IN THE YEAR 2525: Return of the RNC talking points!

FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2014

Part 4—As flailed by Chris Hayes and two guests: As part of her recent iconic text, Krystal Ball discussed Hillary Clinton’s June 12 appearance on the NPR program, Fresh Air.

Gack! In the passage shown below, the highly suggestible, hapless young pundit delivered a succession of time-honored RNC scripts. Over the course of these many years, these scripts have been widely adopted by droogs in the “mainstream press corps:”
BALL (6/17/14): 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.

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?
Sorting through her various talking-points, Clinton engaged in a talking-point flail! But then, for Bill and Hillary Clinton, everything is carefully poll-tested! Everything they say is focus-grouped, weather-vaned!

Jim Nicholson couldn’t have said it better! Just for the record, Nicholson headed the RNC when these time-honored talking-points were seamlessly transferred from Clinton and Clinton to their chosen successor, Candidate Gore.

This happened in the spring of 1999, when Ball was a highly successful, 17-year-old high school athlete. Because her ambition seems many times larger than her vastly limited insight, Ball may not know that these talking-points sent George Bush to the White House.

Could those same talking points elect a Republican in 2016? Crackers! Of course they could! Only a TV performer like Ball could miss this obvious point.

At any rate, Clinton appeared on Fresh Air on Thursday afternoon, June 12. The “uncomfortable exchange” to which Ball referred occurred midway through the hour.

Different people will have different ideas about this rather lengthy exchange between Gross and Clinton—an exchange concerning Clinton’s position on same-sex marriage.

In our view, Gross’ performance was rather odd in this exchange, substantially more so than Clinton’s. We’ll discuss that view in this afternoon’s post. This morning, we want you to see what was said about that uncomfortable exchange on MSNBC that very night.

The discussion to which we refer occurred on the Chris Hayes program. For starters, though, we have to look at the very first thing Clinton said in her exchange with Gross.

Midway through the program, Gross returned from a break. The “uncomfortable exchange” to which Ball referred began with this Q-and-A:
GROSS (6/12/14): This is Fresh Air. I'm Terry Gross, back with Hillary Clinton. Her new memoir, Hard Choices, is about her four years as secretary of state during President Obama's first term.

When we left off, we were talking about her efforts to bring LGBT rights into the international community's framework of human rights. She also made it easier for Americans to change their gender on their passports.

Were there positions you believed in as senator but you couldn't publicly support because you felt that it wasn't time yet? That the positions would have been too unpopular? That the public wasn't ready in regards to LGBT rights? And you know, I often think that there are politicians who, you know, in their heart really support it but don't publicly support it.

CLINTON: Well, I was fully on board with ending discrimination in the workplace on behalf of the LGBT community. I did not support gay marriage when I was in the Senate or running for president, as you know, and as President Obama and others held the same position. But it, for me, became an opportunity to do what I could as secretary of state to make the workplace fairer, something I had always supported and spoke out about. And then when I was out of the secretary of state position and once again free to comment on domestic matters, I very shortly came out in favor of fully equality, including gay marriage.
That was the first Q-and-A in what became a lengthy exchange. The question was somewhat unusual, but perfectly fair: Were there positions concerning LGBT rights that Clinton felt she couldn’t support, for political reasons, when she served in the Senate?

Clinton didn’t answer that question there. But, for purposes of this discussion, please note what she instantly said:

“I did not support gay marriage when I was in the Senate or running for president, as you know.”

That was the first thing Clinton said. By that evening, she hadn’t said it!

Fresh Air is broadcast in the afternoon. That evening, Chris Hayes and two pundit guests pretended to discuss the exchange which began with that first Q-and-A.

At the start of their pseudo-discussion, Hayes threw to Dan Savage. For unknown reasons, Hayes and Savage said these things:
HAYES (6/12/14): Before the break, we played a little bit of the incredibly awkward exchange on NPR today between Terry Gross and Hillary Clinton over whether Clinton had always backed same-sex marriage, but kept her support quiet, or whether Clinton legitimately changed her mind on the issue. Have a listen:

[Selected excerpts of the exchange between Gross and Clinton]

Joining me now, syndicated columnist Dan Savage; Molly Ball, staffer writer for The Atlantic; and Ezra Klein, editor in chief of and an MSNBC policy analyst.

Dan, I will begin with you. I don’t get why she just didn’t say what Barack Obama said, which is like, “Yeah, of course I evolved. Lots of people evolved, and I evolved.” She basically sort of implies that, but never comes forward and says it.

