Part 5— How Clinton has been "defined:" We approve of the way David Brooks starts this morning's column.
Back in 1936, Carl Sandburg said, "The People, Yes." This morning, so does Brooks:
BROOKS (11/4/16): A few weeks ago I met a guy in Idaho who was absolutely certain that Donald Trump would win this election. He was wearing tattered, soiled overalls, missing a bunch of teeth and was unnaturally skinny. He was probably about 50, but his haggard face looked 70. He was getting by aimlessly as a handyman.For Sandburg, just click here.
I pointed to the polls and tried to persuade him that Hillary Clinton might win, but it was like telling him a sea gull could play billiards. Everybody he knows is voting Trump so his entire lived experience points to a Trump landslide. He was a funny, kind guy, but you got the impression his opportunities had been narrowed by forces outside his control.
One of the mandates for the next president is to help improve the life stories of people like that.
Brooks goes on to say that Candidate Clinton is more likely to help people like that Idaho man, rather than the "whirling disaster" which is Candidate Trump. This constitutes Brooks' non-endorsement endorsement of Candidate Clinton.
(New York Times columnists aren't allowed to offer formal endorsements.)
Brooks' presentation is at least a trifle ironic. Not long ago, Candidate Clinton laid even money that that man in Idaho was "irredeemable," a "deplorable"—a racist misogynist xenophobe.
In that single unwise moment, Clinton gave voice to the horrible underside of our own tribe's appalling PseudoThink—our massive dumbness; our vast self-regard; our perverse attraction to the joy of kicking down while deferring to those at the top.
In contrast to Brooks, Petula Dvorak expresses that appalling tribal instinct in today's Washington Post.
In her regular Metro column, Dvorak looks out at a world in which Russian intelligence and the FBI are waging war against one of our White House candidates.
In the face of that lunatic state of affairs, Dvorak decides to kick down. Hard-copy headline included:
DVORAK (11/4/16): Voters need only look in the mirror for this electoral abominationDvorak goes on and on from there, bravely scolding the lesser beings to whom she refers as "America." The People, No, she declares.
Hey, America, do you like this election?
But this is what you created.
You, America, stopped listening to facts you didn’t agree with, stopped reading newspapers or watching broadcasts that didn’t entertain you or confirm what you already believed, stopped trying to understand legislation and policy, stopped bothering to engage in civil discussion or master the basics of civic responsibilities.
That said, how about it? Have people stopped listening to facts they don’t agree with? Have people stopped reading newspapers or watching broadcasts that don’t entertain them?
Some people have, some haven't. For herself, Dvorak has stopped discussing the decades-long role of her employer in our society's current existential crisis.
She doesn't mention Comey the God, or decades of scams from the Washington Post. She goes after the little people, those who are beneath her.
(For the record, Dvorak hasn't "stopped" discussing the role of the upper-end press in the development of our current constitutional crisis. She has never discussed the role of upper-end press, and she never will.)
On the front page of Dvorak's newspaper today, two headlines define the astonishing scope of that current constitutional crisis.
"U.S. officials warn of Russian mischief in election and beyond," the Post's featured headline declares. Beneath that, this second headline appears: "FBI-Justice feud over Clinton poses test for Comey."
The Russian government and the FBI are attempting to stage a coup! That said, this is part of a 25-year history—a history our hopelessly hapless tribe has never been willing to summarize, let alone resist.
We prefer to spend our time dropping bombs on low-income people in Idaho. As we've amused ourselves in this flattering way, powerful forces have come very close to overturning our world.
Last night, on the Chris Hayes show, Joy Reid tried to summarize the history behind our current state of affairs. Reid is much sharper than most cable pundits. Even so, please note the way she started:
REID (11/3/16): [We'll post this when MSNBC rouses itself from its slumbers and posts last evening's transcript. We've been forced to work from memory concerning what Reid, who is quite sharp, said.]As Reid started, it sounded like the relevant history started with the tenure of President Obama. But then she referred to "the Clinton wars!"
What the heck were they?
Reid is much sharper than most cable pundits. That said, her capsule history of the era seemed a bit jumbled last night. Let's move to someone who is much sharper than most major columnists.
At the start of his October 21 column, Paul Krugman directly claimed, for the third time in recent weeks, that "the news media" treated Candidate Gore the same way they've treated Candidate Clinton.
("You have to go back to Al Gore in 2000 to find a politician who faced as much jeering from the news media, over everything from claims of dishonesty—which usually turn out to be based on nothing—to matters of personal style.")
Roughly seventeen years too late, Krugman has been referring to a situation most liberals have never heard discussed. This was the third column since Labor Day in which Krugman advanced this belated claim about the press corps' punishing treatment of Candidate Gore, which he linked to their ongoing treatment of Clinton.
