OUR OWN TRIBE’S STUFF KEEPS HAPPENING TOO: Columnist Blow quotes Candidate Bush!


Part 2—We’ve seen this movie before:
Last Friday, Candidate Bush was asked to state his views about the latest mass shooting.

Three days later, Charles Blow quoted the hopeful in the New York Times. But did he really quote Candidate Bush? We aren’t entirely sure:
BLOW (10/5/15): Speaking Friday in South Carolina, Jeb Bush resisted calls for greater gun restrictions, saying: “We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s just very sad to see.”

Bush continued: “But I resist the notion—and I had this challenge as governor—because we had—look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

Stuff happens? Really? That stuff is the continued gun slaughter of Americans by other Americans. This “stuff” is a scourge.
Blow quoted Candidate Bush, then paraphrased his remarks. And sure enough! Blow ended up with a simple account:

The callous hopeful had said “Stuff happens!” It was the callous way the callous hopeful referred to the latest gun slaughter!

Let’s be fair! Unlike some of his colleagues at the Times, Blow hadn’t “invented” his quote. Bush actually said every word Blow typed. Blow hadn’t dreamed any words up.

Blow didn’t even omit any words when he said, “Bush continued.” In fact, the second statement quoted by Blow continued directly from the first.

Breaking with his paper’s traditions, Blow didn’t invent any words by Bush when he quoted the hopeful. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he quoted Bush fairly, or that his subsequent paraphrase was fair.

For our money, Bush made a very weak statement about the possibility of “greater gun restrictions” that day. We’d even say that the candidate’s extemporaneous statement was less than obsessively honest—but then, we’d be inclined to say the same thing about the columnist’s work, which he had three days to compose.

By tradition, New York Times reporters and columnists enjoy inventing quotes. Blow eschewed this traditional practice—but there’s more than one way to be unfair, and to mislead readers, when you paraphrase a candidate, or even when you quote.

In our view, Blow was misleading his readers in the passage we’ve posted. And not only that! Sadly enough, we’ve seen this movie before!

Doggone it! Blow’s quotation-plus-paraphrase led to a preordained place. The callous candidate had made a callous statement—“Stuff happens!” It was his callous way of describing the latest gun slaughter.

The hopeful did say those words, of course—and as we noted yesterday, they were quickly put to good use. But before he made his allegedly callous remarks, he had said so many things more!

What else had the candidate actually said? Once again, we’ll show you the various things Bush said before he uttered the words our tribe found to be callous, perhaps as we chose to pretend:
BUSH (10/2/15): And this president—the tendency when we have these tragedies that took place yesterday, it’s just heartbreaking to see these things, but this is the broader question of rule-making I think is an important point to make. That whenever you see a tragedy take place, the impulse in the political system, more often in the federal level, but also at the state level, is to “do something,” right?

And what we end up doing lots of times is we create rules on the 99.999 percent of human activity that had nothing to do with the tragedy that forced the conversation about doing something.

And we’re taking people’s rights away each time we do that and we’re not necessarily focusing on the real challenge.

So if we have people that are mentally ill, to the point where they go into the vortex and they don’t come out, and they’re hateful, and they’re in isolation, and they kill people, the impulse in Washington is take personal rights away from the rest of us.

And it won’t solve the problem of this tragedy that is just heartbreaking to see. Maybe we ought to be more connected in our communities. Maybe we ought to have greater awareness of the mental health challenges that exist all across this country. Maybe there’s a better way to deal with this than taking people’s human, you know, personal liberty away every time we kind of require people to do something.
In his initial statement about what happened, Bush kept describing the killings as “this tragedy that is just heartbreaking to see.” Ignoring that characterization, Blow hunted through a subsequent statement and came up with this ultimate quotation/paraphrase:

Stuff happens.

Stuff happens! In the end, that’s what we’re saying the callous candidate said.

