GLIMMERS: Joan Walsh and “that woman!”


Part 1—Faux outrage, all faux, all the time: After four days in Durham, we feel we can make the following statement:

It’s much as Obama recently said. Being great uncle to a 5-year-old and a 6-week-old really is the world’s toughest job—even when a fellow can repair to his suite at the Super 8 for a mid-afternoon “nap.”

(Grandma, down from Maine to help with The Nugget, continued to hog the guest room.)

Being great uncle is real work! Between the soccer games, the kindergarten visit and the non-stop snuggling and cuddling, there was little time for anything else during our visit to Durham! We only got glimmers of “news” this past weekend. This helped us see how hard it can be for actual parents to keep up with events—especially given the clowning performance they receive from so many large “news orgs.”

Over the last four days, we grabbed our glimmers of news where we could, often in the day's early hours. We read this column by Charles Blow—a column about the crying need for (Blow’s conception of) justice. We scanned this detailed report about future taxation by David Leonhardt, then set it aside for later.

Safely ensconced in our Super 8 suite, we watched a weekend morning news program we had never watched in the past. We were surprised and disappointed by parts of the discussion.

And then, there was the service we received last night when we returned to our sprawling campus, having driven six hours from Durham.

This week, we’ll review the glimmers of news we received in four days as great uncle. This morning, we’ll start with the pleasing faux outrage that was dumped on our heads when we clicked on the TV machine thingy last night.

Big Ed Schultz was joined by Joan Walsh and E. J. Dionne; they discussed the latest outrageous conduct from those in The Other Tribe. As his segment began, Big Eddie played tape of Romney and Romney, interviewed on Monday morning’s Good Morning America.

(To watch this full segment, click here.)

A silly discussion had continued right through the weekend—a silly discussion of Hilary Rosen’s recent remarks about Ann Romney. But sure enough:

Complaining about all the fake phony outrage, Walsh ginned a ton of faux outrage herself! Returning home after four days of work, we were struck by the ubiquity of the fake outrage on this “liberal” program:
SCHULTZ (4/16/12): “Dazed and confused” comes into mind when I start thinking about the Romney campaign and where they stand on working moms in America. Did they create even a bigger problem for themselves? What do you think?

WALSH: Oh, I think they did. You know, Ed, I’ve always thought that Ann Romney was, was literally his better half and that she was a better campaigner, a more natural campaigner, more personable in general. But really, with that comment, she shows herself to be so entitled. “A birthday present!”

I mean, we ginned up this faux outrage. Hilary Rosen, I just want to say a kind word to her, she didn’t mean it the way it came out and we all knew it! Had she added three little words, “worked outside the home,” she would have been fine, we understood that’s what she meant, but we all had to have a big hissy fit and a big, you know, horrible conversation. And they declared that President Obama had declared a war on moms?

They ginned up this phony outrage, and then that woman calls it “a birthday present?” And I think it’s really wonderful that you ran that clip also with her husband saying that it’s time for President Obama to “start packing.”

I mean, between the two things, you see the cluelessness and the absolute entitlement of these two people, who expect us to just show them the White House and show that guy out.
Joan was outraged about everything! She was outraged that Mitt Romney, in response to a stupid question, jokingly said that he’d like to tell Obama to “start packing.” (“That’s what I’d like to say,” a laughing Romney said on the tape Big Eddie showed. “Obviously, we have a very different view. The president, I’m sure, wants another four years. But the first years didn’t go so well.”)

Joan was outraged that Mitt had said that. She was also outraged that Ann Romney had referred to the recent flap as an “early birthday present.” These remarks showed the Romneys’ “absolute entitlement,” the outraged pundit said.

Joan was also angry about the faux outrage surrounding Rosen’s remark. She was so angry that she misspoke, saying that Rosen’s remark would have been fine had she simply added three words to her statement: “outside the home.”

In all candor, that isn’t quite true: It still would have been an oddly cutting remark if Rosen had said that Ann Romney “has never worked outside the home a day in her life.”

