Part 3—Fruit of the RNC: Over the weekend, anthropologists of the future came to us in a dream.
Can this unusual dream be trusted? We can’t answer that! But what follows is derived from the various things the anthropologists said:
In the year 2525, Krystal Ball’s June 17 commentary will be regarded an iconic text. Anthropologists will say it contained all the features of the priestly “pundit speak” which took down the American nation.
In yesterday’s post, we focused on the absurdity of one of Ball’s central statements. Today, we’ll run through her broadcast point by point, reviewing the things we were told.
For Ball's complete text, click here.
Was Ball’s presentation really a classic of modern establishment “pundit speak?” We’d have to say it pretty much was! We’d also say that liberals should be appalled by the never-ending conduct of media vassals like Ball.
We’ll start at the beginning, helping you see the ways Ball mastered the “pundit speak” which has proven to be so destructive to progressive causes.
Some highly suggestive trivia: Ball opened with matters of total trivia which carried an obvious point:
What are we to make of the Hillary Clinton book tour that is so much more than a book tour? The down-to-the-second, precision interactions, perfectly calculated to make sure visitors don’t feel jilted while maximizing the number of signatures. The planned pop-ups of old friends who just happen to be in the area. The carefully crafted backdrops, not too warehouse-y but not too stiff.As she opened, Ball listed three trivial points concerning the staging of Clinton’s book tour. In effect, she asked a series of silly questions—silly questions which bore an obvious point.
And of course, the interviews.
“What are we to make of” the way Clinton’s book-signing events were “perfectly calculated” to maximize the number of signings? Please. In this, and in the points which followed, Ball was already reciting a decades-old RNC line:
Everything the Clintons do is fake, phony, staged—“crafted” and “perfectly calculated.”
This has been an RNC talking-point since the dawn of time. In 1999, the script was seamlessly transferred to Candidate Gore, producing an electoral disaster. Ball’s “journaistic” predecessors portrayed Gore this way for two solid years, sending George Bush to the White House.
Last month, Ball was pimping this story again. Unless you prefer Republican rule, you should have been concerned with this silly swill by the end of her opening paragraph.
Excuses for the press corps: As she continued, Ball performed a sacred rite of the younger priestly underclass. She acted as if the press corps’ incessant focus on trivia is perfectly normal, unavoidable, a practice that must be accepted:
Now, 99 percent of the interviews substance has been safe, unremarkable, just like Hillary was hoping. But that other one percent is of course what’s gotten all the attention.In that passage, Ball continued her portrait of the devious Clintons. She says “Hillary” had been hoping for substance that was safe and unremarkable.
That said, the key words there are “of course.”
That passage could have led to a criticism of the press corps’ focus on trivia and “gaffes.” But within Ball’s text, those key words functioned in a different way. They treated the press corps’ obsession with Clinton’s “gaffes” as something that couldn’t be avoided, that need not be explained.
In all such texts, our journalists work to keep us rubes from understanding a key fact. The insider “press corps” routinely advances its favored narratives. It routinely uses all manner of trivia to drive its preferred themes along.
The recitation of preferred elite themes: As Ball continued, she turned directly to a complaint which had emerged from Clinton’s first “gaffe.” Hillary Clinton owns more than one house, the corporate “liberal” cried:
First there was the lament that she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House and had trouble affording mortgages [stresses the plural] for their houses [stresses the plural]. As a presumptive nominee of a party that is deeply animated by issues of inequality and middle-class fairness, could this comment have been any more dissonant?You’ll have to watch the videotape to see the way Ball stresses the plural in the words “houses” and mortgages.” (To watch the tape, click here.) In this way, she was helping us focus on the fact that the Clintons’ own two different houses, not one!
At this point, a minor aside: Based on her adult life to date, Ball will own expensive homes up the yin-yang by the time she’s Clinton’s age.
According to her campaign disclosures when she ran for Congress, Ball already seemed to be worth millions by 2010. (The year before, she had presented herself as an inspiring young congressional candidate who didn’t possess any wealth. Whatever!)
An ambitious person like Ball will own estates by the dozens. But as of June 17, she knew the script which was emerging: The Clintons own too many homes!
“Could this comment have been any more dissonant?” Ball asked this question about Clinton’s alleged bobble about having been “not only dead broke, but in debt” upon leaving the White House.
The anthropologists glanced away in embarrassment when they discussed this silly hyperbole on Ball’s part. Yes, it could have been more dissonant, one anthropologist said.
The heart of the recitation: In the next part of Ball’s iconic text, we reach the heart of the problem.
In this passage, Ball is reciting a sacred RNC text—the very text the RNC and her “liberal” colleagues employed to send Bush to the White House. She closes this passage was a suggestive but silly question:
Then there was an uncomfortable exchange with NPR’s Terry Gross in which Hillary struggled at length to sort through her various talking-points on gay marriage to describe how and why her position on the issue changed. She eventually settled on something along the lines of, “The country changed and so did I and as soon as I was done with my non-political job at State I came out with my new position,” an answer that I really take no issue with. I wish more people would have the courage to evolve, and more rapidly.“For the Clintons, everything is carefully poll-tested, focus-grouped and weather-vaned,” Ball now declared.
But in her talking-point flail we were reminded of something else—the fact that, for the Clintons, everything is carefully poll-tested, focus-grouped and weather-vaned. If marriage equality was still a drag for Democratic candidates, do you think Hillary would still have come out in support?
