The relentless dumbness of us the people!

MONDAY, MARCH 17, 2014

Dowd’s latest comment thread: Following in the wake of talk radio, comment threads have helped us see the dumbness of us the people.

Yesterday, the comments to Maureen Dowd’s latest column helped us see how dumb we can get inside our tribal worlds.

On the whole, Dowd’s column was the latest hail of insults aimed at Obama, including a requisite reference to his mom jeans. But as she started, Dowd dismissed Scott Brown’s chances of winning Jeanne Shaheen’s Senate seat in New Hampshire.

Dowd called Brown a “carpetbagger.” This produced a flurry of questions and comments from clueless conservative readers.

These readers felt sure that Dowd had never applied such a term to Hillary Clinton. They took turns showing how tribalized they are:
COMMENTER FROM CALIFORNIA (3/16/14): Did Ms. Dowd ever use the term carpetbagger to describe Hillary Clinton? I didn't think so.

COMMENTER FROM FLORIDA: Maureeeen...Was Hillary a CARPETBAGGER when she ran for the U.S. Senate in New York? Just asking...

COMMENTER FROM NEW YORK: Carpetbagging? Did you ever use this term to describe Mrs. Clinton's foray into NY?

COMMENTER FROM ILLINOIS: Did Ms. Dowd ever refer to New York Senator Clinton as a "carpetbagger?”

COMMENTER FROM KENTUCKY: Maureen speaks of carpetbaggers and forgets Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, who'd probably spent endless minutes in that state before deciding to run for office? That's just funny.

COMMENTER FROM UNNAMED STATE: Did you ever refer to Hillary Clinton as a carpetbagger? I can't find it in the archives.
We found roughly a dozen comments in this general vein. Readers seemed sure that a New York Times writer like Dowd would never have applied such a term to Hillary Clinton. Presumably, Dowd’s liberal bias wouldn’t permit such a thing!

Sigh! This is what happens when we the people get locked inside some tribe’s state of closure.

We looked to see how many times Dowd had applied the term to Clinton when she decided to run for the Senate in New York. Answer: Dowd dropped the C-bomb on Clinton three times in 1999.

In this, the first of those three columns, Dowd added the hail of personal insults she typically rained on the Clintons. Nor did she forget Gore:
DOWD (2/17/99): On "Meet the Press," Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan slyly tweaked the First Lady eyeing his seat, saying she would bring a blast of "Illinois-Arkansas enthusiasm to New York." But we would expect Mrs. Clinton to carpetbag, renting an apartment or hotel room to run in New York. The Clintons have always seemed oddly deracinated and unmortgaged.

They have lived in public housing most of their married lives, and their vacation retreats are determined by poll numbers and rentals and the availability of their friends' houses.

When the specter lurked of President Clinton being forced from office, journalists wanted to make comparisons to a disgraced Richard Nixon flying off in a helicopter to San Clemente, but they couldn't figure out where the heck the Clintons would fly off to. All Bill Clinton has is a proposed library site in the river flats of Little Rock.

The Clintons, like the Doles and the Gores, have been more intent on scrambling up the political ladder than on nesting. Their ambition is their address. Their career is the pillow they nuzzle at night.
Apparently, the Bushes weren’t like that! (For the record, the Gores were skilled nesters. They owned two homes at the time—the home just outside D.C. in which Tipper Gore grew up, and a small farm in Tennessee hear the home of Al Gore’s parents.)

After hammering Gore with a few more insults, Dowd dropped the C-bomb on Clinton again at the end of the column. Twenty-one months before the election, her hiss-spitting was in mid-campaign form.

The second time Dowd dropped the bomb, she opined that Hillary Clinton was very much like Kenneth Starr:
DOWD (6/13/99): [Starr] is also pursuing two trials prosecuting Webster Hubbell. In one, which is scheduled to begin in August, Mr. Hubbell is charged with hiding information about the role he and one of his Rose Law Firm partners, Mrs. Clinton, played in an Arkansas land deal that contributed to the fall of an S.& L.

In that indictment of Mr. Hubbell, Hillary is identified only as "The Billing Partner." But Mr. Starr could call her as a witness in the trial, and that would be embarrassing, coming right as she is starting her new life as a carpetbagger.

Even in a capital that has seen plenty of riveting feuds, this one is remarkable. The liberal First Lady and the conservative prosecutor have always seemed destined—or doomed—to slug it out...