What was your reaction to it?

SAVAGE: I thought it was a hilarious interview because Hillary seemed at once to be angered by the suggestion that she ever opposed it and angered at the suggestion that there was something wrong that she changed her mind.

This is, I think, evidence of how quickly the mood is changing on this issue and how quickly people are marching out in support of marriage equality that Hillary Clinton seems really reluctant to admit that she opposed marriage equality ever. And Terry Gross is trying to pin her down on that, and she just squirmed and squirmed.
In that exchange, Hayes and Savage offer grossly misleading accounts of what Clinton actually said to Gross. Eventually, Hayes told Savage that his account of the exchange had been “very well said.”

Crackers, let’s review:

“I did not support gay marriage when I was in the Senate or running for president, as you know.”

That was the very first thing Clinton said in this “incredibly awkward exchange!” And yet, just a few hours later, the boys were saying something quite different.

According to Hayes, Clinton “never came forward and said” that she had evolved on this issue. According to Savage, “Hillary Clinton seems really reluctant to admit that she opposed marriage equality ever.”

Let’s be excessively fair! Hayes’ statement could be described as technically accurate. Clinton never used the word “evolved” in describing her change in position.

That said, Hayes’ statement was grossly misleading. Savage’s subsequent statement was pretty much flat-out wrong.

Why were the children saying these things? Let’s be fair—it’s entirely possible that Hayes and Savage hadn’t heard the entire exchange between Gross and Clinton.

As always, excerpts flew around the web in the wake of the Fresh Air broadcast. Most of these excerpts didn’t include Clinton’s initial statement. This includes the excerpts Hayes played on his program.

We’ll guess that the children may not have heard the full exchange they were now “summarizing.” Of course, in the realm of Climber Pundit Land, this can’t be allowed to stop privileged beings from pimping their favorite scripts.

Having said that, let’s also say this: Savage worked from a famous old script this evening, a destructive script which resembled the script later used by Krystal Ball. According to his account, Clinton “just squirmed and squirmed” in this exchange, trying to avoid “admitting that she opposed marriage equality ever.”

Had Clinton tried to avoid admitting that she opposed marriage equality ever? Her statement that she had opposed gay marriage was the very first thing she said!

Later, Krystal Ball painted a similar portrait. She said Clinton engaged in a “talking-points flail” during this awkward exchange with Gross. Of course, you can’t believe what the Clintons tell you! They flail around with their talking points, all of which have been focus-grouped!

Crackers, can we talk? The RNC has been pushing this script since the dawn of recorded time! Over the years, they have achieved heavy adoption of this script within the mainstream press corps.

In 1999, the RNC and the MSM joined hands in extending this script to Candidate Gore, who was portrayed as deeply dishonest. After two years of serial deceptions, their efforts sent Bush to the White House.

Savage tickled the keys of this time-honored tune in the wake of the Fresh Air broadcast. Things got worse when Chris Hayes threw to his next pundit guest, The Atlantic’s Molly Ball.

Hayes cued Ball with a startling recollection. The Yale grad took things from there:
HAYES: Molly, it struck me that this was a reminder of some of the ways in which Hillary Clinton, as a candidate, particularly back in 2008, wasn’t necessarily the best at being clear on things. I remember this famous moment with an immigration—driver’s license for undocumented workers, where she got tripped up. She seemed to say in a debate that she was both for and against it, and I immediately flashed back to that moment.

MOLLY BALL: Absolutely. That’s a great moment to remember.

She seems to be a politician who is always scrambling for the nearest safe patch of land. And in some cases, there isn’t one. And you could see her saying, “No, I’m not saying that, but I’m also not saying the other thing and I’m not saying anything else either.”

At some point, you do have to say something. You do have to say where you stand. And especially—we have been hearing all this hype that she’s more comfortable in her skin now, she’s going to be able to be a more authentic candidate, one that doesn’t sound so calculating. Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case from this interview, where she seemed to be sort of spinning madly in every direction.
With regard to that exchange, we can only say this: Wow.

Hayes recalled one of the worst examples of press corps misconduct from Campaign 2008—the October 2007 NBC debate in which two stars from his own “news division” staged an hour-long attack on Candidate Clinton. We refer to the late Tim Russert and the handsome Brian Williams, moderators of the debacle.

Hayes is never going to mention the fact that Russert “despised” the Clintons. As we recently noted, truths like that are not permitted within his high-octane guild.