Almost surely, a silly conversation would have ensued even if Rosen had said it that way. But that’s because our political culture is now almost wholly dependent on faux outrage about pointless remarks—and the dumb conversations which ensue.

The outrage about Rosen’s comment was faux, mainly because Rosen was speaking for no one but herself. But then, Walsh was also pimping faux outrage last night.

In the process, she managed to make the conversation even dumber.

How full of faux outrage was Walsh last night? So full of it that she even referred to Ann Romney as “that woman!” Good God! We marveled last week as Rosen blurted a formulation which progressives dropped a long time ago. But last night, Walsh followed suit, employing the term which provoked so much outrage when Bill Clinton famously used it to refer to “that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

The outrage was faux, and very foolish, when we returned to our campus last night. Question: Were you persuaded to feel pure rage about the vile things the Romneys had said? Most tellingly, did Walsh persuade you that you should be outraged about that “start packing” remark?

Many folk get their news in glimmers. Given the way our big news orgs work, these glimmers can now be quite inane. Last night, returning to our cable TV, we were especially struck by the fake, phony tone of much of Big Eddie’s furious program—and by the foolish, low-IQ way he formulated several real issues.

Of course, faux and dumb tend to walk hand-in-hand, snuggling and cuddling as they go. Over on Fox, the hustlers and hacks have sold you faux outrage for many years now.

Has The One True Liberal Channel explicitly adopted this same corporate policy? Returning from Durham to this big load of faux, we found ourselves asking that question.

Tomorrow: Blow’s conception of justice

Later this week: What we learned in kindergarten


  1. This whole conversation is mind-numbingly stupid. Of course I do think it's only fair to point out the times Mitt Romney has implied that women who are raising children but aren't working at a job for pay aren't really working at all. Or, Bob, in the name of "fairness" and "rising above it all" should we decline to even point this out? I guess that would align with your seeming wish for liberals to have policy debates with one hand tied behind our backs, but does it do justice to the real issues?

    1. The obvious point was that when a single parent is raising a child on the government's (taxpayer's) dime, they are in debt to the taxpayer and obligated to work for pay for the cost of raising their own children. Doing otherwise is undignified.

      When parents finance the upbringing of their own children, not involving the taxpayer, the government is not owed anything so should not impose a requirement for those parents to earn an income.

    2. If one partner works, and the other stays home with the kids, is the partner who stays home "obligated" to the working partner to do anything more than raise the kids? Are they "indebted" to the working partner?

  2. It might be better if Joan explained some of Romney's truly awful policies (aren't journalists supposed to provide information) instead of fulminating about "that woman" Talking about how evil she thinks the Romneys are avoids the issue altogether-but I realize it's really all about entertainment

  3. walsh is a killer. surprisingly good on tv considering she hasnt much of a broadcast background aside from short guest appearances. she obviously keeps up on the news very well and has great recall but also she has a certain je ne sais quoi about her which is hard to describe but you know it when you see it. she is in tune not only with the subject matter but with her hosts and fellow guests and communicates this on multilple levels even within her constrained role.

    no surprise somerby tries to denigrate her regularly...and for other reasons i presume as well.

    1. She keeps up with the news so well she got every fact wrong in her Trayvon Martin reporting. Since those were the facts you preferred, you probably didn't mind.

    2. Joan, if you are going to comment her about your own performance, at least use your own name.

    3. "She is in tune ... only ... with her hosts ... and communicates this on multilple levels even within her constrained role."

      The one true statement.

      She smiles, nods, and agrees with everything her hosts say.

      That is the rule she slavishly follows so she can be seen on TV.

    4. #1 anonymous said:

      “She keeps up with the news so well she got every fact wrong in her Trayvon Martin reporting. Since those were the facts you preferred, you probably didn't mind.”

