Front-page follies continue: In this morning’s New York Times, Gail Collins is killing time by chuckling about a bunch of non-candidates in a non-campaign.
At this point, can you think of a reason to spend any time discussing George Pataki? Neither can we! But Collins goes there, knocking off one more column.
In fairness, Collins’ chuckling is Rhodes Scholar work compared to Rachel Maddow’s clown car performances in recent weeks. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen anyone degrade her own intelligence, or talk down to her cable viewers, any more than Maddow has done as she has pretended to discuss the Republican “candidates.”
Regarding Pataki, Maddow has gone Collins one better, pretending to fall asleep and snore whenever she mentions his (utterly irrelevant) name.
Presumably, research has shown than Maddow’s viewers enjoy this sort of low-IQ porridge. In these ways, we liberals keep our favorites swimming in cash, even as we engineer our own dumbness and defeat.
That said, the most remarkable performance today appears on page one of the Washington Post, where the paper presents a ridiculous, 2636-word profile of Candidate Rick Perry.
We’ve seen this ridiculous movie before. We’ve also seen its opposite.
The profile is written by Stephanie McCrummen, a fact which adds to the curiousness of the piece. Four years ago, McCrummen wrote an even longer front-page profile of Candidate Perry. That profile, which became controversial, was designed to paint the hopeful as a good old boy who grew up within a racist sub-culture in rural Paint Creek, Texas.
That piece was highly unflattering and not overwhelmingly fair. For whatever reason, McCrummen’s new profile of Candidate Perry goes wildly overboard in the opposite direction.
The new profile is highly inane. According to the hard-copy Post, the profile is part of “Make or Break,” an occasional series in which the Post “is exploring key characteristics of the leading contenders that could help make one of them the country’s next commander in chief—or sink their presidential ambitions.”
What is Perry’s key characteristic? His ability to wink at you in such a way that you can’t help liking him!
We know—you think we’re making that up. Below, you see the first twenty paragraphs of this profile, exactly as it appears on the front page of today’s hard-copy Post.
Remember: Four years ago, this same McCrummen was helping us see that that Perry was some species of good ole boy racist. Four years later, he’s impossible to dislike, because of the way he winks!
No, we really aren’t making this up. Here's how the profile starts:
MCCRUMMEN (6/6/15): When it happens, Rick Perry is speaking to a friendly crowd in a plaid-and-paisley living room in Greenville, S.C. He appears relaxed. His suit fits perfectly. Hair: just great. Glasses: starting to seem more natural.According to McCrummen, the quality of the wink “isn’t strained.” It drops from Candidate Perry in a natural-seeming way.
He’s gotten nods talking about jobs in Texas, laughs with the line about flunking organic chemistry and claps when he says a brighter future “starts right here . . . today!”
Then a man poses a question about the importance of speaking plainly, and Perry pauses a moment before he answers by asking rhetorically, which is to say confidently: “Did I say anything today you couldn’t understand?”
People laugh, and this is when it happens: Rick Perry winks.
Because Rick Perry is a winker, and has been for a long time.
“It’s something he’s always done,” said a friend who has known Perry since he was a Texas state legislator in the 1980s. “I’ve seen him do it at an inaugural, from a podium. It’s a way he communicates. He’s very good at it, and it’s very disarming. It’s real natural to him. Like some people can whistle with their fingers? Actually, he can do that, too.”
It could be argued that the Perry persona comes down to the wink, which friends and supporters describe as part of a broader repertoire of natural-born gifts that makes the 65-year-old former Texas governor one of the most instinctive retail politicians in the 2016 GOP field.
Other notable political winkers: George W. Bush, who winked at Queen Elizabeth II after he accidentally suggested she helped America celebrate its birthday in 1776 rather than 1976; Sarah Palin, who winked during 2008 vice-presidential debates; President Obama, who winked in his State of the Union speech earlier this year, after dressing down the congressmen who clapped when he alluded to the end of his term.
More recently, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott apologized for winking at the host of a call-in radio show as a retiree explained that she was surviving by working for an adult sex line, an incident that came to be called “winkgate.”
The Rick Perry wink, though, comes with its own set of associations.
On one hand, it evokes his bona fide country upbringing, Texas swagger and ability to say things such as “I’m gonna love on you,” meaning flatter you, without sounding as though he is laying it on thick. Only a winker could sell T-shirts with his own grinning mug shot, as Perry did after being indicted last year on felony abuse-of-power charges that he has dismissed as politically motivated.
More fundamentally, the wink can seem to reveal a certain sensitivity—an ability to read a room, to feel for the right moment to reach in for the handshake, touch an elbow or a shoulder and close the deal.
