What Dr. King would be doing today!


Driving Professor Dreier: Everybody seems to know what Dr. King would be doing and saying were he alive today.

Almost always, Dr. King would be doing and saying exactly what the clairvoyant in question is inclined to do and say. This is one of the most annoying aspects of civil rights retrospectives.

Last Sunday, Professor Peter Dreier of Occidental took the practice to new heights. He wrote the featured, front-page piece in the Washington Post’s Outlook section.

“Where would he lead us today?” a large headline asked. “With new battles over gay rights, voting and economic opportunity, Peter Dreier says Martin Luther king Jt. would still be marching today.”

Not only that; with apologies, Dr. King would be exhausted! Can you spot the germ of a problem as the professor starts?
DREIER (8/25/13): What would the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. march for if he were alive today?

America has made progress on many fronts in the half-century since King electrified a crowd of 200,000 people, and millions of Americans watching on television, with his "I Have a Dream" address at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. But there is still much to do to achieve his vision of equality.

Fortunately, many Americans are involved in grass-roots movements that follow in his footsteps. King began his activism as a crusader against racial segregation, but he soon recognized that his battle was part of a much broader fight for a more humane society. Today, at age 84, King would no doubt still be on the front lines, lending his voice and his energy to major battles for justice.
Dr. King has been gone for 45 years. But the professor has “no doubt” what he’d be doing today!

We’re always annoyed when people presume to say what Dr. King would think about issues today, but there is a larger problem in Dreier’s treatment. As the professor notes, Dr. King would be 84 if he were alive today. Despite the professor’s lack of doubt, it’s possible that he wouldn’t be marching at all at this point.

Despite these minor problems, Professor Dreier set off on a cross-country ramble in which he listed 21 different things Dr. King would be thinking or doing were he alive today. Perhaps to hold possible hubris at bay, the professor split these activities into three groups:
Things Dr. King would be doing today.
Things Dr. King might be doing today.
Things Dr. King would probably be doing today.
We were struck by the professor’s self-confidence. We were stunned by the level of activity to which he’d condemn this great man.

Professor Dreier is one of the nation’s greatest clairvoyants. He knows what Dr. King would think and do about gun ownership, the financing of Detroit and the question of reset mortgages for underwater homeowners. The professor knows that Dr. King would be working with “activist groups such as Code Pink to cut the defense budget,” and “with the LGBT community to help push states toward legalizing same-sex marriage.”

For the record, that last activity seems to rate only a “probably.” According to Dreier, “Typical of most Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, King did not approve of homosexuality.” But people! No problem!

“His views probably would have evolved,” the probably-knowing professor says. Indeed, the professor’s clairvoyance is such that he can even say this:
DREIER: King never spoke publicly about his views on abortion, and he was murdered five years before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, but he was a fervent advocate for universal health care. "Of all the forms of inequality," he said in 1966, "injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." Today King probably would speak at rallies and participate in vigils at state capitals in Maine, North Carolina, Texas and elsewhere to protect women's access to health care and reproductive freedom—and challenge those who are trying to shut down Planned Parenthood clinics.
Dr. King never stated his view on abortion, but he would “probably” participate in vigils to protect women’s access to reproductive freedom. In short, Dr. King would do whatever he had to do to show he completely supports all of Dreier’s views.

For ourselves, we pretty much share all those views. Having said that, we think Dr. King earned the right in his astonishing life not to have people like Dreier treating him like a toy. How about some basic respect for one of history’s greatest figures? For a seer who didn't think like everyone else—for a giant, questing figure who conducted a genuine search.

EPISTEMIC ENCLOSURES: We get little help from our friends!


Part 4—Why is our tribe so clueless: The tribal mind will always know when it is getting conned.

This clairvoyance was observed last Sunday when Ross Douthat wrote a (rather fuzzy) column in the New York Times.

Douthat identifies as a conservative. Within our tribe, that meant that his claims would of course be wrong.

Rather fuzzily, Douthat argued that the “underlying realities” of our “polarized politics” are not as bad as they were as the time of the march on Washington. Even though we’re still “divided by race,” he said, “there is vastly more room to work through major problems together than there was in the Alabama and Mississippi of 1963.”

Can we recall the Alabama and Mississippi of that terrible year? If so, it’s hard to see how we can object to such an obvious statement.

That said, the tribal mind was able to see that Douthat’s claims were wrong last Sunday, often outrageously wrong. Commenters flayed him, starting with a regular commenter who quickly made this announcement:

“There is nothing different about the inherent hate and resentment today.”

Nothing has changed! Some of the comments were obscenely indifferent to the realities of 1963—to the innocent human victims of those obscene realities:

“While lynching and church bombings are nearly non-existent today, racism is just as prevalent as it was 50 years ago.”

Did you follow that? Except for the lynchings and bombings, everything is the same!

That said, the comments provided great tribal pleasure. For ourselves, we were struck by one area where quite a few commenters knew they were getting conned.

At one point, Douthat wrote that Texas “does a better job educating minority students than many liberal states.” There could always be something wrong with the relevant data, which come from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the NAEP), the widely praised gold standard of educational testing.

But to all appearances, Douthat’s statement seems to be accurate—true. Unless you live within the tribe, in which case his statement is nuts.

To tell the truth, ours is a tribe which has never shown much interest in black and Hispanic kids, except to the extent that they can be used to let us drop our R-bombs. Has indifference led to the cluelessness our tribe tends to display on such matters?

Instantly, one regular commenter snarked at Douthat’s statement. “I'm glad Texas does a good job of teaching students how to take a test,” this regular commenter quickly said, thereby dispatching Douthat’s ridiculous claim. Another member of the tribe was grateful for this rebuttal:
COMMENTER FROM MARYLAND (8/25/13): Thank you, so many of his other absurd arguments were so outrageous that he managed to slide that one in. No serious reformist is looking to Texas on ideas on how to teach "minority students" or anyone else.
Are reformers studying Texas schools? We don’t know, but based on the data, somebody pretty much should be.

Scattered through the comment thread are other mocking reactions to Douthat’s claim—a claim which is plainly accurate. We liberals don’t know much about these concerns. But then, we don’t get much help.

Some commenters clicked the link provided by Douthat, but they didn’t understand the data at the end of the link. Others didn’t bother clicking. They simply knew, or strongly suspected, that Douthat had to be wrong:
COMMENTER FROM OHIO: I really try to read Mr. Douthat with an open mind, but invariably he comes out with a whopper. Perry's Texas does a better job at educating minorities than many liberal states? First, when I go to the link that he provides, I find that Texas eighth grade students overall rank 29th in the country, while the whites rank 8th, the blacks rank 4th and the Hispanics rank 6th. How does the overall rank get dragged down to 29th? Ross should perhaps examine the logic and agenda of his sources before he cites them.

COMMENTER FROM SEATTLE: How does Texas rank 29th in all eighth grade science students, but fourth in blacks and sixth in whites? (because most states were not ranked for blacks).

COMMENTER FROM NEW JERSEY: Specifically, the part about Texas educating minority students better than many liberal states...which states? Where's the comparison? The test in the link measures improvements in learning; it's possible Texas students have had a larger learning improvement because they were doing quite poorly to begin with, while students in the unnamed "liberal states" started off better and so showed a smaller improvement. But who knows? You've left out all the details.

COMMENTER FROM TEXAS: The TEXAS education agency says they do a better job of educating minority students than many liberal states. I would be more inclined to believe that statistic if it came from a more liable source.

COMMENTER FROM NEW JERSEY: Granted that in Rick Perry's Texas (and when did governors possess states?) we find a smaller gap between white and black educational outcomes. But that does not translate into "does a better job educating minorities" because the smaller gap statistic is not enough for that assertion. Texas currently has some of the lowest test scores in the nation. In other words, Texas is doing a bad job of educating most students. Not much to celebrate. "We also educate white students badly" hardly makes Texas a model post-racial paradise.

COMMENTER FROM MASSACHUSETTS: Perry's Texas doing a better job? Maybe, with editing textbooks to put a conservative slant on education.
The commenter from Ohio didn’t understand a basic statistical manifestation. The commenters from Seattle, and both from New Jersey, were wrong in the things they said.

The commenter from Texas wasn’t inclined to believe the source. The commenter from Massachusetts found a new way to dismiss the claim through snark.

None of these people seemed to know what they were talking about. But they all knew the tribal line: Douthat was telling “a whopper!”

The commenters knew this had to be true. All love to the tribe!

Liberal commenters to Douthat’s column were fervent on matters of race. Why did we seem to know so little about the lives of black kids?

Alas! We get very little help from our friends in the leadership class! The professors are off in the south of France. Mainstream journalists are lazy, uncaring, indifferent, incompetent when it comes to the interests of black kids.

Everyone from Obama on down recites familiar bogus scripts about such basic topics. And then, there are the people at our liberal journals and on The One True Channel.

We get little help from these friends! At those venues, you very rarely hear public school issues discussed at all. And you have never heard a discussion of the fact Douthat cited:

It’s true! On the gold standard of educational testing, black and Hispanic kids in Texas do score substantially higher, in reading and math, than their counterparts in most of our bluest states! Why haven’t you ever heard that fact? Why haven’t you ever heard a discussion of the possible reasons?