Krugman has specifically said that the press corps has been treating Candidate Clinton the same way they treated Gore. In doing so, he has been belatedly sketching a very important hidden history—and yet, in this morning's column, he traces the history of the Clinton wars, but omits the two-year episode which took out Candidate Gore.
There's only so much a person can fit in a single column. That said, the history here is fairly simple. For whatever reason, a series of wars have been waged against Clinton and Clinton ever since 1992.
Some of those wars were waged by forces on the crackpot right. Many of those wars were waged by the mainstream press corps.
Some of those wars were waged by the mainstream press channeling bullroar from the right. All those wars were fueled, at least in part, by liberal contempt for that guy in Idaho, the target of all this crap.
Those wars began on the front page of the New York Times with its bungled "Whitewater" reporting, which seems to have come from crackpot Arkansas sources. Later, at the end of that decade, these wars were channeled into a destructive, two-year war against Candidate Gore.
The more lunatic claims about Obama have come directly from crackpot right-wing sources, not from the mainstream press. But those lunatic claims are an obvious part of this decades-long series of wars, some of which have come directly from the crackpot right, many of which have come straight from the mainstream press corps.
It isn't hard to summarize that history, but very few liberals have ever heard it. And alas! Because so few people have ever heard it, it may tend to sound like a "conspiracy theory."
Why has that history so rarely been told? The icons of our liberal world tend to work for the mainstream press. Like Dvorak, they will never tell you what happened to the Clintons in the 1990s, and then to Candidate Gore.
The weirdly grinning employee named Maddow hails Chris Matthews as her beloved friend. She'll never tell you about the poisonous role he played in the wars against Candidate Gore and against Hillary Clinton.
She's being paid millions not to tell you. Weirdly grinning at you every night, she understands the art of the deal.
Reid and Krugman are much sharper than the bulk of their counterparts. That said, even they are providing jumbled, incomplete versions of what might be called this "long war."
Maddow and Hayes, like Dvorak, will never detail that history. In part because this corporate silence has obtained for twenty-five years, the FBI-assisted Candidate Trump could still win.
This bring us to a short but fascinating discussion which occurred Tuesday night. Yesterday, we posted the start of that short discussion. Below, you see the transcript of the whole darn thing.
Brian Williams started with a fascinating description of a "weaponized" Comey the God. (Krugman uses the same term in this morning's column.)
Proceeding from there, Jennifer Granholm describes what a "narrative" is. In response, Williams explains what it means to be "defined:"
WILLIAMS (11/2/16): Governor, in plain English, is the game now Beat the Clock? You've got this added element of a potentially weaponized FBI director. And when we wake up tomorrow, it's five days to go.To watch this discussion, just click here. Move ahead to roughly 6:30.
GRANHOLM: Yeah. I mean, this is the problem of this entire campaign, is that the message on their side is easy. It's "emails."
On her side, there was a great story out today, in U.S. News and World Report, saying there's so much that people's eyes can glaze over because the number of scandals attaching to Donald Trump is—it's a very target-rich environment. It's not as easy as one word.
And so the challenge is not just to attack Donald Trump, but also to present a positive vision in light of the barrage of negative stories. Even today, I mean there's just a whole barrage of negative stories about his taxes, about him shredding documents, all of that, you know. Does any of that stick when it's compared with one word, which is "emails?"
WILLIAMS: Yeah, we had a meeting today with some of our pollsters here, and they said that once there's an established plot line, or a theory of the case, attached to a candidate, once the headline is out, voters require very little added information after that. That's why it can be so cutting.
Obviously, Williams was playing it dumb. He hardly needed those pollsters to explain that blindingly simple point. It concerned the creation of a narrative about a candidate, which he described as "a plot line."
In that exchange, Williams and Granholm were describing a very important fact: Candidate Clinton has been "defined."
A powerful "narrative" about Candidate Clinton has gained major purchase. As Granholm noted, it all comes down to a single word—"emails"—and everyone on the face of the earth knows what that single word means.
That single word—"emails"—stands for "corrupt." It's a stand-in for the stupidest phrase in our nation's rhetorical history: "Crooked Hillary."
Can we talk? Candidate Clinton has been "defined" over the course of 25 years. In his use of that second-grader's phrase, Candidate Trump is riding the wave of twenty-five years of frequently overwrought garbage.
He's also riding the back of a press corps god, the famous straight-shooter named Comey.
People like Dvorak blame that guy in Idaho for believing the mountains or garbage which have been delivered to them by people like Comey and by the people who pay her. She is kicking down very hard at people who purchased the definition her paper relentlessly sold.
That said, how has Candidate Trump been defined? In a recent column for Salon, Digby offered her assessment.
We think her assessment is massively wrong. Clinton has been defined, Granholm said.
What about Candidate Trump?
Tomorrow: Assessing Digby's assessment