FACTS AND LEGENDS: Just making stuff up!


Part 3—Gail Collins should look in the mirror: The analysts chuckled when they perused Sunday’s Washington Post.

The Style section featured a sprawling, two-page report about “Watergate,” Thomas Mallon’s new novel. In large, bold letters, the layout featured this pull-quote from an interview with Mallon:
“There's a story about Nixon that as a child he got a briefcase for Christmas and was happy about it. There was always that striver aspect of Nixon, and it never went away....If he's going to be of any interest to a novelist...it's not going to be as a pasteboard villain who twirls his mustache and ties his victim to the railroad tracks.”
“There’s a story about Nixon,” Mallon had told the Post reporter.

Mallon’s story fits a traditional picture of Nixon. But is the story true? There was no sign that Mallon knows, or that the Post reporter cares. People! The story is amusing! And it fits a traditional picture.

Within our fact-averse journalistic culture, that’s frequently all it takes.

Facts are very pliable things within our political discourse. At the start of this month, the White House made a misleading factual claim which rapidly took the world by storm. Everyone repeated (and revised) the claim, although it wasn’t real accurate.

The New York Time still hasn’t tried to report the relevant facts. But then, what else is new? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/22/12.

Monday evening, on the Last Word, one of our most vapid “journalists” mused about the history of this fact-averse culture. For unknown reasons, Gail Collins has written a book about William Henry Harrison, who served exactly 32 days as the ninth American president. In keeping with her preternaturally lazy approach, Collins’ “book” runs all of 125 pages. Its opening pages feature the weird connections which are frequently found inside her squirrel-inhabited head.

In the following exchange, Collins told Lawrence O’Donnell what Harrison had to teach us on this year’s Presidents Day. Lawrence said he was only raising the point to sell a couple of books. Everything these life-forms do is about stuffing bucks in their pockets. To watch this garbage, click here:
O’DONNELL (2/20/12): Gail, quickly, before we go, let’s get in a book-selling word about "William Henry Harrison."

COLLINS: Presidents Day, yes!

O’DONNELL: Does he have anything to teach us on Presidents Day about this the presidential campaign?

COLLINS: I think so. You know, he, like Mitt Romney, was the son of a very—he was the son of a founding father, signer of the Declaration of Independence, a very wealthy family in Virginia on a plantation. But he ran as president in an age when you could just make stuff up and go with it.

O’DONNELL: Those were the days!

COLLINS: As a very poor soldier living in a log cabin. And that was the center of his campaign. People danced the log cabin two-step. If only Mitt Romney could do that now, he’d be so happy if he could recreate himself as, you know, this guy from Brooklyn.
For our money, Collins would be one of the truly loathsome figures on the national stage, if it weren’t increasingly plain that squirrels are banging around in her head. As usual, she seemed to be treating the public like fools in this moronic exchange. Harrison “ran as president in an age when you could just make stuff up,” she marveled, transitioning to a jibe aimed at Romney.

O’Donnell pretended to marvel too. Of course, he, like Collins, knows something you don’t: Like Harrison, Romney is running “in an age when you can just make stuff up.” There’s one major difference between these two candidates: It’s more often the press corps which makes the stuff up in the present age.

The “press corps” makes up the stuff now! They spread their silly tales around, just as Harrison may have done. They just make stuff up and go with it! They’ve done this for three or four decades.

Candidate Muskie wept! David Broder said it was so. Fifteen years later, he said it probably wasn’t.

Who gets to just make up silly shit now? Increasingly, people like Collins! Earlier, O’Donnell asked her about the stuff she has (pretty much) been making up in the current campaign. As always, Collins’ response was hugely disingenuous. Here you see her describing her role in some Harrisonian conduct:
O’DONNELL: Now, Gail, I want to talk about what’s happened in the polls and basically we see a Romney collapse. Rachel, in the previous hour, tracked it to, literally to the day Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney. Numbers have gone down for him since then.

OK. So there’s Trump. But there’s also the Romney dog. How much of this collapse can we assign to Mitt Romney as the worst dog manager in history?

COLLINS: Well, as we all know, Mitt Romney did, years ago, drive his family to Canada with the family dog strapped in a crate on the top of the car, and it was actually wet for most of the trip, because he got diarrhea at the beginning and was hosed down. So you’ve got a very wet Irish setter on the top of the car, on the highway, going down the highway. I can’t imagine he would have been real happy about it.

But it’s amazing to me that people glom on to this as meaning something about Mitt Romney. And it seems to. It really does. I mean, it’s really caught hold in a very strange and interesting way.

And you know, he’s going to be forever kind of the guy with the dog on the top of the car.
Is anyone more disingenuous than this horrible person? “It’s amazing to me that people glom on to this as meaning something about Mitt Romney,” the vacuous upper-end crackpot said—failing to note that she herself has been working extremely hard to encourage people to do just that. As she and O’Donnell continued their chat, so did the high lady’s scam:
O’DONNELL (continuing directly): Well, candidacies find different attachments to the people, and I think one of the things about Mitt Romney is, he’s not found any personal attachment. No connective spot, except here, with dog owners, and it’s an extremely negative connective spot with dog owners.

COLLINS: Well, he keeps trying. As we all know, he talked this week about how he likes the size of the trees in Michigan, and he loves cars. He really loves cars, so on and so forth.

