THE SHORTHAND AND THE POWER: Who on earth is Dana T. Milbank?


EPILOG—You may not want to know: Who on earth is Dana T. Milbank?

You may not want to know. No intelligent person would be intrigued by such an utterly fatuous fellow—by the man who offered these critiques of two major White House candidates, Candidates Romney and Gore:
MILBANK (1/15/12): To see Romney, in his Gap jeans, laughing awkwardly at his own jokes and making patently disingenuous claims, brings back all those bad memories of 2000: “Love Story.” Inventing the Internet. Earth tones. Three-button suits. The alpha male in cowboy boots. The iced-tea defense. The Buddhist temple. The sighing during the debate.


In Romney’s case, there is already abundant support for the archetype: his belief that “corporations are people,” his talk about hunting “small varmints,” the story about driving with the family dog in a kennel strapped atop the Romneys’ car, his attempted $10,000 bet with Rick Perry, his singing “Who let the dogs out?,” his pretending to be pinched on the behind by a waitress, his bizarre jokes about Hooters and hollandaise sauce, and his tendency to ask debate moderators for protection from his opponents.
Candidate Gore wore three-button suits. In a very similar vein, Candidate Romney once told a joke involving hollandaise sauce. To review the joke Milbank is talking about, we dare you: Just click here.

Let’s say it again: You’re dealing with a form of mental/intellectual illness when you see someone “reason” this way about such a serious matter.

Instinctively, intelligent people might hurry past Milbank, as they would do if they saw him singing arias in a dark storefront late at night. Which he probably does.

We could do that, but it would be wrong. Milbank is the soul of the modern “press corps”—a simpering, dim-witted upper-class gaggle who have made an absolute joke of your discourse for (perhaps) forty years. How did we ever reach the point where “journalists” shape our election discussions in such baldly ridiculous ways? Once again, we’ll recommend Thomas Patterson’s little-discussed 1993 book, Out of Order, for a partial account of the way this slide toward Bedlam began.

(Books which criticize the press corps are always "little-discussed.")

That said, Milbank is the soul of the tribe which is making a joke of your discourse. He is still reciting bogus claims about Gore—silly claims everyone knows to be bogus. Did we mention the fact that Romney told a joke about hollandaise sauce?

You’re in the grip of a serious cultural breakdown when you gaze on the work of this small, stupid mafia. For that reason, our question does matter:

Who in the world is Dana Milbank? The answer helps us trace the profile of a sad, corrupt “press corps” “elite.”

Baby Milbank entered the world on April 27, 1968. As such, he is still writing this stupid shit at 42 years of age! And Milbank’s “educational” background only adds to the cultural mystery. Incredibly, Milbank graduated from Yale! And he did so "cum laude." With honors!

At this point, the mystery deepens. While at Yale, Milbank was a member of the famous old blue-blood secret society, Skull and Bones. This fact was widely noted a few years back; given his unimpressive bearing, we assumed this meant that Milbank must have come from a wealthy, high-ranking family. Why else would an outfit like Bones tap a fellow like this?

Surprise! Based on his engagement and wedding announcements, this doesn’t seem to be the case; it seems that Milbank hails from a fairly average middle-class family background. At any rate, he married a fellow Yale graduate in 1993. Needless to say, his wife was working for Citibank. The culture of this faux-journalistic class is built around grasping and climbing.

Who in the world is this fatuous man? Just to give you a rough idea of Dana T. Milbank’s political outlook, consider the note he posted in an on-line chat just two years ago:
MILBANK (2/8/10): My policy in each presidential race is to vote for the best candidate who is not on the ballot. I think this is superior to the Len Downie approach of not voting at all; I don't have to commit to one candidate or the other in the race, but I can still go through the exercise of who would be a good president. So I voted for McCain in 2000, when Bush and Gore were on the ballot. I voted for Chuck Hagel in 2004, when Bush and Kerry were on the ballot. And I voted for Mike Bloomberg in 2008.
As Dave Weigel noted at the time, “That’s really a pretty representative list of candidates who became darlings of the D.C. media establishment.” It’s also a list of candidates who were praised by the insider press for their wonderfully high ideals. This is part of the serial gesture in which the press corps gets massively fooled, as a group, about various issues of “character.”

For the record, two of his choices were Republicans. The third was a Republican who switched parties so he could run for office.

