Part 2—Utterly phony and faux: With Hillary Clinton’s official announcement, our nation’s quadrennial, two-year charade achieved its official start.
The charade to which we refer takes the form of a parade staged by our national “press corps.” In these recurring parades, our “journalists” pretend to discuss our presidential campaigns.
These are parades of the fake, phony, faux. Consider the column in which Frank Bruni helped launch the new procession.
Bruni perched himself on a float, floral arrangements around him. The band was playing as he passed, with Maureen Dowd blowing a tuba.
Below, you see the way he began, headline included.
“Already I’m confused,” Bruni said. That would turn out to be the ultimate essence of faux:
BRUNI (4/19/15): Hillary’s Shelved CrownAlready, Bruni was confused—or at least, so he said.
The 2016 presidential campaign is only now gathering steam and already I’m confused.
His statement was the essence of faux. As he continued, Bruni pretended to explain his assertion. He trafficked in the language of snark, the argot of modern press piddle:
BRUNI (continuing directly): For starters, Hillary Clinton says she’s focusing on “everyday Americans.” Which of the nation’s voters don’t fall into that category? Are there voters who are Zimbabweans on Wednesdays? Costa Ricans on Saturdays? Voters who relinquish their citizenship on months beginning with the letter J?Bruni served the mandated snark about the stop at Chipotle. At one point, he shifted to snide, portraying Abedin as a marsupial, along with Clinton herself.
“Everyday Americans” specifically included “everyday Iowans” when Clinton traveled across the heartland in her Scooby van with Huma Abedin, who clings to her so tightly that their relationship could be called marsupial. The duo stopped at a Chipotle near Toledo, Ohio, for a burrito bowl, which is an everyday meal. At another point, Clinton suggested a fondness for bowling, which is an everyday sport.
By “everyday” she obviously means “ordinary,” “regular,” “run-of-the-mill.” She’s euphemizing averageness. And she’s playing to the plaint among many Americans that the rich have their government perks and the poor their government handouts but the larger number of people in the middle have nothing but rents and mortgages and tuition and health care premiums that they struggle to pay.
But is “everyday” a signifier that a voter really craves and feels complimented by? Is it the ideal epithet? You, kind sir, are utterly unexceptional and thus have my devotion. You, dear madam, recede into the cornfields, unnoticed and unnoticeable, but I will find and meet you among the stalks. Maybe we’ll split a burrito bowl.
(Post-Weiner, Abedin is a standard target in her own right.)
In that passage, Bruni alleged concern about a confusing term. Improbably, he said he was confused by this term:
Bruni voiced several concerns about that puzzling term. He feigned confusion about membership in this puzzling class.
“Which of the nation’s voters don’t fall into that category?” the parademaster thoughtfully asked.
He then pretended to wonder if this term might be off-putting to voters. “Is ‘everyday’ a signifier that a voter...feels complimented by?”
These silly poses were utterly faux. At the head of our new parade, Bruni was loudly dissembling.
Let’s start with an obvious observation. As an obvious matter of fact, “everyday Americans” is a completely familiar term in American politics.
Every politician uses the term; so do major journalists. No one finds the term confusing, until the parade begins.
How familiar is that term? Late last month, Obama used it in a formal statement about a departing staff member. In September 2012, Rand Paul even published a book with this confusing title:
“Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused and Imprisoned by the Feds”
The term is used quite widely. No one finds this term “confusing”—until the parade begins, and posers like Bruni need fatuous ways to criticize targeted candidates.
No one finds the term confusing; no one finds it insulting. Meanwhile, to answer that second concern, everyone knows who doesn’t fit in the ranks of “everyday Americans:”
That group would start with overpaid posers like Bruni, who won his spot as a New York Times columnist by making a world-class fool of himself as a campaign reporter.
For examples of that earlier clowning, see our next post. But let’s get clear on the answer to Bruni’s implied question:
Who isn’t an “everyday American?” Bruni isn’t such a person. Neither is his stablemate Dowd, whose kick-off column will be featured here tomorrow.
Bruni and Dowd are members of a cosseted upper-class guild—a guild which has done tremendous harm to the bulk of the public over the past many years.
Now, various members of this guild have started their new parade. Bruni chose to begin with a ludicrous act of faux.
These people have staged these quadrennial parades for the past many years. They will maintain this practice until such time as we the people finally make them stop.
Bruni wasn’t confused by that term. He didn’t think the voters would find the term off-putting.
He was simply too empty, too lazy, too dumb, to formulate a real complaint. Here’s the problem:
As long as we the people are too dumb to see such columns for what they are, columns like this will spit from the tubas as our pundits stage their parades.
Alas! Within the guild we call “the press corps,” everybody loves a parade! Here’s the good news:
In comments this weekend, we thought we saw the rumblings of rebellion from us the everyday rubes down below. Was that the start of actual pushback against these familiar, brainless parades?
We’ll be discussing that possibility for the next several weeks.
Tomorrow: Maureen Dowd loves a parade
Bob once again has his finger on the pulse of the nation.ReplyDelete
We the people are dumb. That is why we are not put off by being called Everyday Amercicans. Because we are Amercans everyday. And proud of it. That is why America is exceptional.
Except for the illegals. They are not exceptional. They are damn near everywhere. I wonder if eating at Chipotle is meant to pander to them.
Hillary should think about that. Many undecideds may be confused by the mixed signals that sends. KFC may be better. More Americans eat there every day.
