This just is: Mitt Romney said “zany!”


The real Gail Collins is back—and she’s citing Ashley Parker: Like you, we were concerned.

But in this morning’s column, Gail Collins put our concerns to rest. Quickly, she was up to old tricks. Just like that, the real Gail Collins was back:
COLLINS (12/15/11): Mitt Romney arrived in New York City on Wednesday, newly endorsed by Christine O’Donnell, who we have not seen since her not-a-witch race for the U.S. Senate. She praised Romney for having “been consistent since he changed his mind.” I so miss Christine O’Donnell.

Romney was in town to raise money. Iowa and New Hampshire get the love; we get the traffic jams. ’Twas ever thus. We’re not bitter, really.

However, he did sit down with The Times’s Jeff Zeleny and Ashley Parker to compare himself to Newt Gingrich. (The above-the-fray Mitt is so November.) “Zany is not what we need in a president,” he said.

I would say this is an extremely safe position for Romney to take because the odds are very good that no one has ever called Mitt zany in his entire life. Unless it was when he drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the station wagon. (“Hey, Mister, you got an Irish setter on top of your car. What are you, zany or something?”)
We got to enjoy some good solid fun as Rome continued to burn. She started out with Christine O’Donnell, then cited the fatuous Ashley Parker. But then, it was on to Mitt Romney’s dog!

Last week, Collins didn’t mention Seamus at all—not in either one of her columns! It was only the second such week of the fall, not counting the week of October 27, when Collins was openly said to be “off.”

Today, though, the silly shit is back with a vengeance in Collins’ column. She focuses on the press corps’ latest craze—the fact that Romney said the word “zany” in his interview with Parker, Maureen Dowd’s former top researcher.

Within the madhouse still known as a “press corps,” Candidate Romney’s use of “zany” is the new $10,000 bet. Indeed, this latest piece of abject nonsense rules the front-page of this morning’s Times. In our hard-copy paper, these are the headlines sitting atop the featured front-page report:

Bracing for Rough Fight, He Questions if Rival Is Credible Choice
The report was written by Zeleny/Barbaro/Parker. The giants discuss the use of “zany” right in their opening graf.

“Zany” ruled much of cable last night. The life-forms wasted everyone’s time examining the somewhat archaic word choice. Collins fiddles around with this hottest new topic, then wisks us away to this:
COLLINS: Perhaps Romney was worried that all those even-keeled virtues sounded too much like Barack Obama, because he veered off into an attack on the current administration’s foreign policy failures. “When Honduras wanted to toss out their pro-Marxist president, our president stood with him,” he said.

O.K., two problems here. First of all, you can hardly talk about Iraq or Afghanistan without somebody announcing that all the country cares about is jobs, jobs, jobs. Where do you think a former diplomatic problem in Honduras currently stands on the average voter’s list of Things to Worry About?
In this passage, Collins exhibits a semi-standard play. When a candidate is interviewed by the Times, you select the most obscure thing he said, then complain about how obscure that particular statement was! We recalled Dowd’s reaction when Candidate Gore spoke to an extended collection of the life-forms in June 2000:
DOWD (6/14/00): The vice president spoke 1,565 words, really, really slowly, with glacial pauses between each word. He propounded and expounded for more than 15 minutes, touching on such diverse topics as the human genome, the ice-free future of the Arctic Ocean, the "Star Wars" journey, the climate of New York City, federal entitlements, the climate of Atlanta, embassy security, the climate of Illinois, Individual Development Accounts, the climate of Oklahoma and the state of the U.S. economy in 1835. But despite some prodding, he never did get around to answering.

He simply kept exhaustively not answering in that formal voice that sounds as though he has to guide his listeners by the hand, no matter how well they know the subject.

All . . . those . . . drawn . . . out . . . syllables . . . signifying . . . nothing . . . had . . . a . . . soporific . . . effect . . . on . . . me. But when I snapped back to attention, I hadn't missed a thing.

The vice president was apologizing for being long-winded and belaboring points, even as he continued to belabor long-winded points.
Darlings! Lady Dowd was just desperately bored! Indeed, she almost nodded off, a problem Lord Broder would confront a few months later. It was his reaction to a speech the nation loved, a speech which was termed a “home run.” See THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/13/11.

This is the way this small mafia works; it’s the way they’ve functioned for decades. Out on this morning’s page one, we were struck by the fact that Zeleny/Barbaro/Parker managed to discuss their interview with Romney without mentioning even one policy matter.

They care about hair and marriage and clothes. They care about deeply troubling bets. They care about slightly odd words like “zany.”

And darlings! They care about Seamus, Mitt Romney’s roof-strapped dog!

Visit our incomparable archives: For our original report on the suffering of Dowd, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/15/00.


  1. Mindless, factless, useless. Our contemporary establishment media.

    But they are part of the 1% or aspire to be, so that's all that matters!

  2. Good solid fun? That was a terrible joke if one analyzes jokes based on how funny they are.

    Where's the humor? There is no set up. It's just a stupid punch line, "this one time, Mitt Romney strapped a dog to the roof of his car."

    And also, Maureen Dowd has "researchers?" Now that's funny. Ha, ha?

    Lastly, Romney's whopper re Honduras is maddening to me because of course it's the exact opposite of what Romney alleges (which I'm sure he's well aware of). Obama more than likely HELPED overthrow the democratically elected president of Honduras and hindered the rest of the Americas from coming to the president's aid.

    And Collins betrays her vast ignorance when she characterizes the coup in Hondurus as a "diplomatic problem." She is evidently buying Romney's false frame (that Obama sided with the ousted president) and acting like Obama has something to be embarrassed about for doing so (although he really didn't).

    The fact the U.S. backed, supported, or accepted one more fascist coup in yet another country is a big yawner to the American media.

  3. I'm starting to think that Collins may well be insane. Like, seriously. Could a sane person make it their mission in life to mention this dog story as many times as possible? I know the Times is bad, but come on. How can they continue to put up with this nonsense?

  4. Even worse, my understanding is that Zeleny introduced the word "zany" into the conversation and Romney just parroted it back in his answer "Why yes, Newt *is* zany!") The next time the Times interviews a candidate they should see if they can get the word "jabberwocky" into the answer.

  5. However the word "zany" got into the conversation, I think it's a win for Romney. In the past, successful candidates have sometimes defeated their adversaries with a catch phrase, e.g. "Where's the beef?" or "There you go again."

    Now that the media have picked up the word "zany", millions of voters may tend to think of Gingrich as zany.

  6. Gingrich turned the use of the now-strange word "zany" back on Romney at tonight's Fox News Channel GOP debate.

    It's not going to stick. What is sticking is that Romney is a weird flipflopper who takes whatever position seems popular at the time; a soulless, creepy multimillionaire who's totally out of touch with the vast majority of Americans.

    Willard Mitt Romney is the "zany" one, among many other things.

  7. Any chance on a Hitchens post?

  8. I was just on the Merriam Webster dictionary's site and saw that had "zany" up as a trending word because of Romney. I'm not as much surprised that people are looking up the word (probably to see if it's acceptable English) as I am that every journalist thinks it's newsworthy - it seems like a bland insult to me.

    Like, what's so weird about the word "zany"? Is this an SAT word that our ruling class only remembers from a flashcard?

  9. The Houston Chronicle doesn't usually carry Gail Collins and I don't usually read the print version of the paper. But this morning, I did read the print version and there she was with a piece about Mitt. I read just far enough to see if she was going to mention the dog. Luckily for me, it didn't take her long.