Supplemental: Kristof says Carter was viewed as a hick!

MONDAY, JULY 13, 2015

Plus, Davis in his wife’s dress:
Clearly, it’s the biggest insult they can imagine at the Times op-ed page.

This morning, in the paper’s most prominent op-ed piece, we get to see and contemplate Jefferson Davis in his wife’s fanciest dress. Dearest darlings, it’s sublime!

He looks just like a girl!

Peter Manseau, who wrote the piece, probably isn’t Maureen Dowd. Down through the years, it’s Dowd who has made it clear that this constitutes the greatest insult the New York Times op-ed page can conjure—the idea that a man is really a woman, or that a woman is really a man!

Dowd has relentlessly played this game, but only with Democratic pols. Today, Manseau plays this low-IQ game with the utterly irrelevant Davis, at considerable length and from a very high platform.

(Needless to say, this pitiful piddle was aired at Politico first.)

We’ll return to this Galloping Dowdism before our post is through. First, though, was Nicholas Kristof right about the press corps’ treatment of President Carter?

Last Thursday, Kristof wrote a paint-by-the-numbers, ten-minute column about Carter’s moral greatness. He started with an intriguing claim—the claim that Carter was portrayed as a Southern hick, a pitiful rube, by the brilliant mainstream press.

Kristof started by describing the famous old “killer rabbit” incident. After that, he presented his thesis:
KRISTOF (7/9/15): One of our worst traits in journalism is that when we have a narrative in our minds, we often plug in anecdotes that confirm it. Thus we managed to portray President Gerald Ford, a first-rate athlete, as a klutz. And we used a distraught rabbit to confirm the narrative of Carter as a lightweight cowed by anything that came along.

The press and chattering class have often been merciless to Carter. Early on, cartoons mocked him as a country rube using an outhouse or associating with pigs, writers pilloried him as a sanctimonious hick…

[...]

It’s true that Carter sometimes floundered as president. He also had great difficulty, as an outsider, managing Washington, and suffered from a measure of anti-Southern prejudice. When the Reagans took over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, their interior decorator reportedly couldn’t wait to “get the smell of catfish out of the White House.”
When our journalists “have a narrative in their minds,” do they really “plug in anecdotes that confirm it?”

More often, they invent such anecdotes! But let’s move to the key claim.

Intriguing! Did Carter really face “anti-Southern prejudice” from the press and the rest of the chattering class? We can’t answer that question, but it’s fairly clear that some of the weirdness aimed at President Clinton and Candidate Gore stemmed from a similar source. That seemed to be especially true among We Irish, who play an outsize role among the corps’ spear-chuckers, or at least did so at that time.

In this new profile of Ta-Nehisi Coates, we see him referring to a gathering of mainstream journalists as “a [collection] of the smartest white people.” In our view, a person who can believe something like that is a person who can believe anything.

How smart are our upper-end journalists? Consider the piece by Howell Raines in yesterday’s Sunday Review.

In fairness, it’s hard to get a whole lot dumber than Raines. We know that because he led the way, year after year, in the invention of pseudo-concerns about President Clinton and Candidate Gore from his perch as the head of the Times editorial board.

(For Michael Tomasky’s review of Raines’ editorials about Clinton, just click here.)

Granted, Raines crashed and burned after that. But there he was in yesterday’s Times, writing about Alabama governor Robert Bentley, a Southern Republican pol we ourselves wouldn’t vote for.

In the last few weeks, Bentley took down the Confederate flag at the Alabama state house. He did this all by himself, which state law allowed him to do.

Starting in paragraph 3 of his piece, this was Raines’ reaction:
RAINES (7/12/15): It was not the first time Mr. Bentley, a two-term ultraconservative with a broad base among Sheetrock hangers and country-club grandees, has bowed to the zeitgeist. He has done so while assuring his white supporters that not much will change in Alabama except the industrial boom represented by Mercedes, Hyundai and Airbus factories and, it was announced last month, a $600 million Google data center near Huntsville. In 2011, for example, Governor Bentley spoke magnanimously at the funeral of Birmingham’s civil-rights lion, the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth. In 2013, he denounced the University of Alabama’s snootiest sororities for rejecting black rushees.