Could there be something wrong with the data? Why haven’t you ever heard a discussion of that?

In truth, the leaders of the liberal world don’t talk about black kids much. We don’t get much help from them, our famous and overpaid friends. For that reason, we come off looking uncaring and clueless when such topics arise.

By way of contrast, our leaders love to talk about race—that is, about the racism of the other tribe. Why do we hear so much about that and so little about the lives of black kids? Did Krystal Ball possibly pull back the curtain the other day?
BALL (8/27/13): Fifty years ago, the March on Washington focused on ending Jim Crow, a disgusting villain that hid behind the law to deprive people of their votes and sometimes their lives. Fifty years later, we have no Jim Crow and without a villain to focus on, it's hard to get people fired up. Congratulations, Republicans! You have taken the place of Jim Crow.

You are now the people conspiring to keep folks from voting. I'm just amazed that you're willing to destroy your party's brand— the party of Lincoln, the party of Teddy Roosevelt, a party that fought to end Jim Crow—all just to help us get our folks onto the ballot box.
Fifty years later, deprived of Jim Crow, are our leaders possibly looking for ways to get us “fired up?” Will they perhaps overstate on occasion to keep us in that state?

Could that be why we get so much heat, perhaps a bit less light?

Next week will be back-to-school week at this site. But those comments about the Texas schools have us jumping the gun.

For years, we liberals mocked the “epistemic closure” on the right—and it surely does exist! Do those comments about Texas schools track back to a source of closure here, in our own flawless tribe?

If we care so much, why do we know so little? Are we inside some kind of enclosure, just like the other tribe is?

Our leadership is astoundingly weak!


Joan Walsh attempts a rant: Over here in the liberal world, our intellectual leadership is just extremely weak. Consider what happened yesterday morning when Joan Walsh attempted to stage a rant.

She started with words of praise for all the brilliant recent writing by all the other liberal leaders. This will become relevant just a bit later:
WALSH (8/28/13): I’m finally getting around to writing about the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom commemoration this week, mainly because, for a change, so much of the writing about it has been so excellent. Frankly, most of what I’d have wanted to say has been said: Plenty of people have pointed out it was a march for “jobs and freedom,” though the jobs part later got lost...

The heroes who never get enough credit—particularly labor leader A. Philip Randolph and his amazing ally and organizer and strategist Bayard Rustin—have gotten lots of coverage this week...Over and over we’ve heard the great story of John Lewis’ fiery first speech draft—attacking Kennedy’s civil rights bill and promising a “nonviolent” version of Sherman’s march to the sea—as well as his bowing to Randolph and toning it down.
You get the idea. Everyone has been great!

Well—everyone has been great over here in our tribe. Over there in the other tribe, the work has been shockingly bad:
WALSH (continuing directly): Yet with all this amazing coverage from the left, the right has gotten almost everything about the march wrong, in a way that’s actually shocking, though I guess it shouldn’t be. Maybe we should be glad that they start from the premise that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a great American hero, albeit one they think his commemorators are misrepresenting. Maybe it’s progress that a man once reviled as a Communist and thoroughly disrespected by the mainstream media—as evidenced by his hostile interrogation on “Meet the Press” the Sunday before the march—is now lauded by righties from Bill O’Reilly to Laura Ingraham to David Brooks as a beloved hero whose dream has been betrayed—but by the left, not by them.
Walsh named three figures from the right whose work has been shockingly wrong. She didn’t bother quoting anyone, a practice which makes press criticism shockingly easy.

We'd like to see some quotes. That said, we were most surprised by the inclusion of Brooks. When did he portray Dr. King “as a beloved hero whose dream has been betrayed by the left?”

We didn’t recall his Tuesday column that way. We decided to double-check what he said on Sunday’s Meet the Press.

Oops! In his very first statement, Brooks paid tribute to Randolph and Rustin, the heroes who never get enough credit! This is the very thing Walsh singled out for praise, when it was Done By Us:
BROOKS (8/25/13): Can I just pay tribute to the two men who really organized the march, and that's Bayard Rustin and Philip Randolph? They were men, especially Randolph, a man of immense dignity, who believed in peaceful direct action, as Doris [Kearn Goodwin] just said. You go after your opponents, you go relentlessly after them, but you always do it with superior emotional discipline and self-control, and you force them, the racists in that case, to display their own evil. And you transfer the whole debate that way by a superior dignity, and that was part of what the march did. It took a strategy, which was deeply thought through, and it expressed to the nation, and it showed how you make social change.
Brooks paid similar tribute to Randolph and Rustin in Tuesday’s column. One day later, Walsh praised us liberals for doing this, then trashed Brooks for his work, which was said to be shockingly wrong.

As she continued, Walsh explained what Brooks and the others did that was shockingly wrong. A political movement which tolerates work like this is just a failed, empty tribe—a guild, a social club, a juvenile support group:
WALSH (continuing directly from above): These faux-devotees of the great MLK, these history-challenged concern trolls, remember only King’s admittedly inspiring line about wanting his children judged “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” They don’t remember that he was a radical, in fact, a socialist. That he was about to launch a multiracial Poor People’s Campaign that was unpopular even with some of his top lieutenants, who didn’t think the movement was ready to venture beyond black issues. They forget the New York Times editorialized against his joining the movement against the Vietnam War (a move that even some of his closest allies, including Bayard Rustin, second-guessed). Their tributes never mention that he died supporting a strike by mostly African-American sanitation workers in Memphis.
That’s just embarrassing, in several ways. By the way, was Dr. King really a socialist? In Salon, a web comic book, we will suppose that he was.

What makes that passage an embarrassment? Again, only a child would say that offenses like the ones she lists would make someone’s work shockingly wrong. To wit:

The march occurred in 1963. The Poor People’s Campaign didn’t occur until 1968. Many people have remembered Dr. King’s role at the march with mentioning that later effort, or the (admirable) circumstances of his death.

Meanwhile, no one has said that Dr. King was a socialist, because of course he wasn’t, except in comic book land.

Question: Did Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter remember those things about Dr. King? Did they remember Dr. King as a socialist when they spoke yesterday? Go ahead! Spend your weekend rereading the things they did say!

The worst part of this gong-show effort is its lack of quotes. Walsh savages three people for work that is said to be shockingly wrong without ever quoting anything any one of them said, without even offering a link.

Where did Brooks describe Dr. King as a beloved hero whose dream has been betrayed by the left? Walsh doesn’t even bother to give us rubes a link. In the comic book world we liberals are crafting, such things are no longer needed. We just ask for the tribal support.

Walsh has turned out to be a truly horrible figure. For years, she averted her gaze from the sliming of Clinton and Clinton and Gore as she kissed ass and curried favor with cable powers that be. Now that she is a paid cable hack, she is spreading the dumbest kind of pseudo-liberalism all around the world.

Just reading her name makes young liberals dumber. If you doubt that, gaze again on the way she started that piece:

Walsh praised “all this amazing coverage from the left,” specifically citing the way our brilliant liberal writers paid tribute to Randolph and Rustin. In the very next paragraph, she lights into the (unquoted) Brooks, who has spent the last week paying tribute to Randolph and Rustin!

Walsh is badly in need of a rest. Young liberals, for whom there is so much hope, are badly in need of relief.

What was John Lewis planning to say!


Adventures in the press corps: Can a person ever believe what he or she reads in the press?

In Monday’s Washington Post, Krissah Thompson did a 2200-word retrospective about the original March on Washington. At one point, she described the flap concerning the speech John Lewis planned to deliver that day.

This is what Thompson wrote:
THOMPSON (8/26/13): The stretched nerves began to fray the night before the march, when drafts of John Lewis's speech were circulated by members of SNCC, which hoped to generate buzz for the youngest of the day's official speakers.

In prepared remarks, Lewis threatened to "march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did—nonviolently," and also criticized Kennedy's civil rights bill as being too weak. It rattled the Big 10's alliance.

Washington's Archbishop Patrick O'Boyle, who was to give the invocation at the march, said he would not speak if Lewis's speech was not altered...

Lewis chafed at O'Boyle's interference. "I didn't know him from Adam's house cat, and he probably didn't know me," Lewis says.
We’ll admit it—we were puzzled by what Thompson wrote. Since Sherman is famous for marching through the South in an extremely violent way, her account of Lewis’ planned remark didn’t quite seem to make sense.

Still, it seemed fairly clear that Thompson was quoting Lewis’ “prepared remarks.”

We were somewhat puzzled. Then we watched the Maddow Show last night. In her last segment, Rachel said this, making our hair stand on end:
MADDOW (8/28/13): The condition that Archbishop O’Boyle set on his participation of the events that day had to do with the advance text of the speech that had not been given out by Dr. King, but had been given by another speaker that day, by the youngest person scheduled to give a speech at the march that day.

According to advance copies of [John Lewis’] speech, distributed the night before the event, he was due to say that day: “We will not wait for the president, the Justice Department, nor the Congress, but we will take matters into our own hands and create a source of power outside any national structure that could and would assure us a victory."

