Anthropology 101: Parker examines the public!


At the Times, there are no words for the sheer size of The Dumb: Yesterday, we were too kind concerning The Dumb which rules at our greatest newspaper.

Glancing back through yesterday’s New York Times, we realized that we should have cited the following part of one report. In a new advance for the newspaper’s galloping Dowdism, Kate Zernike wrote about the candidates’ houses. And omigod!

The highlighted passage is actually part of what the Timesperson said:
ZERNIKE (12/29/11): Even in an era of the two-year presidential campaign, with debates that seem to come as regularly as dinner, there remains that nagging question: never mind the packagers, handlers and strategists; what are these candidates really like? The hunt goes on for insights and stories to provide an unfiltered view of their true character.

Where better to look than their homes, to get a sense of their style, and what it might tell us about what they value and how they live?

Of course, the Republican candidates would like to call the movers and relocate in the next year or so to a new house—the big white one on Pennsylvania Avenue now occupied by President Obama.

But for now, let’s consider their current or recent homes. The New York Times enlisted interior designers and a design psychologist to scrutinize photos and share their thoughts, political leanings aside, on what the homes reveal about the candidates.
The Times “enlisted a design psychologist” to scrutinize photos of the candidates’ homes! No, really. That is what it said.

Quick question:

Citizens can still tour FDR’s home at Hyde Park, New York. What insights into his likely performance as president might a voter have gained from such a tour in 1932, even if the voter had a design psychologist in tow? What would a voter have learned from touring the Kennedy compound in 1960?

That JFK liked sailboats?

In recent years, our “press corps” has pretended to evaluate candidates by checking out their homes. Do you recall the results of their search in Campaign 2004?

Bush’s ranch showed he was down to earth. Kerry’s house was way too big—plus, he sometimes went wind-surfing there! Everything there was just wrong!

But then, this is one of the dumbest elites ever let loose on the earth. We liberals agree not to state this point. But if you actually doubt that fact, please review Ashley Parker’s latest front-page “report.” (Parker’s beard, Michael Barbaro, helped her write this report.)

As usual, the sheer inanity of the piece makes it hard to summarize, but some poor editor had to try. This is the headline he or she conjured, live and direct from the front page of today’s hard-copy Times:

“Voters Examining Candidates, Often to a Fault”

As this editor read this piece, he thought Parker and Barbaro were rolling their eyes at those dumb-ass voters.

Presumably, quite a few citizens do base their vote on fairly dumb lines of reasoning. The humor in this latest report concerns the way Parker rolls her eyes at precisely the types of nonsense she herself writes about.

Small correction: Based on that headline, some editor thought she was rolling her eyes at the dumbkopf voters. But it occurred to us that she might see today’s report in a different way—as a justification for her own stupidification project. After all, if this is the way the voters think, her “news reports” really make sense:
BARBARO AND PARKER (12/30/11): But in three dozen interviews across Iowa and New Hampshire over the past few days, voters readily acknowledged that their decisions would be driven as much by personal chemistry and biography as by political positions and policy.

Voters were hard-pressed to recall details of the candidates’ plans to reduce taxes, create jobs and shrink the government.

Yet voters knew about the marriages and mannerisms, the faith and careers of the candidates, and they brimmed with unvarnished opinions about any trait that strikes them as admirable—or just as likely, annoying.
Presumably, they also know about candidates’ hair. Parker did a front-page “report” about Romney’s hair on the day after Thanksgiving.

And yes, it was on the front page.

Based on that headline, some editor seemed to think that Parker was criticizing the voters. But if you read this latest piece, you might imagine another agenda. In today’s piece, Parker writes like an anthropologist on her first tour of Borneo. Vapidly, she chronicles the voters’ concerns—their concerns about the very topics she herself writes about.

This is Dowdism in a can. It appears above the fold on page one, dwarfing this report concerning a matter of substance.

Funny, ain’t it? Kerry’s house was way too big. The brains in Versailles are too small.


  1. To rephrase Lewis Carroll, inaner and inaner. What you describe is what today's New York Times embodies, but it's also what you find in The Washington Post, in USA Today, on CNN, MSNBC, Faux News Channel, everywhere, save blogs, Miller-McCune, McClatchy, and a few other rare sites in the US.

    Instead of Ashley Parker (or Michael Barbaro, or the Tea Party-starstruck Kate Zernike, or La Dowd or La Douthat or Fatuous "Suck On This" Friedman or any of the rest of them), Teresa Giudice of The Real Housewives of New Jersey or Reichen Lehmkuhl of A List: New York could just as easily throw together these reports as these "journalists." It's tragic.

    Meanwhile, as Paul Krugman says yet again in his column today, the economic horrorshow we're living through never had to happen and doesn't have to continue, here, in Europe, or anywhere else, yet we're under the control of people who are incompetent, greedy and yet fully certain of the correctness of their very disastrous beliefs and the policies that flow from them. Sic transit gloria mundi, and all that.

  2. Parker’s beard, Michael Barbaro, helped her write this report.

    As much as I like your writing Bob, do you need to go straight to the gutter? That's just nasty.

  3. hardindr,

    I think Bob was having a little pun, and showing off his knowledge of ancient Greek.

  4. Pop psychologists hired by the media are a joke. They think they can read minds.

  5. Well, this story sure makes me understand the Republican candidates much better!
    What a dumb article in the Times!

  6. This kind of story needs to be called out each and every time it runs. This crap runs all day on the cable channels, when it's not the equally vacant horse race stories.

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