Our view? Work like this is lazy and dishonest—and it’s misleading for readers. It’s a variant of the practice we’ve long described as “The Cult of the Offhand Comment,” in which journalists seize upon some minor remark to paint a preordained, unflattering portrait of a disfavored candidate.

Let's be fair! The Cult of the Offhand Comment is built around extremely useful rituals. It’s a cult for those who are somewhat dishonest. It’s a cult for those who are lazy, for those who may be a bit dumb.

Increasingly, the liberal world has followed the mainstream press into this form of pseudo-discussion, in which a single offhand remark is grabbed to take the place of real argument. As liberals, we've produced and screened this movie before; we produced it on several occasions during Campaign 2012.

In the current case, this familiar old practice offers a dull-witted substitute for a remarkably easy argument—the remarkably easy argument we ought to be able to make against Candidate Bush’s position on possible gun measures, which we’d be inclined to say was less than obsessively honest.

That said, we liberals don’t seem real good at constructing argument any more! Increasingly, we don’t even seem to try.

Instead of attempting to persuade other voters, we increasingly focus on demonized portraits of The Others—demonized portraits which mainly serve to make Our Tribe feel morally good. That said, Our Own Tribe isn’t morally good. What could be more obvious?

Bush made a callous remark, we say. It gives our pitiful tribe a way to enjoy the latest gun slaughter—and to avoid the task of finding ways to persuade Other People, who we increasingly seem to regard as the great unwashed.

We’re dishonest and lazy and nobody likes us! Tomorrow, let’s remember one of the times we screened this movie before.

Tomorrow: Everyone knew it was wrong

Transcript of the callous remarks: For a longer transcript of Bush's comments, just click here, then scroll to the end of the piece.


  1. During an April 2008 debate with then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, HRC spoke out against “having any kind of blanket rules” set at the federal level on guns."

    Clinton responded to the remarks during the debate, saying that “Obama’s remarks are elitist, and they are out of touch.”

    “People enjoy hunting and shooting because it’s an important part of who they are. Not because they are bitter,” she added.

    Stephanopoulos followed up with Clinton, asking her about her support for a national gun registry as a Senate candidate in 2000.

    “I was for the New York rules, that’s right,” Clinton responded. “I was for the New York rules because they have worked over time. And there isn’t a lot of uproar in New York about changing them, because I go to upstate New York, where we have a lot of hunters and people who are collectors and people who are sport shooters; they have every reason to believe that their rights are being respected.”

    1. Clinton responded to the remarks during the debate, saying that “Obama’s remarks are elitist, and they are out of touch.”

      That never happened.

      You have been lied to [or maybe are lying?]:
      Transcript of debate:

      That never happened. You were lied, or maybe...

    2. @ 9:53

      It might help if you knew where to look for HRC's quote.

      "Sen. Obama's remarks are elitist, and they are out of touch," Clinton said. "The people of faith I know don't 'cling to' religion because they're bitter. ... I also disagree with Sen. Obama's assertion that people in this country 'cling to guns' and have certain attitudes about immigration or trade simply out of frustration. People of all walks of life hunt — and they enjoy doing so because it's an important part of their life, not because they are bitter."


      HRC, April 11, 2008

  2. Exclusive: Biden she leaker of his own son's alleged death wish http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/joe-biden-beau-2016-214459#ixzz3nnC2X6Ks

    1. @ A. Perez

      Does this mean mm will let Maureen Dowd off the hook?

    2. Quaker in a BasementOctober 6, 2015 at 2:56 PM

      Obvious from the start. Who else could it have been?

    3. @Quaker

      Obvious to all unless you are a Howler Clintonista.

  3. Bob wrote: Increasingly, the liberal world has followed the mainstream press into this form of pseudo-discussion

    Actually the mainstream press is a part of the liberal world.

    1. @DiC

      The liberal world waits for their marching orders from the Obama Administration and the liberal media which at times have operated as one.

    2. DinC,
      Is that because the corporate-owned mainstream media is liberal?
      If so, would you agree that if one supports corporations, electing the most liberal government you can is the best thing one can do?