And not only that! When Clinton was interviewed by Gross, she “struggled at length to sort through her various talking-points on gay marriage.” She engaged in a “talking-point flail.”
It’s slightly odd to see Ball saying these things. In prior statements, Ball has said that she favored Clinton over Obama in Campaign 2008. Earlier this year, she said, “I would back Clinton with all my heart against any Republican, and I would even support her over most Democrats.” (Elizabeth Warren was the lone stated exception.)
Whatever! Here’s the key point:
In that passage, Ball is reciting the RNC’s key talking-point of the past twenty-rwo years. Everything is focus-grouped with these people! Everything is a talking-point! Nothing they say is authentic!
Most destructively, these talking-points were seamlessly transferred to Candidate Gore in 1999 and 2000, eventually sending George Bush to the White House. This is a powerful, deeply destructive script. Democrats should chase pundits like Ball through the streets when they run out to employ it.
Concerning that evocative question: A final note on the question which ends that remarkable passage: “If marriage equality was still a drag for Democratic candidates, do you think [Clinton] would still have come out in support?”
We can’t answer that question, but we would assume the answer is no. We’d assume the same answer for Obama, though Ball ended her commentary this day with a rather plain suggestion that Obama is more straightforward and honest than “Hillary.”
Duh. Candidates and office-holders are almost always the last to switch on highly divisive policy questions. The reason for that is blindingly obvious. If candidates want to get elected, they have to be careful about potential deal-breakers, and they typically are.
Presumably, Ball understands this. Consider a biographical note:
When Ball ran for Congress in 2010, she supported same-sex marriage. She got 34.8 percent of the vote, then switched to a different career.
Obama and Clinton changed their stances on same-sex marriage on the same basic timetable. Liberals should be appalled to see hustlers like Ball pimping this dumb shit around.
The mother of all script: In the passage we’ve just discussed, Ball aggressively stated the RNC’s controlling narrative of the past twenty years:
It’s nothing but talking-points with these people! Everything is focus-grouped! Nothing they say is authentic!
On two later occasions, she even resorted of the mother of all script, darkly referring to "the real Hillary."
Needless to say, many mainstream “journalists” have applied these same demonized scripts to the Clintons, to Kerry, to Gore. Unless we favor Republican rule, we liberals should be upset when we see millionaire pundits like Ball pushing the RNC’s most powerful talking-points for them, as their predecessors destructively did in the past.
In what remained of Ball’s text, she offered her most ridiculous point, claiming she has “no clue” what kind of president Clinton would be. We have to “guess” what Clinton is like from her gaffes, Ball said. Nothing in her long public record gives us any idea!
This is odd. In February, Ball said she would prefer Clinton as the next nominee over all Dems except Warren. Four months later, we're told that Ball has no idea what Clinton is actually like.
Everything is focus-grouped! It’s nothing but talking-points!
Quickly, some painful history:
Frank Rich was still repeating these claims about Gore in 2002 when Gore came out against the war in Iraq and got trashed from all sides. Rich said the same things in 2006, when Gore released his Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth.
Because Gore was a phony, just like the Clintons, nothing he said was truthful or real! According to Rich, Gore was only saying these things because he was running for president! It had all been focus-grouped!
As you know, Gore didn’t run for president again. Rich was pimping anti-Gore swill from the RNC, a task that he began performing in 1997. Today, pundits like Ball are still out there pushing this tin around.
Personally, we prefer Warren’s politics too, though we doubt she could win a national election. That said, work like this should get hustlers like Ball chased all through the streets.
Ball’s predecessors sent Bush to the White House in precisely this way. If you think it couldn’t happen again, you should probably talk to some people in the year 2525.
Tomorrow: Molly Ball recites to Chris Hayes
What makes Krystal Ball run: Ball has no idea what kind of president Hillary Clinton would be? “We can only guess through the bobbles [the gaffes], the accidental deviations from the script, the things that are said that didn’t come from the briefing book?”
No, really! That’s what she said!
Why does Ball say these things? In this interview with New York magazine, she may have explained:
FISCHER (8/22/12): Ball’s personal segments appear under the heading “Krystal Clear.” In a recent one, she revealed a “secret that no one on this show even knows”: she likes Ayn Rand. Paul Ryan and his Republican ilk, she explained, have just taken Rand fandom too far. Maybe this was surprising admission from an avowed liberal, but cable demands a different kind of media savvy than a campaign for Congress.Personally, we prefer our cable pundits to be “truthful” and “accurate.” Ball, who surprisingly loves Ayn Rand, wants to be “unpredictable,” “potentially provocative.”
“In politics, you’re safest when you’re saying as little as possible,” Ball says. “You’re safest when you’ve got your talking points and you stick to them like glue, even if it means repeating yourself over and over.” Not so in the world of cable news. There the goal is to “cram as much as you can into a limited amount of time. You really don’t want to repeat yourself, because that’s boring, and you want to be unpredictable,” Ball says. “Being a host or a guest or a pundit, you really want to say something that’s interesting and potentially provocative, that’s going to stick with people. The last thing you want to say when you’re a politician is something provocative.”
KA-CHING, the cash registers say. In a dream, anthropologists said this pundit culture led to the national break-up.