DAY OF THE DUMB: Hugs and flips!


Parker spots the stiffness: Yet another awkward hug! On the scene for the New York Times, Parker and Barbaro were flawlessly able to spot it:
BARBARO AND PARKER (1/5/12): On Stage, an Awkward Reminder of Personal Rifts in G.O.P.

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Everybody went by the script during a highly choreographed endorsement Wednesday at a school gymnasium here. Mitt Romney called Senator John McCain a “hero” and a “great friend.” In supporting his once-bitter rival for president, Mr. McCain called on Joe Louis for inspiration and said that President Obama “can run” from Mr. Romney, “but he can’t hide.”

Yet the two men made little eye contact, even when Mr. Romney was introducing Mr. McCain. They shared a stiff, half-hug on stage, patting each other on the back in a perfunctory manner. And they exchanged detached banter about the weather in Arizona.
They didn’t even make eye contact! So it goes as America’s slowest children pretend to report the campaign.

Today is truly The Day of the Dumb in America’s most famous newspaper—but Parker and Barbaro take the cake with their review of the body language as McCain endorsed Romney. The children didn’t seem to know a well-known fact: John McCain always engages in stiff, half-hugs.

You see, John McCain can’t bend his arms, courtesy of a disagreement with North Vietnamese officials. This morning, the children didn’t know this well-known fact, or they didn’t want to let it ruin their story—a story which did have a happy ending, body language-wise:
BARBARO/PARKER: For all Mr. Romney’s momentum at this stage of the race, his public appearances can still feel oddly dutiful and flat. But in what the campaign surely hopes is a sign of the future, by the end of a long day spent riding a bus together, Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney seemed to have warmed to their new political partnership, their awkwardness dissolving into easier banter and a playful manner.

Mr. McCain, who in 2008 groused that Mr. Romney would say anything to get elected president, paid the candidate his highest compliment. He described him as “straight talking,” Mr. McCain’s own moniker.
Reading the work of these vapid children, you would have thought that Mitt and John were finally warming up to each other after their hatred of four years ago. It made for a wonderful, low-IQ tale—and variations of the tale were found all over cable last night. Few Times readers would recall Michael Cooper’s report from 2008, in which he discussed the idea that Mitt might be John’s running-mate:
COOPER (7/19/08): Now Mr. Romney is attracting perhaps more buzz than anyone else as a potential running mate for the man he once derided.

And if the initial rapprochement between the two men seemed a tad forced after Mr. Romney pulled out of the race last winter, something approaching warmth seems to be entering their relationship now. At a fund-raiser in Albuquerque this week, Mr. McCain even aimed a gentle jibe at Mr. Romney—raising eyebrows among veteran McCain watchers, who know that his irreverent teasing and sarcasm are often his way of showing affection.

"Mitt and Ann Romney and Cindy and I have become good friends, and I'm appreciative every time I see Mitt on television on my behalf," Mr. McCain told donors at the fund-raiser, according to a pool report of the event. "He does a better job for me than he did for himself, as a matter of fact."
Four years later, two silly children told a simpler, stupider tale. But then, this is truly The Day of the Dumb in the New York Times.

For the record, Ashley Parker should know from stiff hugs. For five years, she served as “research assistant” to Maureen Dowd, whatever that could possibly mean. And Dowd first caught the eye of her superiors at the Times when she noticed aspects of the failed hug between Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro! In 1984!

Dowd's genius was spotted at the Democratic Convention, or so her superiors later said. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/14/99. For key excerpt, see below.

Brain-eating Dowdism now rules the Times—and the bulk of press corps culture. Yes, Rachel was especially stupid last night. But good lord! Today’s New York Times!

For the next few hours, we'll review the foolishness found all through this morning’s Times. On the second day after a caucus or primary, the new frameworks get rolled out. Today’s are remarkably dumb.

We’ll look at Cooper—at Collins too. We’ll even take a look at Silver. But no one ever tops Barbaro-Parker, the anointed stars of the next generation as a gene pool dies.

McCain extended a rather stiff hug. The children could tell what it meant.

Coming next: Nicholas Kristof knows flips!

Maureen Dowd knew from hugs: In 1999, Gay Jervey profiled Dowd for Brill’s Context. At one point, she described the events at which Dowd’s genius was spotted.

Bill Kovach was a highly-regarded editor at the Times. This anecdote describes the time when the brains of a journalistic elite began to fry:
JERVEY (6/99): Even as a young reporter Dowd had an eye for telling detail and nuance…

“We were on deadline,” Kovach explains. “Mondale and Ferraro had just been nominated...As the candidates stood on the platform, Maureen jumped up and grabbed me and said, ‘Look! Look! There is the story. Mondale doesn’t know whether to hug his wife or Ferraro. He doesn’t know what to do.’ She saw that signaled a new era, with women playing a whole new role in politics and men not quite knowing what to do.” That keen observation...crystallized for Kovach just how clairvoyant a reporter she was.
An eye for telling detail! That was the night when Mondale said that he would raise taxes—and so would President Reagan. But so what? That wasn’t “the story.”

The clairvoyant Maureen Dowd knew from hugs. So does the vapid child Parker.

1 comment:

  1. Similar nonsense from Dana Milbank at the Washington Post. Milbank reports that McCain grimaced when he was introduced, looked at his watch, and didn't mention Romney’s Iowa win until the end. Milbank also includes vital news that Romney had a tight grin and raised eyebrows.