      >>> this goes to a very critical political dynamic which favors the gop right now.

      i dont know, but lets say youre correct about her bollixing up that particular story. on the fact-based left the typical reaction to this kind of thing is “oh no, i/she/we were *wrong*!!! all is lost!”, whereas on the cause-based right, where they routinely get their facts wrong, the reaction would me more like “ok, we lost to the 'libs' on this one -- big deal, tomorrows another day.” the rosen flap is a perfect example of this difference. [somerbys whole purpose seems to be to perpetuate this misguided attitude of the left.]

      the right is in a fight and the left is sitting for finals. if i were a bettor my money would be on the side which understands where they are. the right understands the political system demands perpetual politicking or fighting. the 'left' doesnt get it. . . . but if we could learn, it might well lead to something we dont have: significant unity among the anti-gop, anti moneyed-interests people and a renewed old left, a real left. and this cause-based unity would breed in the left the kind of confidence the right evinces now.

      but the only way I can see this occurring is to shift (not abandon) emphasis away from culturally liberal issues (the new left) and get back more (not entirely) to the more economically based politics of the party
      (the old left) which gave us fdr, truman and kennedy. . . .

      *** the point my party seems to miss is that each side only has so much political capital to expend and for the last forty years the new left has been getting its way at the expense of the economic issues the democratic party used to prize most highly. . . . it would be nice to be able to do both equally, but unfortunately that is a prescription for losing elections. . . . and then getting nothing or losing what you already have in the long run. ***

  4. Zimmerman will walk.

    What you didn't see on MSNBC, CNN, or FOX:

  5. What Rosen meant was not "never worked outside the home" but "never HAD TO work" or "never had a job." In other words, she's had a cushy life and thus her opinions about women's current economic struggles carry no weight. It's a slam at her status as idly rich, not as a mother, and it was obviously so all along.

    1. Bingo. And, yet again, the "liberal" side of this debate misses the opportunity to discuss the real economic issues confronting working mothers and the non-rich in general. Mothers decisions on whether to work just because of health care coverage being tied to the workplace is a major cultural issue right now. This construct insults stay-at-home moms more than any talking head slip-up.

    2. With houses at $200K and up, cars at $25K and up, gas at near $4 a gallon and hamburger above $3 a pound, and $2 a loaf for bread, it's rather easy to see how a family needs two incomes to achieve middle-class status.

      And limit the number of children to keep two checks coming in.

      I do reject the notion that "the rich" can't possibly understand the plight of the middle class by the sole fact that they are "rich." It still depends on the person.

      But I will say that there is nothing that either Romney has said to date that indicates to me that they "get it."

  6. MSNBC = "One True Liberal Channel" = only on the far side of Neptune. There is no such thing and there never was such a thing.

    1. To be fair, I think that was always ironic.

  7. To a great degree, the "real economic issues confronting working mothers and the non-rich in general" are no different from the three economic issues that confront all Americans today:

    1. Inflation, particularly in food and fuel, which has made us all poorer.

    2. A lousy economy, which makes it hard to get or keep a job and makes it hard to get a raise.

    3. Unprecedented deficits, which will force higher taxes and cuts in benefits.

  8. Perhaps someone could, as a contribution to the site, loan The Daily Howler the use of their Barnes and Noble Card so he could receive a discount on Rachel Maddow's new book. It's a good book, on perhaps the most critically important and most ignored topic of our time.
    That way, he wouldn't have to spend his whole vacation wringing his hands over MSNBC filler segments.....

    1. Read a book by the loathsome Rachel Maddow, then write about the issues she raises?

      Darlings! It just isn't done!

    2. OK, I'll bite. I read the fifteen or so pages that Amazon gives for free, and I saw her Daily Show interview where she was pushing her book. I will not buy the rest because it seems to be an apology for our warmongers. Nobody is responsible. We just got here through inertia and slow incremental change. We are not dealing death from above with robotic drones. No, I will write a book about wars of choice to support massively wealthy oil companies with the gentlest title I can think of: "Drift."