    3. If that is what you believe, your definition of "liberal" needs to be revised.

    4. D in C, you are being (for a change) stupid. This is the constant whining propaganda from the right wing machine. Someone whose source of information and ideas is Breitbart, Daily Caller and their myriad ilk is not qualified to characterize the mainstream press as being part of the 'liberal world.'

    5. @AC/MA

      How about someone whose source of information is MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, WaPo. NYT, Time, Media Matters, Correct The Record, PBS, NPR, dailykos, The Nation, Salon, etc ? Would they be qualified to characterize the mainstream press as being of the liberal world?

    6. Cicero, i don't read or listen to any of those for information. Though by the way, compared to the Daily Caller and Breitbart, they are all beacons of truth. (Also, Breitbartish of you to lump them all together)

    7. Cicero, 2:16 here.
      I'll toss those 2 questions to you too. Mostly to see you change the subject or ignore them, until Bozell can figure out the answers.

    8. @AC/MA

      Could you please enlighten us as to what periodicals, websites, cable/network news you do follow? Do you still get your news from the Daily Show even after Jon Stewart left?

    9. @11:46

      Corporations are into making money. None of the liberal on air anchors, liberal reporters, liberal editors, liberal producers, liberal managers, object to working for a corporate entity because it doesn't interfere with their agenda to spin the news to fit their liberal ideology.

      Dan Rather got fired not for trying to take down Bush 43, but because he got busted using forged documents to do so. One can only imagine how the Robert Redford movie will gloss over such facts and still make Rather the hero.

      If CBS corporate wanted to protect Bush 43, the story would never have been green lighted and aired.

      What is the difference between the BBC liberal bias and American media liberal bias? In your wind, it is that American media is corporate owned. Except that doesn't effect the message as they are only interested in profits.

    10. So, liberal reporters, on air anchors, liberal editors, liberal producers, etc call the shots?

      If that makes any sense, I have a project for you. Go into work, march right into the CEO's office, and tell him/ her (Bozell?) that despite what they think, you're going to do things your way.

      Let us know how that works out for you.
      Maybe you'll become a liberal (have empathy for others), once you get fired.

      On a side note, you need to put more effort into your replies. This latest one, is so easily dismissed (the workers run the company, the bosses are just there to make sure the money comes in), is one of the stupidest I've seen in years.

    11. It makes sense that corporations hire liberals. The alternative is to hire immature, mouth breathing morons, who can't differentiate between reality and what they pull out of their asses. I.e. conservatives.

    12. @3:28

      You declared that all media is run by some conservative corporation that controls the media message. The reason FNC has exceeded all expectations in ratings for the last 19 years is because the main stream media outlets owned by corporations presented news only through the liberal ideological prism. In the main stream liberal news business, management and staff are like-minded. What are these imagined conflicts you see occurring in the liberal news media where they are already on the same page?

      ABC 20/20, NBC Dateline, CBS 60 Minutes went after Detroit car manufacturers, i.e. giant corporations. These shows had one thing in common. They rigged the tests to ensure the particular vehicle would fail. Why didn't the network corporate bosses tell the producers to pound salt up their posterior instead of green-lighting the stories if as you pretend, the producers do not call the shots?


  4. Our view. Bob is misleading his readers for the second time on this topic. He begins by saying Bush was asked to express his views on the late4st mass shootings. As I noted yesterday, Bob has twice left out the question Bush was asked. It was not a question asking him to express his views on the latest mass shootings. IT was a question about an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Bush used the question to launch an attack on Obama over the latest mass shootings.

    The second question was not about the latest mass shooting either. It seemed to be about prayer.