This post brings to mind a great article written about the New York Times and who they confuse as "everyday" Americans.ReplyDelete
Keep up the good work. Pretty soon you will learn "Loony" is a better prefix than "Pseudo" for the tribe you describe.
Thanks for dropping in, Moe.Delete
I am confused that Somerby did not present the results of a Nexis search of "everyday Americans." He usually does that to make his pointsReplyDelete
The phrase is actually quite rare in presidential campaigns, speeches and the media. President Barack Obama, for instance, has only been documented using the term six times since beginning his second term, and The New York Times published it only 17 times last year. This year, the paper has already used the phrase 22 times, 16 of which have come since Hillary’s launch. A Google Trends search of “everyday Americans” similarly shows a spike in interest in the term just after Hillary announced this month. (Before then, the phrase would pop up every now and then in headlines like “Anti-Immigrant Hate Coming from Everyday Americans” or “Political rule means rich drown out everyday Americans.”)
Hillary Clinton has been declared fair game by the NY Times. Sounds like that's A-OK with our early-rising trolls.ReplyDelete
I don't see a comment that is not supportive of Hillary, Bob and/or both except @ 12:01 and that comment was helpful, indicative of a Howler regular reader, and not from an early riser unless you get up after noon.Delete
3/19/15 - Amy Chozick (Part 1):Delete
The book does not hit shelves until May 5, but already the Republican Rand Paul has called its findings “big news” that will “shock people” and make voters “question” the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer — a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.
The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.
“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.
His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.
In the long lead up to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign announcement, aides proved adept in swatting down critical books as conservative propaganda, including Edward Klein’s “Blood Feud,” about tensions between the Clintons and the Obamas, and Daniel Halper’s “Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.”
But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which includes Mr. Paul and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have been briefed on the book’s findings, and its contents have already made their way into several of the Republican presidential candidates’ campaigns.
Conservative “super PACs” plan to seize on “Clinton Cash,” and a pro-Democrat super PAC has already assembled a dossier on Mr. Schweizer, a speechwriting consultant to former President George W. Bush and a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution who has contributed to the conservative website Breitbart.com, to make the case that he has a bias against Mrs. Clinton.
And the newly assembled Clinton campaign team is planning a full-court press to diminish the book as yet another conservative hit job.
A campaign spokesman, Brian Fallon, called the book part of the Republicans’ coordinated attack strategy on Mrs. Clinton “twisting previously known facts into absurd conspiracy theories,” and he said “it will not be the first work of partisan-fueled fiction about the Clintons’ record, and we know it will not be the last.”
Mr. Schweizer and a spokeswoman for HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corporation and is publishing the book, declined to comment.
The timing is problematic for Mrs. Clinton as she begins a campaign to position herself as a “champion for everyday Americans.”
From 2001 to 2012, the Clintons’ income was at least $136.5 million, Mr. Schweizer writes, using a figure previously reported in The Post. “During Hillary’s years of public service, the Clintons have conducted or facilitated hundreds of large transactions” with foreign governments and individuals, he writes. “Some of these transactions have put millions in their own pockets.”
The Clinton Foundation has come under scrutiny for accepting foreign donations while Mrs. Clinton served as secretary of state. Last week, the foundation revised its policy to allow donations from countries like Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and Britain but prohibit giving by other nations in the Middle East.
Mr. Schweizer’s book will be released the same day former President Bill Clinton and the Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea, will host the Clinton Global Initiative gathering with donors in Morocco, the culmination of a foundation trip to several African nations. (A chapter in the book is titled “Warlord Economics: The Clintons Do Africa.”)
There is a robust market for books critical of the Clintons. The thinly sourced “Blood Feud,” by Mr. Klein, at one point overtook Mrs. Clinton’s memoir “Hard Choices” on the best-seller list.
But whether Mr. Schweizer’s book can deliver the same sales is not clear. He writes mainly in the voice of a neutral journalist and meticulously documents his sources, including tax records and government documents, while leaving little doubt about his view of the Clintons.
His reporting largely focuses on payments made to Mr. Clinton for speeches, which increased while his wife served as secretary of state, writing that “of the 13 Clinton speeches that fetched $500,000 or more, only two occurred during the years his wife was not secretary of state.”
In 2011, Mr. Clinton made $13.3 million in speaking fees for 54 speeches, the majority of which were made overseas, the author writes.
Good for you Sparky!Delete
I am confused too. While Hillary is being savaged by "Clinton Cash" and media complicity with the VRWC, Somerby is posting about nothing-burger od-ed columnists?ReplyDelete
He is right not to dignify those attacks. Somerby clearly has a life beyond this blog. It's a vanity blog -- he can write what he wants. If you don't like it, go away.Delete
You are obviously A-OK with vicious swift boat attacks on Hillary just like the rest of our early-rising trolls. You and Somerby can sit by while it happens. Others won't.Delete
Good for Bob. Thank heavens he dignified those attacks. Like Hillary he has been on a listening tour.Delete
What's the big deal?ReplyDelete
The SCOTUS says unless they have a contract signed by both parties explicitly spelling out which favors will be done for how much money, it isn't corruption.
Are you referring to the Clinton/Abedin marsupial relationship, or Dowd blowing Bruni's tuba?Delete
Maybe its Governor Ultrasound. First, as noted, McDonnell’s alleged corruption is actually pretty small cheese. He took a lot of money from a business owner, but he didn’t do much to help him. The public interest wasn’t harmed in any gigantic way, if it was harmed at all.Delete
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