Such public-relations acumen is a relatively new thing in Alabama, whose residents complain constantly about being looked down on.
Why do (white) Alabama residents complain about being looked down on?

Is it because they see themselves mocked as “Sheetrock hangers” in the Sunday Times? What Times editor even thinks of publishing something like that?

Raines is a southerner by birth. He became a sneering Yankee through personal choice and by dint of a lot of hard work. That said, we liberals rarely display much skill at noticing this kind of regional sneering when it’s performed by the brilliant people who play on our team.

This sort of thing just isn’t real helpful, unless it’s the joy of tribal loathing that you principally seek. Meanwhile, this brings us back to our earlier question:

Did Raines’ colleagues look down on Carter as a Southern hick, a rube? Did they portray him as such?

Can any other attitude explain the Dowdism found atop the op-ed page in this morning’s Times? Trust us! As soon as the flag came down in South Carolina, the people at the op-ed desk began seeking a way to signal disrespect and send tribal insult from their station up north.

Inevitably, they put Davis in a dress at the top of the op-ed page! It seems to be the worst kind of insult these silly people know!

This is the sort of thing the silliest tribals do. Coates’ delusion to the side, the famous and glorious New York Times spills with such unhelpful people. They constitute our own glorious tribe’s dull-witted hicks and rubes.

40 comments:

  1. Jimmy Carter's opinion of POTUS Obama's foreign policy accomplishments.

    "... I can’t think of many nations in the world where we have a better relationship now than we did when he took over,” J.C. July, 2015

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/01/jimmy-carter-obama-foreign-policy_n_7706210.html

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    1. Things will perk up all over when POTUS/CIC/CEO Trump brings the boys back from the Shores of Tripoli and puts them in the Halls of Montezuma where we should have been doing some ascot kicking all along.

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  2. I can't think of any 90 year old former President whose views cicero has more eagerly repeated.

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    1. @ 3:51

      Carter was more generous than Ike was about his own VP's accomplishments.

      "If you give me a week, I might think of one."

      Response to reporter's question of whether the president could give an example of a major idea of Vice President Nixon's that was adopted by the administration. Press conference, August 24, 1960, during Nixon's presidential campaign.

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    2. Ike was a great POTUS. Best thing he ever did was send the 101st into Little Rock.

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    3. @ 6:13

      Today liberals call candidates for POTUS without any previous experience in elected office clowns.

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    4. What a nonsensical troll you are, and you get paid for this tripe?

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    5. In keeping with your tripe analogy, you have no stomach for the sublime.

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    6. I don't think those words mean what you think they do.

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    7. Both Confederate and Union generals knew of the value of ruminant offal in hangover cures.

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  3. Jeff Davis....check
    Maureen Creeping Dowd...check
    Nick Pick-a-Preacher Kristof....check
    Howell Raines...check

    All there in your Sunday Times.

    So how come we jump to Ta-Nehisi Coates?

    What ever happened to the follow up on allegedly drunken Tim Kreider
    who we first spotted peeing on Baltimore the last time Bob favored us with his Monday wrap up of the Sunday Times?

    And what happened to the piece on Professor Bromwich, whose pissing Bob applauded because he aimed his discharge at the New York Times for the first time in the 15 years Bob had been begging a professor to spray the Grey Lady.

    Well, we Irish are used to such disappointments. Might as well go somewhere and get thoroughly pissed.

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  4. Ta-Nehisi Coates is getting much attention and acclaim on topics that either trouble Bob, or ones that he simply doesn't think exist. He's probably too young; an ingénue. And of course, he's....

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    1. ....also smarter than another white person who will, to that person's chagrin, never be in the room.

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  5. Paul Krugman has a new column out. It is about Laziness. Doesn't mention liberals. Except in his running subtitle.

