WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2014
Part 3—Cornerback fails to respond:
Everyone except Richard Sherman responded to last night’s address.
Perhaps in response to a plea from Coach Carroll, Sherman focused on bringing his teammate, Marshawn Lynch, out of his shell.
The trio of former Pacific-10 greats are poised to win Sunday’s New Jersey Bowl, which will occur at 6:30 P.M., barring access lane closings. In the long history of the event, no team coached by a former Pac-10 great has ever lost to a team forced to start a former SEC quarterback.
Whatever his motive may have been, Sherman has so far failed to respond to Obama’s address. We were struck by some of the people who did respond, and by some who responded to those who had responded.
Locked in a green room with Newt Gingrich, Paul Krugman responded in real time. Early this morning, we were surprised to read this:
KRUGMAN (1/28/14): 9:25 Son of a barkeeper? I didn’t know that.
Interesting! How many million times has it been said that John Boehner comes from such humble stock? Krugman, who actually knows real things, had apparently never heard it!
That said, we were puzzled, and provisionally disappointed, by this earlier reaction:
KRUGMAN: 9:13 We have the text of the speech. It says “More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.” It’s that big already? Even I’m surprised. Obama is going to cite at least one example of a person for whom the ACA was literally a saving grace.
Krugman said he was surprised by the large number of sign-ups. Somewhat oddly, it didn’t seem to occur to him that his surprise might stem from the fact that the number in question could perhaps maybe be wrong.
the number wrong? We aren’t real sure about that, but we did know where to look. As part of a somewhat peculiar set of “fact checks,” Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post Fact Checker, offered this assessment, as we figured he would:
KESSLER (1/28/14): “More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.”
Obama carefully does not say these numbers are the result of the Affordable Care Act, but he certainly leaves that impression. But the Medicaid part of this number—6.3 million from October through December—is very fuzzy and once earned a rating of Three Pinocchios.
The ACA expanded Medicaid to those who earn less than 133 percent of the poverty line—about $15,000 for an individual — to 26 states (and the District) that decided to embrace that element of the law. But no one really knows how many of the 6.3 million are in this expansion pool—or whether they are simply renewing or would have qualified for Medicaid before the new law. Indeed, the number also includes people joining Medicaid in states that choose not accept the expansion [sic].
The private insurance numbers—about 3 million—are also open to question. The troubled federal exchange counts people as enrolled if an individual has selected a plan, but does not know if a person enrolled and paid a premium because that part of the system has yet to be built.
We’ve read Kessler’s previous fact checks of those numbers, so we figured he’d fact-check last night’s statement. Somewhat disappointingly, Krugman seemed to assume the number had to be right, even though he found it surprisingly large.
People! Obama had said it!
Proximity to Newt can have that effect on some people. But just because Obama says it, that doesn’t mean it’s accurate, true, on-point or correct. In his own review of the speech, the analysts’ favorite captured a groaner, although he played it way down:
DRUM (1/28/14): On the fact check front, the only thing that jumped out at me was Obama's reference to women making 77 cents for every dollar that men make. It's not precisely wrong, but it will certainly open him up to nitpicking about whether it's fair to use that number. For the record, I think it is fair, though I'll grant that a little bit of explanation is called for.
Drum provides a link to a previous post which only makes matters worse. In each case, he took the same approach: having flagged an obvious groaner, he played down the size of the offence.
Kessler fact-checked that statement too. Like Drum, he failed to give a full account of what Obama actually said—or rather, what he implied.
If we might borrow from Kessler’s earlier language, “Obama carefully did not say” that women are paid 77 cents on the dollar for equal work.
Carefully, he didn’t say
that. But plainly, that’s what he implied:
OBAMA (1/28/14): The bottom line is, Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us. But we know our opportunity agenda won't be complete, and too many young people entering the workforce today will see the American Dream as an empty promise, unless we also do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.
You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment.
Women deserve equal pay for equal work.