Instead, Hayes recalled the one statement by Clinton that evening on which the press corps descended like wolves. Knowing her place within the guild, Molly Ball quickly praised her millionaire host, saying that appalling 2007 debate was “a great moment to remember.”

Then, Ball ran with the RNC script. Her response to Hayes represents the face of power, married to the clawing ambition of the press corps’ horrible climber kids.

Molly Ball recited perfectly, presenting all the requisite images. According to Ball, Clinton “seems to be a politician who is always scrambling for the nearest safe patch of land.”

According to Ball, Clinton had “seemed to be sort of spinning madly in every direction” during her exchange with Gross. According to Ball, you could see Clinton saying, “No, I’m not saying that, but I’m also not saying the other thing and I’m not saying anything else either.”

“At some point, you do have to say where you stand,” Ball boldly declared, failing to specify where Clinton had failed to do so. But for our money, Ball lowered herself to the last rung of Hell with a pair of brilliant call-backs.

Clinton didn’t seem “comfortable in her own skin,” Ball declared. She didn’t seem “authentic.”

Good lord! These phrases constituted the press corps’ dominant terms of art during Campaign 2000. Candidates Bradley, Bush and McCain were constantly praised for their high “authenticity,” for the way they were “comfortable in their own skin.”

Candidate Gore was constantly trashed for lacking these attributes.

How widespread was this scripting? In December 1999, Walter Shapiro chose these phrases as two of the year’s top buzzwords within the political press.

That said, Walter had arrived at the party late. In U.S. News, Gloria Borger had written a mocking piece on the same subject all the way back in July. Way back then, Borger mockingly summarized what the well-scripted pundit was saying:
BORGER (7/19/99): George W. Bush will win the presidency; Al Gore still insists on running. It is agreed that Bush, having been observed closely for weeks now, is "comfortable in his own skin" and has, sad to say, "charisma" (77 mentions this summer). Gore, having been watched for years, is still "wooden" (414 times, but that's not counting synonyms like "stiff" and "uncomfortable").
Fifteen years later, Ball still knows that these scripts should be applied to Hillary Clinton, as they were to Candidate Gore. For a bit more on this fascinating bit of press corps history, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/26/08.

Hayes, Savage, Ball and Ball all worked from time-honored scripts. Unfortunately, these horrible, grasping junior-league hustlers were applying familiar old narratives from the RNC itself.

As they did this, Hayes, Savage and Molly Ball grossly misrepresented what Clinton actually said to Gross. That too is part of a time-honored tradition. It sent George W. Bush to the White House. In 2016, it could function that way again.

In today’s supplemental post, we’ll show you why we think Gross’ conduct was stranger than Clinton’s this day. But as we close this post, we want you to see what none of these horrible pundits remembered to tell you as they blathered about Clinton’s hour on Fresh Air.

On June 17, Krystal Ball went on TV to say that she has no idea what kind of president Clinton would be. “There’s no clues in the bland safety of her State Department record,” Ball said, between dazzling smiles.

Ball condescended about Clinton’s stance concerning same-sex marriage that day. Here’s the part of the interview with Gross this horrible climber left out:
GROSS (6/12/14): I want to move on to LGBT rights, which was very important to you as secretary of state. You made it one of your priorities. In fact, you gave a speech at the headquarters of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva with the goal to place LGBT rights in the international community's framework of human rights. In that speech, you said, “Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

I found it very interesting that you decided to not limit what you were saying to gay rights but to include transgender people. There are parts of the world that are still imprisoning or even executing people for being gay. Being transgender is probably, like, way off the map for them. Was it difficult to decide to include transgender, which would strike some people as being more radical than including—than just including gay and bisexual people?

CLINTON: Well, LGBT includes the T, and I wanted to stand up for the entire community. I don't believe that people who are the L, the G, the B or the T should be persecuted, assaulted, imprisoned, even killed for who they are. And this was the debate that I was having with leaders in many parts of the world who first denied there were any such people in their communities, that it was all an invention and export of the West and then would change the argument to they didn't want people being proselytized. They didn't want children being abused.

And I said well, there are laws against that that are certainly appropriate. No one should be coerced. No one should be abused. But you're talking about the status, the, you know—the very core of who a person is. And it has become, and I think will continue to be, a very important issue for the United States to combat around the world and to stand up for the rights of all people. And as I said, not just women, religious, ethnic, tribal—all people, including the LGBT community.

GROSS: You added gender identity to the State Department's Equal Employment Opportunity policy, and you made it easier for Americans to change their sex on their passport. Did you have to sneak that in without a lot of attention?

