Supplemental: Playing with their Hillary dolls!


Reading her mind and speaking in her voice: This morning, the New York Times published three letters about Hillary Clinton’s recent interview, the one about foreign affairs.

Three is not a large number. Under the circumstance, it’s striking to us that the Times chose to publish the following tribute to the practice of playing with dolls.

We’ll do a bit of highlighting:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (8/13/14): It appears to me that Hillary Clinton’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic, which Frank Bruni wrote about in “Hillary, Barbed and Bellicose” (column, Aug. 12), reveals a political calculation intended to advance Mrs. Clinton’s quest for the presidency.

Her book “Hard Choices” did not receive the reception she had expected, so it was time to write a sequel, and the Atlantic interview was the first chapter.

Her remarks also seem to me to pander to every constituency that may be less than enamored with certain of President Obama’s foreign policy decisions and whose support she seeks. She may also have come to the conclusion that either the president is not going to give her his unfettered support or his support is detrimental to her political ambitions.

Laurel, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2014
She may have come to that conclusion? That’s true, although she may have come to some other conclusion instead! Or she may not have come to any such conclusion! Is it possible that Clinton is simply saying what she thinks?

This letter traffics in motive and in nothing else. It appears to the writer that Clinton’s interview was a reaction to disappointing sales of her recent book.

To him, her remarks “seem to pander” to a wide array of constituencies.

From its first words, that whole letter is built around acts of mind-reading. It appears to the reader that Clinton’s interview—which he seems to have read a column about—reveals a certain political calculation.

Has the letter writer read the whole interview, or has he only read Bruni’s column about it? He doesn’t say, but in all three paragraphs, he feels he knows why various things were said.

According to the letter writer, Clinton may have come to the conclusion that Obama’s support may not help her. That’s possible, of course, since everything is.

That said, could the interview be a simple record of what Clinton actually thinks? The letter writer never considers that possibility. You see, the writer is playing with dolls. He’s holding up his Clinton doll and telling us what it is thinking.

We don’t know why a major newspaper would publish a letter like that—a letter which is entirely based on serial speculations about motivations.

In fairness, though, playing with dolls is the standard language of modern political discourse. On the facing page in this morning’s Times, Maureen Dowd engages in the same conduct concerning the same interview.

Dowd starts with a bowdlerized passage about Michael Kelly, her now-deceased childhood friend. The history there isn’t pretty.

People whose judgment we respect told us, back in 1999, that Kelly was a perfectly decent, soft-spoken fellow in private. In public, though, he was one of the craziest of all Clinton/Gore-haters.

Below, you see him in the fall of 2002, playing with his Gore doll. His piece appeared in the Washington Post, where he was a regular columnist.

(This is the only link to the piece we can find.)

What was Gore’s sin on this occasion? Disgracefully, he had given a major speech warning against a war in Iraq! You’ll note that this column was largely concerned with Gore’s horrific motives:
KELLY (9/25/02): Look Who's Playing Politics

Distasteful as it may be, some notice should be paid to the speech that the formerly important Al Gore delivered Monday at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

This speech, an attack on the Bush policy on Iraq, was Gore's big effort to distinguish himself from the Democratic pack in advance of another possible presidential run. It served: It distinguished Gore, now and forever, as someone who cannot be considered a responsible aspirant to power. Politics are allowed in politics, but there are limits, and there is a pale, and Gore has now shown himself to be ignorant of those limits, and he has now placed himself beyond that pale.

Gore's speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts—bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.
You'll note that the Gore doll was still a gigantic liar, and was still condescending. The children had invented these stories about their Gore dolls in 1999.

Gore had dared to give good advice. In reaction, Dowd’s childhood friend took his Gore doll out of its box and began to explain what it was actually thinking.

According to Kelly, Gore had only given this speech to enable his next run for the White House—a run which never occurred. A few weeks later, the exalted Frank Rich wrote the same disgraceful column, though it brought him no disgrace.

Rich continued abusing his Gore doll until it won the Nobel Peace Prize. (At that point, he flipped.) Kelly went off to the glorious war in Iraq, where he became the first journalist killed.

People like Kelly, Rich and Dowd have been playing with dolls for a very long time. Their writing comes to us live and direct from the world of the six-year-old child.

Within the guild which pays their fees, such work is regarded as fine. Truth to tell, it’s the only way our major elites currently know how to reason.

Maureen Dowd is playing with dolls in today’s column too. In response to that same interview, she took out her Hillary doll, offering bullshit like this:
DOWD (8/13/14): Hillary booed the president, who has been boosting her at the expense of his own vice president, and said that, as secretary of state, she had wanted to do more to help the Syrian rebels. She said that Obama’s “failure” in Syria led to the rise of ISIS and sniped about Obama’s slogan: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

Saying you can’t live by slogans is rich, coming from someone whose husband’s presidency was built on “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Did Clinton actually “boo the president” in that interview? To judge that question, you have to read the interview.

