Plus, Davis in his wife’s dress: Clearly, it’s the biggest insult they can imagine at the Times op-ed page.
This morning, in the paper’s most prominent op-ed piece, we get to see and contemplate Jefferson Davis in his wife’s fanciest dress. Dearest darlings, it’s sublime!
He looks just like a girl!
Peter Manseau, who wrote the piece, probably isn’t Maureen Dowd. Down through the years, it’s Dowd who has made it clear that this constitutes the greatest insult the New York Times op-ed page can conjure—the idea that a man is really a woman, or that a woman is really a man!
Dowd has relentlessly played this game, but only with Democratic pols. Today, Manseau plays this low-IQ game with the utterly irrelevant Davis, at considerable length and from a very high platform.
(Needless to say, this pitiful piddle was aired at Politico first.)
We’ll return to this Galloping Dowdism before our post is through. First, though, was Nicholas Kristof right about the press corps’ treatment of President Carter?
Last Thursday, Kristof wrote a paint-by-the-numbers, ten-minute column about Carter’s moral greatness. He started with an intriguing claim—the claim that Carter was portrayed as a Southern hick, a pitiful rube, by the brilliant mainstream press.
Kristof started by describing the famous old “killer rabbit” incident. After that, he presented his thesis:
KRISTOF (7/9/15): One of our worst traits in journalism is that when we have a narrative in our minds, we often plug in anecdotes that confirm it. Thus we managed to portray President Gerald Ford, a first-rate athlete, as a klutz. And we used a distraught rabbit to confirm the narrative of Carter as a lightweight cowed by anything that came along.When our journalists “have a narrative in their minds,” do they really “plug in anecdotes that confirm it?”
The press and chattering class have often been merciless to Carter. Early on, cartoons mocked him as a country rube using an outhouse or associating with pigs, writers pilloried him as a sanctimonious hick…
It’s true that Carter sometimes floundered as president. He also had great difficulty, as an outsider, managing Washington, and suffered from a measure of anti-Southern prejudice. When the Reagans took over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, their interior decorator reportedly couldn’t wait to “get the smell of catfish out of the White House.”
More often, they invent such anecdotes! But let’s move to the key claim.
Intriguing! Did Carter really face “anti-Southern prejudice” from the press and the rest of the chattering class? We can’t answer that question, but it’s fairly clear that some of the weirdness aimed at President Clinton and Candidate Gore stemmed from a similar source. That seemed to be especially true among We Irish, who play an outsize role among the corps’ spear-chuckers, or at least did so at that time.
In this new profile of Ta-Nehisi Coates, we see him referring to a gathering of mainstream journalists as “a [collection] of the smartest white people.” In our view, a person who can believe something like that is a person who can believe anything.
How smart are our upper-end journalists? Consider the piece by Howell Raines in yesterday’s Sunday Review.
In fairness, it’s hard to get a whole lot dumber than Raines. We know that because he led the way, year after year, in the invention of pseudo-concerns about President Clinton and Candidate Gore from his perch as the head of the Times editorial board.
(For Michael Tomasky’s review of Raines’ editorials about Clinton, just click here.)
Granted, Raines crashed and burned after that. But there he was in yesterday’s Times, writing about Alabama governor Robert Bentley, a Southern Republican pol we ourselves wouldn’t vote for.
In the last few weeks, Bentley took down the Confederate flag at the Alabama state house. He did this all by himself, which state law allowed him to do.
Starting in paragraph 3 of his piece, this was Raines’ reaction:
RAINES (7/12/15): It was not the first time Mr. Bentley, a two-term ultraconservative with a broad base among Sheetrock hangers and country-club grandees, has bowed to the zeitgeist. He has done so while assuring his white supporters that not much will change in Alabama except the industrial boom represented by Mercedes, Hyundai and Airbus factories and, it was announced last month, a $600 million Google data center near Huntsville. In 2011, for example, Governor Bentley spoke magnanimously at the funeral of Birmingham’s civil-rights lion, the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth. In 2013, he denounced the University of Alabama’s snootiest sororities for rejecting black rushees.Why do (white) Alabama residents complain about being looked down on?
Such public-relations acumen is a relatively new thing in Alabama, whose residents complain constantly about being looked down on.
Is it because they see themselves mocked as “Sheetrock hangers” in the Sunday Times? What Times editor even thinks of publishing something like that?
Raines is a southerner by birth. He became a sneering Yankee through personal choice and by dint of a lot of hard work. That said, we liberals rarely display much skill at noticing this kind of regional sneering when it’s performed by the brilliant people who play on our team.
This sort of thing just isn’t real helpful, unless it’s the joy of tribal loathing that you principally seek. Meanwhile, this brings us back to our earlier question:
Did Raines’ colleagues look down on Carter as a Southern hick, a rube? Did they portray him as such?
Can any other attitude explain the Dowdism found atop the op-ed page in this morning’s Times? Trust us! As soon as the flag came down in South Carolina, the people at the op-ed desk began seeking a way to signal disrespect and send tribal insult from their station up north.
Inevitably, they put Davis in a dress at the top of the op-ed page! It seems to be the worst kind of insult these silly people know!
This is the sort of thing the silliest tribals do. Coates’ delusion to the side, the famous and glorious New York Times spills with such unhelpful people. They constitute our own glorious tribe’s dull-witted hicks and rubes.