I can—I mean, I didn't know you'd done that. But I have a feeling, if a lot of people had known you'd done that, you would've gotten a lot of pushback for that. I mean, because there's still a lot of people in our country who oppose gay rights and would probably even more so oppose, like, any recognition of the transgender community. So did you do that on (laughing) the quiet?

CLINTON: Well, I don't know how quiet it was. Even before I did that, I spoke to the LGBT employees at the State Department. I was aware of their hopes for some changes that might make it easier for them to be the professionals that they had signed up to be. And I don't think it was any big secret. I think it was part of the overall efforts to try to treat people with dignity and equality.

And certainly the Obama administration made some of its own moves at the same time with respect to the larger federal employee pool. And when I had responsibility for the well-being of the 70,000 or so employees around the world who worked for the State Department and USAID, I had an opportunity, through executive action, to recognize that there were barriers and vestiges of discrimination that had no place in a moderate American workplace and so I acted.
Does any of that provide any clues as to what sort of president Clinton would be? Not when the horrible Krystal Ball starts spewing those RNC points!

It’s very hard for many liberals to grasp the following key point: Ball, Hayes, Savage and Ball are in many ways horrible people.

Yes, they vote the same way you do, at least in the end. But they are very aggressive, grasping climbers. They are getting wealthy within a corporate press structure, and they’re willing to work it.

That program by Hayes involved some gruesome journalistic work. Five days later, Ball flashed her dazzling smile and her perfect hair and made things that much worse.

To state the obvious, the smile and the hair explain why Krystal Ball is on the air, forgetting to tell you about Clinton’s record at State. Serious liberals will perhaps be troubled by this obvious fact, which reflects the corporate values of the corporate suits who manufacture our consent to their corporate version of “progressive values.”

Breaking! In the year 2525, anthropologists, working in caves, are going to explain this. They're going to say that Krystal Ball delivered an iconic text.

Later today: Terry Gross’ peculiar second question


  1. Yes, we need a full explanation in 2014 why Hillary lost in 2016.

    It was the vast conspiracy between the RNC and MSNBC -- led by the evil, closet Randian Krystal Ball and her fellow conspirator Chris Hayes, the masters of the mainstream media.

    1. What I want to know if why we need, as part of the explanation
      of why Hillary was thought to lose in 2016, a reprise of "uncomfortable" Al from 2000.

      "Candidates Bradley, Bush and McCain were constantly praised for their high “authenticity,” for the way they were “comfortable in their own skin.”"

      Interestingly enough, in 2000, best as I can remember, none of these three comfy guys got more votes than Gore.

  2. Krystal Ball is not the only left-leaning celebrity attracted to libertarianism. Bill Maher is there too. Joseph Cannon (who hates liberterians) has been noting a drift of disaffected liberals toward the black/white thinking and easy answers of libertarian candidates. With Maher it is also about drug legalization, whereas with Ball I think she is attracted to their ideas on economics. I wouldn't dismiss this.

    I sincerely hope that if Clinton runs she does not lose. We cannot afford another Republican president.

    1. Please don't take Somerby's word for it, and go click on the link to what Ball actually said about Rand and Ryan before you jump to the conclusion that she is a closet radical libertarian.

      Ball very clearly states that her "like" for Rand is strictly limited to fighting for key principles without compromise.

      Then she goes on for the rest of her segment showing how Randian philosophies are poisonous and unworkable in the world we actually live in outside of novels.

      From that, Somerby creates a "love" for Rand.

      As for the egotistical, self-impressed Maher, the day we allow stand-up comics decide the national agenda really is the day we should pack it in and turn off the lights.

      Libertarianism has great appeal to "pox on both parties" college sophomores. Fortunately, most of us mature out of it, while others are still swayed by "Government is the problem" rhetoric.

    2. I listened to Ball. (Somerby said next to nothing about her remarks except that she liked/loved Rand.) The problem is that she also said she likes Paul Ryan except he too goes too far. I don't know any liberals who like anything about Paul Ryan -- no one who thinks he's going in the right direction just a bit too far. No one who admires his extremism as an expression of adherence to principles without compromise. He is anathama.

      Here is the fuzzy part of her thinking. If you like someone because they fight for key principles without compromise, how can you complain when they blow up a building because of those principles? She seems to admire fighting for principles, but only up to a point, which is a major contradiction. She ignores the "without compromise" part that leads to blowing up buildings and the government and our economy and people's lives.

