Part 1—Balz on board: With the death of his mentor, the late David Broder, Dan Balz is sometimes considered the dean of the Washington press corps.
In yesterday’s Washington Post, Balz affirmed the instant narrative his own newspaper created last week. In the process, he raised a question which can only be answered by the anthropologists who emerge, on the rare occasion, from within his own corrupt guild.
What is that question? We’ll post it below. First, let’s review Balz’s weekly column, which was quite significant this week.
As always, Balz’s column, The Sunday Take, appeared atop page 2 of yesterday’s Post. On-line, it appears beneath a puzzling headline—a puzzling headline which advanced a familiar, though unexplained, premise.
“It may be too difficult for Hillary Clinton to reinvent herself.” That’s the headline atop the Balz piece.
In one way, we find that headline puzzling. In another way, its premise is highly familiar.
As Balz began his column, he praised Hillary Clinton for her wide “command of issues” and her “knowledge of global hot spots.” He then suggested that she is trying to reinvent herself.
In what way has Clinton been doing that? Headline included, here's the way Balz began:
BALZ (6/29/14): It may be too difficult for Hillary Clinton to reinvent herselfAs he began, Balz heaped praise on Clinton, a favor Marc Antony once bestowed on Brutus and the rest.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has a sparkling résumé but she is also captive to that biography. Experience is her greatest asset but she is constrained by her longevity in the public arena. She knows plenty—but perhaps too much to become an aspirational presidential candidate offering unlimited possibilities. She can evoke realism but can she seize the future?
Through countless interviews over the past few weeks, the prospective White House candidate has demonstrated the value of experience. Her command of issues, her knowledge of global hot spots, her familiarity with world leaders, her understanding of the presidency, her recognition of the challenges of gridlocked politics—all of these set her apart from virtually everyone else who may run in 2016, with the possible exception of Vice President Biden.
Those public appearances also have reinforced just how difficult it is for someone who has been in the political maelstrom for a quarter of a century to reinvent herself or to suddenly appear (or be viewed) as fresh and forward-looking. There is simply too much history in the minds of most Americans, except the very young, for the presentation of someone other than the familiar Hillary Clinton. Her book tour is a reminder that no candidate, or president, is as good as his or her advance billing.
Balz praised Clinton’s “command of issues,” her “knowledge of global hot spots.” He spoke of her “familiarity with world leaders,” her “recognition of the challenges of gridlocked politics.”
But how odd! Balz then said that Clinton’s recent interviews show how hard it is for someone like her “to reinvent herself.”
That statement went directly to headline. We have no idea what it means.
In what way has Clinton been trying to reinvent herself? We have no idea, nor can we find the place in his column where Balz tries to explain.
We do know this—the unlovely claim of “reinvention” is part of a long-standing narrative concerning the Clintons and Gore. The idea that Candidate Gore was in a constant state of “reinvention” was one of the staples of the press corps’ scripting of Campaign 2000.
Al Gore is reinventing himself! This claim was advanced with comic-book zeal, as these narratives always are. This theme reemerges, without explanation, in Balz’s peculiar new column. Starting in the headline, the familiar old talking-point was sent to the rest of the guild.
How is Clinton “reinventing herself?” Dan Balz, a honorable man, never quite explains! But as he continues, Balz affirms the new narrative which has emerged from the Clinton book tour—a waspish brew concerning personal wealth, troubling gaffes and the possibility of being “out of touch.”
Does Clinton have command of the issues? Is she amazingly knowledgeable? For the record, that isn’t our view of Hillary Clinton, whom we don’t adore as a pol. That’s what Balz himself said!
Quickly, though, these words of praise led Balz to the passage shown below. In this passage, he pronounces full-throated affirmation of his newspaper’s instant narrative about the deeply troubling Clinton. At the same time, he fails to explain the odd behavior of his own poisonous guild:
BALZ (continuing directly): Clinton has spent the month promoting her new book, “Hard Choices.” What has drawn the most attention, of course, are her stumbles, particularly those involving the wealth she and her husband, Bill Clinton, have amassed since his presidency ended.Just like that, there it was! In that passage, you see the dean of D.C. “reporters” affirming the narrative which sprang full-blown from his own paper last week.