These are tiny glimpses into the soul of a simpering “press corps” elite—the kind of “elite” which won’t stop repeating its stupid stories, even after everyone knows that its stories are bogus. Did Gore say something weird or revealing about Love Story? Please. Only two journalists heard Gore’s unrecorded remarks on this utterly pointless topic; each rejected the widely-pimped notion that there was a problem with what he had said. Here’s Karen Tumulty in September 2000: “I was sort of appalled to see the way it played in the media...The degree to which it became a symbol of the man’s integrity I thought was very unfair.”

That’s what Karen Tumulty said—and she actually heard Gore's remarks. But so what? Twelve years later, Milbank, who didn’t hear what Gore said, is still pimping his cadre’s bullshit around. In many such ways, your political discourse has been turned into a sad, sick joke.

Who is Dana T. Milbank? In even a slightly rational world, he would be seen as a sad, empty soul—and as someone who is making a joke of your nation’s political discourse. Unfortunately, you don’t live in that kind of world. You live in a world which has been shaped by fatuous people like this peculiar, mouth-breathing clown. These folk recite their dumb inane shit the way other life-forms breathe.

Since Milbank is still recalling the way he “cringed” about Candidate Gore, it might be worth recalling his own bad conduct during Campaign 2000.

His conduct was very bad. Long story short:

Coverage of Campaign 2000 began in March 1999. From the earliest days of the coverage, it was clear that the mainstream press corps was at war with Gore. Nowhere was this fact more obvious than in the Washington Post.

Milbank was the lead campaign reporter for the New Republic. All through 1999, he somehow managed to see no evil with the Post’s absurd reporting. As he carefully held his tongue, destructive themes about Gore’s alleged lying hardened, then turned to stone.

The Washington Post led the way in this part of the press corps war. Milbank said nothing about the Post’s conduct, which culminated in December 1999. And then, in January 2000, he took a new job! Where else? At the Washington Post!

Milbank remains there to this day, writing his pitifully stupid shit and turning the nation’s brains to clam chowder. In real time, as he cringed about Gore’s clothes, his silence allowed those anti-Gore themes to congeal. This includes the GORE LIAR theme, the theme which sent Bush to the White House.

He kept his mouth shut to fuel his career; Citibank pay-outs just weren’t quite enough. People are dead all over the world because of this sad, worthless hustler.

The Milbanks and the Dowds and their ilk are extremely disordered people. On the one hand, they’re extremely dishonest. Perhaps more significantly, they have created a political discourse which seems to have been dreamed by a group of deranged second graders. Meanwhile, just try to explain the way your nation has accepted this lunacy down through the years. Gaze again on the way this man wants you to ponder a candidate:
MILBANK: In Romney’s case, there is already abundant support for the archetype: his belief that “corporations are people,” his talk about hunting “small varmints,” the story about driving with the family dog in a kennel strapped atop the Romneys’ car, his attempted $10,000 bet with Rick Perry, his singing “Who let the dogs out?,” his pretending to be pinched on the behind by a waitress, his bizarre jokes about Hooters and hollandaise sauce, and his tendency to ask debate moderators for protection from his opponents.
Don’t worry about Romney’s policy views! In 1983, he strapped his dog to the roof of his car! In Milbank’s oeuvre, this recalls the way Gore wore three-button suits. One of which was brown!

This way lies Bedlam. As a matter of fact, we’ve long since arrived there, led by these empty and ludicrous souls. It’s a sign of mental/intellectual breakdown that hustlers like Milbank are shaping our discourse. So why does Maddow promote the same game? And why does Paul Krugman mislead us?

Tomorrow: Rachel and Paul


  1. Extremely well said, Bob. The Milbanks and Dowds of the world are portrayed as "humor" columnists, but the stuff they're turning out has deadly serious consequences. In my fantasy world, Milbank reads this column, searches his soul, and changes his ways. Not holding my breath.

  2. New York Magazine, following in Milbank's footsteps, tells its readers what refreshments were served at a Romney fund-raising event and just how spicy the guacamole was.

  3. A bit of googling reveal some sites that refer to Dana Milbank as a "scion" or "member" of "the Milbank law family." Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy is one of the oldest and most successful of the New York "white shoe" law firms and anyone who is a grandson of Albert G. Milbank, who not only founded the law firm but also set up the Milbank Memorial Fund, would be a big-time trust fund baby and a shoe-in for things like admission to Yale and membership in Skull and Bones. (If true, it would also explain why his engagement was worthy of note in the NY Times.)

  4. The most shocking thing I've learned here is that Milbank is only 42....