      If you count Ball, Hayes, Maddow and others among the "stand up comics" of entertainment news, then they are already deciding the national agenda -- that is Somerby's complaint.

      Dismissing libertarianism as something for college sophomores means closing your eyes to the recent increase in their political representation and numbers. People did that in the early 30's in Germany without another crackpot party with limited appeal, and look what happened. Things can change pretty quickly if you aren't paying attention.

    3. Gandhi: "I will die for many causes. I will kill for none."

      What a major contradiction!

    4. "People did that in the early 30's in Germany without another crackpot party with limited appeal, and look what happened."

      Godwin's Law. You lose.

      "I listened to Ball." Then you regurgitate Somerby's take.

      Excuse me for thinking that you actually watched that segment, because it bears no relation whatsoever to what you wrote, especially her secret fandom of Paul Ryan.

      She absolutely flays the guy, while showing that Randian philosophy works only in the world of fiction, but not in reality.

    5. Like many well heeled elites Ball admires Ryan for his "seriousness". That is indicated by Ryan's desire to cripple and ultimately phase out Social Security and Medicare. That is what "liberalism" has come down to.

    6. Right. Saying a couple of kind words about a guy while you are slowing stripping the bark off him is tantamount to "admiring" the guy.

      You've learned from the master to parse the leaves strewn about the forest floor while you ignore all those pesky trees.

    7. I guess that's what our candy coated liberals are supposed to say. Maybe she took her cue from Ezra Klein and his late night conversations with Ryan that made him a fanboy.

      Somerby accurately referred to Ryan as a "fraud". Way to tell it like it is!

  3. Part of the problem seems to be that pundits don't do nuance. They may be interpreting her careful dissection of her views and actions as "squirming" or "flailing".

    What troubles me is the contradiction inherent in their claim. If she has done focus groups and polling and knows what the right answers are to these questions, why doesn't she just parrot those answers? Why is any flailing needed for someone who knows what the public wants to hear? The kind of nuanced and even overly introspective answers she gives are the opposite of the pat responses you would expect if someone had focus-grouped an issue and determined what to say based on that research.

    So, this makes no sense.

    1. I agree that it makes no sense for a supposedly programmed Hillary to act so stupidly.

      But it also makes no sense to me to blame the press for Hillary's remarkably stupid answers to questions she should have seen coming from miles away.

    2. I disagree that her answers were remarkably stupid. They have been characterized that way, but when you look at them in context, I don't see much wrong with what she said.

    3. Yes, we needed the money is always a good answer to the question of why you are stuffing cash into your pants from such illustrious companies as Goldman Sachs.

      Incidentally, Jon Stewart's bit about Hillary and Joe Biden competing in a "Poor Off" was classic.

    4. Jon Stewart was not very nice to Hillary in 2008 either. Hillary's statement about being broke and in debt upon leaving the White House was true. There is no shame in giving speeches to earn money while out of office. ALL public figures have done it, with very few exceptions. Making an issue out of this by claiming that she cried poor is ridiculous -- she didn't say that. She said they needed to pay their mortgage, something that is factually true. She wasn't claiming poverty status. She was explaining why she gave speeches. The rest of this stupid interpretation comes from a media that casts anything she says in the worst possible light. Biden, I think, did sound pretty foolish. But Clinton didn't say the kinds of things Biden did. He was patently trying to put a spin on his income. Clinton wasn't.

    5. Aononymous @ 12:54 and other commenters seem to see a contradiciton between the Krystal B's comments about Hillary being poll-tested/focused-grouped and Molly B's suggestion she was flailing or squirming.

      Well, setting aside the comments came from two different people who share the same last name and are entitled to different views, perhaps this explains it:

      K-Ball's reference is to Hillary's book and book tour.

      The problems came in interviews. M-Ball is describing Clinton's response to a question from Terry Gross, whose program is called "Fresh Air" for a reason. She often asks questions in a way that throws people off the standard response, which she did with Clinton. As Somerby notes, her first question was not your standard, "what is your position on...X" question, and Clinton did not fully answer it. Perhaps Hillary is not used to persistent follow ups, but she immediately went on the defensive.

      With Diane Sawyer Clinton reacted to a statement about her wealth before it was even phrased as a question.

      Let's be blunt. Hillary had lots of help with her book. She gets lots of help and practice with answers to standard questions. And in those situations, the bland emerges.
      In cases where the response is to things that are not standard and are aimed at, or preceived to be aimed at,
      things she may not have done correctly, she goes into a mode described by M-Ball.

