Easy to stampede: But first, a question:
Who the heck writes the headlines in the New York Times? We refer to the following headline, concerning the tax proposal which is currently getting buried by all the excitement concerning Roy Moore:
"Senate Plan Could Increase Taxes on Some Middle-Class Workers"
The Senate plan could increase taxes on some middle-class workers? That headline seems to suggest that it also might not!
In fact, the report which sits beneath that headline says something quite different:
"The Senate bill unveiled on Thursday would raise taxes on millions of middle-class families, according to a preliminary New York Times analysis...[The analysis] found that roughly one-quarter of families in the middle class would see their taxes increase in 2018."
That headline writer changed "would" to "could," a rather significant change. Similarly, he or she vastly downplayed a rather large number—"millions," as found in the rather striking phrase, "millions of middle-class families."
Many more people will see that headline than will read that report. Their understanding of that tax proposal will have been vastly doctored by what that headline says.
So it goes as we rational animals attempt or pretend to conduct a public discourse! Then too, there's the question we kept asking ourselves as the stars of cable news, shouting yay yay yay yay yay, discussed the story involving Roy Moore in lieu of those big boring tax hikes:
Have these people actually read the Washington Post's report?
We especially wondered about that when journalists referred to the "thirty sources" the Washington Post said it had. Also, when they referred to the accounts given, not by Leigh Corfman, who says that Moore molested her in 1979, but by the three additional women who described interactions with Moore.
Has Jake Tapper read the report? We asked that question yesterday afternoon as we watched his CNN program.
How about his panelists, Kirsten Powers and Mary Katharine Ham? Have they read the Post report? Based on various things they said, we also wondered about them.
As usual, though, the strangest factual claim came on Thursday night's Rachel Maddow Show. On Wednesday night, a question had popped into our heads:
At this point, does Maddow ever make a factual claim which hasn't been vastly embellished?
We asked that question on Wednesday night as she made an absurd factual statement while discussing gerrymandering in Virginia. One night later, on Thursday night, the cable star said this:
MADDOW (11/9/17): But that charity scandal is nothing compared to this 3000-word blockbuster in the Washington Post today reported by Stephanie McCrummen and Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites. They interviewed 30 sources, including four women who say they were teenagers as young as 14 when Roy Moore, then a man in his 30s, made aggressive sexual advances to them.You'll note the mandatory citation of The Thirty, few of whom seem to have said anything especially relevant to the claim of molestation. Do any of our cable stars understand this fact?
On Thursday's program, Maddow had already played the Governor Bentley sex tape for perhaps the ten millionth time, wonderfully covering her eyes and pretending to be five years old. Around the country, liberal brain cells screamed in pain as they initially writhed, then keeled over and died.
Past traumatization of some unknown kind may lead to such behavior. But when she moved on to the Roy Moore case, we were struck by this absurd misstatement:
"Four women say they were teenagers...when Roy Moore, then a man in his 30s, made aggressive sexual advances to them."
Did Rachel Maddow actually read that Washington Post report? In that report, do four women actually "say that Moore made aggressive sexual advances to them?"
Well actually no, they don't! And how do we know that they don't say that? Simple:
"Because we can understand the English language. It's our mother tongue!"
Go ahead—read the final quarter of the Post report. See what the three additional women say, then answer our award-winning questions:
At this point, does Maddow ever make a factual claim which isn't grossly embellished? Also, how many cable journalists actually read that report?
Please understand. We aren't saying that Corfman's account in wrong. In all honesty, though, we can't exactly swear that her account is right.
We do know that the three additional women didn't say "that Moore made aggressive sexual advances to them." Through what process does a former Rhodes scholar make such an inaccurate claim?
In part, we'd have to say this: errors of that type occur when the stars of stage and screen adopt the Pecksniffian pose. Maddow has been invested in that pose at least since 2009.
