Donny Deutsch delivers the mail!

MONDAY, MAY 20, 2019

We'll go one step farther:
On Friday night's Eleventh Hour, Donny Deutsch delivered the mail.

Deutsch has known Donald J. Trump for decades. He remains friendly with Michael Cohen.

As someone from outside the guild, he tends to be willing to ignore guild rules. For that reason, he spoke to Brian Williams in the manner highlighted below about the commander-in-chief:
WILLIAMS (5/17/19): Donny, I don't want to "end dark," but I'm going to have to. And that is to say that, when you are on Deadline: White House with Nicole Wallace at 4 in the afternoon, you are often one of the voices that reminds the table, and reminds the viewers beyond, exactly how bad things are in your view, and exactly how dark we've gotten.

But like the frog boiling experiment, it hasn't felt like that. It would feel like that if we took a vacation on the moon and came back. So the question, how dark are things right now to you?

DEUTSCH: Very, very dark. And I want to say this with no exaggeration. If you look throughout history and [if] you become a student of history and the worst of what humans have done throughout history, Trump is using that play book in every way you possibly can.

You start with creating an "Other." You get enough rich people to look the other way and that's how you get power.

And then what you do is obviously destroy the credibility of a press. You get a judicial system that is no longer independent. You start to blur separation of powers.

And we should be very frightened. It's not just saying, you know, "Oh, authoritarian tendencies." I believe this man is capable of horrific, horrific deeds. And I'm not saying specifically what that is, but let your imagination go.

And also, do not kid yourself. If he gets voted out of office, he will say it was fake. He will say the polls were rigged. He will tell his people to take to the streets.

People have to understand this is not a man who is playing with any boundaries on what a normal civilization and normal democracy has. And I use the word "sociopath," and I know you're not supposed to use psychological terms, but—and Michael Cohen who, you know, stood by his side for ten years, the last thing he said when he spoke to Congress was, "He will not go softly." So the Democrats better get this one right.

WILLIAMS: It is no longer darkness on the edge of town. It's come downtown and all around.

Donny Deutsch, the host of Saturday Night Politics, tomorrow evening, 8 PM Eastern time on this very network. Donny, thanks very much for coming on our broadcast.
Brian closed with a plug for an upcoming show. Donny called Trump a "sociopath" and seemed to say that he wouldn't go peacefully.

Is Donald J. Trump a sociopath? We aren't equipped to make that judgment. Neither, we'll guess, is Deutsch.

Beyond that, Trump hasn't engaged in "the worst of what humans have done throughout history," at least not at this point.

That said, Deutsch has known Trump for decades. In his assessment, Trump is capable of "horrific, horrific deeds."

We don't know the extent to which that assessment is true. That said, we see one flaw in Deutsch's logic:

As he finished, Deutsch seemed to suggest that there's some way the Democrats can somehow "get this one right." We're not sure why he would say that.

If Trump won't go peacefully after an election defeat, he also wouldn't go peacefully after an impeachment and removal. Imaginably, he could start a war to help his re-election chances. Could he imaginably start a war in an attempt to declare some type of martial law after an election defeat, or after removal from office?

We don't have the slightest idea. "Common sense" says that he wouldn't do something like that.

That said, we have no prior experience with a chief executive who seems to be this disordered—with a man our cable team would like to lock up as soon as he leaves office.

In a more rational world, a full discussion of this matter would be under way. But as Deutsch told Williams, our journalists have agreed to play by a rule in which "you're not supposed to use psychological terms," even if the man with the nuclear codes seems to possibly be psychologically or cognitively unwell.

Back in the 1990s, Brian Williams was involved in The Rise of Leadership Down. It was the era when NBC News and its cable arms were directed by General Electric CEO Jack Welch, an aggressive conservative who seemed to assemble a somewhat peculiar Nantucket-based news team.

The war against the woman Trump (barely managed to) "beat" started during that journalistically disordered era. There was a whole lot of "darkness" back then too, but the liberal world stared into air. Eventually, the craziness of people like Chris Matthews helped lead us down the road to our current state of affairs.

(If he hadn't called her "Nurse Ratched" and "Evita" so often, might she have beaten Trump in the electoral college, not just in the popular voter?)

Elsewhere, skillful analysts whose work we admire still want to know why we "obsessed so much" back in the day. That is to say, in real time, not a full twenty years later!

"Basic skill levels still seem to be down," we thoughtfully say to the analysts.

FROM THE "RISE OF LEADERSHIP DOWN" FILE: Digest of reports!

