Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Meeting" the press, and wondering why I bother

Hillary Clinton (as the press corps sees her): "increasingly wild" with "murder on her mind"? Remember the Clinton Rules: you can say anything you want as long as you say it about the Clintons

One of the stranger rituals I occasionally put myself through is to sit in front of the TV on Sunday morning and watch a full hour of Timmy Russert's Meet the Press. I invariably come away with the intellectual equivalent of feeling like I've just taken a big swig of really sour milk and wondering why I even felt like drinking milk in the first place.

May 25's edition offered the same defective dairy products. Timmy spent the entire hour sitting at a table and discussing political affairs with Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Gwen Ifill of the PBS Newshour, Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, and Jon Meacham of Newsweek. A revealing moment occurs near the end of the show. After discussing Vile Hillary, her deeply troubling remark about Bobby Kennedy, her "whiney" "overwrought" self-pitying complaint about sexism in the press and why doesn't she just drop the hell out of the race; the fact that Obama is black; and, McCain's "pastor problem", Timmy observes:

MR. RUSSERT: But we're going to have a campaign, it looks like, big differences on big issues--the war in Iraq, Iran, Social Security, taxes--which is going to be interesting to cover, and I think it could...

MS. MARCUS: There's issues?

MR. RUSSERT: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

MS. MARCUS: I hadn't remembered.

MR. RUSSERT: Oh yeah. Stay tuned.
The transcript fails to take note of the appreciative laughter around the table. Haw! Haw! Those saps who care about issues like Social Security or the Iraq War actually think we're going to talk about them during the fall campaign! Har! Har! Har!

Timmy opened the program with - surprise! surprise! - Vile Hillary's scandalous remark about Bobby Kennedy. Before the Big Pundits were asked to share their deep wisdom and carefully considered thoughts on the matter, Timmy read a portion of a column by Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News, saying:

Her colossal blunder simply the last straw. We've seen an X-ray of a very dark soul. One consumed by raw ambition to where the possible assassination of an opponent is something to ponder in a strategic way.

Many black Americans have talked of it, reflecting their assumption that racists would never tolerate a black president and that Obama would be taken from them.

Clinton has now fed that fear. She needs a very long vacation. And we need one from her.

Say good night, Hillary. And go away. (my emphasis)
The column in question is Hillary Clinton's colossal blunder simply the last straw New York Daily News 05/24/08. The transcript version I just quoted didn't show ellipses. For example, from the column itself:

We have seen an X-ray of a very dark soul. One consumed by raw ambition to where the possible assassination of an opponent is something to ponder in a strategic way. Otherwise, why is murder on her mind?

It's like Tanya Harding's kneecapping has come to politics. Only the senator from New York has more lethal fantasies than that nutty skater.

We could have seen it coming, if only we had realized Clinton's thinking could be so cold. She has grown increasingly wild in her imagery lately, invoking everything from slavery to the political killings in Zimbabwe in making her argument for the Florida and Michigan delegations. She claimed to be the victim of sexism, despite winning the votes of white men. (my emphasis)
Now, I suppose we should all be grateful that we have pundits like Michael Goodwin who have the gift of peering into the darkness of Presidential candidates' souls based on one artlessly worded comment.

None of the wise pundits sitting around the table raised a question about what methodology this Daily News columnist used to discern the dark secrets of Clinton's soul from afar from this one artlessly worded remark. It would be very interesting to know. Because surely it must rival the centuries old mystical traditions of the Kabbalah in its arcane learning and exotic spiritual discipline.

Now, Clinton clearly made the statement in the context of talking about Democratic nomination contests going on for longer than this one. And presumably everybody who's heard about Bobby Kennedy's assassination knows it occurred on the night he won the California primary. She would certainly have been better off if she had added the phrase "on the night he won the California primary with the race still unresolved".

I won't comma-dance over her statement more here. I could understand why those genuinely concerned about Obama's security might have considered it an unfortunate or careless comment. But to most people hearing her statement, the idea that she was referring to the contest going on a long time would be at least one possible and plausible interpretation.

