bill Bradley’s unfashionable neckties and 25-year-old shoes showed his admirable “authenticity;” Al Gore’s earth tones/cowboy boots/polo shirts/three-button suits showed his deeply troubling character. (His cowboy boots showed that he was a phony. His polo shirts showed he was targeting women. His three-button suits showed that he was a sex fiend. His earth tones showed he didn’t know who he was. When he wore casual clothes some days and formal clothes on some others, that showed he was all mixed up too. We won’t even waste our time directing you to all the archives. Our “liberal” “leaders” are deeply committed to not knowing what has occurred.)

How extensive was this nonsense—especially the attacks on Gore for his clothing? Earlier this year, Paul Krugman referred to Campaign 2000 as a “campaign about clothing” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/26/06). On what planet was Josh residing when this astounding campaign occurred? More globally: Why do our leading liberals refuse to discuss our recent history? What strange manner of Inka sun god does this strange loser-hood worship?

We agree—it’s hard to fathom such work from Greenfield. We’ve been working with material like this for the past eight years—and we still find it utterly puzzling. But that doesn’t mean that we should pretend to find it surprising. After all, in 2001, Greenfield’s profoundly self-serving book was an open insult against reason too. We wasted our time explaining it then—in substantial, week-long detail.

At any rate, there’s absolutely nothing new about bizarre critiques of Big Democrats’ clothing. In Campaign 2000, Greenfield’s priesthood behaved this way endlessly. Who knows—we can only guess. Perhaps Josh was too polite and well-mannered to process the history-changing clowning which actually sent George Bush to the White House. Perhaps that’s why he’s shocked when it starts up again. Internally, it’s like he never heard.

But readers, when we act like we haven’t heard, we pretend we live on a different planet—and we keep misinforming liberal readers (and failing to arm them). Greenfield’s attack on Obama’s wardrobe is as American as apple pie. What explains the way our liberal leaders refuse to discuss the recent past? The way they refuse to discuss the real world—the one we all happen to live in?

HUSH HUSH SWEET LIBERALS: Could Hillary Clinton win a general election? We don’t have the slightest idea. (For our money, she’s running surprisingly close to the sainted McCain in the national polls. Gore trailed Bush by twenty points at a roughly comparable juncture. Then, after running his awful campaign, he won the popular vote.) In today’s Post, E. J. Dionne considers that question—and like others, he chooses to disappear the history of the past twenty years.

According to E. J., an Obama challenge would be good for Clinton. After all, even her supporters don’t think she’s a winner. Here’s why, E. J. says:

DIONNE (12/12/06): The doubters are ashamed to say what really worries them: that Americans don't want to relive the supposed psychodramas of the Bill Clinton years; that her association with her husband will mobilize his enemies more than it will energize his friends; that their relationship is just too complex for those critical swing voters to understand or accept.
“[N]o matter how unfair, misguided or even dimwitted Sen. Clinton's supporters may find the catalogue of doubts, she will have to deal with them if she is to win over all the guilt-ridden skeptics,” E. J. says in his column.

And that’s where Obama comes in. If she beats Obama in the primaries, “Clinton would prove her mettle, which might finally put the doubts to rest.” At the end, E. J. restates his thesis: “However the contest turns out, the debate about the future that Obama is encouraging would be good for Clinton because, most of all, she needs to put the past behind her.”

This is a wonderfully pleasing tale. It’s also the latest piece of Inka logic. Hush hush, all you great liberal leaders! Please don’t discuss the recent past!

Readers, let’s try to think back to Campaign 04. Theoretically, Kerry had shown that he was electable by winning all those primary races—and then, the spinning and swift-boating started! First, Kerry was undercut by all those spin-points—spin-points which were widely recited in the mainstream press and largely ignored by the liberal web. (Kerry voted against every weapon system!) Then, the swift-boat campaign brought him down. Since the primary race wasn’t built on weird fantasies, nothing in that primary race showed whether Kerry was ready to deal with all that. And as it turned out, he wasn’t ready. That is to say, Kerry lost.

The real questions about Clinton’s chances are similar. It isn’t a question of whether she could win a string of primaries, involving Dem voters. The real questions about the general election include these:
1) What sorts of attacks would begin one day after Clinton clinched the nomination?

2) To what extent would the mainstream press corps transmit them?
And, perhaps most important of all:
3) To what extent would the mainstream press run a “Love Boat” campaign for her GOP rival?
Those are the actual questions which need to be asked about Clinton’s chances (or any Dem’s).But uh-oh! These actual questions can’t be asked without offending against approved liturgy. To discuss these actual questions, we have to discuss the actual way the Clintons’ reputations got smeared in the 90s. We have to discuss the actual way the mainstream press covered Campaign 2000. (Including its “Love Boat” campaign for McCain.) And yes, we have to discuss the swift-boating of the 04 nominee. But uh-oh! All these discussions involve a verboten topic—the actual conduct of the national press corps. And so, like Josh and Digby before him, E. J. Dionne takes a pass.

Quite often, we humans look back and marvel at the puzzling mental styles of the ancients. But if you read Edsall/Marshall/Digby/Dionne, you can see that blinkered traits never die. Today’s high priests disappear real events with the skill of any priesthood. For reasons only a shrink could approach, we liberals refuse to discuss recent history. Today, we’re shocked—we’re simply shocked—to see that “earth tones” discussion resume. We act like that swift-boating never occurred. Ditto Whitewater. Ditto Gore. And ditto that ongoing “Love Boat” production—the production which has been so utterly clownish, the one E. J. doesn’t discuss.

These events are too weird for good liberals to process. And so, it seems to be hush hush, sweet liberals! All these events get disappeared. Josh is shocked—he’s simply amazed—to see these great men discuss clothing.

Below, a comical statement by Josh, today. It surely could go on the coat-of-arms of our great liberal leaders:
MARSHALL: Wow. I've got to say I really didn't see that coming.