MONDAY, MAY 20, 2019

Starting tomorrow, Basic Skill Levels Still Down:
For readers of the Washington Post, it was a very tough weekend.

For example:

Yesterday afternoon, we wasted hours clicking the links in the Sunday Outlook essay authored by Jay Newton-Small.

After that, we tried to convince ourselves that Outlook had actually published this essay by 31-year-old on-line classicist Donna Zuckerberg. The essay, though perhaps not the person, was a truly strange piece of work.

In the case of Newton-Small, we were maddened by the number of links which led to sources which made no reference to the points, or to the statistical claims, supposedly being established.

Do editors at the high-profile Outlook section make any attempt to check such things? By the end of the day, we assembled the analysts and made a hard statement:

Despite our reports from two weeks ago, basic skill levels still seem to be way, way down!

Full disclosure! Beyond the narrower question of basic skills, several mournful future anthropologists called our attention to several basic aspects of Newton-Small's report for the Post.

"[In her essay, y]ou see the need to make all observations conform to pre-existing tribal narrative," these disconsolate future scholars almost despairingly said. "Beyond that, you see the ancient, hard-wired need to create a group of Others, then to aim a sweeping moral denunciation at this disfavored group."

After hearing from the anthropologists, we were able to see the way these basic "human" impulses surfaced in Newton-Small's essay. Indeed, we almost thought we saw the same pattern in this latest sneak attack on our own award-winning work by our favorite blogger, Irvine's Kevin Drum!

Newton-Small attacked the Others for their sexism. Writing from Irvine, Drum had spotted the "red-blooded racism" the Others had displayed by moving to the very same city he did!

While Drum checked in from Orange County, Zuckerberg wrote from the far side of Neptune. All in all, we'd have to say that basic skill levels remain way down, even within our own tribe!

(Then too, there was Candidate Harris' statement yesterday about the gender pay gap. Under current tribal rules, when Others make statements this misleading—so misleading that they're essentially wrong—we liberals feel obliged to describe such statements as "lies." This seems to fit the pattern described by the future anthropologists, who claim that decades of such behavior greased the skids towards Mister Trump's Eventual Lunatic War.)

Starting tomorrow, we'll postpone our study of Professoriate Down to focus on these new developments. Last week, we explored the dispiriting history of this decades-old leadership fail—The Rise of Leadership Down.

We studied The Rise of Leadership Down! Our reports went exactly like this:
Tuesday, May 14: Alex Jones didn't start Leadership Down. Neither did Donald J. Trump!

Wednesday, May 15: In a clear case of Trump-before-Trump, disordered behavior by stars of the press was already taking us down!

Thursday, May 16:
Diane Sawyer popped the question to Maples. This too was Leadership Down!

Friday, May 17: Drinking beer with Candidate Bush—plus Candidate Muskie's lost tears!
In the view of many future scholars, Trump is merely the craziest yet. Starting tomorrow, a troubling anthropological series:

Basic Skill Levels Still Down!

Rehema and Brian bungle Brown!

SATURDAY, MAY 18, 2019

Lester bungles Brown too:
We saw the report near the end of last night's 11th Hour.

Brian Williams was killing one segment by re-airing a taped report from NBC Nightly News. Hour earlier, Lester Holt had aired the report for a much larger audience.

The report was filed by Rehema Ellis. It concerned the historic Brown decision, whose 65th anniversary has recently occurred.

It could have been a decent report had it been given more time. Also, had it been prepared by actual people who actually know about public schools and who might actually care.

Instead, the report was filed by the kinds of people who draw their massive salaries for our network "news" behemoths. (You aren't allowed to know how large those salaries are.)

And so it came to pass! After flying past some fascinating elements of American history, Ellis attempted to state a fact—a fact which was offered in support of a Preferred Tribal Claim.

First, she spoke to some high schools kids in Topeka, from whence the Brown decision sprang. After that, she inevitably bungled a fact:
ELLIS (5/17/19): Today, Topeka High School is very different than it was [in 1954]:

CRISTINA DE LA ISLA, TOPEKA HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: I learn many different things from other types of people, like sexual orientation, race, just—gender, everything.

CONNOR HARRIS, TOPEKA HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: Together we form a better, like, a better group, rather than separated.

ELLIS: But it's not all better. Recently, segregation for black students has expanded in most of the country. The number of mostly black schools more than tripled between 1988 and 2016.

On-screen:

1988: 5.7%
2016: 18.2%
To watch the report, click here.