Very few people have. Do you think Dowd has read it?

The stupidity of the passage we’ve posted is rather standard for Dowd. It contains a helpful one-word “quotation.” It offers a moronic reference to a campaign slogan from 1992.

If you can’t see how dumb that sort of thing is, you may be in the habit of playing with favorite dolls too.

What did Clinton actually say in that interview? If she actually runs for president, such matters will be well worth exploring. To state the obvious, there’s nothing wrong with exploring these topics right now.

Along the way, you’ll see many people playing with dolls. First sign of that practice on cable this week?

The quick reference to “triangulation!”


  1. I remember Al Gore doing to Bill Clinton what Hillary is doing to Obama.

    1. It may have cost him the election.

      Of course, it hasn't been established that Hillary is doing that to Obama. Just a couple of columnists have claimed she did. What did she actually say? Nothing like what is being attributed to her.

    2. Sorry. the hard work of Chris Matthews cost Gore the election. Press hatred for both Clintons forced Al to seem to distance himself from Clinton but the press hated them so much it did him no good.

  2. Bob, i fully agree with one thing. People whould read the Goldberg inteview and make up their own minds. I read it, and found her views generally appalling. I still cannot with good conscience vote for her.

    1. Here is what bothers me about current Democratic anti-war liberalism. We have Diane Feinstein in CA, and Jane Harmon, and now Hillary Clinton, not to mention Madeleine Albright. All of them are nice women with solid liberal credentials. None of them are Bushies. Yet they all support the same kind of intervention that Hillary Clinton discussed in her Atlantic interview, the same goals for the Middle East and concern for what is happening there.

      I believe these are intelligent women. They are certainly experienced. They don't deviate the much from what male Democrats have been advocating. Why are their views anathema? What exactlty is so wrong (e.g., generally appalling) with what they say?

      When women I respect, who have experience and a great deal of exposure to inside information, world travel and discussion with world leaders, say things so contrary to what liberals cry for on the blogs, I have to go with the people who have the smarts and the knowledge and certainly the experience. I don't see how liberal critics here can stamp their feet, insist that there be no more fighting, and expect that this is going to cure the ills of the world and mend foreign policy.

      I cannot understand what people here have against her, other than she cannot snap her fingers and make this into the kind of world where all problems disappear.

    2. Too bad for the Confederacy that Feinstein, Harmon, Albright, and Clinton weren't around after Fredericksburg to tell Bobbie Lee to woman up, knock off all the "It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it" mixed messaging, and stick with the "go team go" talking points.

    3. Just a little girl talk from CMike. As God is his witness he'll never go Democon again.

    4. Anon, 7:58. Albright is a maniac, i would never vote for her for Pres (not that she's running). i have no idea what Feinstein thinks on foreign policy, she's not running either. If the Dems field someone who isn't a "hawk" i'll vote for him or her (how about Elizabeth Warren? My guess she's not a war hawk). If not i won't.

      As for "they know things we don't." I heard the same exact crap about Bush and company before Iraq. What bullshit

    5. We learned in '07 what Pelosi's foreign policy was. When Dems are in the minority ride the anti-war activist wave during the off year election season. Once installed as Speaker, chastise the anti-war crowd, lecturing them that once the polls closed activists should go store themselves in moth balls until the next regularly scheduled season for going through the motions of a pretend democracy and that, in the case of Iraq back then, to leave it to the Democratic leadership to fully fund the Bush war policy.

      As to whether a Congress can refuse to raise the debt ceiling and thereby prohibit the Treasury from issuing debt to pay for any of the mandatory spending or even any of the discretionary spending required by law I don't know, and would think it's a controversial enough of a question to provide the president enough cover to pull off the end run of minting a $10 trillion platinum coin if a Congress ever did fail to raise the debt ceiling.

      However, when it comes to funding a war the U.S. Constitution is explicitly and entirely clear as to whether or not a new House of Representatives can shut one down, or shut off any other military expenditures for that matter.

      Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution reads in part (my emphasis):

      The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States...

      To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years...

  3. You almost surely know that fact if you watch the Maddow show, whose host has seemed to make this situation a marker of her achingly pure, perfect liberalism.

    1. Worst by far was the part of the show where Maddow seemed to accuse a Port Authority police officer of grievous, possibly criminal, conduct, on the basis of nothing at all.

    2. Beyond that, Vozzella doesn’t claim that McDonnell has continued to charge the state for vitamins for his dog, although that seems to be implied by Maddow's remarks.

    3. When Maddow returned from commercial break, she undertook the hanging of Kwon. Showing disappointing bad judgment, Assemblyman John Wisniewski seemed to sign on for the mob.