His speech said, "We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own scorched earth policy."

Of course, the way Sherman marched through there was to burn down every splinter of it, right? But the archbishop said he would not appear at a march at which those words would be spoken.
Say what? That quote sounded quite a bit different!

At this point, we normally mention the old joke known as Goldberg’s Law. (The man with one watch always knows the time. The man with two watches is never quite sure.) Instead, we'll describe our search—our inevitable search for the truth, a bit of a forced march itself.

First, it’s clear that Thompson was actually quoting a recent statement by Lewis in which he paraphrased his original planned remarks. In the new PBS program, The March, the modern-day Lewis makes the quoted statement. But he’s offering a paraphrase of his 50-year-old planned remarks.

Does that mean Maddow’s account was right? Hold on there! Not so fast!

Last week, Professor Gates did a lengthy profile of Bayard Rustin’s key role in the march. Originally, the piece appeared in The Root. Midway through, the professor takes his turn quoting those planned remarks:
GATES (8/19/13): Tensions in every direction persisted. John Lewis, one of the leaders of SNCC (now a long-standing congressman from Georgia) had prepared a militant speech for the event, reading in part, "The time will come when we will not confine our marching in Washington. We will march through the South, through the Heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own 'scorched earth' policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground—nonviolently." To appease other speakers and refrain from alienating the Kennedy administration, Rustin and Randolph had to convince Lewis to tamp it down. The quarrel continued up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Gates didn’t cite O’Boyle by name. But it seems clear that he had the accurate text from Lewis' planned remarks. Various sources on the web offer this longer excerpt of the planned remarks:

“The time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own scorched earth policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground—nonviolently. We shall fragment the South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of democracy. We will make the action of the past few months look petty. And I say to you, WAKE UP AMERICA!”

Whatever! We can now offer our verdict on history and on the modern press corps:

Thompson bungled her report. She made it sound like she was quoting the prepared remarks.

In fact, she wasn't. Perhaps Dowd is ghosting her stuff.

Maddow’s presentation strikes us as even stranger. Why would you quote the entire spiel about conducting a scorched earth policy through the South, the way Sherman did, then leave off the one key word—“nonviolently?”

We’ll grant you—it doesn’t really make sense to add the word “nonviolently” to such a provocative image. But if you’re going to quote the statement, why would you drop that one key word at the end?

We have no idea. Maybe it was bad staff work. Having said that, let's review:

On Monday, we read the Post’s report. We’ll admit we found it puzzling.

Last night, we heard what Maddow said—and we knew we were off to the races. You simply can’t believe the things you hear from the press corps. If you want to know what’s true, you have to engage in a very rough version of Walker Percy’s search.

What Walker Percy may have said: What Walker Percy may have said is shown below. We think this is a real quote:

“The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”

Percy is said to have said that a long time ago. Even before we had cable!

EPISTEMIC ENCLOSURES: A slight condescension!


Interlude—What’s in a word: We’d be inclined to question one word in President Obama’s remarks.

Some will think we’re picking nits. We think they are wrong.

Yesterday, Obama began by describing the people who marched in 1963. We’d be inclined to challenge one word late in this passage:
OBAMA (8/28/13): On a hot summer day, they assembled here, in our nation's capital, under the shadow of the great emancipator, to offer testimony of injustice, to petition their government for redress and to awaken America's long-slumbering conscience.

We rightly and best remember Dr. King's soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions, how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.

But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV.
Did the day belong to “ordinary people” too? We’d rethink that first word!

It’s certainly true that Dr. King’s army was full of regular people—individuals “whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV.”

But they were among the least ordinary people we’ve ever seen described. This is the way Obama continued:

“Many had gone to segregated schools and sat at segregated lunch counters, had lived in towns where they couldn't vote, in cities where their votes didn't matter. There were couples in love who couldn't marry, soldiers who fought for freedom abroad that they found denied to them at home. They had seen loved ones beaten and children fire-hosed.”

It’s true! Some of the people at the march had gone to (legally) segregated schools. They had been denied the chance to buy lunch, even the right to vote.

Some of them had in fact “seen loved ones beaten and children fire-hosed.” This might include children they knew, children from their own families.

Within the American context, people subjected to these experiences can’t really be said to be “ordinary.” And as we noted yesterday, the evidence suggests that Dr. King’s army contained some of the most extraordinary people in this nation’s long, varied history.

As he continued, Obama described what we mean. Thanks in part to their strong leadership, the people Obama is describing were highly advanced and evolved:
OBAMA: They had seen loved ones beaten and children fire-hosed. And they had every reason to lash out in anger or resign themselves to a bitter fate.

And yet they chose a different path. In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in with the moral force of nonviolence.
Willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws, their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs. A lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us.
The contrast is clear when we compare those people to the peacocks of today. To the people who “get on TV.”

Again and again, the people who supported Dr. King were light-years beyond extraordinary. Nothing like that can be said of the people who “get on TV” today, where they are paid to be fatuous.

In our view, progressives shouldn’t obscure this important distinction. Of course, we also think progressives should identify and applaud the improved values found in regular people of the other tribe, improved values which are all around us, if we are willing to see them.

(It’s also true that those people are often quite foolish. Our tribe is catching up fast!)

Before we cite a very good point Obama made in yesterday’s speech, let’s complain about one other framework he offered. He described the way those “ordinary” people persevered through horrendous events. But gack!

In our view, progressives should possibly bristle a bit at this sort of presentation:
OBAMA: And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, the civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, the voting rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else's laundry or shining somebody else's shoes.

“Washing somebody else's laundry” is real work too. So is tending someone’s yard or cleaning someone’s house.

Such work is being done by many people today. We don’t know why a progressive would dismiss such work in the way Obama did, occasioning the inevitable (Applause).

Obama, who is a good decent person, speaks from within the cocoon of modern wealth, a land where condescension and incomprehension can grow. We thought we heard that condescension at times yesterday, right from the somewhat condescending start of his address.

Dr. King didn’t get rich; he tended to give his money away. As part of that package, he may have had a wider understanding of the people who stood before him whenever he spoke:
KING (2/4/68): Everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve.

You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.

You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
If we might apply Dr. King’s insight, people who wash somebody else's laundry can be great.

In our view, people like Obama should start with the assumption that those “ordinary people” knew and understood as much, or more, in various ways than he and his advisers do today. Having said that, we thought the president made a very good point early on:
OBAMA: Because they marched, America became more free and more fair.


To dismiss the magnitude of this progress—to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed—that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years.
In the past month or so, we’ve seen quite a few people “suggesting that little has changed.” We've seen it in comment threads. We've seen it from the peacocks.

Some of the peacocks may do that to get you riled, thus improving their ratings and paydays.

Back in 1963, the leadership was quite strong. But the movement was full of extraordinary people—people who had been forced to develop unusual moral understanding. Given the way our modern world works, it’s galling to see multimillionaires slip-sliding around that fact.

You might file this under “pet peeve.” Except a great deal turns on that first slip-step, in which we assume that the people with the wealth and the fame, the ones on TV, must be the ones with the good ideas.

It’s very hard to shake that idea. It’s lodged in the things we all hear.

Tomorrow: Our horrible leaders

Strongly recommended: We’ve only read six chapters so far. But with each chapter, we’re more surprised by the point of view advanced in Mark Leibovich’s book, This Town.

We expect to review it after back-to-school week. But the darn thing just keeps getting stronger.

Did the mainstream reviews understate this book’s bite? We’ll have to go back and reread them!

American Experience: Remarkable people who once walked the earth!


A program that’s hugely worth watching: Last night, WHUT re-aired it. We sat there and re-watched it.

You might want to watch it too. We refer to the 2011 American Experience program, Freedom Riders.

Even the second time around, this has to be one of the best documentaries we have ever seen. The program can be seen in full at this WGBH site.

We offer one word of warning:

There is a danger in watching this program. The danger is this:

Such programs may tend to make us think that we and our friends are The Very Good People, while everyone who isn’t exactly like us is one of The Very Bad People.

We’ll suggest a different framework for watching this program:

Some truly remarkable young people were involved in this project. Almost surely, we and our friends are not like those people.

Those young people were extremely advanced, as is clear if you watch this program. Ideally, we should strive to learn from these very unusual people, a few of whom are known today, most of whom are not.

We didn’t want to watch this program last night. It started at midnight, and it runs two hours. But this is a program which is hard to stop watching once you start.

Remarkable young people are seen in this program, an advanced race which once walked the earth.

Diane Nash, highly advanced and evolved: In 1961, John Siegenthaler was a ranking assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

At one point in the program, he describes his attempts to get the Freedom Riders to stop because of the violence now known to be waiting for them:
SIEGENTHALER: My phone in the hotel room rings and it's the Attorney General. And he opens the conversation, “Who the hell is Diane Nash? Call her and let her know what is waiting for the Freedom Riders.”

So I called her. I said, “I understand that there are more Freedom Riders coming down from Nashville. You must stop them if you can.” Her response was, “They're not gonna turn back. They're on their way to Birmingham and they'll be there shortly.”