So, perhaps, are Scherer and Weigel, in this morning's Post. This passage strikes us as ridiculous and sad:
SCHERER AND WEIGEL (11/11/17): In the interview with Hannity, Moore recalled knowing two of the older women, Gloria Thacker Deason and Debbie Wesson Gibson, as well as their parents. “I knew her as a friend,” he said of Gibson, who has said Moore asked her on a date when she was 17, after speaking at her high school. “If we did go out on dates, then we did, but I do not remember that,” Moore said.Did Scherer and Weigel actually read the Post's original report? If they did, did they decide to con their readers with some slippery language?
When asked about Deason’s claim that he provided her wine on dates when she was 18, Moore said: “In this county, it’s a dry county. We never would have had liquor.”
Alcohol sales began in Etowah County in 1972, years before the alleged encounter, and The Post confirmed that wine was for sale at the time at the pizzeria where Deason remembered Moore taking her when she was under the legal drinking age of 19.
We ask that because Deason doesn't say, in the original report, that Moore bought wine for her before she turned 19. (She only says he might have.) But then, note today's slippery construction! Scherer and Weigel don't say that Moore did that. They just convey that impression!
That said, are we really down to arguing about the offense of (possibly) buying someone wine in the last few months before she turned 19, thereby becoming wine-legal under the laws of her state? Granted, we love to adopt our Pecksiffian pose when the occasion permits. But have we really descended to the point where we take our pose that far?
Leigh Corfman has alleged a criminal act of molestation. We have no reason to doubt her account, though we can't truly swear that it's accurate.
That said, do we really want to say that a gentleman of 32 can't date someone who's 19? To be sure, it's a wonderful pose. Are we sure we want to adopt it?
We found ourselves thinking, just this morning, about the ways of the world. We thought of the Paul Simon song in which a father tells his 9-year-old son about the first time he saw the boy's mother.
The song, one of our favorites, is taken to be semi-autobiographical. In that reading, the song's "traveling salesman" would actually be a performer. This is the context in which the fictional first meeting occurred:
A long time ago, yeah, before you was born, dudePersonally, we'd rather see Simon stay way from the word "girls." But how old do we think those Cajun girls were when this particular travelling salesman went to see them dancin' the Zydeco?
When I was still single and life was great
I held this job as a traveling salesman
It kept me moving from state to state
Well, I'm standing on the corner of Lafayette, state of Louisiana
Wondering where a city boy could go
To get a little conversation, drink a little red wine
Catch a little bit of those Cajun girls dancin' the Zydeco
As we adopt our Pecksniffian pose, we may be ignoring an observable fact of life. For better or worse, for good or for ill, older men tend to be somewhat inclined to catch a little bit of those somewhat younger women.
Because we spent years in the comedy trade, we may have been positioned to see this familiar impulse in action. Perhaps the Pecksniffs simply don't know the way our world tends to work.
Catching the Cajun girls dancin' the Zydeco? In no way is that the same as molesting someone who is 14. In all honesty, though, neither is buying wine for someone who's 19.
Do men as old as 32 sometimes engage in such conduct? Pecksniffs, please! It happens every day of the week!
Just this morning, we were thinking about our own years as traveling salesmen. We never "dated" a teenager, we thought. But then we said, Uh-oh!
Wait a minute! We thought of Name Withheld, who we met at the long-lamented Gampy's when we were 39 and she was a wickedly funny 19.
Bill Scheft, who went on to be Letterman's head joke writer, once said that there's no place in all of Manhattan quite like Gampy's. The lively staff was always part of the deal. During the years in question, few comedians, at least few male comedians, came through Gampy's without noting the wit and vitality of Name Withheld, who was also, it must be said, quite beautiful, as judged by conventional norms.
At the time, she was also a somewhat stymied child of an ongoing, horrendous divorce, a bit as Corfman describes herself at the age of 14.
On our one "date," we went out to lunch to celebrate her 20th birthday. Comedian Jon Hayman was in town that weekend.
"Congratulations," he wryly told us. "She's no longer half your age!" Almost surely, we came back with an instant witty rejoinder. If memory serves, Wayne Cotter was appearing with Hayman that week.
