DAY OF THE DUMB: Cooper attempts to walk and chew gum!


Recalling the folk Ensign shtupped: This is a very dumb day in the New York Times. Right at the start of her news report, Helene Cooper just can’t seem to figure something out.

Obama is saying two different things about Romney! This attempt to walk and chew gum seems to have Cooper confused:
COOPER (1/5/12): After Iowa, Obama Campaign Sharpens 2 Negative Portrayals of Romney

Bolstered in their view of Mitt Romney as their likeliest opponent, President Obama’s campaign advisers gleefully skewered him on Wednesday as a “weak front-runner” in a narrowing Republican field and made clear they would cast him as out of touch with the concerns of middle-class Americans.

The day after Mr. Romney squeezed out a razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Obama’s political brain-trust trained most of its fire on him, painting him as both a Wall Street 1 percent type and an unprincipled flip-flopper. How long the Obama campaign can condemn Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, on both counts is not clear, given that independent voters may view his protean tendencies as evidence of pragmatism.
First of all, no one knows what “protean” means. For help from, you can just click this.

Having said that, reporter Cooper is confused. It’s hard work to see how the White House can do it—how they can attack Romney as a pal of the plutocrats and as a flip-flopper too! In reality, whatever you think of those two critiques, it’s easy to imagine the way the two might go together. But by paragraph 2, Cooper is casting doubt on that puzzling flip-flopper crap, just as Kristof does on today's op-ed page.

Go ahead. You explain it! (In 2004, this same newspaper busted its keister calling Kerry a flipper, although he hadn’t flipped at all regarding the matter at issue.)

For our money, even Nate Silver struggles a bit today, frisking Romney’s “ugly win.” The analysts audibly groaned at this point (this comes from the hard-copy Times):
SILVER (1/5/12): What Mr. Romney did not do, in either a literal or a figurative sense, was wrap up the nomination. A resounding victory in Iowa might have come closer to accomplishing that, but not one with these aesthetics.

Here comes the ugly stat sheet: an eight-vote margin of victory, a vote share lower than he attained in 2008, a failure to beat Mr. Santorum among registered Republicans and the lowest-ever winning percentage in the Iowa caucuses. Then there was the fact that Mr. Romney’s campaign, which had so carefully managed expectations in Iowa for months and months, did an inexplicably poor job of it at the end.
Has anyone ever “wrapped up the nomination” in Iowa? And as the campaign strained for the win, was the late change in tone “inexplicable?”

Yes, this is fairly minor stuff. But what’s in this newspaper’s water?

Out on cable, last night's biggest groans were occasioned by Rachel’s post-Iowa focus. Romney and Santorum had tied in the state. Now they were moving on to New Hampshire. Gingrich was planning to self-destruct. And what was Rachel’s take-away? Here’s how she started last night:
MADDOW (1/4/12): And thanks to you at home for sticking with us the next hour.

You remember the John Ensign sex scandal? Every once in a while in the news business, it pays to be a total dork. It pays to be unabashedly obsessed with the story that nobody else is talking about at the time. For example, the John Ensign sex scandal.

I confess, I found the John Ensign sex scandal obsessively fascinating, for a really long time, even though it basically never made front page national news, at least until he resigned. Sometimes, though—this is I think true in life as much as it is in the news—sometimes months and years later, after you’ve been interested in something and nobody else really is, it turns out that that obsession is worth it. That obsessing over a story nobody else is paying attention to comes in very handy.

So the John Ensign sex scandal is suddenly newly relevant, because it is connected to the 2012 Republican presidential nominating race.
Except no—it actually isn’t. We dont like to make predictions. But we’re fairly sure you'll see this connection dreamed up nowhere else.

But then, this is the person who spent two nights, just two weeks ago, worrying that Jeb Bush might run for president as part of an on-line third party effort. This is one of the world’s three or four least likely prospects—but Rachel told us, three separate times, that she had been losing sleep about it. (In fairness, that “losing sleep” hook is one of the many approaches she uses to make us admire her more.)

Last night, Maddow recalled how much “fun” it was to cover the caucuses Tuesday night. Maddow is a brilliant self-salesman. On the down side, she is still “obsessed” with who John Ensign was “shtupping.”