    3. I have read the whole thing. That is a poor assesment of it-you are reponding to the required nicities that must be weilded if one is going to talk about the Military. BUT thanks for trying....

  9. i left out some things:

    first, its not just that the 'lefts' political instincts are weak and that they/we react as though they/we are perpetually taking an exam (instead of a fight). its also that the right knows that that is how the left reacts. they will jump on any mistake with all the indignation which they can muster to make the left feel even worse about itself. they wouldnt even try that if they knew that they were facing a self confident adversary.

    second, as to why the left is so lacking in confidence – they feel, subconsciously, that they are second class citizens to the wasp dominated party. they feel it would be unpatriotic to fight hard against the sons and daughters of washington and jefferson. it is an asymmetrical political contest. just on the merits, the left should win easily -- if only they would actually fight with the vigor the other side does. and btw the democratic party office holders sense this basic weakness in their voters and cow down to the rights pols unnecessarily because they feel we dont sufficiently have their backs if push were to come to shove.

    on the ground, the right, with the aid of the moneyed interests, is basically fighting an ethnic political battle against anyone who isnt them (in their minds) but the left is too meek to fight back. its a sad situation: “look here wasps, we hate the descendants of irish catholics too! you see that? we like you! please accept us!”

    1. Psychoanalysis aside, you do raise an important point.

      I hate to raise a sports analogy, but Somerby does feed into a notion that the "other side" is the New York Yankees with unlimited resources and talent, and "our side" is the Kansas City Royals who have to play perfect baseball to stand any chance of beating the Yankees.

      Thus, any "gaffe" committed by any person no matter how remotely connected to "our side" becomes monumentally important and even decisive.

    2. IMHO Politicians and pundits of all stripes make huge numbers of gaffes. Many are not jumped on.

      E.g., consider Obama's recent decision to refer to the Falkland Islands as the Malvinas. Using the Argentinian name was a questionable decision, since it pisses off Britain, our closest ally. It turned into a gaffe, when Argentina immediately thereafter nationalized a Spanish oil company. It was also a gaffe, because Mr. Obama actually said "Maldives" instead of "Malvinas", confusing an island off South America with a group of 26 atolls off that lie off the South coast of India.

      Conservative blogs pointed out this gaffe, and so did some foreign media, but the mainstream American media ignored it.

      Even the moderately left-leaning Politico noted how differently George Bush's mis-statements were covered.

  10. I saw Joan Walsh write that on Salon and wondered if she felt the same outrage when Barack Obama was introduced in the 2008 dem convention as the next president of the United States.

    These folks always pretend like they won because no one wants to vote for a loser. It's part of the language of campaigning.

  11. This one is bullshit, I'm sorry to say.

    It was the Republicans who made Hillary Rosen's comment, which was unassailable in context, into the outrage of the week, so it's not surprising to see people on the other side fight back. Schultz and Walsh promptly used the “outrage” -- a bit of a hyperbolic descriptor for a few words of snark, I would say -- to segue into other, perfectly legitimate gender issues like the hypocrisy of throwing a hissy fit over the “hasn't worked” line after having long demeaned stay-at-home mothers who need welfare support; Romney's non-support of the Lily Lebetter Act and his support for Scott Walker, who reportedly just got passed a bill that eliminates some equal-pay enforcement mechanisms; the false right-wing meme about women losing almost all the jobs under Obama; and legitimate questions about how well people like the Romneys can understand ordinary working women.

    After that segment, he (1) talked about the lack of specificity in what programs Romney says he is going to cut; (2) discussed the “Buffett Rule” and the decline of middle class income with Bernie Sanders; (3) discussed the Wisconsin recall situation with John Nichols; and (4) covered Dick Cheney's recent attack on Obama and general issues of the campaign as it stands.

    “Outrage” by Walsh and Schultz over Ann Romney's response unattached to these other issues consumed perhaps 2% of the show. It's obvious some of your readers channeling the same thought process assume this was the main theme of the program, but this post is itself a highly cherry-picked basis for outrage.