HOW WE GOT HERE: Narrative without end, amen!

MONDAY, JULY 25, 2016

Part 1—Concerning the brain of Gail Collins:
The craziest statements we saw all weekend came from Jean Edward Smith.

Professor Smith's "mammoth new biography" of George W. Bush is largely praised in this review by the obedient Jason Zengerle. The review appeared in the Book Review section of yesterday's New York Times.

We haven't read the professor's whole book. Yesterday, we did read the two chapters in which the crazy, 84-year-old scholar attempts to discuss, or pretends to discuss, the events of Campaign 2000.

The craziest statements we saw all weekend came from Professor Smith's account of that campaign. We'll discuss the hapless professor's remarkable statements before the week is done.

That said, the professor's statements are one small part of a much larger journalistic narrative—a crazy, twenty-four year campaign which may yet send Donald J. Trump to the White House.

It's crazy to think that a person like Trump could actually get to the White House. For that reason, we should examine the crazy conduct which has made that possibility real.

In part, we can examine that conduct in Jane Mayer's New Yorker piece about Tony Schwartz, the "journalist" who went for the cash and wrote The Art of the Deal. To peruse Mayer's piece, click here.

Mayer's piece has largely been viewed as an expose of Trump's craziness—indeed, of his status as alleged sociopath. That said, it's also a striking portrait of journalistic misconduct of an egregious but rather common kind.

It helps explain how we got to this place. We'll review Mayer's portrait of Schwartz by the end of the week.

Schwartz helped bring us to this place through his journalistic misconduct. That said, let's return to Professor Smith's biography—and let's examine the brain of Gail Collins.

Among a range of remarkable statements, Smith repeats every crazy standard claim concerning The Many Big Lies of Candidate Gore. As with Melania, so with Smith! There is no part of that journalistic narrative he didn't copy-and-paste.

Yesterday, in the New York Times, Collins played the same destructive old game. Medical science should examine the brains of the people who have played this remarkable game for the past twenty-four years:
COLLINS (7/24/16): In 2000, when [Hillary Clinton] first ran for the Senate, the fact that New York had never sent a woman to the Senate was an afterthought, given all the other stuff there was to consider. “It was the first time I’d been a candidate and the first time I’d lived in New York,” she recalled in a phone interview. The very idea of that race was incredible—maybe outrageous. And it didn’t begin well. She had trouble with the carpetbagging issue. At one point, Clinton attempted to woo the locals by claiming that although she’d been brought up as a Chicago Cubs fan, she had always rooted for the Yankees because people need a team in each league. This was contradictory to every law of Midwestern fandom, which holds that no matter what else you do, hating the New York Yankees is a central principle of life.
Incredibly, that's the fourth paragraph of the featured, front-page essay in yesterday's Sunday Review. It extends a deeply familiar, deeply destructive twenty-four year theme.

How compulsive is this behavior? Amazingly, the highlighted passage was written by a "journalist" who will vote for Candidate Clinton! Medical science should study the brain of the person who wrote that passage—a passage which takes us back to the period when Candidate Gore was being invented, by "the press," as The World's Biggest Known Liar.

Just for starters, let's note the sheer stupidity of what Collins wrote—of what she wrote in her fourth paragraph from one of the Times' highest platforms.

Collins starts with an accurate statement. In June 2000, Hillary Clinton did in fact say that she rooted for the Yankees as well as the Cubs when she was a girl growing up near Chicago. So far, Collins' statement is accurate—though a person might wonder why a journalist would bother with such a trivial point more than sixteen years later.

That person wouldn't understand the compulsions of our upper-end press—or their sheer stupidity. Let's start with the stupidity which comes into play when Collins suggests that Clinton's statement that day was just comically false.

Gail Collins grew up in the Midwest too; she grew up in Cincinnati, from which, alas, she was later allowed to escape. Apparently, Collins' upbringing in that locale has led her to reason as follows:

Since she didn't root for a team in each league, no one else in the Midwest could have done such a thing! According to this puzzling life form, that isn't the way fans root in the Midwest! No ten-year-old boy, no ten-year-old girl, could have disrupted this pattern!