Those statistics only appeared on the screen. Taken together with Ellis' statement, they seemed to say that 18.2% of the nation's public schools are now "mostly black."

That claim struck as highly unlikely. Hence, today's report!

For ourselves, we would have liked to hear more from those Topeka high school kids. (Cristina appeared to be Hispanic. Connor was plainly "white.")

But Ellis hurried on to a mandated tribal claim. Public school "segregation" is getting worse—perhaps much worse, she said.

This mandated claim enters the bloodstream through UCLA's "Civil Rights Project," a leading example of the realm which future scholars now sadly describe as Professoriate Down. More on that syndrome in the next few weeks.

On screen, the Civil Rights Project was cited as the source of those improbable statistics, according to which we were told that 18.2% of the nation's public schools are now "mostly black."

That presentation struck us as unlikely, and so we decided to check. When we did, the usual answer came up—Ellis had bungled her one attempt at stating a basic fact.

The numbers she cited do in fact come from UCLA's recent report about the legacy of Brown. We refer to the gloomily titled report, Harming Our Common Future: America’s Segregated Schools 65 Years after Brown.

For the record, Brown outlawed legal (de jure) segregation. American schools aren't "segregated" in that sense today.

(A basic frame of reference: UCLA tends to use the fraught term "segregation" in a way which resembles William Barr's use of the fraught term "spying.")

That said, Preferred Tribal Scripting must sometimes start with a small sleight of hand. And sure enough! When we found the source of Ellis' claim, we found that she had misstated UCLA's data.

For the record, this is what's done on network news by vastly overpaid people who have never spent a day in their lives trying to understand the actual state of our actual public schools. Instead, they tend to work from script—from familiar tribal narratives which run on mandated claims.

As you can see below, Ellis misstated the basic data. Beyond that, no one on network news, or on MSNBC, will ever attempt to report and explain the actual state of affairs.

Here's the passage Ellis bungled. More on this passage below:
UCLA REPORT (page 21): TRENDS IN SEGREGATION

Having seen the tremendous changes that continue to take place among the public school enrollment, we now turn to understanding how those students are sorted among public schools. One way to measure segregation is through the concentration of non-white students in schools. Figure 3 shows the percentage of intensely segregated schools, that is schools that enroll 90-100% non-white students or 90-100% white students. Since the peak of desegregation for black students in 1988, the share of intensely segregated minority schools, that is, schools that enroll 90-100% non-white students, has more than tripled from 5.7% in 1988 to 18.2% in 2016. During the same time period, the share of intensely segregated white schools, that is, schools that enroll 90-100% white students, has declined from 38.9% in 1988 to 16% in 2016...
Plainly, this is the passage Ellis bungled. But this passage doesn't say that 18.2% of the nation's schools are "mostly black." It says something a bit more complex, something which may seem even worse:

That passage—the passage Ellis instantly bungled—says that 18.2% of the nation's public schools have student enrollments which are 90-100% non-white. In the lexicon of the Civil Rights Project, these schools are "intensely segregated."

Many of those schools are not "mostly black"—but all those schools are very heavily "non-white." Stating the obvious, those are quite different states of affairs.

Might we start with an obvious point? It's typical of people like Ellis, Williams and Holt that the one statistical claim they choose to make in a fleeting report of this type will be flatly bungled—will just plain be wrong.

The reason for this is obvious. None of these people have spent ten seconds wondering or learning about the actual racial and ethnic demographics of our actual public schools. Homey simply don't play it that way within orgs like NBC News.

They don't care about piffle like that! Last night's report wasn't put on the air to inform the public about actual facts. It was put on the air for purposes of "virtue signalling" and narrative endorsement—to let viewers know that very good people like Lester and Brian are opposed to "segregation," just like the viewers are.

Lester and Brian are opposed to segregation! They're also devoted to cashing their checks and filling the airwaves with fluff.

Along comes Ellis! She's asked to pretend that she knows, and cares about, whatever it is she's discussing.

Did Ellis know that her statement was false—that it seemed implausible on its face? We have no idea.

Did her claim sound unlikely to Lester or Brian? Readers, please! Lester and Brian don't know squat about any of this!

This brings us to an important question. Assuming that UCLA's data are accurate, why has the reported change occurred? Why is it that 18.2 percent of our public schools are are now so heavily non-white? Why is it up from 5.7 percent? And why should the public care?