But every time he tries for that really personal attachment, something goes terribly wrong and he winds up saying that he really enjoys firing people or that he got pink slips or something else horrible happens. And it never goes well for him when he tries to make a personal connection. It’s very strange.
In this exchange, Collins continued to flog a pair of meaningless statements by Romney, as many of her coleagues have done. Then, she said “it’s very strange” that moments like these “never go well” for this candidate.

Presumably, Collins understands why these moments don’t “go well” for Romney. In this exchange, she was really describing the way people “just make stuff up and go with it” in our modern presidential campaigns.

She failed to note that it’s now people like her who get to “just make stuff up.”

In this instance, she and her colleagues have been pretty much making stuff up about Candidate Romney. It’s easier, and much more fun, than discussing his gruesome, absurd proposals.

Unfortunately, they played this same destructive game with Candidates Kerry and Gore.

Speaking with O'Donnell, Collins made the rare accurate statement; she said that Romney “is going to be forever kind of the guy with the dog on the top of the car.” That may be true, of course. But she forgot to add an additional fact—this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this movie. Thanks to Collins and her colleagues, Candidate Gore was “forever kind of the guy with the earth tones Naomi Wolf told him to wear.” He was also “forever kind of the guy who said he invented the Internet.” Collins could have risen to challenge her peers when they just made up this stuff. Instead, she cavorted, clowned around and pimped this stupid shit too.

Are you happy with how that turned out? No, really—try to think!

It wasn’t just Candidate Gore. Four years later, Candidate Kerry was forever sort of the guy who said he was for it before he was against it. As Jacob Weisberg reminded us this month, he is still sort of the guy who put the wrong cheese on his cheesesteak. He was forever sort of the guy who went wind-surfing when he should have gone jogging. And as with Romney, so with these Dems: It never went well for them when they tried to make a personal connection! As with Romney, so with Kerry and Gore: Whores like Collins would scan every gesture and word, looking for ways to make them seem strange. Then, they pretended it was “weird” that they couldn’t make a personal connection—forgetting to note that they themselves had been working to keep that from occurring.

(Candidate Kerry was forever sort of the guy who said, “Who amongst us doesn’t like NASCAR?” Collins’ colleagues laughed and laughed, forgetting to tell us that they themselves had made the statement up.)

Lady Collins and her colleagues just sort of made that stuff up. In the case of Candidate Gore, people are dead all over the world because of what they did.

Because of what Collins did. People are dead all over the world because of what Gail Collins did.

Today, this horrible person clowns around concerning a dog on the roof of a car in 1983. She says she's amazed at the way “people glom on to this as meaning something about Mitt Romney.”

We’re amazed to see people glom on to that too. But then, we haven’t been begging people to do so. By the way: How well does Collins understand her basic facts?

Collins never seems to say the same thing twice about the meaning of this story—the story she cites in this morning’s New York Times column for more than the thirtieth time. In an hour-long session with Diane Rehm which was weird even by Collins’ standards, she told Rehm that she sees the story as a sign of how uber-orderly Romney is. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/1/12.)

Reading her columns, few people would ever guess that this is the point of this uber-flogged story. (Speaking with Rehm, Collins misstated the facts which appeared in the Boston Globe, the original source of this groaner.) And sure enough! Monday, on Presidents Day, Collins seemed to say that the actual point of the story involves the discomfort of Romney’s poor dog.

Seamus “was actually wet for most of the trip, because he got diarrhea at the beginning and was hosed down,” Collins stupidly told the nation. Seamus was “very wet,” she quickly said, thereby improving the tale. As squirrels wrestled in her brain, she then began imagining things. “I can’t imagine he would have been real happy about it,” she worriedly said.

Was Seamus wet, even verywet, during most of the trip? Like Collins, we have no idea. Collins is old enough to know a bit of social history: As of 1983, most wealthy families owned towels.

Romney wasn’t super-rich yet. Based upon our own recollections, we’ll guess that he owned at least one.

How wet was Seamus during that trip? Collins lacks the first fucking idea. But she keeps displaying a familiar form of mental/intellectual illness, an illness which is quite widespread within her loathsome cohort.

When it comes to just making stuff up, she has been playing the Harrison role for a good many years.

Coming: Printing the legends


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  2. From an article in Smithsonian Magazine by Yardley, discussing the marketing of presidents:

    As for how the staff regarded the candidate, Roger Ailes, who supervised the staged question-and-answer television shows (and who now runs Fox News), positively (and hilariously) dripped with contempt. "Let's face it," he said in one staff meeting, "a lot of people think Nixon is dull. Think he's a bore, a pain in the ass. They look at him as the kind of kid who always carried a bookbag. Who was forty-two years old the day he was born. They figure other kids got footballs for Christmas, Nixon got a briefcase and he loved it....Now you put him on television, you've got a problem right away. He's a funny-looking guy. He looks like somebody hung him in a closet overnight and he jumps out in the morning with his suit all bunched up and starts running around saying, ‘I want to be President.' I mean this is how he strikes some people. That's why these shows are important. To make them forget all that."

    Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/presence-nov06.html#ixzz1nE18JbNU

    It looks like the briefcase story is made up out of whole cloth by Ailes and reported by Joe McGinness in The Making of the President.

    1. Sorry, the book was The Selling of the President (The Making of the President was written by White).

  3. Loathesome is the word for her and her odious ilk.