No, that doesn't make sense. But as we've shown you for eighteen years, this is the way these life forms reason, when they pretend to do so at all. On this basis alone, medical science should make it a point to study their brains.

That said, another question intrudes. Why would a journalist instantly mention this sixteen years later, writing from such a major platform?

The answer to that is obvious. In June 2000, Collins and the rest of her guild were busy creating a powerful narrative, one which prevails to this day. For the previous fifteen months, they'd been inventing Candidate Gore as The World's Biggest Known Liar, a status which made him resemble Bill Clinton. And they were now inventing Hillary Clinton as The World's Biggest Known Liar too!

The chimps were in thrall to this powerful theme; in June 2000, they seized upon the Cubs and the Yankees as proof of their deathless assessment. One chimp after another screeched and flung poo around his cage concerning Clinton's disturbing false statement, which displayed her character problem, the one which persists to this day.

They ignored the fact that profiles written years before had affirmed and supported Clinton's claim. We cited those profiles in real time, but nothing keeps these hustlers and chimps from the story-lines they adore.

Tomorrow, we'll review the profiles which, years before, had said that Hillary Clinton, as a girl, was a fan of both the Cubs and the Yankees. For today, let's consider one other part of this deeply destructive tale. Let's consider an abiding love story—the love these chimps feel for trivia.

Earlier profiles say and suggest that Clinton's statement was true. Beyond that, the claim was ginormously trivial—but so what? Sixteen years later, the High Lady Collins rushes to bring it up again.

Consider the context of that remarkable conduct:

Candidate Trump seems to have been repeatedly lying his ascot off about a wide range of significant matters. He seems to have been repeatedly lying about his alleged opposition to the war in Iraq. We'll guess that he has repeatedly lied about his alleged birther probe.

On Friday, he restated his crazy claim about the way Rafael Cruz was firing from the grassy knoll on the day President Kennedy died. In his convention speech, he once again said that the United States is the highest taxed nation in the world, a crazy claim which he and his writers certainly know to be crazily false.

In short, one of the candidates in this race actually is The World's Biggest Known Liar! But nothing derails the treasured themes the chimps have built through the years.

For that reason, Collins typed the material we highlight above. She placed it right in paragraph 4, right there on page one, where it would continue to drive that destructive narrative.

As we'll see, Smith's book is full of crazy statements taken from that same destructive campaign. For her part, Collins couldn't wait to return to the Cubs and the Yankees.

Collins and Smith are hardly alone. In yesterday's hard-copy Washington Post, Glenn Kessler returned to the troubling claim that Clinton once lied about her own name! Just last week, PolitiFact displayed its standard journalistic incompetence when it reviewed that same claim.

It's entirely possible that Candidate Trump will be in the White House next year. The narrative we're discussing today sent George W. Bush to the White House. It could do the same for Donald J. Trump.

All this week, we'll review the ways our "journalists" and professors are keeping this theme alive. They've been pimping this theme for twenty-four years, but our liberal heroes refuse to complain. This is one of the basic ways we've all managed to get here.

Tomorrow: Snopes the God!


  1. Got through the first six graphs. Crazy, man.

  2. While the Republicans are busy claiming that Clinton was behind the DNC's sabotage of Bernie's campaign, Riverdaughter (Confluence) reminds us of some past history:

    "And it was perfectly OK with you that the woman who had won the popular vote in 2008 but through elected delegate reapportionment in Michigan for a candidate who wasn’t even on the effing ballot, lost the elected delegate count by a tiny, tiny amount, was abandoned by the superdelegates en masse and in vastly dispproportionate numbers to her delegate count. Those superdelegates, if they were following rules you [Sanders et al.] insisted on this year, would have given her the win in 2008. One of those disloyal superdelegates broke the news to Hillary that they were leaving her. Do you know who that person was? Debbie Wasserman Shultz. But that’s OK because it’s just Hillary we are talking about."