    4. Ah yes, the Amazing Somerby! The only person around these parts who is allowed to read minds to find out what others "seem" to be thinking.

  4. "The letter writer never considers that possibility. You see, the writer is playing with dolls. He’s holding up his Clinton doll and telling us what it is thinking" said Bob, holding up his letter writer doll, and telling us with no "ifs, and, buts, suggests, or even may or may not" exactly what the doll did not ever consider.

    Send in the maroons.

    1. You can see what the letter writer considered because it is on the page. When you attribute things to someone that are not clearly written on the page, that is playing with dolls.

      Not surprising that you do not understand this concept.

    2. Not surprising Bob expects an 800 word essay in a letter to the editor. Or you either. But he is an media expert and you are his follower.

      Lots of things considered get left out.

    3. Exactly. Try writing a letter to the editor that includes everything you "considered." Good luck getting it published.

      But then again, Somerby struggles with the concept of "economy of words." We should consider that his loyal followers have the same problem.

  5. And how awful that at least two columnists once existed (only one is still alive) who don't agree exactly with Bob. And of course, that means the whole press corps is biased!

    1. This troll was hardly trying.

    2. Can we talk? Neither was Somerby.

    3. 6:23 Can you say these things without sarcasm? It would be better for everyone. Best regards,

    4. Sarcasm can be ok in the right circumstances. It's dumb sarcasm that is annoying.

  6. "She may have come to that conclusion? That’s true, although she may have come to some other conclusion instead! Or she may not have come to any such conclusion! Is it possible that Clinton is simply saying what she thinks?

    This letter traffics in motive and in nothing else." Somerby today

    "Rachel Maddow has been on vacation. There’s nothing “wrong” with that!

    Maddow may have needed her break, which started on July 31. You see, on Wednesday night, July 30, she was (literally) playing with dolls, right there on the air.

    One night before, she had played with a battery-powered remote control car. Right there on the air!

    A cynic will say that Maddow was possibly trying to juice her ratings with bits of entertainment. Others will say that she may have been experimenting with alternative forms of news presentation." Somerby recently

    See how much better it is to say "some say" or "cynics say" before you use the "may" word? Otherwise someone might say you are as crazy as you imply Rachel Maddow to be, what with her "cuckoo for colonics" and other "hysterical histrionics."

  7. I am disgusted by the ignorance of our leading media. The New York Times, in particular. I read the Times regularly, yet I was shocked at the sudden arrival of ISIS as an enormous threat to the middle east and even to the western countries. Was the Times ignorant of ISIS's growth? Or were they just too focused on the kind of pap produced by Maureen Dowd?

    Now that it's clear how horrendous, yet how powerful, ISIS has become, it would be great if our leading pundits could explain the background and details of this group. Instead we're presented with articles about the inner thoughts of potential candidates -- articles that aren't even accurate for that trivial purpose.

    1. I don't often agree with David, but I agree with this.

    2. Yes, David. The NYT is just like the CIA -- a vast intelligence gathering organization that knew all about ISIS a long time ago but refused to tell us about it.

      Tell me, David. Had the NYT written extensively a year ago about the growing threat of ISIS, would you have paid any attention at all? Or would you be wondering why they are writing about ISIS and not the wonderful gains black fourth graders are making on their NAEP math scores? You know, the world's most important story "liberals" won't tell because they don't care about black kids.

      This whole Somerby game of "why didn't they cover this instead of that" is easy, cheap and lazy.

    3. Yes, Anon, the NY Times didn't bother to write about ISIS because it assumed no one would pay attention to such a story.

    4. But they did write about it. Perhaps not as soon as you would like because the CIA may have been caught off guard much as the brilliant David in Cal was.

      It is a shame the BobHowlerTimes allows such ignorant comments to be posted.

    5. I didn't ask what the NYT ass/u/med. I asked David in Cal that if the Times had written about ISIS when he said they should, would he have read it.

      Of course he would. Even from California, he is a loyal Bobinista who reads the Times cover to cover every day, just so he can bitch about what's not in it.

    6. 10:58 you must also be @ 8:22. You may have missed the implication of my comment which seems to have been directed to @ 9:29. Pardon the confusion. All of us Anonymi look alike. That said, it may only seem like that.
      We don't know.

    7. "That said, it may only seem like that.
      We don't know."

      This kind of crap is a troll identifier.

    8. This kind of crap is everday Bobjuice. 190 Proof.

  8. But I'd also ask: what of Michael Brown? Where is Bob's concern for black youth? There's a small civil war brewing, and Bob hasn't yet started nitpicking the right side's minor faults.

  9. And if Bob thinks he's the sole man in the world worrying about black children, and Blow (I've only seen Bob criticize Blow) is imperfect (which means to bob, disqualifying), what about this:

    Let's hear from bob about MO, one of the "border states." On which side of the line does bob really stand?