      What seems to be contradictory descriptions of the same person are actually consistent with the self contradictions of a poised person easily thrown off script. Not a good quality for a candidate.

    6. Did you watch any of the debates? She won them hands down. That ruins your theory that she is totally scripted and cannot think on her feet.

    7. We'll accept, for comment purposes, that she won the debates (but still lost the nomination). Being prepped for a debate format she did well...six years ago.

  4. Clinton in the interview complains that the Iraq war "foremost" made us look bad and her support was a "mistake." Illegal aggression? Oopsie daisy! It's funny how they didn't bring this up, even though Clinton and Savage both have this in common. She says she learned from this experience but of course when it came to Libya "we had to remove him."

    1. The most grotesque moment in Clinton's service as Secretary of State is that picture of the roomful of ghouls watching so intently as Osama bin Laden was killed. There are so many actions of Obama's administration that I disagree with, from the use of drones to the persecution of whistleblowers to the various actions in the Middle East. When Clinton accepted the job as Secretary of State, she accepted the role as executor of Obama's foreign policy. She cannot disavow that entirely without appearing disloyal and hypocritical, so she now owns it. How much was consistent with her own approaches to such issues remains to be seen.

      I do believe that Clinton would not have continued Bush's defense and intelligence appointees en masse, as Obama did. I believe she would have known more about the world and thus been able to form more independent opinions than Obama has done. I think her influence in the smaller, less visible global activities furthering strongly held values are exemplified by the rundown on things she did to advance LGBT rights. She has always worked in both large and small ways to improve the position of women and children and I believe she did the same on other issues. This attracts no attention and is invisible but is one of the important reasons why she and Obama were not equal in the 2008 election.

      Painting Clinton as a neocon is the latest smear. Akin to painting her as a plutocrat or out-of-touch millionaire. She is none of those things. Her actions speak more loudly than words, even when she has been carrying out Obama's mandated policies but still finding time to address women's status where they are oppressed around the world, between other duties.

      She will always have my vote -- no matter how old she is when finally permitted to run. I know that Clinton would never appoint the ridiculous compromise judges Obama has done, would never have tolerated Larry Summers (after his Harvard speech about women in science), would never vote "present" on a woman's health issue.

    2. Maybe "they" didn't bring it up because it isn't true. It was legal aggression, and Clinton helped legalize it.

    3. The Bush Doctrine of "pre-emptive war" that was used to rationalize the invasion of another country because we think they "might" do something bad to us is one of the most dangerous doctrines to come down the pike in a long, long time.

    4. The Senate resolution Clinton voted for did not legalize what Bush did. Giving the President "discretion" to decide still demands as a matter of fundamental law that the discretion be exercised rationally. That meant letting the UN inspectors finish their job. Bush and Cheney were desperately afraid the inspectors would find what Bush and Cheney, or at least Cheney, knew to be the truth: that, in fact, there were no weapons of mass destruction. That's why they started trashing Hans Blix in the winter of 2002-2003, and launched the war before that inspection could be completed. Granted, the resolution was left with way too much ambiguity, but in fact, its terms were violated.

    5. Again, in our rush to defend the politician we favor, we ignore the forest fire burning.

      Clinton's vote was in favor of a "pre-emptive war" at a time when Bush was ginning up the nation's post-9/11 hunger for war.

      Clinton lacked the backbone to stand up to it.

    6. I will quickly add that she was hardly alone in her lack of spine even among her Democratic colleagues in the Senate.

      But the day that resolution passed was a sad day in American history.

    7. That is all true, but the fact remains that the resolution did not legalize the war that was launched, and her explanation for her vote said that clearly.

      As an aside: Obama from the safety of a Democratic state, while aiming for a Senate seat to be voted on in that state alone, called the looming Iraq War a "dumb war." Which, of course, was correct, but does anyone have the slightest doubt that if he had been in the Senate with aspirations to run for President someday, he would have voted exactly the same as Clinton with a virtually identical justification speech.

      We are never going to get politicians who have always done the right and brave thing. We need to grow up. If we don't and say a pox on both their houses, that is a vote for the Republicans. That is what 2010 taught us. In the legitimate anger over Obama's constant compromising of historic Democratic principles, it was not legitimate to take that out on the candidates for Congress by staying home.

    8. It most certainly did authorize the invasion. While the Senate did set conditions before the invasion could happen, it left it to the executive branch, not the legislative, to determine whether those conditions had been met.