You know that spiritual, “Like a tree standing by the water, I will not be moved?” She would not be moved. And, and I felt my voice go up another decibel and another and soon I was shouting, “Young woman, do you understand what you're doing? You're gonna get somebody—Do you understand you're gonna get somebody killed?”

And there's a pause, and she said, “Sir, you should know, we all signed our last wills and testaments last night before they left.”
As he continues, Siegenthaler characterizes this conversation in a way we found a bit disappointing. Diane Nash, then a Fisk student, was part of a highly advanced group of people. She and they were far more highly evolved than those seen around us today.

For the full transcript, click here.



Part 3—Love of hate: Friend, might we liberals be in the grip of some epistemic enclosures?

We’re good at spotting the “epistemic closure” in the other tribe—and without any question, it’s there. But are any mental habits penning us in? Possibly holding us back?

We’d have to go with yes. One such epistemic enclosure would be the love of hate.

Are we liberals learning to hate the other tribe? Being encouraged to do so?

On Sunday, Maureen Dowd penned the first column of her ongoing makeup tour. She beat up on a no-name, accidental member of Congress while suggesting that he’s just a racist.

We liberals loved her pander! Below, you see the comment Dowd’s readers loved best among all the comments she received—the comment which was “recommended” by the most readers by far.

“Jarama Valley” is a reference to the Spanish Civil War:
COMMENTER FROM JARAMA VALLEY (8/24/13): Obama may be black, but it's not racism that is the cause of the hatred. 50 years ago this November, JFK was told not to fly to Texas, for the anger and vitriol down South was palpable, and there was a fear for the president's life.

There is a strange part of America that fears any change to the established order. There have always been politicians who prey on fear.

The far right is a clear and present danger to the health and welfare of the nation.

I've had enough. I hate the haters. I despise the bigots. My skin crawls when I listen to the likes of Ted Cruz open their mouths.
This commenter didn’t think the hatred of Obama was caused by racism, the sweet treat Dowd had dispensed. He recalled the hatred of President Kennedy, who was widely alleged to be white.

In fairness, he also said he despises the bigots, perhaps implying that Cruz is numbered among their kind.

“The only viable alternative is at the voting booth,” this commenter said as he ended his comment. “Vote out the haters,” he implored, shortly after he himself had possibly joined some such club.

Among the 505 comments the New York Times posted, this was the most recommended comment by far. We liberals thrilled to its war cry: “I hate the haters.”

The commenter said he hates and despises. We liberals roared our assent.This struck us as a limiting, perhaps self-defeating sentiment.

It also struck us as perhaps a bit strange at this particular moment.

This week, we’re all honoring, or pretending to honor, the memory of Dr. King. And yet, the most consequential of Dr. King’s teachings may have been his insistence that we shouldn’t, mustn’t hate those who aren’t in our tribe.

Needless to say, Dr. King said and did many things in the course of his career. But his rejection of hate was central. It may explain his success.

Mandela also rejected hate. Indeed, the greatest achievers of the last century seem to fit in this camp. And yet, we liberals are now being whipped into a familiar old stance, in which we assert the greatness of our own tribe and announce how much we hate The Others.

Indeed, The Others are so vile that we now feel free to invent ugly facts about them. This is the oldest pattern in human conduct. It’s also the pattern Dr. King explicitly chose to reject.

In Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63, Taylor Branch describes the night in 1956 when Dr. King’s home in Montgomery was bombed for the first time. For what it's worth, Dr. King had just turned 27.

Dr. King was informed of the bombing while at a public meeting; it wasn’t known if his wife and baby daughter were safe. By the time he reached his home, the mayor and the police commissioner were present. Also present: an angry crowd, some of whom carried guns.

After ascertaining that his wife and daughter were safe, King walked onto the porch. Branch records what he said:
BRANCH (page 165): King walked out onto the front porch. Holding up his hand for silence, he tried to still the anger by speaking with an exaggerated peacefulness in his voice. Everything was all right, he said. “Don’t get panicky. Don’t do anything panicky. Don’t get your weapons. If you have weapons, take them home. He who lives by the word will perish by the sword. Remember that is what Jesus said. We are not advocating violence. We want to love our enemies. I want you to love our enemies. Be good to them. This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love.”
One year later, Dr. King published Stride Toward Freedom, his own remarkable account of the Montgomery bus boycott. In the book, he describes the earlier search which finally took him to Gandhi’s concept of non-violent resistance, and to what he repeatedly called “the love ethic of Jesus.”

In that book, Dr. King also described what he said on the porch that night. This was his own account of what he said, written in his own words:
KING (page 137): In this atmosphere I walked out to the porch and asked the crowd to come to order. In less than a moment there was complete silence. Quietly I told them that I was all right and that my wife and baby were all right. “Now let’s not become panicky,” I continued. “If you have weapons, take them home. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence. Remember the words of Jesus: ‘He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.’ ” I then urged them to leave peacefully. “We must love our white brothers,” I said, “no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. Jesus still cries out in words that echo through the centuries: ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you.’ This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love.”
We must meet hate with love, Dr. King said. But then again, what did he know?

Dr. King had some advantages. He wasn’t running an on-line magazine or a cable channel. For that reason, he didn’t have a financial incentive to create a world built around the pleasurable loathing of Them.

He had also studied long and hard, looking for an approach that would actually work as he tried to challenge an entrenched order. In Stride Toward Freedom, he describes the process by which he came to believe that the aggressive rejection of hate would provide that winning approach.

For a lengthy chunk of his account of that search, just click here.

Was Dr. King right as a general matter? In a provocative gesture, we will quote a man from The Other Tribe, who ends this passage from yesterday's column with a slightly odd set of statistics:
BROOKS (8/27/13): The idea was to reduce ugliness in the world by reducing ugliness in yourself. King argued that “unearned suffering is redemptive.” It would uplift people involved in this kind of action. It would impose self-restraint. At their best, the leaders understood that even people in the middle of just causes can be corrupted. They can become self-righteous, knowing their cause is right. They can become smug as they move forward, cruel as they organize into groups, simplistic as they rely on propaganda to mobilize the masses. Their hearts can harden as their enemies become more vicious. The strategy of renunciation and the absorbing of suffering was meant to guard against all that.

In short, the method relied upon a very sophisticated set of paradoxes. It relied on leaders who had done a lot of deep theological and theoretical work before they took up the cause of public action. Nonviolent protest, King summarized, “rests upon two pillars. One, resistance, continuous military [sic] resistance. Second, it projects good will against ill will. In this way nonviolent resistance is a force against apathy in our own ranks.”

And yet it worked. And sometimes still does. It’s commonly said that nonviolent protests work only in a context in which your enemies and the watching nation have a conscience to be appealed to. But that is often enough, apparently. A study by Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth in the journal International Security found that between 1900 and 2006, movements that used nonviolent means succeeded 53 percent of the time, while violent resistance campaigns succeeded only 26 percent of the time.
Can statistics like those really have meaning? We have no idea. By the way:

We’re fairly sure that the phrase is question (second paragraph above) is “continuous militant resistance.” One day later, the typo remains unchanged by the Times, a small example of what we’re discussing.

Can people involved in just causes become self-righteous, smug, simplistic? Can they end up relying on propaganda? Can they even be cruel?

Yes, we can, as Obama might say! We’ll suggest on this memorial day that this obvious drift may keep our tribe from being decent—and perhaps from being effective in the wider world.

In various ways, the other tribe is in the grip of a glaring epistemic closure. In our view, corrosive forces are helping us liberals create our own enclosures.

Tomorrow: The endless enclosure of dumb

Dr. King later that night: Later that night, Dr. King thought about what had happened. In this passage, he describes a way he caught himself:
KING (page 138): I could not go to sleep. While I lay in that quiet front bedroom, with a distant street lamp throwing a reassuring glow through the curtained window, I began to think of the viciousness of people who would bomb my home. I could feel the anger rising when I realized that my wife and baby could have been killed. I thought about the city commissioners and all the statements that they had made about me and the Negro generally. I was once more on the verge of corroding anger. And once more I caught myself and said: “You must not allow yourself to become bitter.”
Dr. King fought against “corroding anger” on the night his home was bombed. On-line today, money changers will urge such anger on you in a wide number of ways.

Which of these various people was right? In our view, the greatest achievers of the last century tended toward Dr. King's view.

Finally, Milbank starts to explain!


Also featuring, Who is Amy Chozick: Thanks in part to our tireless efforts, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank has begun to explain.

What explains the values of the modern upper-end “press corps?” In a recent column, Milbank described the values of his parents’ generation—and also, alas, of his own:
MILBANK (8/24/13): The weakest generation?

I was born five years after the March on Washington and three weeks after King’s assassination. My mother told me that in those grim days of April 1968, she wondered whether she had done the right thing in bringing a child into the world. I grew up on Joan Baez and the Kingston Trio. A poster hung in my bedroom informed me: “War is not healthy for children and other living things.” My first political memories were of the George McGovern campaign and of a boycott of Nestle for pushing infant formula on kids in poor countries.

