Drum versus dumb: Why can’t Barry socialize out in the Wind Rivers more!


Maureen Dowd, definition of dumb: All week long, we’ve asked you to notice a difference in culture—a difference in intellectual culture.

On the one hand, we have Kevin Drum’s recent report about lead abatement and violent crime. It’s a very serious look at some very serious topics.

Yesterday, Drum continued to add to the piece, offering links to the various updates he has penned in recent weeks. Later, he offered a post about lead and high school graduation rates, in which he says the following:

“When I was doing research for my lead article, I stayed focused pretty sharply on violent crime. For that reason, I don't have a lot of insight to share on this. But…the effect of lead on IQ, mental retardation, and school performance is very well established. More established than its effect on violent crime.”

The effect of lead on school performance? If you lived in a rational world, work like this would be the norm. You would find reports of this type all over your major newspapers.

But you don’t live in that sort of world. You live in a world where the dumbest person in the upper-end press corps is all over Barry again.

We of course refer to Maureen Dowd, whose column today is a very sad classic. In the past few days, the press corps has been falling all over itself, showcasing its fatuous tendencies and its general lack of mental power.

Its inability to focus. Its constant need of distractions.

Whatever got into Drum’s head, leading him to create a serious report about a set of serious topics? In the past few days, the actual press corps has been all wrapped up in its typical bird-brained endeavors:
Bird-brained endeavors unchained:
The New York Times seized on a single White House photo to generate a fact-averse discussion about the alleged lack of diversity in Obama’s Cabinet. (Diversity is a real concern. These discussions have been inane.)

A question from a Times reporter generated a set of discussions about why Obama doesn’t socialize with Republicans more.

In Sunday's Washington Post, Mark Plotkin devoted an entire column to a different question about the Cabinet: Why don’t Obama’s Cabinet members vote in local elections more often?

Reporters were troubled when Joe Biden said he was “shooting for Tuesday” as the day to deliver his recommendations concerning gun violence. His metaphor was so unsettling! This morning, Peter Baker’s extends this brainless debate to a full-length Times news report.
On the one hand, you have Drum with his serious effort. But at its heart, the upper-end press corps is a group of very slow children at play. And so it is with Dowd today, in her latest attempt at killing time till she reaches the end of her days.

Just consider what she notes in fleeting remarks in this column:

She notes that “We’re facing default. Again,” although she makes no attempt to explain what that means. (Explanations are hard!)

She notes that a brand-new GOP House member has already threatened to start impeachment proceedings against Obama.

She notes the most striking fact of all: John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, has refused six invitations to attend state dinners at the White House. These are events where our representatives build good will with other nations.

Boehner keeps refusing to go! But Dowd’s whole column concerns the claim that Barry should find ways to socialize more! Why can’t Barry spend more time being nice to Republicans?

Dowd has been visibly ill for years, but the children will never tell you. Yesterday, we praised Dave Weigel for naming Dowd’s name in a headline at Slate—in a headline which was overtly critical of Dowd.

This is simply never done. Dowd is the queen of the culture of dumb. This culture rules the press corps’ world—and the climbers aren’t going to say so.

What in the world does this reference mean: As in yesterday's piece by Lord Dowdinpantz, Dowd cherry-picks Obama’s responses to a very silly question. But what in the world does the highlighted statement mean?
DOWD (1/16/13): When the man who once enraptured packed stadiums was asked by The Times’s Jackie Calmes about the criticism that his administration has been too insular, he bristled a tad.

He acknowledged, while conveying that he didn’t believe it, that he could “do a better job” on nurturing personal relationships with lawmakers. (Even if Republicans see him, as Politico’s Glenn Thrush wrote, as “a pedantic, hectoring fuss-budget.”)

“Now that my girls are getting older, they don’t want to spend that much time with me anyway,” he said, as reporters laughed, “so I’ll be probably calling around, looking for somebody to play cards with me or something, because I’m getting kind of lonely in this big house. So maybe a whole bunch of members of the House Republican caucus want to come over and socialize more.”

Some Democrats wish he would start a regular game in the Indian Treaty Room so he could work on his poker face. Others are ready for a Bridget Jones approach: Love the president the way he is. Time to go with the flow.
Just for the record: “Reporters laughed” because Obama was joking. It’s one of the ways a courteous person responds to a very dumb question.

Back to Dowd’s highlighted statement, which we don’t understand:

Is that a reference to the stereotype of the poker-faced Indian? By the way, how many Native Americans has Barry appointed to his new cabinet? Why can’t Barry socialize out in the Wind Rivers more?


  1. As a political activist myself, I always, always vote in local elections. It's just something that is important for anyone involved in politics to do. And I would question the judgment of anyone seeking to get involved in politics who doesn't do that very basic thing, exhibit the bare minimum of commitment that voting provides.

  2. According to Wikipedia, the Indian Treaty Room is the name of a room in the Old Executive Officer Building by the White House


  3. Quaker in a BasementJanuary 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Drum writes smartly while the press corps plays dumb? Maybe there's a lead contamination problem inside the Beltway.

  4. It's just a strained one liner about Obama being a poor negotiator.

  5. Talk about a lack of seriousness ...

    Bob, for the past two weeks, instead of giving the idea of platinum coin seigniorage (hope I spelled that right!) the serious look it deserves, you've chosen instead to clown around and join in the mockery of what should be regarded as the antidote to a possible federal default, merely because, in your opinion, late night comedians might make jokes about it!

    If the republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling, tens of millions of americans (perhaps even hundreds of millions) will suffer, needlessly, because of the lack of access to federal funds. The economy will almost certainly nosedive, plunging us into a double dip recession or even a depression, depending on the length of the standoff.

    Yet, when the antidote to such suffering is discovered and supported, even by serious mainstream figures like Krugman, you choose instead to side with the "kool kidz" at the table, because the idea of a "magic coin" is just sooooooo unseemly. Darlings, what would Ezra Klein and John Stewart say?


    1. I look forward to the link to your blog post on platinum coin seigniorage, since that's what you're interested in. Meanwhile Bob can continue his laser-like focus on media criticism, which is what he's interested in writing about on his blog.

    2. Bob's "laser-like focus on media criticism" is what keeps me coming back to his blog -- which is why I was so disappointed to see him siding with multimillionaire players like John Stewart and deeply unserious suck-ups to power like Ezra Klein on the platinum coin matter.

      I don't expect Bob to write a detailed blog post explaining the ins and outs of coin seigniorage. However, I certainly never expected the Bob I thought I knew to choose Versailles-style mockery of an important idea rather than demanding that the media do its job and adequately report on its substance.