Why are so many more schools now so heavily non-white? There are several parts to the answer, but the answer must start with this:
UCLA REPORT (page 4): White students are now a minority across the country’s public school enrollment, and they have been for a while, particularly in the public schools of the nation’s two largest regions, the West and the South. Since 1968 the nation’s enrollment of white students has declined by 11 million students while the enrollment of Latinos has increased by 11 million. There are now nearly three million Asian students and two million students who identify as multiracial...Latino students were 5% of U.S. enrollment in 1970 and 26% by 2016.
Duh. Using the dates Ellis cited, white kids were 68.8% of the student population in 1988. That number had dropped to 48.4% by 2016. (See the graphic on UCLA's page 16.)

According to that same graphic, Latino and Asian-American kids were 14.8% of the student population in 1988. That number had risen to 31.8% in 2016.

In short, there were many more "non-white" kids in American public schools as of 2016! This is one part of a real explanation of the rise in heavily "non-white" schools.

The changes we've cited don't fully explain the large number of schools which are more than 90% non-white. To add more meat to the bones of a partial explanation, consider the recent demographics of the Detroit Public Schools, according to Stanford's Sean Reardon:
Student demographics, Detroit Public Schools
White kids: 3 percent
Black kids: 87 percent
Hispanic kids: 7 percent
Asian-American kids: 1 percent
By the nature of this district's enrollment, it's possible that every school in the system would be "intensely segregated"—would be almost wholly non-white.

There are very few white kids in Detroit's public schools! Down in Laredo, there are even fewer:
Student demographics, Laredo ISD
White kids: 0 percent
Black kids: 0 percent
Hispanic kids: 99 percent
Asian-American kids: 1 percent
None of this district's schools are "mostly black." All are completely "non-white."

The point we're making is simple. Racial imbalance within our schools is often the result of enrollment patterns in our large urban school systems. This is even true in New York City, where only 14% of the students are white and the New York Times is baffled by the amount of "segregation."

Lester didn't tell you any of that last evening. Instead, he sent Ellis out to report on "segregation" in public schools—and the one statistical claim she attempted she got flatly wrong.

That happened for an obvious reason—these massively overpaid people don't care about public schools.

They care about virtue signalling and adherence to narrative. They care about makeup and hair. They care about Q ratings.

They care about their very large checks. They care about sticking to easy story-lines on the extremely rare occasions when they talk about public schools.

Brian aired the segment last night because it made his job easier. It also let him signal his virtue. Brian opposes segregation, just the way you do!

Last night, we heard about NBC's report from several anthropologists. Somewhat surprisingly, they told us how the pseudo-liberal world would react to our own report.

"The pseudo-liberal always loved reports of the type Ellis aired," one despondent future scholar despairingly told us. "They liked the way reports of that type made them feel.

"They won't begin to see the point of what you're trying to say," we were told. "This is what we humans were like the years before Mister Trump's War."

Ellis in the past: We feel sure that Rehema Ellis is a very good person. That said, the last time we saw her report on schools, she authored one of the most egregious groaners ever. To recall what she said, just click here.

As always, she was advancing the corporate message. In those days, the message was this:

Our public school teachers are no damn good with their ratty teachers unions.

NBC was very big on that message back then. This is the way we humans behaved as we tumbled towards Mister Trump's War.

THE RISE OF LEADERSHIP DOWN: Drinking beer with Candidate Bush!

FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2019

Candidate Muskie's lost tears:
Yesterday morning, the New York Times published a page A3 exposé concerning the intellectual hygiene of its many readers.

It reminded some of Diane Sawyer's 1990 interview with Marla Maples. For details, see yesterday's report.

All across the future world, anthropologists hailed the relevance of the newspaper's exposé. Today, though, the shoe, slipper, sandal or mukluk is on the other foot.

We refer to the Times' daily "Of Interest" section (print editions only). Sitting atop today's A3, the presentation starts like this:
Of Interest
NOTEWORTHY FACTS FROM TODAY'S PAPER

Bob Hawke, Australia's hugely popular prime minister from 1983 to 1991, once bragged of downing two and a half Imperial pints of beer in 12 seconds.
In the listing compiled by some Times employee, that was today's first "Noteworthy Fact."

In what world does a fact like that strike a journalist as "noteworthy?" Sadly, it recalls the days when the nation's upper-end mainstream journalists evaluated White House candidates on the basis of who the voters "would like to have a beer with."

Who would you like to have a beer with? According to several future analysts, the press corps' persistent focus on such manifest trivia spoke to the intellectual limitations which eventually led to the devastation of Mister Trump's Unintelligent War.

