Part 2—Utterly phony and faux: With Hillary Clinton’s official announcement, our nation’s quadrennial, two-year charade achieved its official start.
The charade to which we refer takes the form of a parade staged by our national “press corps.” In these recurring parades, our “journalists” pretend to discuss our presidential campaigns.
These are parades of the fake, phony, faux. Consider the column in which Frank Bruni helped launch the new procession.
Bruni perched himself on a float, floral arrangements around him. The band was playing as he passed, with Maureen Dowd blowing a tuba.
Below, you see the way he began, headline included.
“Already I’m confused,” Bruni said. That would turn out to be the ultimate essence of faux:
BRUNI (4/19/15): Hillary’s Shelved CrownAlready, Bruni was confused—or at least, so he said.
The 2016 presidential campaign is only now gathering steam and already I’m confused.
His statement was the essence of faux. As he continued, Bruni pretended to explain his assertion. He trafficked in the language of snark, the argot of modern press piddle:
BRUNI (continuing directly): For starters, Hillary Clinton says she’s focusing on “everyday Americans.” Which of the nation’s voters don’t fall into that category? Are there voters who are Zimbabweans on Wednesdays? Costa Ricans on Saturdays? Voters who relinquish their citizenship on months beginning with the letter J?Bruni served the mandated snark about the stop at Chipotle. At one point, he shifted to snide, portraying Abedin as a marsupial, along with Clinton herself.
“Everyday Americans” specifically included “everyday Iowans” when Clinton traveled across the heartland in her Scooby van with Huma Abedin, who clings to her so tightly that their relationship could be called marsupial. The duo stopped at a Chipotle near Toledo, Ohio, for a burrito bowl, which is an everyday meal. At another point, Clinton suggested a fondness for bowling, which is an everyday sport.
By “everyday” she obviously means “ordinary,” “regular,” “run-of-the-mill.” She’s euphemizing averageness. And she’s playing to the plaint among many Americans that the rich have their government perks and the poor their government handouts but the larger number of people in the middle have nothing but rents and mortgages and tuition and health care premiums that they struggle to pay.
But is “everyday” a signifier that a voter really craves and feels complimented by? Is it the ideal epithet? You, kind sir, are utterly unexceptional and thus have my devotion. You, dear madam, recede into the cornfields, unnoticed and unnoticeable, but I will find and meet you among the stalks. Maybe we’ll split a burrito bowl.
(Post-Weiner, Abedin is a standard target in her own right.)
In that passage, Bruni alleged concern about a confusing term. Improbably, he said he was confused by this term:
Bruni voiced several concerns about that puzzling term. He feigned confusion about membership in this puzzling class.
“Which of the nation’s voters don’t fall into that category?” the parademaster thoughtfully asked.
He then pretended to wonder if this term might be off-putting to voters. “Is ‘everyday’ a signifier that a voter...feels complimented by?”
These silly poses were utterly faux. At the head of our new parade, Bruni was loudly dissembling.
Let’s start with an obvious observation. As an obvious matter of fact, “everyday Americans” is a completely familiar term in American politics.
Every politician uses the term; so do major journalists. No one finds the term confusing, until the parade begins.
How familiar is that term? Late last month, Obama used it in a formal statement about a departing staff member. In September 2012, Rand Paul even published a book with this confusing title:
“Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused and Imprisoned by the Feds”
The term is used quite widely. No one finds this term “confusing”—until the parade begins, and posers like Bruni need fatuous ways to criticize targeted candidates.
No one finds the term confusing; no one finds it insulting. Meanwhile, to answer that second concern, everyone knows who doesn’t fit in the ranks of “everyday Americans:”
That group would start with overpaid posers like Bruni, who won his spot as a New York Times columnist by making a world-class fool of himself as a campaign reporter.
For examples of that earlier clowning, see our next post. But let’s get clear on the answer to Bruni’s implied question:
Who isn’t an “everyday American?” Bruni isn’t such a person. Neither is his stablemate Dowd, whose kick-off column will be featured here tomorrow.
Bruni and Dowd are members of a cosseted upper-class guild—a guild which has done tremendous harm to the bulk of the public over the past many years.
Now, various members of this guild have started their new parade. Bruni chose to begin with a ludicrous act of faux.
These people have staged these quadrennial parades for the past many years. They will maintain this practice until such time as we the people finally make them stop.
Bruni wasn’t confused by that term. He didn’t think the voters would find the term off-putting.
He was simply too empty, too lazy, too dumb, to formulate a real complaint. Here’s the problem:
As long as we the people are too dumb to see such columns for what they are, columns like this will spit from the tubas as our pundits stage their parades.
Alas! Within the guild we call “the press corps,” everybody loves a parade! Here’s the good news:
In comments this weekend, we thought we saw the rumblings of rebellion from us the everyday rubes down below. Was that the start of actual pushback against these familiar, brainless parades?
We’ll be discussing that possibility for the next several weeks.
Tomorrow: Maureen Dowd loves a parade