Her comments about being “dead broke” upon leaving the White House and not being among the “truly well off” today have triggered an avalanche of coverage raising questions about whether she has lost touch with the lives of ordinary Americans.
The Clintons no doubt still see themselves much the same as when they first met in law school more than four decades ago. Neither came from great wealth, and his origins were far more humble than hers. Both had brains and ambition and the opportunity to act on them, and they did. They rose to the pinnacle of the public sphere, and in the past decade, they have also gotten rich.
Their public accomplishments were not handed to them. By “dint of hard work,” as she puts it, they have become one of the most powerful and famous couples in the world—a past president and possible future president. The Clintons’ lives today could hardly be more different from the lives of most Americans.
Below, you see the essence of Balz’s remarks. This is the lens through which your “press corps” has now agreed to filter reporting and punditry about a presidential campaign which is almost three years away:
Hillary Clinton is very rich. She has also committed two stumbles.Just for the record, we once met Balz, up in New Hampshire, during the 2000 primary. We were introduced by Mary Matalin, at a press corps watering hole.
Her life “could hardly more different from the lives of most Americans.” She may be out of touch!
Just for the record, Balz’s life “could hardly be more different from the lives of most Americans.” But that’s neither here nor there!
Balz is certainly right on one point. Without any question, the pair of “stumbles” he cites have produced an “avalanche of coverage” in recent weeks. Within his own guild, a string of very wealthy people have been wringing their very wealthy hands, displaying their enormous concern about the meaning of these troubling events.
In the words of CNN’s Sunny Hostin, these inveterate hustlers are concerned that Hillary Clinton may no longer be “Jenny from the block.”
They’ve talked and talked about the “stumbles,” and about Clinton’s wealth. As you know if you own a TV, they’ve talked about nothing else.
Here’s what Balz forgot to explain in his important column. Why did a couple of “stumbles” produce an “avalanche?”
Why are “journalists” discussing those stumbles rather than the many issues Clinton so deftly commands? Why is this guild so obsessed with these stumbles? Why have they obsessively focused on a pair of alleged gaffes?
Columnist Balz blew right past that point. This conduct is required of leaders within this guild.
On the print side, Balz’s own Washington Post has been the leader in creating the avalanche of concern he deftly summarizes. In the past week, the young “reporter” Philip Rucker published two 1800-word, front-page reports about the Clintons’ troubling wealth.
On Saturday, the youngster produced a third, shorter report about the “grotesque” and “obscene” amounts of money Clinton commands.
Yesterday, Balz affirmed all aspects of this narrative in his weekly column. As he did, Ruth Marcus produced a screeching op-ed column in which she eventually went all-italicized caps, defiantly telling Hillary Clinton THAT SHE SIMPLY HAS TO STOP EARNING SO MUCH MONEY.
Who died and made Ruth Marcus the Inka? What makes this stunningly privileged person imagine herself the sun god?
No one—and we do mean no one—is going to ask that question! Within the closed circle of the American “discourse,” such conduct goes unchallenged.
These people have done this sort of thing many times in the past. Most consequentially, they did this for twenty months during Campaign 2000, starting in March 1999, when they unveiled the prevailing narrative for coverage of that campaign.
Rather plainly, their conduct sent George Bush to the White House. Now, they’re at it again.
Let’s not miss an important point. Career liberals have always sat by, saying nothing, as these “journalistic” scams have unfolded.
E. J. Dionne isn’t going to help you with this! The silence of these liberal lambs has always been an essential part of this highly destructive and inane tribal practice.
It would almost take an anthropologist to explain the behavior of this strange tribe! Tomorrow, we’ll start with the late Michael Hastings, the first of three “anthropologists within” whose work we’ll consult this week.
Tomorrow: Walking like an anthropologist, Hastings profiles the guild
The headline in our hard-copy Post: In our hard-copy Sunday Post, Balz’s column ran beneath this headline:
“The non-reinvention of Hillary Clinton”
You’re right! The editor who composed that headline is barely literate. That said, literacy isn’t required within this tribe. Deference to narrative is.