    As Somerby notes, history matters. Sanders can be peeved that the DNC didn't get behind him the way they did Obama, but he cannot blame DNC dysfunction on the person most hurt by it in 2008.

  3. The trouble is that negative campaigning had already reached the highest possible level. Bush was Hitler. Romney was a criminal tax cheat. Obama was a Muslim born in Africa, not even legally qualified to be President.

    So, when faced with two truly awful candidates, there's nothing more to say. Sure, Dems say Trump is a fascist and Reps say Hillary is a lying crook. But that's just normal politics. Only a few true believers take those charges seriously. There's no longer any way to distinguish between candidates who are truly unqualified vs. adequate candidates who happen to be in other party.

    1. It's easy, DinC, just make a list of what each one has done in their lives that would help them when they became president. There will be a long list, then a short one.

    2. Some other ways include: (1) looking at the credentials of authors of propaganda, like "Clinton Cash", who funds them and what else they have written; (2) fact check the content of propaganda to see what the sourcing is for claims; (3) listen to the rebuttals of specious claims and evaluate whether they have any merit.

      Another way to distinguish is to look at who has endorsed the candidates. If people you admire and trust are endorsing one candidate and not the other, that is a shortcut to making your own judgments. Conversely, if people who you do not admire and who have shown themselves to be liars and untrustworthy are attacking someone, that is another source of information about that candidate.

      Many voters rely on evaluations by organizations advancing issues they care about. The League of Women Voters used to rate candidates, for example. Organizations like NARAL tell us how various candidates have voted on women's health issues. You can use their ratings to see whether a candidate has (1) voted, (2) made policy statements, consistent with your own values on certain issues.

      Some people use consistency as a measure of adequacy. Others believe that a candidate who never changes his or her mind is not well qualified. I tend to look at the issue and why the candidate has change position. Someone like Trump, for example, changes daily because he cannot remember what he said, because he didn't fully think through his position in the first place, because of pressure from others, and because he doesn't really have a principled position at all. In contrast, Hillary has changed position on a few issues after being persuaded by activists and seeing the consequences of previous actions and because time has made it clearer what the right path should be -- that is called "evolving" a position. Someone who never changes is being dogmatic or not using positions to guide actions, in my opinion.

      If you were going to hire someone to be an actuary, wouldn't you have a list of training and demonstrated skills (proven through prior experience) you would look for? It is the same with a political candidate. These should form the basis of the first cut, before you consider where someone was born or how cute their pant suits are.

      Bush wasn't Hitler -- he was an idiot. I remember the parodies of him as a chimp. He was also a draft dodger who couldn't form a coherent sentence and needed a Cheney to tell him what to do.

      Hillary is not a lying crook, not any kind of crook, and not a liar (look at Politifact's rating of her, for example). Trump is a fascist. Trying to equate the labeling of Trump to past mislabels doesn't make Trump any less of a fascist.

      Where are Trump's tax returns?

    3. Yes, AnonymousJuly 25, 2016 at 12:39 PM, I look at what each has done, and I want to weep. Hillary's service as Senator and Secretary of State makes an excellent resume, but she was undistinguished as a Senator and awful as Secretary of State. Overthrowing Gaddafi was a terrible decision on several levels. Ditto for using a private e-mail server. Whatever the exact truth about Benghazi, the fact is that four Americans died, where better decisions by the State Dept. could have saved them. And, she can point to no positive achievements as Secretary of State.

      Trump has no government or foreign experience. He does have lots of management experience, but he had mediocre results as a manager.

      Both strike me as overly ambitious and egotistical, with little respect for rules and for integrity. There are literally millions of Americans I'd rather see as President than either of them.

    4. Once again, D in C wallows in HDS and false equivalency. There are literally tens of Americans who don't find that the least bit surprising.

