GOOD-BYE, BOCA: Bruni’s laments!


Romney perspired and Obama bullied and other observations: Now the debates belong to the ages!

We’re left with Frank Bruni’s instant column, which helps us see how deeply fatuous our mainstream press culture is:
BRUNI (10/23/12): So that’s it? The last of the presidential debates? No, no, no. I’m already in mourning, can’t quiet my hankering for more and am not being remotely sarcastic. In a political culture as stage-managed, focus-grouped and airbrushed as ours, these debates gave us rare moments of rawness, not to mention Big Bird.
Elsewhere, as Obama and Romney debated, the Bears were opposing the Lions. In the NFL, animal totems pervade—as they do in the small, sad minds of New York Times pseudo-journalists.

Irish setters and dressage horsies and shot-up coyotes and Big Bird oh my! The typists who people this sad brigade can barely produce a paragraph without enlisting some animal figure.

They assume such citations will keep us rubes reading. They pretty much prove that these silly hooks are all they themselves really have.

Bruni goes on to give us the highlights of last night’s debate. In our recollection, it has been quite a while—twelve years, in fact—since somebody saddled this warhorse:
BRUNI: Obama repeatedly reminded television viewers that he alone was familiar with the responsibilities of the commander in chief. He clearly wanted Romney’s experience as a mere governor to sound, in comparison, like a job running a curbside lemonade stand.

And though Romney perspired and occasionally stammered, he wouldn’t surrender. He insisted that Al Qaeda wasn’t really “on the run.” He claimed—yet again—that Obama had begun his presidency with “an apology tour,” and faulted him for skipping Israel. It was a barb tailor-made for Florida’s many Jewish voters.
Jesus wept—but Romney perspired! It has been twelve years since insider pundits complained, in scripted succession, that Candidate Gore kept perspiring too much. (By the edicts of Hard Pundit Law, this let them compare him to Nixon.) But when a pundit has nothing to say (or a war to conduct), a pundit will grasp at such straws.

As Bruni continues, so does the theater criticism. Even as Romney perspired, we are told, Obama was playing the bully! Finally, we arrive at this, the saddest of Bruini's laments:
BRUNI: These debates did in fact give us truth. I don’t mean that the candidates themselves spoke honestly. Hardly. In fact we should pause to note how sad it is that we’ve come to regard a post-debate fact-check—a report card on who told the most and biggest whoppers—as an inevitable and unremarkable part of the process. In campaigns these days, dishonesty is both an art form and a given.

But the debates revealed each candidate for who he really is: the good, the bad and the binders.
In this instance, Bruni leaned on those binders to keep us amused. Before that, in the highlighted passage, he laments the idea that we need fact-checks in the wake of such exhibitions—even implying that this is new somehow.

Please. In the very first of our White House debates, Dear Jack employed that famous missile gap, using this invented claim to pummel perspiring Nixon. (Or so the fact-checkers have said.) Only a Potemkin pundit could offer Bruni’s highlighted piddle, in which we pretend that struggles for power will ever be free of the misleading, bogus or imperfect claims our pundits refer to as “whoppers.”

Like Big Bird, Seamus and Romney's binders, that highly entertaining term is designed to amuse us too.

Bruni writes respectable columns about gay issues, has nothing to say about anything else. As we say good-bye to Boca, his silly column helps us look back on the wasteland of the current campaign—the wasteland of the current campaign as described in our emptiest newspaper.

By now, the Times is at heart a charade. It’s very hard to miss that fact if you actually read this newspaper.

Next: Nocera on taxes!

Previously in the New York Times: In his previous column, Bruni complained that the candidates are too superficial!

Did we mention the fact that Jesus wept? Well so did our idealistic young analysts, every single one.


  1. ". . . helps us see how deeply fatuous our mainstream press culture is:"

    Can you help me out here, Bob? What exactly is the "mainstream press" these days?

    Once upon a time we had newspapers, magazines, network evening news programs, and local TV news.

    Today we have a variety of cable TV and AM radio "talk" shows, all searching for an audience, as well as this whole new thing called the Internet which gives us a Tower of Babel of blogs running the entire political spectrum.

    Meanwhile, newspapers are shrinking and dying, and this week brings the news that Newsweek will no longer roll off the presses, sticking strictly to an online presence.

    So what is this "mainstream press" that you keep talking about? Does it even exist any more?

  2. First, you need to pull your head out of...wherever it is that keeps you blind and/or clueless. Using the examples of "cable TV and AM radio "talk" shows," and Newsweek doesn't preclude the existence of a "mainstream press."

    Horace Feathers

    1. Never said it didn't exist. I asked for a definition, and you can't give one. But thanks for not even trying.

  3. Anon's Question is a good one, I would say you are still talking about the major big city papers, The Networks, CNN and Fox. But things are getting more and more diversified, which may make the mostly unnoticed story of last night's debate (Romney running like hell from what is actually mainstream conservative wisdom) more understandable. In debate two Mitt had been worked up into a lather over garbage from the noise machine, here he played Mr. Nice Guy. Must have driven the Fox crowd crazy, but probably a good idea.

    1. Yeah, that used to be the mainstream press back in the day, and they were easy to identify, but does that definition still hold? And if it does, what exactly is the influence of what might be left of this "mainstream world" in an age of multiple and rapidly increasing sources of information and opinion? Are they even the same this election as they were in the election of 2000?

      Seems to me that in addition to the old sources, people these days are also getting their "news" from social media (Facebook, twitter, etc.) all kinds of blogs as mentioned before of every political stripe, and even sources such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. After all, you have to know something about their jokes in order to get them.

  4. So "these debates gave us rare moments of rawness"?

    Only a drooling moron could write such brain-dead and brain-deadening garbage.

    I saw two affable, extremely well-groomed men twisting the truth within an inch of its life. The "debates" were extremely boring exchanges that gave me little hope that there's any progressive political force in America at all.