On the other hand, a wink can evoke the overconfidence and cheap tricks of the used-car salesman, the sort of character that Perry’s critics have often cast him as, especially after his performance in the 2012 Republican primary. The infamous debate when Perry froze—trying for 45 seconds to remember the third federal agency he would abolish, before he finally gave up with an "oops"—has been read not just as a human fumble but the moment he was exposed as a lightweight.
All of which leads to the question: Which is it?
Is the wink the mark of Perry’s essential authenticity, possibly his greatest asset? Or does it represent his biggest challenge—overcoming the perception that he’s all flash and little substance? Or is it something more complicated?
What is the meaning of the Rick Perry wink?
The Perry appeal
Part of the answer lies in Greenville, where the wink is playing well in a friendly room.
For one, Perry’s timing is impeccable. He deploys the wink at the moment the audience seems most with him, as they’re still laughing. Second, the wink isn’t strained; it seems natural, even through the lenses of his hipster glasses. Third, he aims it not at the man who asked the question but in the opposite direction—toward a cluster of women, including Racine Cooper, the bylaws chairwoman of the Greenville County Republican Women’s Club, who says later that he struck her as “a simple person who knows what it is to say something plainly. He’s not full of it.”
After the wink, Perry grins and shifts back into a more serious tone.
“Good,” he says as the laughs die down. “All right. Hey, listen. I’m telling ya. We’re on the verge of the greatest days in America’s history. That’s not rhetoric.”
From there, McCrummen explores the candidate’s background in rural Paint Creek before returning to the wink at the end of her piece. There are almost no discouraging words in this long, ridiculous, flattering piece.
McCrummen never mentions the racial backdrop which dominated her portrait of Perry and Paint Branch four years ago, in a longer piece on the front page of this same newspaper. Four years ago, it was the main thing. Today, it doesn’t exist.
Let’s be clear. Presumably, the decision to run this ludicrous profile was made by McCrummen’s editors, not by McCrummen herself. Conceivably, she may have been directed to come up with the manifest nonsense the Post is pimping today.
That said, it’s interesting to compare this flattering nonsense with earlier work in the Post. That would include McCrummen’s portrait of Perry from October 2011.
Beyond that, it’s interesting to compare this profile of Perry with the low-IQ poison which appeared on the Post’s front page just two days ago. In that tightly scripted front-page report, Rosalind Helderman created the latest puzzling attack on You Know Who and her greedy husband, what with their ravenous foundation which seeks to “feed the hungry” around the world.
Helderman’s piece made perfect sense if 1) you irrationally loathe the Clintons and 2) you only care about the feeding of people you see at your Harvard reunion. (Helderman’s fifteenth comes next year.) Given its flimsy logic and its naked scripted aggression, the Helderman piece stands in remarkable contrast with the flattering profile of Candidate Perry which adorns the front page today.
Finally, it’s important to compare this profile of Candidate Perry with the trio of ludicrous profiles which ran in the Post sixteen years ago this month.
Those profiles were designed to coincide with the formal launch of Candidate Gore’s campaign. As stupid as today’s profile is, those profiles went even lower.
That said, there was a giant difference. Those profiles were designed to take a candidate out! Kevin Merida started the parade with a front-page Style section profile which ran a full 2515 words.
The profiles worked a familiar, stock theme. Lengthy hard-copy headline included, Merida started like this:
MERIDA (6/7/99): After Six Years in Suspended Animation and With an Election Right Around the Corner, Al Gore Shows No Sign of Stirring From THE BIG SLEEPYMerida kept this up for the full 2500 words. In hard copy, the piece featured a prominent caption: “Maybe the nicest thing you can say about the vice president is that he’s remarkably lifelike.”
More than a description, it's a condition, an albatross, an image worth ditching. It speaks to something many people are but nobody wants to be. White paint, brown socks, plain yogurt, Lite beer.
To bore is to attack the senses with a fusillade of monotony, to weary the world with blandness. Boring is so boring that Webster's devotes little of its precious space to the adjective: "Dull, tiresome, etc." End of definition.
But let's take it further: Think high school chemistry class and a bouquet of carnations. Dockers slacks, K Street office buildings, the Chevy Lumina. Insurance adjusters and fiscal responsibility. Marshmallows, Martha Stewart and those fishing programs on cable TV.
Which brings us to Al Gore, the highest-ranking boring man in the land. Or so the polls say. He is, these surveys suggest, the vanilla pudding of the species. This doesn't have to be an absolute truth to be a problem. In America, when an impression takes root it multiplies until it becomes commonplace until it becomes parody until it becomes accepted fact. And then it's too late. It has become legend.