"In the end, this was really all we humans had in the general area of smarts," one disconsolate scholar has said. Beyond that, the press corps' persistent attempts at the assessment of character was a major part of the syndrome which is now widely known in the future as The Rise of Leadership Down.

According to these future scholars, there were many Basic Skill Levels Down during the era in question:

Journalists routinely engaged in fanciful paraphrase. They were persistently overmatched by such basic activities as "adjusting for inflation" and "reporting the actual facts."

Just as Professor Harari has said,
they were heavily drawn to gossip and to the promulgation of potent group "fictions." Their minds would wander to such questions as the one Sawyer raised with Maples:

Was sex with The Donald the best she'd ever had?

Such questions ruled the world of the upper-end press corps during The Rise of Leadership Down.

Journalists of the era had many notable flaws. But above all else, future experts now say, these tribal creatures distinguished themselves by their insistence on forming Group Assessments of Character—group assessments which were routinely comically wrong.

"They kept insisting that Paul Ryan was honest," one future scholar remarked. "What else has to be said?"

Future Historians High in Trees have tried to explain the tendency to produce these assessments of character. Their overview goes something like this:

In the wake of Richard Nixon's downfall, journalists got it into their heads that they should devote more time to the assessment of character. They failed to see that their mental hygiene poorly equipped them for this challenging task.

How faulty could their judgments be? In 1992, Richard Ben Cramer published a three million-page history of the 1988 presidential election.

The book was called What It Takes: The Way to the White House. Though the book was unreadably long and unbearable on a page-by-page basis, it was hailed as a masterwork by other political journalists—a group which was strongly inclined to the familiar human practice of "seeing themselves from afar."

Many reviewers actually claimed that they had read the four million-page book! They would then proceed to hail Ben Cramer's brilliance. The leading authority on this phenomenon cites two examples, then succumbs to despair:
Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Quite possibly the finest book on presidential politics ever written, combining meticulous reporting and compelling, at times soaringly lyrical, prose."

San Francisco Chronicle: "The ultimate insider's book on presidential politics...an unparalleled source book on the 1988 candidates."
Ben Cramer's book codified an emerging type of journalism—a type of journalism in which inane assessments of character were based on trivial bits of behavior, with troubling examples of bad conduct sometimes completely invented.

Inane assessments were devised; journalists would stampede off to repeat them as a group. By the fall of 1999, major players were even basing assessments of character on the number of buttons they'd spotted on one major candidate's suit coat.

The third button of the candidate's coat was taken to be a sexual signal aimed at female voters. Everyone else was prepared to pretend that this crackpot assessment made sense.

So went The Rise of Leadership Down in the years leading up to The War. Future scholars suggest that this rampant group behavior may have worked special havoc on Democratic White House candidates, with only one major exception. (In 1996, Lamar Alexander was taken down in New Hampshire on the basis of the hoary old "price of milk and bread" trick.)

Democrats were routinely hit hard. Consider the 1988 campaign, the subject of Ben Cramer's ten-ton book:

In 1987, journalists hid in the bushes outside the home of Democratic front-runner Gary Hart, hoping to prove that he had a girl friend who wasn't his actual wife. When it appeared that he possibly did, Hart had to leave the campaign.

The journalists then eliminated Candidate Biden on a series of minor character raps. Based upon our own knowledge, they also tried to take out Candidate Gore, making endless phone calls designed to see if he had ever smoked marijuana—AKA "Mary Jane"—when he was maybe 19.

That was just in the primaries! In that campaign's general election, Candidate Dukakis went down the drain when he failed to punch Bernie Shaw in the nose after Shaw asked him a repugnant question which imagined the rape and murder of Dukakis' wife.

Plus, he didn't look right in that tank! So it went as roving bands of journalists performed group assessments of character.

In Tuesday's report, we touched upon the state of this crackpot culture by the time of Campaign 2000. But the syndrome went on and on. It sent Bush to the White House in 2001, Trump in 2017.

Who would you like to drink a beer with? Whose suit coats have the right number of buttons? Whose pants are allegedly hemmed too high, making us look at his boots?

Liberal thought leaders stared into air as these questions were pimped on the public. Borrowing from Hemingway, this is the way the press corps was when devotion to Group Assessments of Character began taking hold of their lives.

In all these bizarre assessments of character, one may stand out most. It came quite early in the era. This particular group assessment involved Candidate Muskie's Lost Tears.