Might we tell you something about things which occur in the world? For better or worse, for good or for ill, older man and younger women do in fact interact all the time. Also, this sometimes happens:
Sometimes, Person A and Person B may possibly like each other. Amazingly, that too can occur. Beautifully, Chekhov explores this remarkable fact in The Lady with The Lapdog. Also, Willa Cather, in My Antonia.
We never "dated" Name Withheld. Nor did we "date" the Hollins women, or the other Name Withheld at Gampy's, with whom we went out one time, for reasons we can't recall. We never dated Name Withheld from the Columbia Punchline, the most unforgettable person we ever met in the world of comedy, though we will guess that she was at least 21.
(More unforgettable than Leno, who was so funny that night in his hotel room in Fort Lauderdale, or Barr, who struck us as the brightest person we ever met in comedy during her week in Baltimore in 1985, before she massively hit? More unforgettable than the Poundstone of 1983, who wasn't yet known at all? More unforgettable than Name Withheld, the unforgettable fellow who went on to be Leno's head joke writer?
(Yes, she was even more unforgettable than them, with her angry attacks on "northern condescension" and her claim that she could tell what county you were from in South Carolina just by assessing your accent. Also, if we plan to be honest, because, judged by conventional norms, she was remarkably beautiful, which served to position the regional fury as a bit of a cultural mystery.)
We never "dated" those people, but trust us! For good or for ill, a whole lot of city boys go to catch a little bit of those Cajun girls dancin' the Zydeco! There's nothing automatically "wrong" with this conduct, until such time as there is, although the impulse is problematic all around the world.
Did Roy Moore molest a 14-year-old girl? We will guess that he probably did, but we can't say we're totally certain.
What makes us withhold our certainty? Pecksniff, please!
Remember how the professors stampeded in the Duke lacrosse case? Uh-oh! It was the prosecutor who ended up going to prison!
After that, remember how the professors stampeded in the UVa case? Uh-oh! Rolling Stone ended up paying millions of dollars to several of the people they had managed to slander.
Years before that, the milk carton crowd stampeded about the McMartin preschool case (and others). Innocent people spent years in prison. And how weird! We'd all been so instantly certain!
One final note about Moore, in the form of a guess:
Posing pundits are amazed that he would go out with women whose ages ranged from 17 to 19. They mock the fact that he (and they) said this was done with the permission of their mothers.
We've seen quite a few pundits who didn't seem to realize that this point was described in the original report. That said, we'll offer this:
This practice may have seemed a bit less strange in the Biblical realms of Alabama in 1979. Issues of age may have been calculated differently there. And by the way:
In the Post report, two of the mothers said they were thrilled that Moore was dating their daughters. To them, this dating apparently seemed quite normal. We've seen quite a few pundits who didn't quite seem to have read quite that far in the Post report.
The Pecksniffs have been blowing right past that. In part, it's because they've been adopting a pose. In part, it's because they didn't read the Post report.
Is it also because of the northern condescension concerning which a memorable staffer at the Punchline once so hotly complained? Meanwhile, imagine:
Imagine! Imagine that we can't defeat Roy Moore except by chasing this sex story down! As we've told you many times, our liberal approach has devolved to this:
We can't beat them at the polls, so we pray pray pray pray pray that we can get them locked up! Oh please please please please please please please! Please let us helpless liberals get The Others arrested!
The Pecksniffs have been stampeding this week. At the same time, it isn't entirely clear that they ever got around to reading the Post's report.
Molestation isn't OK. It is, and should be, a crime. That said, it's fairly clear that liberal elites have ignored harassment, assault, misogyny and molestation all over our liberal warrens for a great many years.
Molestation isn't OK, but neither is the dumbnification which comes to us in our liberal tents from the increasingly ludicrous Maddow on down. Neither is the need to stampede in somewhat selective ways. Imagine, though! We're so pitiful we know of no other way to defeat a clown like Roy Moore!
"Four women say...Moore, then a man in his 30s, made aggressive sexual advances to them?"
Maddow has a staff of twenty. Did anyone read that report?