Relevance watch: Bruni tries—and fails!


For one brief shining moment, he almost gets it right: The analysts stood and cheered, admittedly in amazement.

At the start of this morning’s column, Frank Bruni seemed to be getting it right!

Bruni was writing about the fatuous way White House candidates often get covered. Or at least, as his column began, that seemed to be his point. He wrote about Candidate Edwards, four short years ago:
BRUNI (12/20/11): Before we travel any further down the 2012 campaign trail and hear any more about what a rosy and essential mirror of the candidate his (or her) spouse provides, let’s brush up on history. We need go back only four years, to John and Elizabeth Edwards.

He had really great hair, right up there with Mitt Romney’s. She carried some extra pounds. And his Ken-doll perfection next to her real-world flaws was supposed to tell us something about what a decent fellow he was, or so the superficial, insulting, credulous narrative went.

I remember no small number of conversations in which I heard someone speak highly of him because he was with her. And I remember that the main question asked about their relationship, for a while, was not if he loved her enough, but if he loved her so much that her cancer and possible death would distract him from governing.
Bruni goes on to note that this particular marriage wasn’t the way it seemed. It almost seemed that he was knocking the way his colleagues tend to cover elections—the silly ways they try to judge a candidate’s “character.”

You’re right—Bruni avoiding saying that this “insulting, credulous narrative” about Candidate Edwards was churned by America’s journalists. He didn’t say that he held those foolish “conversations” with members of his own group. But as he continued, he seemed to say how dumb it is to judge a candidate by the way his or her marriage appears.

At one point, he almost seemed to say we should judge a candidate by his or her public record!

We began to imagine the pleasure we’d get from singing Bruni’s praises. But people, nothing gold can stay! Before he was done, he showed his true colors.

Good lord! This is just sad:
BRUNI: A candidate’s record is definite. A candidate’s romantic life yields to less reliable interpretation, and is put forward with even more sugarcoating.

From Al Gore’s supposedly happy marriage to Tipper, the spirited drummer girl, we were supposed to conclude that he had a wild, playful streak.

They didn’t work out.
In this passage, Bruni seems to say that we should judge a candidate by his public record. But then, we get his real complaint: In Bruni’s judgment, Candidate Gore didn’t have “a wild, playful streak.”

Even if you think that’s true, why should we care about that?

Bless their hearts! Sometimes, they try!

They try, and then quickly they fail.


  1. It's so much easier and funner for the Brunis and his ilk to focus on the frippery and furbelows than on anything of depth.

    So. Much. Easier. Which is one reason why they do.

    The other is they're plutocrats or identify with them. They're far more fixated on the Babby Krentses of the world (just type that name into the New York Times's search function if you missed the strange, hysterical article about this woman) than about anything that might affect the 99% of us.

    Some admissions director who causes "fear" in the minds of people who can drop $36,000 for a child's kindergarten education? The Times is all over it. The plans of various Republican and Democratic candidates that might have a very serious and deleterious impact on the lives of children, elders, people in the military, working parents, immigrants, etc.?


  2. Great point, Pharaon. In a way, it's not surprising that the Times identifies with plutocrats. Their readership mostly consists of plutocrats, or, at least, upper middle class folks.

    Take the Sunday Magazine, for example. The articles may express sympathy for the poor and downtrodden. But, the ads are aimed at people with lots of money to spend.

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