The event in question took place in February 1972. Forty years later, the New York Times seemed to be telling the truth somewhat slowly:
PETERS (1/9/12): People have feared and loathed The [Manchester, H.H.] Union Leader ever since the days of the curmudgeonly William Loeb III, who bought the paper in the 1940s and bullied a generation of politicians with vitriolic front-page editorials. Mr. Loeb headlined an article about Henry A. Kissinger’s appointment as secretary of state with an anti-Semitic slur. Edmund S. Muskie became “Moscow Muskie” and a flip-flopper. Mr. Muskie destroyed his candidacy by breaking down and appearing to cry while denouncing Mr. Loeb at a news conference outside the paper’s offices.
For background, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/18/11.

Interesting, isn't it? Candidate Muskies had been the Democratic front-runner—the guy who supposedly had the best shot at unseating President Nixon.

Somehow, though, he "destroyed his candidacy" by appearing to cry! This puzzle involves his lost tears.

This must be one of the strangest stories in modern press corps history. It involves a front-page report by the Washington Post's David Broder—a front-page report Broder seemed to renounce fifteen years later.

In that initial front-page report, Broder described Muskie in front of the Union-Leader Building, "tears streaming down his face." In an age when no girlie-man need apply, a giant hubbub ensued.

As Jeremy Peters implied in the Times, this hubbub took Muskie out. Nixon cruised to re-election.

In real time, that front-page report took Muskie down and out. But fifteen years later, it seemed that the the report's basic claim was no longer operative! Writing in the Washington Monthly, a penitent Broder said this:
BRODER (2/87): Within 24 hours, Muskie's weeping became the focus of political talk, not just in New Hampshire, but everywhere the pattern of the developing presidential race was discussed. His tears were generally described as one of the contributing causes of his disappointing showing in the March 7 primary. Muskie beat McGovern by a margin of 46 to 37 percent, but his managers had publicized their goal of winning at least 50 percent of the New Hampshire Democratic vote. Underdog McGovern claimed that the results showed Muskie's weakness and his own growing strength. Muskie never recovered from that Saturday in the snow.

In retrospect, though, there were a few problems with the Muskie story. First, it is unclear whether Muskie did cry.
Say what? Back in 1972, tears were streaming down Muskie's face. As of 1987, it was "unclear whether Muskie did cry."

This minor revision was described as "a problem with the story!"

Making this lunacy even more lunatic was a report by Lou Cannon, another major Post correspondent (and one of our favorite biographers). In August 2011, Paul Waldman seemed to tell part of the rest of the story, again in the Washington Post:
WALDMAN (8/14/11): The less well-known part of this story is that some influential journalists had decided long before that there was something slightly off about Muskie. In his 1977 book "Reporting: An Inside View," legendary journalist Lou Cannon wrote that, after playing poker with Muskie, he concluded that the senator was too temperamental to be president. "What does a political reporter do with this kind of insight?" Cannon asked. "As in this instance, it is rarely written as a hard news story the first time the thought arises…What we reporters tend to do is to store away in our minds such incidents and then use them to interpret—to set a context—for major incidents when they occur.”
Future Anthropologists sadly say this was very "human" behavior. To wit:

To all appearances, a judgment was formed while major scribes played poker with Candidate Muskie. Later, basic facts were perhaps rearranged to help us adopt the assessment of character journalists had formed.

In 1999 and 2000, so it went as Gore's words were persistently scrambled to reinvent him as the world's biggest liar. In this manner, the press corps found a way to punish Bill Clinton, and to give us the war in Iraq.

Is that what happened in 1972, when the tears which later didn't exist were streaming down Muskie's face? You'll never see that question assessed. When it comes to our upper-end press, Homey don't play that game!

Al Gore's suit coat had too many buttons. Muskie didn't play poker right.

Dukakis should have punched Shaw in the nose. Hillary Clinton (AKA "Nurse Ratched") didn't ski on the bunny slopes right. Plus, she'd murdered all those people! Meanwhile, you'd like to drink a beer with George W. Bush.

Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM) tell us that, anthropologically speaking, this is all we human beings ever really had.

"Man [sic] is the rational animal?" That was always a fantasy, these despondent future experts have said. "In fact, we liked to gossip and promulgate fictions, just as Harari once said!"

At any rate, so it went during the embarrassing yet unremarked Rise of Leadership Down. This went on and on and on, and then it went on some more. Until a crazy person got elected, nobody noticed or cared.

Was it the best sex she ever had? Mercifully, Maples wasn't willing to answer Sawyer's thoughtful question.

She managed to keep that news to herself. Still, the inanity led to The War. "What I wouldn't give for a glass of beer now," one future scholar has said.

Next week: Professoriate Down!