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Daily Howler: The nonsense was general all over cable. This morning, a Bonesman concurred
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BONESMAN’S COMPLAINT! The nonsense was general all over cable. This morning, a Bonesman concurred: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2008

BONESMAN’S COMPLAINT: The Chicago Tribune’s John McCormick may be ready to move to the Village. Yesterday, at Obama’s press event, he started asking this question:

MCCORMICK (12/16/08): You told us at your first press conference after the election that you were going to take a very hands-off approach to filling that spot. Over the weekend, the Tribune reported that Rahm Emanuel, your incoming chief of staff, had presented a list of potential names that—

His question wasn’t totally silly, though McCormick had been parsing a tad—and his account of Obama’s remark at that “first press conference” was perhaps a bit massaged (original transcript below). That said, McCormick didn’t get to ask his full question. Obama broke in, saying this:

OBAMA (continuing directly): John—John, let me, let me just cut you off because I don't want you to waste your question. As I indicated yesterday, we've done a full review of this. The facts are going to be released next week. It would be inappropriate for me to comment because, for example, the story that you just talked about in your own paper, I haven't confirmed that it was accurate and I don't want to get into the details at this point. So do you have another question?

Duh. On Monday, Obama announced that his office’s “full review of this” would be withheld until next week, at Patrick Fitzgerald’s request. And Fitzgerald’s office confirmed the fact that they had made this request. But McCormack plowed ahead anyhoo, asking a question that plainly wouldn’t get answered. And then, on cable, the children started wailing, about Obama’s bad conduct.

Which part of “the information will be withheld until next week, at Fitzgerald’s request” don’t these life-forms understand?

The caterwauling was widespread on cable; for Digby’s account of one exchange, just click here. But as always, the silliest Villager was the Post’s Dana Milbank, who put his low IQ on display in this morning’s “Washington Sketch.” If the insider press is our dumbest elite, Milbank is its perfect town crier. Like Bush, he’s straight outta Skull and Bones. And as he neared the end of his “sketch,” he again seemed determined to prove it.

Classic Milbank! This is how the Post’s “sketch” artist described one part of yesterday’s session—an event at which Obama introduced his nominee for Secretary of Education. As always, Milbank found himself bored by the day’s dismal dullness:

MILBANK (12/17/08): Next up in Obama's insomnia treatment was an acceptance speech by the previously unknown nominee, followed by the president-elect's own blend of convoluted and passive answers to questions: "We're going to have to work through a lot of these difficulties, these structural difficulties that built up over many decades, some of it having to do with the financial industry and the huge amounts of leverage, the huge amounts of debt that were taken on, the speculation and the risk that was occurring, the lack of financial regulation, some of it having to do with our housing market, stabilizing that."

The whole thing might have ended in snores if McCormick hadn't piped up about Blagojevich.

Milbank began with a brainless jibe at the “previously unknown” Arne Duncan. In fact, Duncan has been head of Chicago’s public schools for the past seven years, though no one in Milbank’s circle has heard. Then, the crier took a familiar tack; he complained that Obama’s quoted answer was too “convoluted” —too long. In fairness, Obama’s answer did stretch to a punishing 71 words, and Village attention spans are quite short. At least Obama hadn’t used too many big words, the brainless complaint the Bonesman raised against dull, verbose and know-it-all Gore when the exceedingly tiresome fellow once tried to discuss his new best-selling book (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/30/07). Gore had used such terms as “the marketplace of ideas” and the ”exchange of goods and services”—and this had led to a long, loud complaint. Ponder the plight your nation faces when Boneheaded fellows of such low distinction control the shape of its discourse.

“The whole thing might have ended in snores if McCormick hadn't piped up about Blagojevich,” the Bonesman explained, helping us see his cohort’s sad culture. Again, the truth about this dullest elite: They’re constantly drowning in their own dismal dullness. Only the thrill of scandal/sex/wardrobe/personality tales rescues them from their own cosmic dullness. Big Dem pols who don’t offer such treats will be accused of using big words—of giving “convoluted answers.” Almost everything puts them to sleep. Low-income kids can be damned.

Yesterday, the nonsense was general all over cable, but no one is ever much dumber than Milbank. As he described McCormick’s Q-and-A, we got to peep inside the head of the Village’s emptiest Bonesman:

MILBANK: [T]he Chicago Tribune's John McCormick didn't want to talk basketball. He wanted to know about contacts that Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, had with disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"John, John, let me just cut you off," Obama interrupted, "because I don't want you to waste your question." The president-elect said the "facts are going to be released next week”—when he, by random coincidence, will be enjoying Christmas vacation in Hawaii—and "it would be inappropriate for me to comment" before then. "So, do you have another question?"

McCormick tried to rephrase the question, to no avail. "John, John," Obama repeated, reproachfully. "I said, the U.S. attorney's office specifically asked us not to release this until next week."