    1. But don't you understand? It's Bob's blog and he gets to write about what he wants to write about, which is often the critical issue of Maureen Dowd's last column.

      Besides, he is a "media critic." Certainly he'll criticize the two reporters sitting in a McDonald's working who were roughed up and arrested because they weren't leaving fast enough for the cops.

      And of course, with the cops in full military gear training truck-mounted machine guns on a peaceful protest in broad daylight, surely he will accuse Rachel Maddow of ratcheting the whole thing up and making up this whole story to tell yet another pleasing tale to her rubes.

      Yep, good ol' Bob. The same guy who was in the streets protesting the war in Vietnam a generation ago.

  10. OMB (Come Along and Be OTB's Party Doll)

    Let's see. We get a post which leads with a stirring critique of a letter to the editor. At least, unlike his actions once upon a time involving Baltimore's paper, BOB did not try an imply this was an editorial of the paper. He just criticized the Times for publishing this particular opinion.

    Of course we do not get a link to the Frank Bruni column which sparked the letter or any criticism (yet?) of that column which might give insight into the reader's letter. Neither do we get a link to the Hillary Clinton interview which sparked all of this.

    What do we get when he finally gets around to the intellectual "leaders" (as he is so fond of calling pundits) who actually write this stuff? A link to a dead guy whose sin was, you guessed it, attacking Al Gore 12 years ago.

    Finally he meanders to his stated purpose and muses on the discourse offered up by MoDoDoll. We will say this offering by Ms. Dowd was indeed quite awful. She uses sexist literary bait and the death of two unrelated people to launch into an attack on Hillary Clinton. But BOB has already used her column himself to launch into an attack on a dead person. Ironically, BOB attacks the dead person for criticizing Al Gore for questioning Bush's policies leading up to the was in Iraq. Dowd criticizes Hillary Clinton for voting for authorization of that war. For all the fault he finds in Dowd's work, BOB seems to have avoided mentioning that central fact. Perhaps that's because BOB knows it was that vote (and not the media) that is responsible for Ms. Clinton not being the current occupant of the Office of President. Or perhaps not. We have considered other options and possibilities. Other than stupididty we won't mention them to save space.

    1. Among other typos, we should never say "the was in Iraq" when we meant "war."

    2. And speaking of his brief time as an op-edder for the Baltimore Sun, let us not forget that while these black kids were making remarkable gains, Bob devoted his precious real estate to the stirring defense of Nancy Kerrigan.

    3. Bob's defense of Nancy was echoed (or perhaps Bob was the echo) by his good friened Mike Barnicle. Both have demonstrated a willingness to defer to young women on their way up the professional ladder ever since.

    4. Was it wrong to express sympathy for Nancy Kerrigan? I'm not sure what his mistake was, in your eyes.

    5. This mistake was that given his own space in a rather large newspaper, Bob chose to go after the trivial.

      But I am sure that his astute editors put "Kerrigan" in the headline and it attracted a lot of eyeballs. Cheap, easy to write columns about the hot gossip of the day tend to do that.

  11. Bob, you're generally right about the media, but in this case you exemplify the very triviality that you criticize in idiots like Maureen Dowd. There are plenty of people in the press who are commenting on both the foreign policy substance and the politics of the Clinton interview with Goldberg. What many of us on the left side of the fence found so appalling was that she seems to be the same sort of hawk that voted to go into Iraq. Her support for Israel's actions is disgusting to anyone who knows anything about their human rights record. She probably does mean what she says--that's what is so horrible about it.

    But fine, focus on Dowd and Maddow and some letter-writer in the NYT. I have no use for Dowd or Maddow either, but if trivialities are all you can write about, maybe you're part of the problem.

    1. "What many of us on the left side of the fence found so appalling was that she seems to be the same sort of hawk that voted to go into Iraq. "

      I meant to say that she continues to be the same sort of hawk that she was when she supported the Iraq War.

    2. I agree with Somerby that most of the people commenting on Clinton did not read the interview, because it just doesn't say what is being attributed to her.

      Nearly all the dems voted to go into Iraq. Clinton's statements about her vote do not suggest she was particularly Hawkish about it. Nearly all dems support Israel, as do most of the American people. Most also deplore Israel's actions affecting innocents caught in the crossfire, but few Americans approve of Hamas's actions either. It is a complicated situation that requires a nuanced position -- like that Clinton has expressed, not the black/white thinking of people who vilify Israel while turning a blind eye to the provocations of Hamas.

    3. "Nearly all the dems voted to go into Iraq."

      Not true. In the house 126 Dems voted Nay, vs 82 who voted Yea. In the Senate, 29 voted Yea and 21 voted Nay.

      But that won't stop you from repeating the "almost all dems voted for the resolution" lie throughout Clinton's upcoming campaign will it?