But this culture was my parents’, not mine. There have been many noble causes in my time—the fight against apartheid, for gay rights and for environmentalism—but none captured my generation or required the sort of sacrifice the civil rights movement did.

John McCain, in his campaigns for the presidency, spoke of the importance of “a cause greater than self-interest.” The one-time prisoner of war, who refused his Vietnamese captors’ offer of release to avoid giving them propaganda value, knows something about that.

But what about those born after 1955, who turned 18 after the Vietnam War draft had been suspended? For the first time in decades—perhaps for the first time in history—Americans came of age without an existential threat to the nation and without massive social upheaval at home. For us, the waning Cold War was just a theoretical threat, and the vestigial air-raid drills at school a curiosity. When we were prepared to sacrifice for the country after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush told us to go shopping. We grew up soft: unthreatened, unchallenged and uninspired. We lacked a cause greater than self.
Finally, Milbank is coming around to the view of himself and his colleagues we’ve always recommended! We’re soft and uninspired, he says. Gruesomely, we lack a cause.

Milbank blames it on his generation. “Generation X,” he calls it—and no, that isn’t a reference to Malcolm! He also blames it on something Bush did when Milbank was 33 years old! It looks like we have a bit more work to do with this young reporter!

Milbank did have disadvantages. We have no idea how someone born in 1968 could have been raised on the Kingston Trio, to cite just one example.

At any rate, by the end of his piece, Milbank was beating himself up pretty hard. He recalled the way Tom Brokaw likes to talk about “the greatest generation.” Then, the blubbering finally started:

“I’m afraid that my generation will someday be called the weakest,” he said. The godfather would have slapped him around, the way he did when Johnny Fontaine blubbered in his office.

Can we talk? An individual can find all sorts of causes and enterprises. Milbank could perform a very large service if he would just open up a bit about the way his important guild functions.

But who knows? Maybe Milbank’s generation is as hopeless as he suggests! This brings us to a second question: Who is Amy Chozick?

Chozick is the New York Times reporter who has been assigned to Hillary Clinton as a full-time beat. In this recent column, public editor Amy Sullivan wondered if that’s a good idea.

Inevitably, Sullivan said that the Times had made the right decision. She quoted Brendan Nyhan, who seemed to be saying that it wasn’t a good idea.

Inevitably, Sullivan seemed to pretend that Nyhan had said the opposite. She also quoted several people who were pushing the upper-end press corps’ Oldest Official Group Line:
SULLIVAN (8/18/13): Carolyn Ryan, The Times's political editor, made the case to me for the assignment. Mrs. Clinton, she said, ''is the closest thing we have to an incumbent, when we look at 2016.'' And getting in early allows The Times to develop sources and get behind the well-honed facade.

''With the Clintons,'' she said, ''there is a certain opacity and stagecraft and silly coverage elsewhere. Amy can penetrate a lot of that.'' She praised Ms. Chozick as a relentless reporter who is ''very savvy about power and has a great eye for story.''


Carl Bernstein, the Watergate reporter who wrote the well-regarded biography of Mrs. Clinton ''A Woman In Charge,'' told me in a phone interview that she is ''really difficult to get a reportorial handle on.''

''She's someone who tries to write her own narrative,'' and who, in words from the last chapter of his book, ''has a difficult relationship with the truth.'' So, The Times's putting an aggressive reporter on Mrs. Clinton early, he said, is a laudable effort to publish ''the best obtainable version of the truth.''
There is a certain opacity with the Clintons, Ryan was quoted saying. Then, Sullivan dug into Bernstein’s old book to pull out his least flattering comment about Hillary Clinton’s problems with the truth!

Ryan also established a key point—the “silly coverage” of the Clintons will always be found somewhere else.

Unfortunately, we’d have to say that Chozick has already peddled some of The Silly in her few weeks on the job—for example, in this report about the Clintons’ rental crib out in the Hamptons. Here you see some of the salient reporting you will get nowhere else:
CHOZICK (8/9/13): [C]ontrary to earlier reports, they will not be staying the month at the East Hampton home of the developer Elie Hirschfeld that they have rented the past two summers but, rather, at an estate near the ocean in Sagaponack, some five miles to the west.

Mr. Hirschfeld, whose oceanfront house was built by John Custis Lawrence and sits in a plum spot at Georgica Beach, said in an interview on Thursday that he was not renting it this season. But the Clintons indicated that they were not necessarily interested in returning anyway after enduring last year what so many Hamptons renters have before them—the loss of a large chunk of their security deposit, according to two people with knowledge of the former first couple's Hamptons plans.

One of those people, who would share details of the Clintons' rental only on the condition of anonymity, said the expenses associated with the home—which has lush landscaping, a large heated pool and eight bedrooms in 12,000 square feet of space—ate up the bulk of the deposit. Security deposits are typically applied to household expenses like heating oil, electricity, housekeeping and lawn maintenance, and Mr. Hirschfeld said the Clintons did not make a fuss about it.

''I recall sending back the funds, with of course some deduction for utilities and things like that, and that amount was accepted,'' Mr. Hirschfeld said. ''It's a large house, it has upkeep and it's expensive—that's a fact.''

Over all, he said, his experience with the Clintons was ''very pleasant.''
Where else can you get the important news about the Clintons’ security deposit last summer? Last Friday, Chozick was back on the job in the Hamptons. Again, she brought you the hard-hitting stuff while others trafficked in piddle:
CHOZICK AND RUTENBERG (8/23/13): Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton are renting a virtual Shangri-La in this lush, beachside paradise in the Hamptons. The $11 million mansion sprawls over 3.5 acres of prime real estate, with four fireplaces, six bedrooms, a heated pool and private path to the beach.

But Clinton vacations are not about kicking back.

Mrs. Clinton will be spending many hours here holed up in an office, though one with an ocean view, working on a memoir about her days as secretary of state, people close to the family say.

And, not one day after arriving here late last week, Mr. Clinton was already making a public appearance, at a softball game played each summer between artists and writers in East Hampton. There he found himself deluged by news photographers and autograph seekers as the ''Today'' show host Matt Lauer and The Daily News publisher Mortimer B. Zuckerman looked on.

A reporter asked, Was he getting to relax? ''Apparently not,'' he joked.
Regarding President Clinton's key joke, you probably had to be there! At any rate, Chozick and Rutenberg went on in this vein for 1200 thoroughly pointless words. They even spoke with Hirschfeld again about Bill Clinton’s activities from last summer.

(He rearranged some books.)

One last note. On August 14, Chozick joined forced with Nicholas Confessore for that giant front-page report about the Clinton foundation. They produced 3000 words of nothing-burger, using plenty of hamburger helper.

Milbank has made his confession. Who the heck is Amy Chozick that she would be willing to waste her life this way? Was she raised on “Tom Dooley” too? Did she long for her own kind of music?

Since you’re asking, Chozick hails from South Texas, which ought to count in her favor. She graduated from the University of Texas in 2001.

That said, she strikes us as a bit of a self-promoter, which isn’t unheard of in these precincts. This is the cinematic way she tells her own colorful story:

“She began her journalism career by moving to New York with no job, no apartment and a stack of clips from The Daily Texan. In 2003, she landed a job as a news assistant on The [Wall Street] Journal's foreign desk.”

Chozick is married to Robert Ennis, a VP at Goldman Sachs—not that there’s anything wrong with it! This is the part that really grabbed us in her self-description:
CHOZICK BIO: Before joining The Times, Amy spent eight years at The Wall Street Journal where she held posts including foreign correspondent based in Tokyo, national political correspondent and a features writer covering Hollywood. Journalism has taken Amy from the neon of Tokyo and the tranquility of the Japanese countryside to car shows in Shenzhen and dumpling joints in Shanghai. As a member of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's traveling press she rode on oddly aromatic campaign busses in 48 states and covered more than 20 debates ("You're likable enough, Hillary.") She covered the entertainment industry traversing Hollywood's back lots, studio sets and corner offices.
Working at the top of the national press, Chozick covered twenty presidential debates. What’s the one thing that stuck in her mind?

Of course! The time Obama said, "You’re likable enough, Hillary!”

To us, each generation in the upper-end press corps seems more vapid than the last. Does Chozick ''have a great eye for story,” as Ryan cheerfully said?

We’re afraid she possibly might! Given the nature of her new beat, every American should be concerned about that possibility.

When it comes to figures like Hillary Clinton, the Times has churned a whole lot of stories down through the years. Indeed, if we might borrow from Lord Russell, New York Times coverage tends to be stories—stories all the way down!

A horrible front-page report by the Post!


As we should have stated: Yesterday, we praised the Washington Post for a front-page report from Sunday’s hard-copy paper. To read that post, click this.

We should have noted the truly horrible front-page report which ran directly above it, right at the top of the Sunday Post’s front page.

Jonathan Chait called this other report “one of the weirdest, and most weirdly biased, news articles I’ve ever read in my life.” We can’t disagree with that assessment, and the report concerned a topic which lies at the center of the national discourse.

Such as it is.

David Fahrenthold’s hopeless report concerns the size of the federal government. Hopelessly, Fahrenthold started like this. We’ll assume his editor made him, perhaps at the point of a gun:
FAHRENTHOLD (8/25/13): After 2 1/2 years of budget battles, this is what the federal government looks like now:

It is on pace, this year, to spend $3.455 trillion.