      Rachel Maddow wrote a very important book called "Drift" about why the Founding Fathers very carefully placed warmaking powers within the legislature, and not the executive.

      And she detailed meticulously how the legislative branch has slowly ceded those powers to the executive.

      I happen to think that this is one of the key issues we should be discussing today -- far more important than what Krystal Ball said about Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan last month.

      But you are a fan of Bob and you obviously agree with that the greatest threat to humankind today is Krystal Ball.

    9. "Clinton's vote was in favor of a "pre-emptive war" at a time when Bush was ginning up the nation's post-9/11 hunger for war.

      Clinton lacked the backbone to stand up to it."

      I see. So that explains the reason Senator Chuck Schumer was challenged by progressives in his senatorial re-election bid?

    10. When did this happen, mm?

    11. Mm's point is that it didn't ever happen to Schumer but should have if this were the real reason people dislike Clinton, since he did the same thing she did -- without consequences politically. This is a bogus reason for not supporting Clinton.

    12. And since it didn't happen to Clinton in 2006 either but did in 2008 it means something really creepy was at work.

    13. It didn't happen obviously. Nor as far as I can tell did any other Democratic member of congress get penalized for their vote in support of AUMF. As a matter of fact, John Kerry voted for it and got the nomination 4 years earlier. John Edwards, Max Cleland, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Diane Feinstein, Harry Reid. The majority of Democratic Senators voted for it, yet it was only the death penalty for
      Hillary Clinton. Of course it was a bogus excuse.

    14. Death penalty?!? Finishing a close second in a crowded open race then being picked as Secretary of State by her rival is the death penalty? Well, if civilization is collapsing due to cable comments, I guess that is an accurate description.

    15. OK, death penalty for those supposed progressives who enthusiastically endorsed and parroted every right wing attack meme against the Clintons. Of course that wasn't the only reason, we did learn that President Clinton was a racist also.

      The point was, her vote was elevated by these supposed progressives to total disqualification of her as a viable candidate, yet no other Democratic politician was ever made to pay a political price for their identical vote by these same supposed progressives. But you understood that already.

    16. You are such a silly person. The only time the AUMF vote was made an issue all of those who voted for it got the death penalty.

      Supposed progressives who supported the war enablers fail to understand that.

      Pseudo liberals need to take note. And don't forget that women don't forget.

  5. Being even older than Bob I sympathize with his disdain for young pundits. Nevertheless, he to be called for ageism. Furthermore, Ball is 33. Only fogeys like Bob and me would call her "young."

    1. If he were attacking her solely on the basis of her age, you would have a point, but the substance of his attack is that she is a bad journalist. The adjectives are there to liven up his writing.

    2. Yes, old white guys from Harvard need to do that. It is an aptitude problem sometimes cused by not having enough contact with fathers who talk to them.

    3. Lively use of adjectives by those who need to stay spry..

  6. I agree with Bob that the Ball video is extraordinary. I'm glad he paid attention her smiles etc. The script she reads from is very dumb and invented. It's completely crazy and describes an alternate reality. But her delivery of that copy makes the whole thing surreal. She's trying to sell this dumb script that doesn't make any sense with a whiff of confidence and sex appeal that is fake and forced. The combination makes the video a really remarkably stupid piece of work.

    That video is nuts!! It breaks my heart that something so bad and fake and dumb is broadcast out to people. It's like High Fructose Corn Syrup for the mind.

    1. Yes, 400 years from now, every word Krystal Ball spoke will be remembered.

    2. As I said earlier, she was auditioning for a bigger gig -- and being anti-Clinton is an essential requirement, especially for the network that gave us Tim Russert and Brian I-Love-Rush-Limbaugh Williams.

    3. Yep. Perfect recitation of the Somerby script in which everyone he loathes -- which is pratically everyone -- is merely auditioning for a bigger gig, and there is no worse force on the planet than MSNBC.

      You know, I once thought you weren't that gullible, urban. You've changed my mind.

      More mature people however might be willing to grant that people can hold principles and beliefs sincerely, even if we disagree.

      By the way, does it bother you at all that Somerby has found yet another youngish female on which to direct his venom?

      Seems to be quite the pattern with him. But then again, no misogynist he. Nope he'll reserve that venom for others so he can pretend to rush to the defense of otherwise helpless females like Hillary.

    4. 4:12 If so, they won't know whether to laugh or cry. Once beholding it's feverish spectacle, I'm certain all who watch will question if they are the even same species as the presenter. My God, it's that bad.

