Part 2—How we the rubes remain clueless: At one time, a person could count on two things. He could count on death and taxes.
Over the past forty years, that bargain has been expanded. Americans can count on death and taxes—and on novelized tales! We can count on the silly, novelized tales through which the boys and girls who pose as a press corps pretend to cover our White House campaigns (and many affairs of the wider world).
These silly tales pervaded the “press corps” of a Sunday morning:
Richard Nixon wasn’t gay—but Princess Margaret had a hot figure! Newt Gingrich has too many wives! And why in the world does President Barry argue with so many blonds on the tarmac? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/30/12.
Sunday morning, the Post and the Times drowned the nation in this sea of novelized piffle. Monday morning, the Post’s Marc Fisher followed suit on the front page of Style. His piece ate more than half that front page. On and on the gentleman went, discussing aspects of Mitt Romney’s wealth.
Should Mitt Romney have given that woman $50? Discuss—and see your brains turn to rot.
Romney’s proposals were not discussed in Fisher's long rumination. But time-honored novelized piffle held sway in part of his endless report:
FISHER (1/30/12): In 1992, when then-President George H.W. Bush flashed an amazed look upon seeing a demonstration of a supermarket price scanner, he was unfairly slammed as a rich guy so removed from ordinary life that he had never seen a staple of daily existence. In fact, Bush was expressing wonder over a new, advanced scanner, but the inaccurate reporting hit a nerve with voters who perceived Bush as detached.Supermarket scanners—and windsurfing! (Even worse—windsurfing off Nantucket!) These are the fatuous units of thought through which the “press corps” has long pretended to evaluate White House candidates.
Bush’s rich-guy reputation was so enduring that his son, George W., set out to create a wholly different story line—avoiding his Ivy League alma maters and Maine coast family compound to highlight his down-home Texas persona, a regular guy who spoke, acted and dressed differently from his Connecticut Yankee father.
President George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign turned the tables on his wealthy opponent, Sen. John F. Kerry, who was pictured in a Bush-Cheney TV ad windsurfing off Nantucket, blowing to and fro as an announcer reeled off his waffling positions on a series of issues.
(Of course, when judgment turns on such fatuous metrics, the “press corps” can easily tip the scales in a preferred direction. Fisher was too polite to mention the role the New York Times played in the fashioning of each Bush. In 1992, Andrew Rosenthal was the source for that “inaccurate reporting” about Bush 41, who had been judged to be out of touch. But by 1999, preference in Gotham had changed; by now, the children were very upset about Bill Clinton’s blow jobs. In line with this new improved view of the world, the Times was eager to pimp the “news” that Candidate Bush 43 had bought a Texas ranch, so reminiscent of President Johnson. The Times ran this bullshit on page one, with a photo, helping Bush type his new novel.)
This pseudo-coverage of the candidates has been widespread since 1972. And uh-oh! As our brains get filled with this stupid sad mush, we the people never seem to get clear about serious matters.
Consider this brief but remarkable post by the Washington Post’s Suzy Khimm. Monday morning, Fisher’s rumination on piffle ate up half of Style’s front page. Two days earlier, Khimm’s brief blog post had barely been noticed:
KHIMM (1/27/12): Northwestern University and University of Chicago’s business schools surveyed a group of top economists, as well as the public at large, and found some big differences when it came to economic policy. Some of the questions tested basic economic literary: A full 100 percent of economists agreed that permanently raising the federal tax rate by 1 percent for those in the top income tax bracket would increase federal tax revenue over the next 10 years. By contrast, only 66 percent of the general public agreed that this was the case, with just 50 percent of Republicans concurring and 80 percent of Democrats. The misconception could partly explain why there’s such aversion to tax increases.Only 66 percent agreed with this thing that every economist knows. That leaves a clueless 34 percent. Never mind how we got that!
The highlighted finding is very sad, but it’s hardly surprising. Every economist agreed: Raising the marginal income tax rate would produce extra revenue. But only 50 percent of Republicans agreed with this obvious notion! As Kevin Drum noted before moving on, “That's a big victory for Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.”
It’s also a triumph of The Big Stupid—of the novelized culture which rules the work of our mainstream “press.”
Why did half of Republican voters doubt that rather obvious fact? Easy! For the past thirty years, a Potemkin “press corps” has gamboled and played, focusing on silly, novelized treatments of the candidates’ “character.” Every manner of inane absurd item has been served to us the rubes. We’ve been told that we can evaluate candidates by their clothing or by their choice in water sports—by their pointless offhand remarks, by the size of their houses. In 1988, Maureen Dowd (and a welter of others) told us that Candidate Bush 41 had asked for “a splash of coffee” at a New Hampshire diner. On the basis of this alleged locution, we were told he was out of touch.