In a way, a politician’s desire to mislead seems more clear when he implies
something that isn’t true, but seems to avoid flatly saying
it. It becomes harder to believe that the person just doesn’t know that the statement in question is bogus.
Drum and Kessler both slid past the obvious thrust of Obama’s statement, which is pleasing, and highly familiar to liberals, but also grossly misleading.
Question: Why does someone like Obama feel the need to do that? In all such instances, from any pol, our first guess would be the obvious:
He or she chose to make the misleading statement because he or she knew it would lead to “Cheers, applause.” Also, because he or she doesn’t have truthful
things to say about the topic in question which would produce that reaction.
If we apply that interpretation, here’s why Obama said that:
Obama is seeking support of women as a large part of his current thrust. If he has to toy with some basic facts, well by god, the times require it!
In that moment, you see a major politician whose party lacks things to say to the wide range of voters. For the fullest expression of this very
large problem, we’ll direct you to a fiery response which appeared in Salon.
Joan Walsh wrote the fiery piece;
we’ll assume she didn’t write the headline. In Salon’s new gong-show headline style, the headline shouted this from the top of Salon’s front page early this morning:
GOP'S DEMENTED SOTU MELTDOWN
The president's speech was a conciliatory, modest affair. But with enemies like these, it's hard not to be a winner
Sad! Sad, and “demented” in its own right, in modern atomized style.
Except as a way to please or express the views of the tribe, Walsh’s piece strikes us as profoundly clueless. She lodges the various standard complaints, including some that make little sense.
She name-calls the “hundreds of kooks” who oppose Obama. She closes with an extremely dumb remark, a type of assessment our own kooks have been inclined to repeat since the Clinton years:
“Once again, though, as throughout his career, the president is blessed by having lame enemies.”
They used to say that President Clinton was lucky in his enemies. So lucky!
All that happened is he got impeached by his enemies. After that, his chosen successor was kept from the White House, with people like Walsh repeating their moronic claims about the way he hired Naomi Wolf to make him an alpha male.
Our tribe is run by hopeless kooks too! This is what Walsh was writing, at massive length, one day before that historic election:
WALSH (11/6/00): But first, let's state the obvious: Al Gore is a flawed candidate who has presided over a troubled campaign. For me, the indelible image from the Democratic National Convention wasn't Al kissing Tipper, it was a photo Tipper shared of her Halloween-loving husband (Is it the costumes he loves? The infinite changeability?) dressed up like Frankenstein. I cringed: The image of Gore as Frankenstein captured his blockheaded otherworldly essence, the way he sometimes looks like a guy who's been torn apart and stitched back together, unnaturally...
Maybe the best assessment of Gore's personality problem comes from our own Jake Tapper, who sums it up in two words: "Dingell-Norwood." That's the HMO reform bill Gore wasted time trying to explain in the last debate...
Joan, who was building her career, joined Jake in echoing Sam and Cokie there, as hustlers and users of her type were required to do at that time. With hustlers and/or fools like this working within our own pitiful tribe, we hardly need to blame our failings on the hundreds of kooks over there.
Earth to pitiful people like Walsh: President Clinton wasn’t
lucky in his enemies. And, to state what is blindingly obvious, President Obama hasn’t been lucky in his enemies either.
They have made a rolling joke of his presidency. They have an absolute mess of American life. In large part, they have been able to do this because our own pitiful, atomized tribe is willing to tag along behind know-nothings like Walsh. Consider this know-nothing reaction to last night’s address:
WALSH (1/29/14): Another SOTU leak revealed an internal split over whether Obama should stress “income inequality” or “opportunity,” and revealed that “opportunity” won because apparently income inequality is a big downer and sounds like class warfare. In the end, the president did mention income inequality while stressing “ladders of opportunity,” but the preliminary hype made me more sensitive to his disappointing storytelling: Obama blamed the decline of opportunity and the rise of inequality on “massive shifts in technology and global competition,” but left out the deliberate shift of wealth and power from the majority to the top 1 percent, and the deliberate dismantling of “ladders of opportunity” that began under Ronald Reagan and continue through today.