As Alessandra Stanley wrote in The Times in January 1998, the two are opposite-sex doppelgangers. They are both accomplished, brainy lawyers, devoted parents, religious, relentless and, when they wish to be, charming.
By December, Dowd’s prediction—Clinton will rent a room in New York— had turned out to be wrong. She returned to her strongest tool—the unhinged personal insult:
DOWD (12/8/99): Everybody agrees that something historically momentous has occurred in the White House. But it is not that the first lady is seeking political office on her own. It is that the first lady is moving out of the White House while her husband is still occupying it.

Mrs. Clinton is packing her bags for New York and decorating the Christmas tree in Washington. As usual, a Clinton is in two places at one time. But the magnitude of this dissonance is staggering. Even as she ornaments the White House for the holidays, so as to present it to the country as a model setting for a warm family Christmas, she is taking her Oriental carpet and her easy chair and leaving the house. A carpetbagger indeed.

The Clintons continue to break creative new ground in family dysfunction. Will they live together in Chappaqua? Why did she refer to her New York address as "my house"?
Is something more cataclysmic than a commuter arrangement in the offing?

And what else, precisely, is she packing?
If she roots around in that closet of Arkansas tchotchkes, maybe she'll find the complete set of those Rose Law Firm billing records.

All their adult lives the Clintons have been moochers—excuse me, public servants—who have lived in public housing and borrowed private housing for vacations. They are rootless people preaching to the nation about the need for roots.
At least “everyone agreed!” We could all be thankful for that!

At this same time, Dowd was unleashing her vile, counterfactual attacks on Naomi Wolf. On November 3, she brought in Lionel Tiger as a beard, quoting various insults he voiced while adding many of her own. In the column’s ugliest moment, she revived one of her favorite invented claims:

According to Dowd, Wolf “urged women to release their inner sluts” in her 1993 book, Fire With Fire.

Years before, Dowd had popularized the smutty claim, which she seems to have lifted from somebody else. As for the clownish book Dowd maligned, her own newspaper, the New York Times, had picked it as one of 1993’s “Notable Books of the Year.”

Every step of the way, the career liberal world agreed to swallow this garbage. Fifteen years later, the conservative world is full of people who feel sure that Maureen Dowd would never have dropped a C-bomb on Hillary Clinton.

Times writers are full of liberal bias, these disinformed people have endlessly heard. Craven to the core, corrupt to the soul, the career liberal world has always been willing to let that great story be told.

59 comments:

  1. To heck with Dowd --- she's unhinged. I look forward to Bob and his crew continuing to obfruscate and sidestep the obvious, as noted on MVP Krugman's column today: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/opinion/krugman-that-old-time-whistle.html?hp&rref=opinion

    Nah, nuthin to see here folks!

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    1. Krugman could be such a good pundit, but...

      Here's an outright lie from today's column: "Why, he even cited the work of serious scholars — people like Charles Murray, most famous for arguing that blacks are genetically inferior to whites. "

      Krugman is referring to The Bell Curve, a book that explicitly says that one can't conclude that blacks are genetically inferior to whites. In fact, it makes this statement multiple times.

      Here's another Krugman lie: "Yet it’s hard to find angry Tea Party denunciations of huge Wall Street bailouts"

      In fact, the Tea Party was opposed to TARP.

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    2. In fact TARP was signed in October of 2008, the Santelli rant directed against home owners with mortgages which galvanized and marked the beginning of the centralization of the Tea Party movement which was an utterly insignificant force up until that transition came in February, 2009. Once centralized the Tea Party controllers turned just about 100% of any wrath being expressed by the Tea Party rank and file away from New York and towards Washington.

      Dick Armey's Contract from America, supported by CPAC, ended up with ten action points which in total were anti-Washington. In the meantime the Fed had provided back door subsidies to most of the intended beneficiaries of TARP allowing those entities to "pay back" the TARP funds "at a profit" to the government.

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    3. David, Murray argued that no amount of intervention worked to improve test scores of blacks. Doesn't that amount to suggesting that their inferiority on such measures was genetic? If it were environmental, you would expect the scores to improve with intervention. Murray didn't have the guts to make the claim but he was making it indirectly and those who agree with his camouflaged assertion certainly recognize that. A pro forma disclaimer is useless if you then go on and make an argument that negates it.

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    4. CMike, shame on you!

      Krugman can't find eveidence of Tea Party denunciations of huge Wall Street bailouts. David in Cal credits them for opposing something passed before they existed.

      I was fully ready to state, without finding evidence, Tea Party opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voyage of Discovery of 1492, and Noah's Bailout of the Species Endangerment Act of a Wrathful God.

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    5. DAinCA is half right in his comment on TBC. And that's about half more than he usually is. TBC is careful to hedge its bets on IQ and race, but says "It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences." while declaring that 40% to 80% of IQ is heritable. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Say no more.