    5. David pretends to knock Trump in order to lie about Clinton.

      I went to Wikipedia and Clinton's name is mentioned nowhere in the article about Libya's civil wars and the removal of Gaddafi. How the conservatives are able to pin this on Clinton (when Obama was president) is beyond me:

      "The first Libyan Civil War, also referred to as the Libyan Revolution[31] or 17 February Revolution,[32] was an armed conflict in 2011, in the North African country of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government.[33][34] The war was preceded by protests in Zawiya on 8 August 2009, and finally ignited by protests in Benghazi beginning on Tuesday, 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security forces that fired on the crowd.[35] The protests escalated into a rebellion that spread across the country,[36] with the forces opposing Gaddafi establishing an interim governing body, the National Transitional Council.

      The United Nations Security Council passed an initial resolution on 26 February, freezing the assets of Gaddafi and his inner circle and restricting their travel, and referred the matter to the International Criminal Court for investigation.[37] In early March, Gaddafi's forces rallied, pushed eastwards and re-took several coastal cities before reaching Benghazi. A further UN resolution authorised member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, and to use "all necessary measures" to prevent attacks on civilians.[38] The Gaddafi government then announced a ceasefire, but fighting continued.[39][40] Throughout the conflict, rebels rejected government offers of a ceasefire and efforts by the African Union to end the fighting because the plans set forth did not include the removal of Gaddafi.[41]

      In August, rebel forces launched an offensive on the government-held coast of Libya, taking back territory lost months before and ultimately capturing the capital city of Tripoli,[42] while Gaddafi evaded capture and loyalists engaged in a rearguard campaign.[43] On 16 September 2011, the National Transitional Council was recognised by the United Nations as the legal representative of Libya, replacing the Gaddafi government. Muammar Gaddafi remained at large until 20 October 2011, when he was captured and killed attempting to escape from Sirte.[44] The National Transitional Council "declared the liberation of Libya" and the official end of the war on 23 October 2011.[45]

      In the aftermath of the civil war, a low-level insurgency by former Gaddafi loyalists continued. There have been various disagreements and strife between local militia and tribes, including fighting on 23 January 2012 in the former Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid, leading to an alternative town council being established and later recognized by the NTC.[46][47] A much greater issue has been the role of militias which fought in the civil war and their role in the new Libya. Some have refused to disarm and cooperation with the NTC has been strained, leading to demonstrations against militias and government action to disband such groups or integrate them into the Libyan military.[48] These unresolved issues led directly to a second civil war in Libya."

      This is a good example of the kind of crap that gets hurled at Clinton, who has been ENDORSED by quite a few former foreign policy advisors and cabinet members, Republican and Democratic.

    6. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016 at 3:34 PM -- regarding Hillary's role in Libya, the New York Times wrote

      Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall
      The president was wary. The secretary of state was persuasive. But the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi left Libya a failed state and a terrorist haven.
      By JO BECKER and SCOTT SHANE FEB. 27, 2016

      The lead photo had a caption: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the end of a one-day trip to Tripoli, Libya, on Oct. 18, 2011, after the fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Media reports referred to it as a “victory lap.”

      The Washington Post wrote
      Hillary’s war: How conviction replaced skepticism in Libya intervention

      Via google, lots of other sources address Hillary's key role in Libya. The fact that wikipedia doesn't mention her name may mean that some Hillary supporter scrubbed that wiki entry. In any event, the New York Times and WaPo plus all the others are more reliable than wikipedia.

    7. David

      The US involvement with Libya that you refer to was not only not a "terrible decision" but was supported by many of your favorite Republicans. Here:

      Hillary's use of private email was also not a "terrible decision", really a decision of no consequence, as has been made abundantly clear.

      Benghazi, David? You got to be kidding. It was the Republicans that blocked the funding to increase security; however, in reality Benghazi was a minor affair mostly due to the fault of those involved. Here:


      Tens of thousands of Americans have been killed and maimed by actions you supported, and yet we are supposed to believe you are all torn up about the four dead in Benghazi. You couldn't care less, indeed you callously use their tragedy to promote your goal of prohibiting government from helping those in need.