Last night, David Corn expressed disappointment in that choice too. That said, why do Democratic presidents tend to shy away from the basically accurate statements Walsh would like to hear?
Why is it that “income inequality is a big downer and sounds like class warfare?”
There may be many reasons. But one reason is clear—hapless, know-nothing leaders like Walsh haven’t created a world in which income inequality isn’t
a big downer and doesn’t
sounds like class warfare. There are about ten million points on which the liberal world has failed to make the sale to the nation. The stumblebum conduct of people like Walsh helps explain this ongoing failure.
Obama preached to the choir last night with his statement about that 77 cents. Presumably, he went with a grossly misleading statement because he had nothing accurate to offer.
Similarly, Walsh is content to tell the tribe that we’re lucky in our enemies. That said, Walsh herself has been our long-time enemy, both on that ancient November 6 and in the ridiculpous way her magazine has begun to fashion itself as a landlocked, atomized enterprise which preaches to a very
small liberal choir.
Atomization was everywhere we looked last night. The nation is breaking apart into duchies. This process serves the stated interest of the most extreme members of the other tribe.
Walsh is clowning around and making money, just as she has always done. As part of the deal, Salon has become the cutting edge of the atomization.
Atomization is the goal of the other
tribe, the one that wants nothing but local action. Walsh, who claims she wants somethign eklse, drives the disintegration along with her studied gong-ringing.
The nation is being sliced into slender segments. This dim-witted atomization makes money for quite a few media entities, but it serves the other side's interest.
Our side needs to learn how to talk to the broad swath of the public. Have you read Salon lately?
You can’t get dumber, or perhaps more dishonest:
Walsh wrote 3600 words on the day before the 2000 election. As she puzzled and pondered, she never managed to mention the press corps’ relentless attacks against Candidate Gore.
Had she been alive on this planet during the previous two years? Somehow, she even wrote this:
WALSH (11/6/00): It should be clear, for so many political reasons, that this race couldn't have been anything other than close—unless it was a Bush landslide. The "Gore blew it" explanation underestimates both Bush's strengths as a politician and the media's flaws in dissecting the Texas governor's weaknesses and taking them seriously. It ignores the dynamic of American partisan politics...
Really? Had Walsh been alive on the planet?
After the Democratic Convention in mid-August 2000, Gore shot into a large lead in the polls—and the lead held. By mid-September, he was ahead by ten points and holding.
“Undeniable panic is gripping partisan Republicans,” Robert Novak wrote in the Washington Post, “from rank-and-file voters to seasoned political operatives.” Trust us: insider Washington had largely decided that the election was over.
At that point, in mid to late September, the press corps invented two more lies by Candidate Gore—those involving the doggy pills and the union lullaby. In the course of this latest onslaught, that large, month-long lead disappeared.
Howard Fineman explained what had happened to Brian Williams:
FINEMAN (9/21/00): I don’t think the media was going to allow, just by its nature, the next seven weeks, the last seven or eight weeks of the campaign, to be all about Al Gore’s relentless, triumphant march to the presidency. We want a race, I suppose. If we have a bias of any kind, it’s that we like to see a contest and we like to see it down to the end if we can.
Other lies were ginned up after the first debate, which Candidate Gore had won by large margins—until the press corps struck.
Somehow, Joan had missed all this! Today, she’s a “made woman” on cable news. She sits at the right hand of the man who did the most to create that historic debacle.
Was Walsh a fool on November 6 of that year, or was she simply dissembling? She will never be asked to explain, so pitiful is our
Also, women are paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work! Obama said it. Our side cheered and applauded.
The claim isn’t true, as everyone knows. But that’s what you get when you live in a tribe which doesn’t know how to make accurate
claims the electorate will respond to.