Seem clueless about recent past: Where did the leadership deficit start—the leadership deficit which helped send Donald J. Trump to the White House?
We expect to explore that question next week. We expect to do so in a series of award-winning reports, The Rise of Leadership Down.
That said, the deficit was in full flower by the time James B. Comey—widely known as Comey the God—launched his first attack on Candidate Clinton on the morning of July 5, 2016.
The god got way out over his skis as he batted the hopeful around. But so what? At the Rachel Maddow "cable news" show, it was an instant case of Leadership Down!
For two straight nights, guest host Steve Kornacki aggressively took Comey's side, attacking Clinton surrogates as they criticized the inappropriate conduct of the great establishment god.
On July 6, Kornacki savaged the late Ellen Tauscher when she tried to object to Comey's behavior. When Maddow returned from a well-earned vacation and resumed "her performance of the Rachel figure," Comey's name, and Comey's conduct, went unmentioned all through the summer of 2016, then very deep into the fall.
Sure enough! As the latest poisonous narrative formed around the doomed White House hopeful, Maddow was crafting the latest example of liberal Leadership Down!
Four summers earlier, Maddow had behaved the same way when Susan Rice was thrown under the bus and the poisonous Benghazi narratives took form. Back in 2009, when Maddow landed a rare interview with General Colin Powell, she absent-mindedly forgot to ask him how he had ever come to make that ludicrous United Nations presentation—the presentation which congealed elite opinion in favor of the war in Iraq.
Rachel Maddow is highly skilled at the practice known as "selling the car." For that reason, liberal viewers routinely fail to see the various ways they're getting conned by their self-adoring tribal star.
They love it when their corporate darling lists the various ways she's "not awesome at this job" thanks to her many "failures as a TV host." They see such behavior as the type of modesty which makes them want to protect their emotionally hapless leader.
We see that behavior as humble-bragging. Also, as an obvious form of ongoing Leadership Down.
Rachel deferred to Comey the God in the summer of 2016. Four years earlier, she had deferred to Saint McCain and Bob Schieffer as they invented the Benghazi narratives which would be used to take Candidate Clinton down.
Before that, she had deferred to Powell the God. That said, well-disguised deference to establishment power is a reliable feature of this popular TV show.
In such ways, the liberal and progressive worlds suffers beneath the yoke of Leadership Down. For another example of this remarkable syndrome, consider an essay which appeared in The Atlantic last week.
No, it wasn't the essay which puzzled over the puzzling fact that black kids are under-represented in public school gifted and talented programs. This other essay concerned the alleged "authenticity" of Candidate Buttigieg—and of a certain candidate who sought the White House in 2016.
The essay was written by Gilad Edelman, executive editor of the Washington Monthly. On the bright side, Edelman is nine years out of Columbia (class of 2009). Even better, he graduated from Yale Law School in 2015.
Then too, there's the down side. On the down side, this meritocratic star was maybe 4 or 5 years of age when the peculiar attacks on Clinton and Clinton began on page one of the New York Times in early 1992.
Gene Lyons wrote the book on those attacks—Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater.
The book had begun as a lengthy essay in Harper's, a venerable American publication which Edelman probably wasn't reading at the age of 6.
Harper's is a venerable publication. But because "the media" to which Lyons referred was mainly the Washington Post and the New York Times, the book which emerged from his essay in Harper's was almost wholly disappeared.
The history continues from there. Edelman may not have been aware of the Reverend Falwell's tireless efforts to tell theworld about the various murders Clinton and Clinton had committed.
Beyond that, the future star was maybe 11 in 1999 when MSNBC's Chris Matthews launched his astounding attacks on Senate candidate Hillary Clinton, describing her as "Nurse Ratched" and as "Evita Peron" and helping everyone understand how "witchy" she actually was.
During that same period, Matthews spent twenty straight months savaging Candidate Gore, "today's man-woman" and a guy "who would lick the bathroom floor to be president." The youngster was still negotiating his teenage years as Matthews, and quite a few other mainstream pundits, extended the deranged attacks on Candidate Clinton into Campaign 2008.