We don't have to speculate about this phenomenon. We have Al Gore.
Under the direction of Style section editor Gene Robinson, two additional profiles of Gore extended that theme that same month.
By June 23, it was Ceci Connolly’s turn to explain how deadly the candidate was. In another openly mocking profile, she described the struggle “to stay awake” as “the man best known for his statue imitation” joined his “blonde co-host (wife Tipper)” to conduct “a down-in-the-weeds policy summit that only a man with a steel-trap brain and a steel rear end would describe as ‘fun.’”
The candidate “even giggled like a girl” at one point, Connolly helpfully noted. This completed the Style section triptych of mocking profiles as the laughable Candidate Gore launched his absurd campaign.
We’ll take a guess:
This morning, the Post is playing make-up with Perry for some internal political reason. Back then, the Post was simply trying to take out Candidate Gore, and to signal its intention to the rest of the press corps.
The liberal world has accepted this conduct every step of the way. People are dead all over the world because of the jihad the Post engineered in that earlier campaign.
But so what? We liberals love us some Robinson on our brain-dead liberal channel. No one has ever asked him why he did the things he did.
Today, the pig they’re trying to kill is the pig named Candidate Clinton. We suggest you compare today’s ridiculous profile of Candidate Perry with the tightly-scripted, irrational attack which graced the Post’s front page just two days ago.
Maddow and Collins are clowning around as this next assassination transpires. On the brighter side, they’re keeping us liberals entertained and they’re both extremely well paid.
Meanwhile, these are the respective word counts for today's Howler.ReplyDelete
WaPo Love Fest for Rick Perry:
Bob the Blogger Response:
Bob the Blogger Cut and Paste of WaPo:
721 words (34%)
Bob Revisits Past Sins against Ex-Roomie:
571 words (27%)
Confusing unexplained intro attacking Collins and Maddow:
154 words (7.3%)
That said, from there, finally, that said, we're not making this up but so what?
People, we’re just saying!
Tomorrow: Grading Bob like a graduate student!
In the interest of full disclosure, Bob's reCAPTCHA system required the identification of cakes for the previous comment.Delete
One of the cakes was decorated with the seal of Texas A&M.
Does today's troll really think it is a waste of words to complain about the way our major newspapers pick and choose favorites instead of reporting the campaign in an unbiased way?Delete
Again, Somerby is the problem, not media campaign coverage.
Thanks for the word counts.Delete
One of the many skills I learned from Bob.Delete
Nobody suggested Somerby is the problem, although perhaps he did not go far enough to spell out for the "dumb" among his own tribe, that this piece is not the Post picking and choosing favorites.
"By WashPostPR March 24
Today The Washington Post launches the Make or Break series – set of stories that will explore a key characteristic for each of the leading 2016 contenders that could help make him or her the country’s next commander in chief – or sink their presidential ambitions.
In the first in the series, senior editor Marc Fisher examines Cruz’s devotion to principle that could make or break the candidate.
Additional stories will publish as major candidates formally enter the race."
Perry's make or break characteristic is stupidity. Failure to say so indicates he is a favored candidate.Delete
Perry is a conservative. According to the blogger who is held in silent esteem by most readers, it is liberals who are dumb.Delete
If they don't he will whip out the pink lady pistol from his fanny pack with which he shot a coyote while jogging and demonstrate he is a better marksperson than Rachel Maddow.Delete
And you better give me the goddamn fruit cup, by George Zimmerman.
It is interesting to me that while Bob has used the letter section on such articles as backing him up in some cases, he makes no mention of how the Post readers are reacting to this nonsense. Just saying.ReplyDelete
So maybe it will work and maybe Perry will get the nomination. If Hillary can't beat him She doesn't deserve to win.
It isn't a matter of who deserves to win but who we deserve to have as our president. It is grossly unfair when we work our asses off in a campaign, go out and vote, but as defeated because the system is being manipulated by those with money who own the supreme court, the press, etc.Delete
The point is, will Hillary be playing on a level playing field or does he have to go up against the media that is "Delete
primed to take her down".
Hillary has a chance, she doesn't have a Brooklyn accent. Brooklyn accented people have no chance so they shouldn't run.Delete
The Media is unfair to Clinton, Bob says. Bob also says Sanders is too old and his accent is too "Brooklyn."ReplyDelete
Bob is fair.