That figure is down from 2010—the year that worries about government spending helped bring on a tea party uprising, a Republican takeover in the House and then a series of ulcer-causing showdowns in Congress.

But it is not down by that much. Back then, the government spent a whopping $3.457 trillion.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Or, as Kurtz says in The Heart of Darkness, “The horror! The horror.”

What is so bad about that opening? For starters, Fahrenthold hasn’t adjusted those figures for inflation—and yes, that makes a significant difference, even over just a few years.

To let Chait explain this problem, click here. For Kevin Drum’s sense of the horror, click this—but this is his basic nugget:

“This is just flatly deceptive. Adjusted for inflation and population growth, federal spending has declined by 8 percent since 2010. In current dollars, it's fallen from $11,800 to $10,900 per person.”

In that second nugget, Drum has adjusted for inflation and for population growth. Unless you’re trying to create confusion, you can’t compare dollar figures across spans of time without making some basic adjustments.

Fahrenthold understands that, of course. After all, he’s Harvard ’00—and starting in paragraph 16, he makes a few asides about what those figures look like if you adjust for inflation. But that is deep inside the paper. His opening passages, atop the front page, are filled with snark and are in fact “flatly deceptive.”

The second part of his opening passage is horrible too. In this passage, Fahrenthold says he has another way to measure the size of the government:
FAHRENTHOLD (continuing directly): Measured another way - not in dollars, but in people—the government has about 4.1 million employees today, military and civilian. That's more than the populations of 24 states.

Back in 2010, it had 4.3 million employees. More than the populations of 24 states.
The twin gods, Snark and Snide, roared with delight at this point! As Chait notes, this means that the federal workforce has declined by almost 5 percent over three years. Rather than state it that way, Fahrenthold finds a way to make it sound like nothing has changed.

(All through the report, Fahrenthold compares the size of the workforce to the size of various states. This is a type of comparison sure to provide much more confusion than light.)

This is terrible work. It sat at the top of page one in the Sunday Washington Post, creating tons of confusion. A person could spend several days going over the nonsense found in this mess.

Instead, let’s offer an overview:

For starters, when your press corps behaves this way, you don’t have a press corps. Everyone, including Fahrenthold, knows how stupid that opening is.

Presumably, there’s a purpose to this, a hidden purpose within the minds of players at the Post.

Second point: The counterpart to this open deception is the refusal to report certain types of basic facts. For years, the press corps has refused to report and analyze data like these, as we’ve repeatedly noted:
Health care spending, per person, 2011:
United States: $8508
France: $4118
United Kingdom: $3405
Finland: $3374
Everyone knows what those figures mean. When the press corps refuses for years to discuss them, a scam of some kind is being perpetrated.

Third point: So far, several dogs have failed to bark about this front-page Post report. At some point, the Big Dogs have to bark, or we don’t have an opposition.

Maybe on Friday! It’s time to speak up and name names, politely of course.

Do we have a public discussion at all? To tell you the truth, we do not! Not does the official “liberal world” have a whole lot to say about that.



Part 2—Conned by our favorite toy: For several years, we liberals have battered The Rival Tribe for its “epistemic closure.”

(For an account by Paul Krugman, click here.)

There is no doubt, the other tribe can be tremendously dumb. Obama wasn’t born in Kenya. And the Clintons didn’t commit a string of murders, despite what Falwell (and Gennifer Flowers) said.

With the stewardship of Cronkite gone, we the people have been freed to be just as dumb as we want! Obvious crackpots get TV shows now—and we're free to believe all the twaddle they are quite eager to hand us.

That said, are they any “epistemic enclosures” which might be holding us liberals back? Which might be rendering us somewhat dumb? Which might be keeping us from advancing progressive interests?

We’d say the answer is yes! If we were to list these enclosures, we’d have to start with our deeply peculiar love of the toy of race.

We say this love is deeply peculiar because it’s obvious that we don’t really care all that much about issues of racial fairness. We display complete disinterest in most such issues, including those affecting black children. But good lord! How we love the toy of race—the toy with which we assert our own moral goodness as opposed to the ugly racism of the rival tribe!

We don’t seem to care about low-income schools. We don’t seem to care about the deaths of the nation’s most perfect black kids.

But good god, how we love to toy with our R-bombs! Just consider the cynical column Maureen Dowd wrote to get us off her aspic.

Dowd screwed up so badly last week that even some journalists noticed. On Sunday, August 18, she opened her week with her ten millionth crackpot assault on the vile conduct of the twin demons, Clinton and Clinton.

On Wednesday, August 21, she toyed with the New York mayoral race, trying to create a hair-pulling match between the leading female candidate and the wife of the leading male. For Dowd, this is typical stuff. But this time, she included a misquotation which was so comically awful, even by Dowdist Standards, that the press corps was forced to notice.

People were getting riled! And so, in her new column on Sunday, Dowd did what she did the last time this happened. She sought to placate us low-IQ liberals by using the toy of race.

Just for the record, Maureen Dowd cares about race about as much as you care about costuming practices at the Bolshoi Ballet. She does know that race is an excellent toy in the eyes of us liberals.

She felt our hot breath on her neck last week. What in the world could a columnist do? And then, at last, she had it! Two days ago, she started her column like this:
DOWD (8/25/13): Reindeer Games

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Kerry Bentivolio, a Michigan congressman, has a dream, too: to impeach the nation’s first black president.

“If I could write that bill and submit it, it would be a dream come true,” the freshman Republican told a local G.O.P. club meeting Monday in Birmingham, Mich., in a video posted on YouTube and reported by BuzzFeed.
Why was her column called Reindeer Games? Because Bentivolio—an insignificant back-bencher you’ve never heard of—is an accidental first-term congressman who formerly ran a year-round business in which he played Santa Claus.

Attacking this feeble target, Dowd sought to balance a decade of crazy attacks on the Clintons. In the process, she pleasured us with our favorite, the toy of race.

Does Kerry Bentivolio really want to impeach the nation’s first black president? It’s possible, though Dowd eliminated the things he said at that meeting which gave the impression that he might have been trying to get his crazier constituents off his back with his impeachment musings.

That said, does Bentivolio want to impeach Obama because he’s black? You’ll note that Dowd, a crafty performer, didn’t say that! She just strung the ideas together, knowing we would take that step with our love of the toy of race.

Does Bentivolio want to impeach Obama because he’s black? Like Dowd, we have no idea. Unlike Dowd, we aren’t fawning to weak-minded liberals to get them off our backs.

In the bulk of her column, Dowd pummeled Bentivolio in somewhat selective fashion. In much smaller doses, she mentioned two high-ranking Republicans, along with another back-bencher.

She rolled her eyes at Tea Party members and at birthers. For the record, Dowd’s inanity became a national problem long before the “epistemic closure” now sometimes displayed by that party.

Dowd’s inanity rivals that of the birthers, and it has often been aimed at the same set of targets. But in this particular column, Dowd was pandering to us numb-nuts over here in our own tribe.

And so, sure enough! She ended the column with our most favorite toy, a slickly handled race card:
DOWD: The Democrats never impeached W. and they had real grounds: starting a war on false premises and sanctioning torture. “The Republican Party is in a constant struggle between its ego and its id,” [David] Axelrod says, “and the id has mostly won out lately.”

It isn’t the president who should leave. It’s the misguided lawmakers trying to drive him out.

For some of the rodeo clowns clamoring for impeachment around the country, Barack Obama’s real crime is presiding while black.
That last paragraph really felt good! But note what Dowd was too slick to say, although she knew that we’re so dumb that her slippery technique wouldn’t matter:

Is Obama’s real crime “presiding while black” according to Kerry Bentivolio? You’ll note that Dowd didn’t say that.

How about the better-known people she named? Does Tom Coburn see Obama that way? Is that how it is with Ted Cruz?

Dowd didn’t say that either! In fact, Dowd never said who believes that Obama’s real crime is presiding while black! Hiding behind the useful word “some,” she dropped her R-bomb in a sanitary, technically defensible fashion!

At no one point in her Christmas column did she offer any idea about who wants to impeach Obama because he’s black. Despite that, she gave us our favorite toy, right at the end of the column!

We children love Mother on Christmas morning after we’ve opened our presents. So it was with liberal readers as we opened our gift of this pander. Instantly, Dowd’s regular commenters praised her for her brilliant insight about the other team’s ugly racism.

Dowd had hid behind the word “some.” Commenters didn’t much notice. They filled the picture in with their own crayons, praising Dowd as they went.

Three of Dowd’s first five commenters praised her for the way she exposed all the racists. “The only thing that is drawn to conclusion is that these men don't like Democrats, they are racists. They use code, innuendo, subversive tactics, but a racist is a racist,” her first commenter said (edited for clarity).

Dowd’s fifth commenter, a regular, brought the treasured theme home. “The whole Tea Party movement is founded upon racism,” she declared. “Impeach is the New Lynch,” she said as she closed, helping display the pleasure we get from our favorite toy.