      The basic problem with TBC is that race isn't so much genetic as cultural, in the sense that genetic diversity among people we label as the same race is as great as between people we label as different races. That and IQ tests measure how well people do on IQ tests.

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    6. Maybe more headway would be made if both parties were to stop focusing on race and instead focus on how to address poverty issues in general.

      The nationwide distribution of enrollees in Medicaid is:

      White 42%, Black, 20%, Hispanic, 29%, Other, 9%

      Krugman seems to argue that conservatives will spite the white 42% to hurt the black and Hispanic enrollees. A similar problem exists with that assertion with respect to other forms of social assistance. I think there has to be more motivating conservatives than this.

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    7. deadrat, I'm afraid you took quotes from TBC out of context. Your quotes are generalities, but TBC explicitly says that you can't make any judgment about blacks' genetic intelligence vs. whites because their condition in this country is so different. This is a point the book makes several times.

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    8. DAinCA, I'm afraid that if you told me the sun was coming up in the east tomorrow, I'd get up at dawn to check. It's been a long time since I read TBC, and I'm willing to stand corrected, but not by your claims. Quoting the book in context will suffice.

      Sorry.

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    9. I would add, deadrat, that there's nothing exceptional about the comment, "It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences." Don't you agree with this comment? To disagree would be to say that all racial differences in IQ are entirely due to genes or entirely due to environment. I hardly think you'd endorse either of those POVs.

      Also, I think your quote about 40% to 80% of IQ being heritable was incomplete. As I recall, this was presented, not as the opinion of the authors of TBC, but rather as the belief of some group of experts in the field.

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    10. The only thing exceptional about the comment about genes and the environment is that conveys exactly zero bits of information. Just slightly above the information density of IQ, a measurement of how well people do on IQ tests.

      As I said, I'm willing to stand corrected on the percentage of the meaningless statistic that TBC imputes to inheritance. But because I'm familiar with your comments, you lost me at "I think." If you've got evidence to present from the book, I'm ready to stand corrected.

      I can't blame you for not re-reading this piece of garbage, since I don't plan to do your homework and re-read it myself.

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  2. A sample of posters on a Dowd piece may or may not prove anything; but we should not that the sample is likely to be contaminated by an over abundance of people still stupid enough to read Dowd.

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  3. Thank you for reminding us how awful Dowd was to the Clintons. Is she ever nice to anyone?

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    1. Are you asking Somerby?????? (Low mordant chuckle)

      He only reads and reproduces online comments from other
      people's work. He needs no unpleasant reminders that his pronouncements of the dumbness of the people applies to his readers as well.

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  4. Thanks for pointing out Dowd's consistency on this issue.

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    1. Given the context I have to agree. She would have been hypocritical to leave out Gore.

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  5. A lot of people in NH commute to jobs in MA and folks in MA go to NH to shop. It isn't as big a change in residence as it might seem.

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  6. Ezra Klein's perfidy goes unmentioned still.

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    1. Nobody cares about Ezra Klein.

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    2. Ezra Klein is a major player in Liberalworld's media. WashingtonPost wunderkind. MSNBC frequent flier.

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    3. LGBT people care about Ezra Klein. Maybe Bob and 4:12
      don't care about gay people.

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    4. LGBT people are targeting Klein because they don't like what one of his new columnists said (elsewhere). Klein isn't an issue here. I'm sure there are lots of other websites where people want to discuss this.

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    5. True. Conservative commentary "disappearing" the things
      MoDo said about Hil and Web Hubbell in the summer of '99
      is a tad more petinent to local tastes aroung here.

      But you still don't care about gay people. Neither does Bob.

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    6. What do you mean by "targeting."

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    7. Maybe I don't agree with secondary boycotts. By targeting I mean coming into websites and trying to hijack comment threads to attack someone because of an issue that is peripheral at best to anything being discussed for the purpose of trying to get someone else fired. People posting such comments seem to think that if they pressure Klein (at the beginning of his new venture), they can get rid of someone whose views they dislike. That is kind of ugly, in my opinion. But then so is a lot of what occurs in these comments.

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    8. I care about civil rights for all, but no, I don't care about gay people as such. They are not the center of my universe and no one cares about Ezra Klein here because he can hire whoever he wants and people can complain about it in the comments over there -- because that's how the internet works.

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    9. Yes. Targetting by hijackers. It is ugly.

      It is hiss spitting. Vile. Corrupt to the soul and craven to the core commentary.

      Well, thanks to your sage advice we will be patient. I am sure when Somerby wants to talk about Klein again it will be to mention how young he is.

