Frank Bruni’s inquiring mind wants to know!


No stone left unturned: Frank Bruni gets off to a rather bad start in this morning's column. And things just go downhill from here:
BRUNI (6/5/12): By the end of John Edwards’s trial, we’d all heard more than we ever wanted to about the sad characters in this sordid melodrama: the politician himself, whose ego trumps Trump’s; his onetime aide, who mistook “Single White Female” for an instruction manual; the New Age mistress, who complained when a love nest lacked the proper feng shui. Regrettably, she has a memoir due out soon. Proper feng shui dictates its placement in the remainder bin.
John Edwards’ trial ended last week. By that time, we had “all heard more than we ever wanted to about the sad characters” in the trial, Bruni says at the start of his piece.

Even as he continues to talk about those same sad characters!

We’d call that a very bad start. But soon, the gentleman found a new way to continue this pointless tale.

The trial has been over for a week. But it seems that Bruni’s restless mind has simply refused to stop churning:
BRUNI (continuing directly): But there’s a figure from the trial I can’t stop thinking about, someone on the fringes of the melodrama but in the center of Edwards’s courtroom retinue, the kind of steadfast supporting player every political sex scandal seems to demand, the archetype with the least accessible but most fascinating tangle of emotions.

What was Cate Edwards thinking? What went through her mind and heart as she walked with her father into court every morning, took a place in the row behind his, listened to fresh accounts of his treacheries and her mother’s torment, nervously twisted her long hair, and then walked with him back out of court, day after queasy-making day?
Good God. Tugging his weiner and scratching his keister, Bruni devotes his entire column to this obscene, pointless musing.

People, what was Cate Edwards thinking? Dispiriting minds want to know!

Why do we call this column obscene? As Bruce Springsteen once suggested, “Take a good look around.”

Your home town is in a world of hurt. Many topics need exploring. Bruni has an invaluable platform—and he wants to know what Cate Edwards has been thinking in the last few months.

In April 2007, Maureen Dowd went after Cate Edwards for her supposedly fatuous ways. Unable to go after John Edwards’ wife, Dowd settled for the daughter. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/23/07. In the same column, Dowd announced that John Kerry "sank himself" in 2004 "by ordering a cheese steak in Philly with Swiss instead of Cheez Whiz.")

Since then, the world has been coming apart, but The Big Silly simply can’t stop. This is the way of an upper-class press corps, a "press corps" which can't get a grip.

Also today: Joe Nocera offers an invaluable look at one aspect of that upper-class press corps, discussing the way liberal journalists learn to look down on the working-class folk they have moved far beyond.

Nocera's discussion is very important. For unknown reasons, Cate Edwards' private thoughts don't seem to be his concern.


  1. A problem, according to Nocera's column: We liberals have put “identity politics over economic justice.”

    I think that's almost exactly correct.

    We are increasingly at and beyond the point where to advance the interests of [insert racial/gender/other group here] it is much better to pursue "economic justice" than to try to serve that group as a group.

    Shorter: The Occupy movement is right.

    1. No, unfortunately the Occupy movement is incoherent, wishy-washy and susceptible to infiltration by Dem Party politicos on this matter.As you would guess would be the case, given its Anarchic organizational non-structure.

  2. There's no need -- in the absence of greed for maximizing campaign contributions, that is -- to choose one to the exclusion of the other. They both are a matter of justice. But Democrats became embarrassed to be associated with economic justice -- that is, for many, with unions, and for some, with progressive tax rates. Nixon prematurely said, "We are all Keynesians now." Neo-liberal Democrats say, "We are all Reaganites now."

    1. Here is one reason for it:

      Identity politics is alienating to the groups not favored. Republicans have been using this fact to their advantage. Therefore identity politics can reduce the chance of enacting change.

      Here is another:

      Identity politics masks the extent to which groups suffer not through their identity itself but through their inclusion in the greater, also suffering, mass. The accompanying failure to address economic issues serves the goals of the masters of both parties. Therefore, identity politics can reduce the extent to which outcomes are improved.

  3. Conservatives claim that Democrats have taken the Black, Latino, and union votes for granted for decades, and given little in return.
    For the most part, that charge is correct.

    A few Democrats have recognized this, but still do too little, too late.

    George Will claims that government employees enjoy a worker's paradise that they extorted from hard-working taxpayers using the blunt force of their unions.

    Will states that government employees are way ahead of private sector workers because of collective bargaining abuses by unions.

    What he conveniently fails to mention is that government employees have not leaped ahead of the private sector, rather, they have made a few modest gains while private sector workers have stood still or lost ground.

    As I write, a critical battle is being fought in Wisconsin. The outcome could spell the end of the labor union movement in America.

    Or it could spark a rebirth of the progressive movement, and possibly start a reversal of the "wealth redistribution" trend the rich and powerful have enjoyed for the past 50 years.

  4. The Daily Howler is quite correct in pointing out that Bruni is one sick @~@#, and looks for weird excuses for his own prurient interest. Presumably Edward's Daughter thoughts run along the same lines as anyone confronting the imperfections of a parent.
    But why is the actual relevant question being ignored: Were the prosecutors of this baseless case motivated by both politics and not the not ungrounded hunch that a jury might throw the law aside and use the work of people like Bruni as the basis of their verdict?
    I'm convinced the DA's office in LA took Robert Blake to Court when they had no case on the basis of a hanging campaign led by the city's Drive Time DJs. As with the horrible waste of the public's time and money with Ken Starr, it's the public who pays the bill for such nonsense. But the press, after jumping into bed with Right Wing prosectors, is not likely to hold anyone accountable. Big surprise.

    1. And for the same reasons Florida prosecutors imagine they may win a (so far) groundless murder conviction against George Zimmerman.

  5. Reassuring to learn that others shared my revulsion at the Bruni column. Revulsion because, short version, it's none of my business, and gossipy speculation about Cate Edwards is unseemly. And, to the extent that I can't help but pay attention to her and wonder a little (even without Bruni), all I can say from afar is, bully for her, and I wish her, and everyone in her now larger and very complicated family, all the best. Meanwhile, leave her be. Don't write about her. Write about Mitt's dog, if you must write about something irrelevant.

    Nocera's column much more interesting, but also (if I may say) very irritating. Who are the "we" here? Not me! Not lots of us who, while sympathetic to and involved in promoting the concerns of various groups involved in "identity politics," never lost sight of economics and class issues -- and certainly never lost sight of the labor movement. Who "we," white man? asketh Tonto.

    There's a theory about generations and skippings in the US. For instance, WWII connects with Vietnam, with Korea in between. Nocera represents the Korea generation. The man in the grey flannel suit. Do these people actually watch Mad Men?

    The grey flannel suit won tonight in Wisconsin. We (WWII, Vietnam) need to find our grandchildren and get moving.