That comment struck us as dumb. Right in the middle of her column, Dowd herself had briefly noted a problematic fact. That same Republican Party actually did impeach the last Democratic president. They conducted a “nutty impeachment of Bill Clinton,” Dowd fleetingly said—and Clinton was known to be white!

Despite these facts, we love the toy of race so much that when they just talk about impeaching Obama, we are sure that “Obama’s real crime is presiding while black.” (“For some,” Dowd slickly said.)

Cynically, Dowd gave us that toy. In comments, we thanked her for doing it.

How easy are we liberals to play? Dowd played the same darn game the last time she got into trouble! In June 2008, Clark Hoyt, then the New York Times public editor, hammered her for the way she had covered Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries.

“By assailing Clinton in gender-heavy terms in column after column, [Dowd] went over the top this election season,” Hoyt wrote, in one of the only frank assessments of Dowd ever seen in the mainstream press.

The Times had written a news report about allegations that Candidate Clinton had received sexist coverage. Dowd could have been included, Hoyt said:
HOYT (6/22/08): Dowd's columns about Clinton's campaign were so loaded with language painting her as a 50-foot woman with a suffocating embrace, a conniving film noir dame and a victim dependent on her husband that they could easily have been listed in that Times article on sexism, right along with the comments of Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle, Tucker Carlson or, for that matter, [William] Kristol, who made the Hall of Shame for a comment on Fox News, not for his Times work.

''I've been twisting gender stereotypes around for 24 years,'' Dowd responded. She said nobody had objected to her use of similar images about men over seven presidential campaigns. She often refers to Barack Obama as ''Obambi'' and has said he has a ''feminine'' management style. But the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on Clinton—in 28 of 44 columns since Jan. 1—left many readers with the strong feeling that an impermissible line had been crossed...
In the end, Hoyt said he agreed with those readers. He said this in a punishing piece which appeared right there in the Sunday Times.

Dowd had taken a very serious, accurate hit, though it barely scratched the surface. What was Dowd to do?

Rather plainly, she did the same thing she did this weekend! In her next column, she pandered to liberal readers! Specifically, she savaged Karl Role for portraying Obama in the very same way she herself had been portraying Obama all along.

Here’s how that cynical column began. Rather quickly, she got to her race card:
DOWD (6/25/08): More Phony Myths

Karl Rove was impressed with Barack Obama when he first met him. But now he sees him as a ''coolly arrogant'' elitist.

This was Rove's take on Obama to Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club Monday, according to Christianne Klein of ABC News:

''Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.''

Actually, that sounds more like W.

The cheap populism is really rich coming from Karl Rove. When was the last time he kicked back with a corncob pipe to watch professional wrestling?

Rove is trying to spin his myths, as he used to do with such devastating effect, but it won't work this time. The absurd spectacle of rich white conservatives trying to paint Obama as a watercress sandwich with the crust cut off seems ugly and fake.

Obama can be aloof and dismissive at times, and he's certainly self-regarding, carrying the aura of the Ivy faculty club. But isn't that better than the aura of the country clubs that tried to keep out blacks?

It's ironic, and maybe inevitable, that the first African-American nominee comes across as a prince of privilege. He is, as Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic wrote, not the seed but the flower of the civil rights movement.
Gag us! And by the way, how cynical can a person get? Dowd had been painting “Obambi” as “a watercress sandwich”—as “a coolly arrogant elitist”—all through the long campaign! The previous month, she had mocked him, with his feminine management style, as “the diffident debutante”—again!

Now, she pretended to be upset when Rove painted the same picture, and she got to her race card rather fast. Extremely obsequious fawning about Obama followed. Before she was done, she even wrote this:
DOWD: But even as the Republicans limn him as John Kerry, as someone who is too haughty and too ''foreign,'' Obama is determined not to repeat what Kerry thinks was a big mistake: not having enough money to compete against the Republicans in 2004.
Good God! Dowd herself had always limned Kerry as too haughty, of course (example below). But guess who else she limned the same way?

In June 2008, Dowd was in trouble. And so, she pretended to be offended by Rove’s portrait of and his party Obama.

Five weeks later, the danger had passed, and Dowd had returned to her standard portrait of Barry Obambi. As it turned out, he was a “haughty” fellow whose “manner gave a disgust!” Just as Rove and his party had said!
DOWD (8/3/08): Despite Obama's wooing, some women aren't warming. As Carol Marin wrote in The Chicago Sun-Times, The Lanky One is like an Alice Waters organic chicken—''sleek, elegant, beautifully prepared. Too cool''—when what many working-class women are craving is mac and cheese.

In The Wall Street Journal, Amy Chozick wrote that Hillary supporters—who loved their heroine's admission that she was on Weight Watchers—were put off by Obama's svelte, zero-body-fat figure.

''He needs to put some meat on his bones,'' said Diana Koenig, a 42-year-old Texas housewife. Another Clinton voter sniffed on a Yahoo message board: ''I won't vote for any beanpole guy.''

The odd thing is that Obama bears a distinct resemblance to the most cherished hero in chick-lit history. The senator is a modern incarnation of the clever, haughty, reserved and fastidious Mr. Darcy.

Like the leading man of Jane Austen and Bridget Jones, Obama can, as Austen wrote, draw ''the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien. ...he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased.''

The master of Pemberley ''had yet to learn to be laught at,'' and this sometimes caused ''a deeper shade of hauteur'' to ''overspread his features.''
Is this foolishness accurate in any way? That isn’t the question. In June, Dowd was in big trouble—and so, she pandered and fawned to us liberals. She pretended to be upset by the way Rove was portraying Obama—and she quickly played a race card, thus cementing our trust.

Her performance was fake in every way. So was her performance in Sunday's new column—but we liberals bought it again!

Dowd is one of the genuine fakes, but she knows we love the toy of race. She knows that we are easily played. She knows we’re not super-sharp.

We liberals love to mock the “epistemic closure” which is in fact quite plain within the other tribe. But race is one of our own enclosures, one which probably harms our effectiveness.

So is our love of hate, a point we'll explore tomorrow.

Tomorrow: Dr. King on love

Obama and Kerry, two peas in a pod: Above, you saw the way Dowd captured Obama’s “haughty” demeanor. He was like Mr. Darcy, the figure cast as “pride” in Austen’s famous book.

(Elizabeth Bennet is the figure cast as “prejudice.”)

When she got in trouble in June 2008, Dowd pretended to be upset at the way Republicans were making Obama seem like Kerry. But how odd! Four years earlier, she had portrayed Kerry exactly the way she'd later do with Obama:
DOWD (3/18/04): The election is shaping up as a contest between Pride and Prejudice.

Mr. Kerry is Pride.

He has a tendency toward striped-trouser smugness that led him to stupidly boast that he was more popular with leaders abroad than President Bush—playing into the Republican strategy to depict him as one of those ''cheese-eating surrender monkeys.''

Even when he puts on that barn jacket over his expensive suit to look less lockjaw—and says things like, "Who among us doesn't like Nascar?''—he can come across like Mr. Collins, Elizabeth Bennet's pretentious cousin in ''Pride and Prejudice."
In 2004, John Kerry was Pride. In 2008, so was Obama.

In 2008, Dowd pretended to be upset at the GOP for linking these hopefuls. Dumbly, we liberals purchased the con, just as we did on Sunday.

By the way: Kerry never said, ''Who among us doesn't like Nascar?'' That’s one of the ten million bogus quotes Dowd has churned in the past.

IN RE Clinton foundation, the Post gets it right!


Especially compared to the Times: Two weeks ago, the New York Times published a giant front-page report about the Clinton foundation.

The report ran 2961 words. It was accompanied by a large and pointless Venn diagram, helping you limn the tedium of the overlap between all the org’s key players.

This report itself was a nothing-burger, stuffed with plenty of hamburger helper. As the Times tends to do in such matters, the report tended to give the impression that something was rotten in the Denmark of the Clintons’ deeply troubling charity org.

(Four years ago, on one occasion, they purchased a first-class plane ticket for someone! When she came to their event, she brought her pet dog! In such ways, the clownish newspaper tried to suggest alarm.)

The report itself was bad enough. But four days later, Maureen Dowd had her three millionth breakdown about the Clintons, working off the pointless material found in the front-page report.

Yesterday, the Washington Post did a front-page report on the same topic. But how odd! The Post didn’t gin up pseudo-concerns where no real concerns existed.

Provocatively, the Post report was written by Rucker and Hamburger! They kept it to 1750 words and didn’t throw in tons of helper. This is the way they began:
RUCKER AND HAMBURGER (8/25/13): The Clintons are in fundraising mode again, inviting supporters to a musical weekend in London, a "night out" in San Francisco with Hillary and Chelsea and-in a select series of private, one-on-one meetings-the opportunity to write a check for $5 million to $10 million.

The invitations, delivered by phone and e-mail, resemble those of past political campaigns, complete with tiered levels and special access that depends on the size of the contribution.

But this current quest for cash, which shifts into high gear this fall, is not to fund a run for political office. It is to boost the financial standing of the newly rechristened Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

As he contemplates his legacy, former president Bill Clinton is trying to build an endowment with the declared goal of $200 million to $250 million to ensure that the charitable foundation he started lives on after his death.