Last night, she spent her first six minutes on the topic (click here to watch). Do you see hope for the world?


  1. That Maddow clip should come with a warning that smugness at such elevated levels may be hazardous to your health. I especially like how she says that her (self-proclaimed) obsessive interest in the Ensign story makes her a "dork" instead of a prurient panty-sniffer.

  2. Actually the Young Turks mentioned, just briefly, how Santorum was one of Ensign's enablers.

    I say the story DOES matter because since Santorum seems to be running for Chief of the Crotch Police, he should have denounced Ensign on the spot and demanded his resignation.

  3. I stumbled over "protean" and had to look it up (before getting to the link for!

  4. Maddow was trying to get at Santorum's hypocrisy, but really, far more important than his support of adulterer and ethical violator John Ensign are his many more serious ethical lapses while in office, his hypocrisy on fiscal and legal issues, and his push to have states outlaw birth control. The last alone should be a disqualifier among the vast majority of female voters. But Santorum isn't backing down. He really does not like the idea of women having control of their bodies and reproductive organs. He wants the state(s) to control them.

    These might be too controversial for Maddow, and they don't allow her to delve into the sexytime, which is also Santorum's obsession (he is really frothingly wacked out by gay male sex). I am glad, though, that she hasn't mentioned his singing to his wife's miscarried fetus, or the photos he took with it, though I imagine if he starts to surpass Romney, that campaign or another will run with this tidbit of bizarrerie.

  5. "Hypocrisy" is indeed the rationale that justifies every single Republican sex scandal, yes. Because they're the family values party, yes. Personally, I'm not sure what the correct action is when presented with evidence of a friend's infidelity, and knowledge that the accuser was going public. The instinct to tell the friend would be one of the factors. Probably Santorum was a hypocrite for not publicly denouncing Ensign, but really, don't we have more important things to talk about, like Santorum's conservative statism?

  6. At this point, anyone who honestly thinks Romney won't win the nomination, or that his win is even in doubt barring sudden revelations of sex with little kids and animals, is delusional. The only candidate who hasn't self-destructed is Santorum, and that's because he's the only candidate who hasn't been given the chance to self-destruct. Now he has. He might live longer than the others as the anti-Romney because, again, he's the only one left, but it's kind of like winning a fight for the last drink of water when you're marooned in the middle of the desert. You won yourself a little more time, but your fate is going to be the same.

  7. @Shankman

    Santorum opposes banning contraception.

    The baby was born alive, and survived for about two hours.

  8. I, too, was struck by the false either-or of Helene Cooper's article when I read it this morning. Paul Waldman provides a coherent analysis of the sort Cooper may have been aiming for (though, in the end, he rejects that analysis):

    Why can't a NYT reporter write coherently? Truly, it's rare these days.

  9. @David Tomlin

    Santorum called the other day for allowing states to outlaw contraception. He does not oppose it, but is for it.

    @John Powell

    The main issue with Ensign was not the affair--though if you are a "family values," pro-hetero-marriage conservative and you're shtupping your aide's wife, you're behaving hypocritcally--but the unethical (and possibly illegal) payoff that Ensign's parents engaged in to keep the soon-to-be former aide and his wife quiet. Santorum may even have known about all of this.

    But Will Bunch has quite a bill of goods on Santorum here: The Santorum that nobody knows

    On the weirdness involving the "20-week-old fetus" (the hospital's terminology, not mine), cf. here:

    Wonkette: Why He Runs: Rick Santorum’s Own ‘Fetus Jar’ Story

  10. Santorum called the other day for allowing states to outlaw contraception.

    He has also said he is opposed to them doing it. See his recent interview with Bill O'Reilly.

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  12. @Anonymous January 5, 2012 3:49 PM
    People keep bringing up the idea of hypocrisy for Family Values types who fail, but the FV people - and by that I mean the voters, not just the candidates - don't seem to care as much about "do as I say, not as I do"-type offenses. In fact, the more someone's screwed up, the more points they earn for maintaining a steadfast dedication. If you didn't understand what Rick Perry meant when he said his line about "broken people to reach a broken world," you should take the time to learn... because attacking a religious person for hypocrisy in front of their supporters doesn't really work unless you know what that means.

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