Can you get dumber? We’re not sure. But try to grasp how bad it can get when these life-forms start offering snark. Again, Fitzgerald’s office confirmed the fact that they asked Obama to wait till next week before discussing Emanuel’s contacts. The Bonesman, though, interjected some “tude” into his account of this matter. He suggested that the release of the info next week was some sort of slick Obama trick, designed somehow to coincide with the gentleman’s Christmas vacation.

No, that doesn’t really make sense. But this is the Village’s Bonesman.

Let us repeat what we’ve told you before. There is no way to understand this group without understanding a basic fact: Your “press corps” is a D-plus elite—our slowest, dumbest professional cohort. For the record, we’ve been surprised by the way they’ve behaved in the ten days since the Blago tale hit. They’ve been dumber—and faker—than we would have dreamed. Nothing derails their sad culture.

Or their posturing: And nothing can stop them from posing. Yesterday, pundits posed all over cable; they pretended they’ve been asking important, tough questions—and that Obama’s been ducking and dodging. Given the well-known facts of this case, this pose has been ludicrous right from the start. But on cable, the pundits were widely growling like bears, pretending that they were eager to serve by doing their duty as journalists.

As we watched, we thought of the way they posed in June 1999, just before Candidate Bush hit the national trail.

By then, they’d been tearing Candidate Gore to shreds for three months. Indeed, their attacks on Gore had been so startling that a few pundits even had mentioned the conduct! And so, as the date of the Bush Launch drew near, the scribes began growling like ravenous bears. Just wait till the you see how we go after Bush, a string of posers loudly proclaimed. “The governor’s problem, like Gov. Bill Clinton’s in 1992, is that the great hunt is on for negative material,” Howard Kurtz foolishly claimed, in the Post. “The inquisition has begun,” the scribe said.

Many others said similar things. But what actually happened when Bush hit the trail? We’re surprised to see that we’ve never done a full post on that topic—though we did describe a bit of the nonsense in real time (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/18/99). Suffice to say that this is how David Von Drehle’s news report began on page one of Kurtz’s own Post. That inquisition? It hadn’t begun:

VON DREHLE (6/14/00): Looking relaxed and sounding eager, Texas Gov. George W. Bush barnstormed across Iowa today with his heart on his sleeve, hoping to show that he can touch voters as effectively as he has tapped the checkbooks of the Republican elite.

His pitch: a sunny mixture of economic and political conservatism with a neighborly dose of love. Bush drew his greatest cheers when he defended the idea that conservatives can be compassionate, and when he promised to lead from principle, not from the polls.

A string of pundits had sworn to the world that Candidate Bush would get torn limb from limb. But uh-oh! By the time the campaign was done, the press corps had studiously avoided discussing his problematic record in the Texas Air National Guard; it had failed to uncover his past drunk driving record (you had to go to the chief of police in Maine and ask—and they hadn’t); and it had failed to inquire about his past business dealings (e.g., Harken). One big scribe had explained that they preferred trashing Gore, about trivial things, because it was “more fun,” “as sport.”

No one fakes it like these life-forms do. In June 1999, they growled like bears—then rolled over and died in the sun. Yesterday, they were faking it too. They pretended that they have been asking tough questions—and that Obama’s been ducking and dodging. Yes, they’re your nation’s dumbest elite. Can your nation survive them?

McCormick had been doing some parsing: So you can judge the way McCormick paraphrased, here is Obama’s statement from that first press conference, the one McCormick cited yesterday:

OBAMA (11/7/08): Let's see. Where's John McCormick? Give—give a local, hometown guy a little bit of, a little bit of time.

MCCORMICK: Thank you, sir. To what extent—to what extent are you planning to use your probably pretty great influence in determining the successor for your Senate seat? And what sort of criteria should the governor be looking at in filling that position?

OBAMA: This is the governor's decision. It is not my decision. And I think that the criteria that I would have for my successor would be the same criteria that I'd have if I were a voter: somebody who is capable, somebody who is passionate about helping working families in Illinois meet their—meet their dreams. And I think there are going to be a lot of good choices out there. But it is the governor's decision to make, not mine.

Lynn Sweet. What happened to your arm, Lynn?

You have to hand it to McCormick. Yesterday, he could have asked a question about anything in the whole wide world. (Presumably, he had heard of Duncan.) But uh-oh—the gentleman had been doing some parsing, comparing that initial statement to the (reported) fact that Emanuel presented a list of names of possible senate successors. “You told us at your first press conference after the election that you were going to take a very hands-off approach to filling that spot,” he now said, paraphrasing Obama’s November statement—paraphrasing a bit creatively, in our own studied view.

Did Obama’s original statement perfectly jibe with what later occurred? With that (reported) list of names? To McCormick—he may be ready to live in the Village—this was the most important topic in the whole farking world. Can your nation really survive in the grip of such frivolous life-forms?

Special report: School daze!

Part 3 tomorrow.