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    1. Here is the point of Krugman's article:

      "There’s now an effective consensus among Democrats — on display in Hillary Clinton’s planned Monday speech on the economy — that workers need more help, in the form of guaranteed health insurance, higher minimum wages, enhanced bargaining power, and more. Republicans, however, believe that American workers just aren’t trying hard enough to improve their situation, and that the way to change that is to strip away the safety net while cutting taxes on wealthy “job creators.”

      And while Jeb Bush may sometimes sound like a moderate, he’s very much in line with the party consensus. If he makes it to the White House, the laziness dogma will rule public policy."

      As Krugman explains, the laziness dogma is that American workers aren't trying hard enough to improve their circumstances because they are lazy, due to abandonment of traditional family values.

      Nothing about liberals except that there is that consensus that we need to be helping workers find better jobs, not taking away security that helps them when they cannot find work.

      In the field of psychology there are numerous studies showing that people want to work and that work is important to mental health. People with disabilities and the elderly wish they could continue working and would do so if jobs made it possible for them to use their skills. It is more the rule that people want to work than that they like loafing. When people retire, they usually engage in volunteer work. So, there is no basis for the idea that people will avoid work when they can.

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    2. Krugman misses Somerby's point, obviously.

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    3. The field of psychology is amazing. "We're built to slack off", says Nando Pelusi, Ph.D., noted clinical psychologist.

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    4. @ 5:19 PM - too lazy to read the article he/she/it's commenting on. cicero's basement buddy, perhaps?

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    5. @6:11

      A clinical psychologist is not a researcher. Pelushi may have said what you quoted but it needs a scientific citation to support it as more than one guy's opinion. He may even be one of those conservatives who thinks everyone is lazy. This is like the difference between a physician and a scientist studying physiology.

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    6. Not all retirees do volunteer work. I know of one who devotes his time and energy to putting comments on various blogs.

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    7. I don't believe that anyone said that all retirees do volunteer work.

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    8. Duplicate bridge might appeal to a retired actuary. Try acbl.org

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    9. Thanks, Anon. I had played duplicate in school, but my job left no time for it. I expected to get back to it when I retired, but instead took up singing and acting.

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    10. Bridge is more fun.

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    11. Research has shown that a game of bridge can even boost your immune system. By stimulating the brain cortex, bridge-playing activity produces higher numbers of the white blood cells that fight disease. Other studies have found that people who play bridge regularly are 2½ times less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

      Bridge is one of the few games that stimulates both the left and right sides of your brain. Every time you play, you use -- and improve -- your skills in communication, logic, math, memory, visualization and psychology.

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    12. And it's fun.

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    13. I hope Bill and Hillary take up bridge if and when they both retire. It will be fun to find out who is better. My guess is Bill really won't be interested in being anybody's grandaddy.

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    14. Helen Taft played bridge for money.

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    15. Eisenhower played bridge.

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    16. Is bridge merely a cover for laziness? What does psychological research show.?

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    17. Isn't the use of Louie Gohmert as a pseudonym some form of regional tribalism?

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    18. @9:31 is clearly not a bridge player.

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    19. I even avoided Hearts and Spades, a gateway pastime to Bridge addiction.

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    20. The only Bridge HRC is interested is the one to the past. Perhaps Jeb could be her partner.

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  6. I really don't think we should be re-fighting the Civil War.

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    1. We've been re-fighting it since 1865.

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    2. Wasn't Bob's grandpappy involved in the putting on historical displays for Mr. P.T. Barnum, who is featured in the op-ed as a tormentor of Mr. Davis in drag?

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  7. Yankee here, whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and who detests the regionalism of journalists, particularly because they are the DUMBEST white people out there.

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  8. These have to be two of Somerby's most insightful posts. Nobody but Bob would have spotted these things.

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    1. Noticing the soft bigotry of our own self regard is a daunting task and worthy of salute, However, the fact that Somery was able to correctly note that Raines was insulting sheetrock hangers but overlooked that the same insult took aim at country-club grandees is indicative of a narrow vision common to the northeasterner of full or partial Irish descent.

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