    5. Yes, so bad indeed that not only are the 200,000 or so permanently brain-damaged, but they are now carriers of a dread disease, walking the planet zombie-like to infect us all with the deadly Krystal Ball virus.

      400 years from now, those anthropologists from another, advance species will trace this disease that wiped out homo sapiens to its vile source, and will remember forever.

      Unless, of course, Somerby steps in to single-handedly save the human race with yet another month-long "series" with many titles and many supplements and supplementals.

    6. It might be quantum computers doing the dissecting. Humans may be by then forsaken and of no use. Let's hope none of it comes to pass and Ms. Ball's crazy, 4 minute segment slips past history's judges and we live happily ever after.

    7. It's like the segment was written and produced by a teenager.

    8. Yeah, like really. As if.

  7. So if I agree with Somerby 33% of the time that makes me gullible? Or are you a slave to the hostility that seems to mean 100% opposition to whatever he says when he says it? And if you think that was a sincere statement of principles and beliefs by Krystal Ball, well, you need a lot of help.

    By the way, if it's all misogyny, how come Chris Hayes gets the same treatment? Or did you think Chris Hayes is a woman. too? Then, often, there's Chris Matthews, Brian Williams, Laurence O'Brian and once upon a time, Tim Russert who have been frequent targets. It looks like it sometimes, yes, but it doesn't really fit.

    1. Oh, so you only agree with Somerby 33 percent of the time?

      But rush to the board to defend him 100 percent of the time.

      Do you even realize how silly your "Well, he hates Chris Hayes, too" argument is? I suppose the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan isn't a racist either if he can name a couple of white guys he doesn't like.

      And you named five. Including the vile, evil "Laurenc O'Brian" whoever he is.

      Want to plug any of their names into the Incomparable Archives, then plug in the name "Rachel Maddow" and see if the treatment is equal?

      Don't want to go to all that work?

      Then ask yourself the last time Somerby said that a male news anchor got his job because of his looks and his marriage.

      But I know. It's hard to see anything with your head so far up Somerby's keister.

    2. He clearly meant Laurence O'Donnell.

      Has it occurred to you that more might be expected of someone with a Ph.D. in political science from Oxford University?

      Brian Williams clearly has the looks. Anderson Cooper has the looks and the family ties. Tim Russert's son is now climbing the ladder (forgotten his name). I think Mia Farrow's kid Ronan has both looks and family connections, plus the Ivy League education and some nifty warm-up internships.

      I'm not in the know about Washington media power couples but generally, since women have more difficulty attaining power, you would expect them to be the more likely to use marriage to climb a career ladder. Men would have to find and marry and then use the connections of a powerful woman, and there seem to be fewer of them with husbands less powerful than themselves.

    3. anon 5:52, are you claiming that the Krystal opinion piece was good? That TDH is out of line in condemning it? Seems to me that anon 3:40 hits the nail on the head.

    4. AC/MA are you claiming civilization, or more particularly America, will collapse due to afternoon cable infotainment segments like Ball's?

      Are you failing to note 5:52 was referencing Urban Legend's comment and not praising anything in Ball's work?

  8. OMB (Searching the Golden Book of Google for the Word of OTB)

    Part 252.5

    "But then, for Bill and Hillary Clinton, everything is carefully poll-tested! Everything they say is focus-grouped, weather-vaned!

    Jim Nicholson couldn’t have said it better! Just for the record, Nicholson headed the RNC when these time-honored talking-points were seamlessly transferred from Clinton and Clinton to their chosen successor, Candidate Gore.

    This happened in the spring of 1999, when Ball was a highly successful, 17-year-old high school athlete." BOB Today

    If this happened in the Spring of 1999, when BOB was re-inventing himself as a blogger after a not so successful stint as a comic, BOB must have missed it too.

    Searching his archives for Jim Nicholson, poll-tested, focus-grouped, weather-vaned, and RNC talking points, we find no evidence that BOB had a clue these things elected Geroge Bush in either 1999 or 2000!
    Try it yourself; your results may differ.

    That said, we agree that Krystal Ball's on air essay was poor. But a Harvard man need not mislead readers about history unless he is trying to rewrite it or takes his readers for rubes.


    1. What is Somerby's sin here? Being younger in 1999 than he is today? What a worthless speck of crux you are. Even when you agree with Somerby you cannot say so.

    2. How many specks of crux can dance on the pinheaded?

    3. I hate autocorrect. The word should have been crud.

    4. You ought to hate BOB's search engine as well.



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