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  7. "Craven to the core, corrupt to the soul, the career liberal world has always been willing to let that great story be told."

    I can recall Dowd coming under fierce criticism for years, dating as far back as 1995, when Susan Faludi famously and memorably skewered her in The Nation. Also, use the little Google thingy and you'll find many examples.

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    1. And Faludi isn't exactly a fringe character in this liberal world of which Bob speaks.

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    2. And Naomi Wolff is a Tea Party heroine now.

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    3. Here's Faludi's "fierce criticism" updated.

      [QUOTE]>>>>Feminist Queen Bee Susan Faludi Tackles Men With Book

      By Alexandra Jacobs On September 27, 1999 [in a New York Observer author profile/book review]:

      ...Maybe it isn’t good form to pit two female writers against each other-sisterhood, etc.-but Ms. Faludi started it, with a May 13, 1996, opinion piece in The Nation headlined “Does Maureen Dowd Have an Opinion?” “Surface is everything,” Ms. Faludi wrote of Ms. Dowd’s mode of punditry, comparing her to a “50′s sweater girl” who “eyes male politicians as if they were pimply teens or prospective suitors … It’s as if we’ve gone from Anna Quindlen to Anna Quibbler.”

      "Oh, god ,” said Ms. Faludi on the phone, when reminded of her Nation article. “Yeah, actually, you know I wrote that piece back when she was just starting out her column … and grumpiness aside, what I was really trying to say was, you know, ‘Please stop writing about shopping, ’cause you’re better than that, and you have more to say.’ And since then, probably no thanks to me, but for whatever other reason, she has stopped writing about trips to Barneys and has taken on a lot of meaty subjects.”

      Ms. Faludi said she liked [Dowd's September 12, 1999] “Sure I Would”[*] piece. “I think it’s an incredibly hard job,” she said of Ms. Dowd’s Times gig. “It took me close to a decade to finish one book. My hat’s off to anyone who can write that frequently. I can barely get a book done and keep the plants in my house watered, in fact I don’t water the plants …”

      [* ...Maureen Dowd took issue with writer Tom Junod’s heavy-breathing piece about Hillary Clinton {in her "Sure I Would" piece}. “If you want to understand exactly how trivializing it is to sexualize Hillary Clinton in this way,” wrote Ms. Dowd, “let’s apply the Junod approach (and much of his own panting vocabulary) to male candidates.” Which she does, to droll effect....]
      <<<<<[END QUOTE]

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    4. Oh, well that makes it OK then. We were all mistaken and Dowd is wonderful -- NOT.

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  8. I am offended Bob Somerby chose this, off all days, to rain on Dowd's parade.

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    1. You'd have a better complaint if Dowd had chosen to write about something relevant to the day.

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    2. She already did. And Bob responded by writing something relevant to 2000.

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    3. Now, now, 4:13. By writing that 4:07 is just demonstrating solidarity with all those Dowd commenters who failed to know about all those C-bombs Dowd dropped back at the turn of the century.

      You know, the C-bombs Liberalworld let her get away with and thus fostered the ignorance we see manifested in Conservativeworld today.

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    4. Not to mention the tribalism.

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  9. "comment threads have helped us see the dumbness of us the people."

    Is this how Malala would put it?

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    1. Malala doesn't like you and neither does your mother.

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    2. "Malala doesn't like you and neither does your mother."

      Is that how Malala would put it?

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    3. If Malala had a gun she would not shoot Taliban. She might fire a warning shot in your direction however.And it is a dead fire cinch she wan't be revisiting Ft.Lee as long as Mayor Story Changer is still in charge.

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  10. How are black kids being helped here?

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    1. They were helped plenty last Friday. Now go jump off the Eiffe Tower or where ever it is trolls jump from while pretending to care about people Bob taught for years.

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    2. Bob needs to focus more on black kids because he's the only one left who cares about them.

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    3. He can make them a brown bag lunch when Ryan takes away their free and reduced lunch.

      I am surprised Bob has not talked about the threat this attack by Ryan represents to disaggregation of NAEP gold standard measurements of lower income students.

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    4. Hey 4:31, how much is MSNBC paying for a quick comment like that?

      Please tell us how it's really just your personal conviction and outrage that creates the need for snark against this blog that has been such an obvious detriment to this culture.

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    5. Hey 5:08. Name someone who cares besides Bob. Name someone who cares more than Bob?

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    6. I would read this website no matter what it was about just to spite the ugly trolls that have infested these comments.

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    7. How does an act of spite help black children?

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    8. How do you trolls help?

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