You are too late to the table. No fruit cup for you.Delete
True, fruit cups go to people writing endlessly about the 2000 election.Delete
You're so strict!Delete
Does Bob seriously think the Post piece was positive?ReplyDelete
Which is more positive -- saying someone is a serial winker or that they are a greedy pig?Delete
If it was any more positive it would have been x rated.Delete
Change one letter and you have wanker. Which anyone without a burr up their butt can figure out is the implication. Unfortunately this combox is down to a few crybaby cranks and bored trolls. One more and Bob will have a score.Delete
To say someone has a burr up their butt implies there is no substance to the criticism. In fact, the war on Gore really, really did happen, as TDH has amply documented. And I have yet to see any serious attempt by anyone to challenge the substance of his criticism. That is in fact why no one in media ever talks about it. What they did to Gore has been erased from history.Delete
In the same way, what the media and political press is doing to Hillary Clinton really really is happening. We are observing it in real time. The NYTimes and Washington Post really did get in bed with a scumbag republican operative ratfucker, Peter Schweizer. Reporters are extremely open and candid about their hatred for Hillary and have stated quite matter-of-factly how they are primed to take her down. These are figments of TDH's imagination. No clever retorts by you or anyone else will persuade me that what I am seeing isn't really happening.
are not figments of TDH's imaginationDelete
"To say someone has a burr up their butt implies there is no substance to the criticism......No clever retorts by you or anyone else will persuade me that what I am seeing isn't really happening."Delete
Implications are in the mind's eye of a true visionary such as yourself, mm. You are, however, in this rare instance incorrect.
If I wanted to imply something about your vision I would have noted you were burr-headed.
"Which is more positive -- saying someone is a serial winker or that they are a greedy pig?"Delete
Perhaps if oily Hillary had winked at oleaginous Diane Sawyer after she said she and Bill had been broke and in debt 15 years ago, one could make an accurate assessment.
Mm, not that you need any reassuring, I see it too, as do Gene Lyons and Joe Conason and Kevin Drum and even Digby. Progressives do need to push back on this. Somerby is doing his part.Delete
I think it goes back to the oxymoron contained in the phrase "news story." News should be factual, while a story is typically fictional. In these days of newspapers scraping for every penny they can, we're seeing almost all story and little if any news.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure whether this is a new trend, or merely a return to the more traditional journalism of the days before television and the Fairness Doctrine. Mark Twain's short story "Journalism in Tennessee" - here's an sample:
(The editor hands Mr. Twain back his revisions to Mr. Twain's original draft)
"...Now, here is the way this stuff ought to be written."
I took the manuscript. It was scarred with erasures and interlineations till its mother wouldn't have known it if it had had one. It now read as follows:
"SPIRIT OF THE TENNESSEE PRESS
"The inveterate liars of the Semi-Weekly Earthquake are evidently endeavoring to palm off upon a noble and chivalrous people another of their vile and brutal falsehoods with regard to that most glorious conception of the nineteenth century, the Ballyhack railroad..."
I believe it was the Tennessee press which was responsible for misquoting Erich Segal about Al and Tipper Gore being the role models for Love Story. At least according to Al Gore, who himself, if I am not mistaken, was a card carrying member of the guild known as the Tennessee press in the same general period of time.Delete
I agree that a lot of this 2016 election stuff is intended to be propaganda. But I don't know about your accusing the Post playing loose and fast with this particular story about the FIFA scandal. At most it seems like a "white hat" issue. A white hat issue is one where there is genuine grassroots motivation for a particular idea, that also happens to serve the elites at that particular moment. The danger there is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.ReplyDelete
I think the Guardian report showed much more *genuine* interest in the story, putting the focus on the actual labor practices. A real journalist might go further and link this to the US treatment of immigrants, for example the New York Times review of nail salon poisons, or human rights abuses in Palestine. The Post simply introduced the idea of starving people then immediately went on to more elite opinions.
But even if this writeup is contrived, it's clear this criticism of FIFA extends beyond the the WaPo. As they point out, both labor groups and the Guardian, as well as Clinton herself has been critical of Qatar. The sources in the post are raising the question of why she isn't now. The hardest she could muster was the phrase "accusations" which you might consider a way of downplaying it. Clinton also referred to the dictator of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, and his spouse as "friends of my family." In my mind, that's a lot worse than winking.
Confusing pleasantries with real friendship suggests you have your own axe to grind. No one really thinks Clinton and Mubarak are bff's. This is trumped up garbage.ReplyDelete
I, for one, am looking forward to "Bob on Bruni" for breakfast.ReplyDelete
I hope we hear about Bush's shoes again.
Plutos Pimping Piddle?ReplyDelete
Are the muckety-mucks of the insider press corps actually staging a war at this time?
These plutos have waged total war in the past. Are they so engaged once again? A report in this morning’s Washington Post brought this question to mind again.