In short, Edelman was just a kid when this era's political and journalistic history was taking form. This may explain why he included this ridiculous but typical passage in his essay for The Atlantic:
EDELMAN (4/25/19): As a candidate and as president, Obama had the gift of seeming unrehearsed. He could deliver scripted speeches with the emotion, humor, energy, and surprise of someone articulating his ideas for the first time. Recall that one of the ways Republicans tried to bring him down was to point out that he was reading from teleprompters: They sought to undermine his authenticity by puncturing the illusion that he was speaking off the top of his head...Good God! Has there ever been a more striking example of the phenomenon known to Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM) as Leadership Down?
At the other end of the spectrum we find Hillary Clinton. Despite her obvious qualifications, she was hamstrung as a presidential candidate by an inability to sound like a normal person when addressing large audiences. Her performances in the major televised contexts in which most Americans saw her in 2016 were generally robotic and awkward—filled with strange pauses and painfully delivered jokes, drained of spontaneity. That, as much as anything, explains why voters were so primed to entertain questions about her authenticity and trustworthiness. (Clinton, to be sure, was also held to unfair standards because of her sex. But her problem was a variation of the same one that male candidates such as Al Gore and John Kerry faced before her.)
Try to fathom what Edelman says in that remarkable passage! He says that many voters "entertained questions about [Candidate Clinton's] trustworthiness" because "most Americans" saw her as "generally robotic and awkward" in "the major televised contexts" of Campaign 2016!
Presumably, that would include her debates with Candidate Trump, each of which she was found to have won in surveys of voters who watched. But readers, ignore those surveys! Think instead about her "strange pauses" and her "painfully delivered jokes!"
Where do they manage to find young people who churn establishment script in this manner? For the record, they apparently find them standing in line on graduation day at Yale!
That said, has anyone ever said it more foolishly? According to Edelman, voters didn't question Clinton's trustworthiness because of decades of crazy attacks from authority figures like Falwell and Matthews.
It wasn't the claims about all those murders she and her husband had committed. It wasn't the Whitewater pseudo-scandal.
It wasn't the ways she behaved on the bunny slopes of ski resorts—alleged conduct we learned about from the lunatic work of Matthews, a genuine Trump-before-Trump during this remarkable earlier era.
It wasn't the Benghazi attacks which Maddow enabled, followed by the unrebutted attacks from Comey the God. It wasn't even the way Candidate Clinton so plainly resembled Nurse Ratched!
It wasn't any of that! To this child of elite attainment, it was Candidate Clinton's "strange pauses" which made voters doubt her trustworthiness! And then, Edelman pretended to ponder perceptions of Candidate Gore, who was crazily attacked for twenty straight months while Edelman was in junior high school!
Multiply that ridiculous passage perhaps ten thousand times. This is the way the rank and file of the liberal world are taught about their nation's recent political and journalistic history.
In fairness, it isn't just a new generation of youthful strivers who type and mouth this nonsense. A few says ago, we noted the way Jonathan Alter won't tell the truth about this remarkable journalistic history.
That said, the upper-end pseudo-liberal press corps loves to hire these youthful meritocrats—the obedient readers of script who made it all the way through the Stanfords and the Oxfords and even the Yales.
The Maddows know they can't tell you the truth. Quite possibly, the Edelmans have never heard the truth. As an example of what we mean, click over to this illustrative humble-brag from Edelman himself:
I got into Yale law school, yet last night it took me about 10 texts to figure out I was talking to a Tinder bot. So I dunno.That's our very point, right there!
Publications like the Monthly and The Atlantic loves these striver kids. Indeed, this is one of the basic ways establishment narrative survives and prospers.
You simply aren't allowed to learn what has happened within your "press corps" over the past thirty years. According to Future Anthropologists, the day will come when disconsolate scholars will call this Leadership Down.
Tomorrow: On occasion, even from the genuine brightest and best