    8. Mike Pence's Broken CondomJuly 26, 2016 at 12:42 AM

      "The fatc that wikipedia doesn't mention her name may mean that some Hillary supporter scrubbed that wiki entry."

      Or not, since something that may or may not mean something is not a fact.

      Example: the fact that David in Cal persists in posting anti-liberal/Democratic/President Obama/Hillary Clinton/Bill Clinton/Al Gore/science/ ... screeds may mean that he really wants to reach out and persuade the heathens of the errors of their ways and thus make America a better place to live in harmony rather than to mean that he is really a mendacious, bleeding-from-the-throat tribal nutter.

    9. Gerhardt FrochsteinJuly 26, 2016 at 1:10 AM

      You gotta hand it to the right. For a completely fact free operation, they are really good at making people believe them.

  4. "Sixteen years later, the High Lady Collins rushes to bring it up again."

    Hey, gimme a second Somerby!

    Unfair. I was hoping to get snarky about your inability to stop bringing up the trashing of Gore (I was going to knowingly wink at your one-time close relationship; I was going to comment upon the progress of your book (Listen, man, I just think you should write faster)) -- but then you had to go and make it all relevant.

    You suck.

    Your Biggest Troll

    1. Why did Tipper leave Al?

    2. Dumbest thing Tipper ever did.

    3. "Dumbest thing Tipper ever did."

      Wrong. Spearheading PMRC's music censorship tops that.

    4. @ 8:12, sad but true.

  5. "... hating the Yankees is a central principle of life". What a drama queen.

    1. Yeah. "Damn Yankees" was just a novel written by a liberal journalist who sold out and turned it into a Broadway play.

    2. There is nothing Collins wrote which isn't true. She did not say Hillary lied.

      Bob Somerby says:

      "Collins suggests that Clinton's statement that day was just comically false."

      Bob Somerby uses "suggests" just like those he decries claimed Al Gore "suggested" he invented the internet.

      Collins said This was contradictory to every law of Midwestern fandom, which holds that no matter what else you do, hating the New York Yankees is a central principle of life." It doesn't mean there were not exceptions. It doesn't mean Hillary wasn't one of them. It doesn't mean what she claimed was false or comical. It does mean people did not find her believable. They still have trouble with that.

      I was a Yankees fan until my town got a National League franchise. After that the Yankees sucked.

    3. cicero's proctologistJuly 26, 2016 at 1:15 AM

      "Collins suggests that Mitt put his dog on the roof and continued on his family-values trip." Bob: Mitt really didn't do that the way you say he did, so Collins is an insufferable hack and liberals were tickled an pleasured by this "narrative". Troll: nuh-uh. Bob: uh-huh (x38).

  6. When I was a kid I was an Angels, Giants AND Yankees fan.

    1. And nobody understood you.

    2. No, was perfectly well adjusted. Had a magical childhood playing baseball, going to the beach and riding my stingray bike. Loved Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and the home team.

  7. So was this a post about Prof. Smith or Jason Zengerle's review of Smith's latest book? (All have actually been finished, published and some even rewarded.) Is Smith crazy because he is 84, or is Zengerle labeled "obedient" because Somerby does not know his age and can't call him youngish?

    Or is this post about the 24 year campaign to maybe make Donald Trump President (or a 25 year campaign to have beer declared tha national beverage)?

    Is this about Jane Mayer's New Yorker piece about Tony Schwartz, or about Schwartz? Not unless it is really about the brain of Gail Collins. Or big lies about Big Al?

    No. It is about Hillary, the Cubs and the Yankees. Yes. It is about Collins. A life form. A chimp.

    So are they all. All chimps. And don't forget Glenn Kessler.

    The rest of you are just trolls.

    Someone need to be taken away from the keyboard.

    1. Tomorrow, Bob the God.

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