But a pundit with the rare ability to gaze straight into the soul of his subjects doesn't need to bother with such real-world possibilities that clutter the minds of us lesser mortals. No, he can tell from that one comment that Vile Hillary is a "cold" heartless bitch with "murder on her mind", "consumed by raw ambition", whose thinking is becoming "increasingly wild" even though she already "has more lethal fantasies than that nutty skater" Tanya Harding.

And then that castrating bitch has the nerve to claim she's the victim of sexism! Why, the ungrateful harpy even had some white guys voting for her. Why doesn't that crazy psycho broad just go away and leave us white pundit guys alone?

Generally, it's a safe default assumption than when a pundit uses the first person plural or "the American people", unless the subject is more clearly specified, that what they mean is their own view, which normally coincides with Establishment press conventional wisdom.

So, when our soul-discerning pundit say that "we" need a "very long vacation" from Vile Hillary, even we who are unable to delve into the dark sides of souls based on the occasional artless comment are safe in assuming that he means "we" the pundits and press corps need such a break.

It reminds me that we the voters and citizens who actually care about pitiful little trifles like the Iraq War and protecting Social Security need a permanent break from the appalling excuse for a press corps that we have today.

In case you're wondering, other recent columns by Goodwin include such titles as, "Despite a mortal terrorist threat against America, Dem contenders see no evil" 11/18/07, "Middle name Hussein is only one reason terror thugs like Barack Obama" 05/16/08, and "No debate about it: Clinton's a bully" 04/28/08. But his hack Republican perspective comes from his mystical ability to peer into politicians' souls, you see.

The Table Of The Pundits also dicussed John McCain's "pastor problem" with John Hagee in the second half of the program. But they didn't really go much into what this all shows about McCain's religious views, or his judgment, or his "character". I guess they were running out of time. Because the press hashed over those issues about Obama's scary black preacher incessantly. So I'm sure they'll get around to doing the same with McCain and his Jew-hating and warmongering radical clerics. (I'm also sure that Shakira will appear at my front door first thing tomorrow morning and ask me to spend the day watching her try out her latest dance moves.)

If you can make it into the second 15-minute segment, Timmy presented this to our Meet the Press brain trust:

SEN. CLINTON: The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted.


SEN. CLINTON: And I think there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when...


SEN. CLINTON: ...and if it ever raises its ugly head.

MS. ROMANO: Mm-hmm.

SEN. CLINTON: But it does seem as though the press, at least, is, is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments and the actions of people who are nothing but misogynists.

(End audiotape)

MR. RUSSERT: "Nothing but misogynists." Bill Clinton weighed in on Tuesday.


FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON: I don't think there's any question there have been moments in this campaign when the sort of gender bias and presuppositions have come out.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Maureen Dowd, "misogynist," "gender bias," it seems as though the Clintons are being--trying very hard to lay that out as a premise for Hillary Clinton's difficulties in this primary contest. (my emphasis)
Hillary Clinton's quoted statement was primarily directed at the conduct of the press. Look through the wise pundits' responses. See if you hear any one of them even mention the conduct of the press in their comments on her statement about sexism and misogyny in the press coverage of her.

One of the pundits, Jon Meacham, the political genius who a few months ago was saying that the Republicans had no idea how to campaign against an African-American candidate, declared that "by every mathematical and every atmospheric measure, should be burying John McCain in the polls." This means that current polls showing both Clinton and Obama beating McCain in the general election are good news for the Republicans! Because the Dems should be further ahead! Remember how after the Republican Supreme Court stole the Florida vote from Gore in 2000, one bit of press wisdom was that Gore was still to blame for running a bad campaign even though he won the popular vote nationally, because he should have been able to get an even higher popular vote majority?

Watching Meet the Press is worse than watching Keith Richards on a IMAX screen for two hours.

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