While this fundraising push is philanthropic in nature, there are political implications. There is an unspoken deadline, for example. Clinton insiders said they hope the endowment drive will be completed ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign so that if Hillary Clinton chooses to run, the foundation fundraising would not distract from her campaign.
Shocking, isn’t it? Knowing their peripatetic chief fund-raiser is going to die someday, they’re trying to create an endowment. And they’d like to “get er done” before a possible future campaign.

As the police sometimes say, there is nothing to look at here. That was also true of the Times report, if you exclude all the piddle and filler.

Why not take the Post Challenge? Read the Post report on this topic, then read the triple-patty Whopper fried up by the Times! In the latter case, you’ll see a lot of invented material, the better for fueling the inevitable next nervous breakdown by Dowd.

The Times has “reported” the Clintons this way for some time, dating to January 1992. Will the great newspaper ever dispense with all the sillydumbstupidshit?

Whitewater was good solid fun for some time. At long last, shouldn’t they quit?

The types of facts you will and won’t hear!


The two Australian miracles: There are certain facts you hear all the time. Other facts which are very basic will get disappeared.

In an op-ed column in Sunday’s Washington Post, we read a familiar set of facts concerning Australia, an island nation located near New Zealand. Julia Baird wrote about the country’s famous gun buyback and gun regulations.

We highlight the key statistics:
BAIRD (8/25/13): In 1996, after a gunman killed 35 people and wounded 18 others in Port Arthur, a former penal colony turned tourist attraction, Australians collectively decided not to follow what then-Prime Minister John Howard called "the American way" on guns.

Just 12 days after the massacre, Howard, a conservative, announced that he had convinced Australia's states to ban automatic and semiautomatic weapons and instigated a gun buyback for high-powered and rapid-fire rifles. A uniform system for registering and licensing firearms was introduced.

A third of the guns in Australia were handed in to the government. Polls found that as much as 90 percent of the public approved of the stricter gun laws.

There had been 11 gun massacres in the decade preceding 1996, but there have been no mass shootings since. This is a source of national pride, though statisticians still argue about what caused the change.


Philip Alpers, an adjunct associate professor at the Sydney School of Public Health and a specialist in firearm injury prevention, has documented that after the laws were changed, the risk of an Australian being killed by a gun fell by more than 50 percent. Australia's gun homicide rate, 0.13 per 100,000 people, according to GunPolicy.org, is a tiny fraction of that of the United States (3.6 per 100,000 people). It should be noted that our gun homicide rates were already in decline, but the gun laws accelerated that slide.
We’ve heard this story a million times by now. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s a significant story, producing this, our first Australian miracle:
Gun homicide rates, Australia and the U.S.
United States: 3.6 per 100,000 people
Australia: 0.13 per 100,000 people
That’s a striking set of statistics. In the past year, we’ve seen versions of this presentation many times.

(According to that passage by Baird, the gun homicide rate was already much lower in Australia before the buyback and the new policies. But still!)

As far as we know, no one actually calls that the Australian miracle, but many people talk about those statistics. That said, here’s a second set of statistics, a set you’ve never seen:
Health care spending, per person, 2011
United States: $8508
Australia: $3800
According to these OECD data, we spend an extra $4708 per person on health care. By how much is a family of four getting looted? Multiply by four!

As with Finland, so with Australia. In the case of Finland, we constantly hear about the nation’s alleged educational miracle, which isn't very miraculous. But we never hear about the country’s level of spending on health care.

In the case of Australia, the low gun homicide rate is now frequently mentioned. But no one ever asks how the country manages to spend so little on health care, as compared to the crazy spending recorded in the U.S.

The looting of Americans through health care is a forbidden topic. It doesn’t even occur to liberal and progressive journalists to talk about it, despite its massive salience in so many areas.

This looting is a forbidden topic; we can’t really say why that is. Having said that, let us notice this:

Conservatives in red state Oklahoma are getting looted this way, as are liberals in blue state Connecticut. Luckily, the two tribes keep calling each other names, making joint ventures impossible.

This allows the power elite to continue its looting. Divide and conquer has always been the best way!

Debunking another blunder by Dowd!


The Truman Library speaks: Maureen Dowd’s “week that was” was really quite a week!

Last Sunday, she wrote a ludicrous column about the vile Clintons, the three millionth such column in her ongoing decade-long series. Three days later, she wrote a column so grossly bungled that even some journalists noticed!

Yesterday, she pandered to us liberals in the same way she did the last time she got into trouble. She wrote a fawning, GOP-bashing column in which she played a race card!

That seems to be what Dowd does when she gets in trouble. She seems to know that silly, insincere fawning will win back liberal hearts.

She seems to know that our attention spans are very short. She seems to know that our brains are just a bit weak. She can slander Democratic front-runners for years, as long as she tosses us the occasional bone—a column in which she attacks a no-name GOP pol while playing a slippery race card.

Needless to say, this buy-back seems to work! In yesterday’s comments, Dowd’s regular readers were quickly praising her obvious brilliance.

Before long, two regular commenters staged the pathetic call-and-response shown below. As you read their love cries, please remember: we the liberals consider ourselves to the smart tribe!
I want to say clearly & loud
I love you today Maureen Dowd,

Lambasted the bigots
Their bile spewing spigots,
Of your sterling effort I'm proud!

Hear, hear! When she's good, Maureen is really good! Thank you, Ms. Dowd!
The liberal world is very easy and very soft. Unfortunately, Dowd seems to know it!

Tomorrow, we’ll show you what Dowd did the last time she got into trouble, back in 2008. For today, let’s review another groaner from last week's week that was.

Last Sunday, Dowd wrote her ten millionth lunatic column about how vile the Clintons are. Her headline screeched in lunatic fashion: “Money, Money, Money, Money, MONEY!”

At one point, Dowd offered this pleasing tale about President Truman, who was so very very good while Clinton is so very bad:
DOWD (8/18/13): As George Packer wrote in The New Yorker, Bill Clinton earned $17 million last year giving speeches, including one to a Lagos company for $700,000. Hillary gets $200,000 a speech.

Until Harry Truman wrote his memoirs, the ex-president struggled on an Army pension of $112.56 a month. “I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable,” he said, “that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.”

So quaint, Packer wrote, observing, “The top of American life has become a very cozy and lucrative place, where the social capital of who you are and who you know brings unimaginable returns.”
Groan. In the post to which Dowd referred, Packer noted that the Clintons are pretty much like everyone else in this country today. Smoothing that point, Dowd kept acting like everyone else still behaves like poor impoverished Truman.

She specifically said the Clintons were the worst of them all.

As it turns out, Dowd wasn’t even right about Truman. In this morning’s Times, a letter from the Truman Library explains that her portrait of Truman’s retirement was yet another groaner:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (8/26/13): Maureen Dowd correctly notes that as a former president, Harry S. Truman stated that he would never involve himself in “any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.” Citing an article by George Packer in The New Yorker, she also writes that in retirement, the Trumans “struggled” to get by on a $112.56 monthly Army pension. She is correct about the pension, but the Trumans were far from impoverished.

Family manuscripts made available to the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum after the death of the Trumans’ daughter, Margaret Truman Daniel, in 2008, reveal that the former president had planned carefully.

Truman put a considerable amount of his presidential salary into savings (perhaps as much as 20 or 25 percent of his $100,000 annual compensation from 1945 to 1953), and he owned more than 400 acres of farmland near Kansas City, Mo.

In two handwritten documents prepared for his wife, Bess, an undated “in case disaster overtakes me” and “in case of my passing on Dec. 1953” (Truman was to undergo a gallbladder operation), he estimated his net worth to be $750,000.

Indeed, his prudent retirement planning and modest living habits provided for a more than adequate retirement.

Director, Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
Independence, Mo., Aug. 21, 2013
In his first year out of office, Truman was worth $750,000. And that was in 1953! Go ahead! Adjust for inflation!

We don’t say this to denigrate Truman. We say this to denigrate Dowd and her editors:

If the Truman Library knows its stuff, Harry Truman didn’t “struggle on an Army pension of $112.56 a month” until he wrote his memoirs. He did receive a pension of that size, but he “was far from impoverished,” the Library says.

Warning! Packer provided no source for his account of Truman’s struggle, which Dowd simply seemed to accept as accurate. (That's the way upper-end “journalists” do it.) That said, this Wikipedia article presents the claim of “financial challenges” just as Packer offered it.

But uh-oh! Wikipedia cites this 1953 newspaper report as its source, and that same report specifically says that Truman wouldn’t be financially challenged, in part because he had saved part of his salary as president.

Dowd’s column last Sunday was her ten millionth lunatic column about the evil Clintons. Ten million more will follow.

In the future, Dowd may commit new errors so obvious that even the press corps will have to notice. If so, she’ll quickly write a make-up column in which she race-baits some no-name Republican member of Congress, preferably a rodeo clown or a Santa Claus impersonator.

We the liberals will rush into line to tell her all is forgiven. We the liberals are very dumb.

Dowd seems to know this fact well.