In 2004, the same pseudo-journalist told us that Candidate Kerry had made a similar plummy remark. (“Who amongst us doesn’t like NASCAR.”) In each case, there is no evidence supporting the claim that the candidates made these reported remark. But in each case, the life-forms who work for the New York Times took the piffle and ran.
In the meantime, we the rubes were getting deceived about taxes.
Why did so many voters say that raising that tax rate might not increase revenue? Duh! Over the course of the past thirty years, corporate disinformation machines have drummed this into voters’ heads, even as our pseudo-journalists talked about earth tones and scanners and cheesesteaks—and pretended that Ed Muskie wept. If we lower the tax rates, we get extra revenue! Gullible fans of Rush and Sean have been handed this scam for a good many years—as the Dowds, the Collinses, the Riches, the Fishers gamboled and played and ignored. The sheer stupidity of our discourse reflects the interplay of these two groups: The hustlers who run disinformation machines and the crackpots who can’t stop discussing the imagined treatment of Mitt Romney’s dog. Before the week is done, we’ll review what the barely-sane Lady Collins told Diane Rehm about that topic, her favorite.
Long story short: Gail Collins is virtually out of her mind—and the mainstream “press corps” simply can’t tell! Neither can liberal voters, of course. And your career liberal intellectual leaders are sworn not to tattle.
Yesterday was a beautiful day in the press corps’ neighborhood. Sunday morning, then again Monday, their silly, stupid-assed tales were spilling forth all over the land. Meanwhile, in a little-noticed post, Khimm recorded one small part of the blinding stupidity which defines our public debate.
Last night, on your liberal channel, all the whores were smiling your way, handing you novelized tales about Mitt. But uh-oh! In the past few weeks, the New York Times tried to explain the tax proposals of the various Republican candidates.
The New York Times gave this task its best shot. As usual, the New York Times failed.
Tomorrow: Explaining Romney’s proposals
At one time, Marc Fisher knew wardrobe: In the fall of 1999, Fisher was taking his character clues from one candidate’s wardrobe. A war was on against Candidate Gore. In the Washington Post’s Sunday magazine, Fisher typed the prevailing scripts, as all the whores had now done:
FISHER (11/28/99): Enter Al Gore. Seemed like a nice enough guy, maybe even a decent person. That is, until he started doing the kinds of contortions we've seen before in that Unreadable group. He became the New Gore, like the New Nixon. He got folksy on us, like Bush and his pork rinds. He started telling us deeply personal stuff that we didn't want to know, like Carter and his lust.That passage is political porn, of the highest and ugliest order. It explains how George Bush reached the White House. It explains the dead in Iraq.
[W]hen Al Gore sneaks around and spends $15,000 a month to hire an oddball like Naomi Wolf, a controversialist who campaigns against the tyranny of the beauty culture and then plasters soft-lit glossies of herself and her perfectly teased hair all over the Internet and on her book jackets, we have two choices: We can say Gore's a good man who's been duped by over-eager aides, or we can say this is a man who does not know himself, a man who is unknowable, unreadable and therefore not fit to be president.
A person who makes her living by writing pop philosophy about sex tells a man who would be president of the United States that he must be a different kind of man, that he must be more assertive, that he must wear a brown suit of a sort that is alien to virtually every American. And he says, "Okay."
To call him unreadable is to be charitable.
Joan Walsh sat there and stared. As of last night, she's very troiubled by the dog on the roof of the car!
Fisher was troubled by Gore’s brown suit, which was “alien to virtually every American.” He was troubled by Naomi Wolf’s hair—and he was willing to call her an oddball. That passage is full of misstatements and unproven claims. But just for the record, that “oddball” had appeared on a special edition of Meet the Press just two years before, invited to be one of two guests to discuss the nation’s changing gender roles. Two of her books of "pop philosophy about sex" had been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year.
Naomi Wolf was thoroughly mainstream. Until these life-forms got started with their new death-dealing novel. (Three days later, Gore was accidentally misquoted about Love Canal, completely by mistake. Joan Walsh kept her trap shut, although last night she began to speak out concerning the dog on the car.)
Why does a man of Fisher’s low caliber still work within the mainstream press? In large part, the answer is obvious. We pseudo-liberals have agreed to this bargain. The silence provides high-paying employment for the whores who pimp on our side.
Candidate Gore wore an alien suit! Mitt Romney strapped his dog to his car! And raising the tax rate will not produce revenue!
These are the silly novelized tales which define our failing world.