  5. If there is as shame for this liberal, it's in the sorry bill of goods Somerby is trying to sell his readers with his posts on this subject. "Stuff Happens" is pretty much Jeb Bush's take on these murders, placed even casually into any kind of context. What is he trying to say on this subject beyond that? That snap solutions sometimes produce bad results? That bad things are always going on? Does Bob Somerby REALLY see that as an adequate response to these mass guy slaughters AT THIS POINT?
    Yet HE is admonishing liberals not to put up with business as usual nonsense? Jeb Bush's choice to run for the Presidency, given the international disasters of his brother, is offensive on the face of it. People are dead all over the world because "W kept us safe."
    Yet Somerby doesn't even want to hold Jeb to account for his basic policy pronouncements. Absurd. Just an absurd performance here.

  6. Quaker in a BasementOctober 6, 2015 at 2:54 PM

    "Maybe we ought to be more connected in our communities. Maybe we ought to have greater awareness of the mental health challenges that exist all across this country."

    OK, I'm with you so far, Jeb. What's your plan?

    1. It is a commonplace that what excites the most political attention and discussion is often a subject that is of relatively minor importance. On a smaller stage, at my town's town meetings, there will be hours of debate over a minor issue, e.g., increase the fine by $25 for not picking up after your dog; but on the subject of voting the $60,000,000 town budget, there is no discussion, because it is too complex for anyone not directly involved. There are these seemingly increasing mass murders, but the chances of anyone being killed in one of these is less than being struck by lightning. The vast majority of murders are not the result of events like the one in Oregon, or any of the other widely publicized incidents. Murder is against the law, and we spend billions trying to prevent it, trying to catch the perpetrators, prosecuting and jailing or executing them - but does anyone expect that murder (or crime for that matter) can be eliminated - not at all to say ignore it. Restricting the gun laws might have the effect of avoiding some of these incidents - the Second Amendment NRA takeover of the government is horrible - but as much as I can't stand Jeb, in this statement, he made a valid point. You can disagree with him, but it isn't black and white.

  7. My Ex-Husband Broke My Heart. Here's How I Healed, My name is Michelle Robert from USA, i am testifying to the general public how my married was restored back by the great power's of Chief Nwaluta Mallam Zack after heart broken, My husband and I are both directors and shareholders in our family business. We have been married for 20 years but my husband is now going for a divorce, i agreed in the first place but i later realized what happens to my family and what rights will I have in the business if my husband divorce me, and i have worked so hard for my family and this business, i was incomplete and wondered what to do because he already went to court. I was browsing on the internet when i saw a post on how a spell caster called Chief Nwaluta Mallam Zack helped someone bring back her ex, so i wondered if he can help me, i gave him the try and contacted him at his email nwalutaspelltemple@gmail.com, he told me not to worry that everything would be alright, i gave him the chance to cast the spell, he told me that in 48 hours my husband will come back and beg me, i never believed it at first, surprisingly completing 48 hours he came back and started to beg me not be to be annoyed about what he did, and now we are happy again. Thank you Chief Nwaluta Mallam Zack today my home is restored back if you are going through similar problem you can contact him at his private email {nwalutaspelltemple@gmail.com}.

  8. Blow is very stupid. Blow has a low IQ. It's easy to believe Blow was actually bamboozled by other pundits regarding the Bush comment.

  9. A broken heart can be one of the most painful things to heal from and can take a very long time to heal. During these times it can feel like the whole world could light up in flames and it still couldn't compare to the pain inside.

    Of course, admitting a broken heart can be a difficult thing to do and most of us try to continue on with life masking the pain in our heart. With this pain comes many emotions. I was also trying to masked my pain, until i found help, here is my story about how i save my marriage when my heart was broken.

    My wife and I separated 4 months ago and our children, Emily and Robert, live with her but see me every weekend. I was totally devastated and confused until a old friend of mine told me about a spell caster on the internet called Chief Nwaluta Mallam Zack who help people with their relationship and marriage problem by the powers of love spells, at first I doubted if such thing ever exists but decided to give it a try, when I contacted him, he helped me cast a spell and within 48hours my wife came back to me and started apologizing, now she has stopped going out with men and she is with me for good and for real. you can Contact on { nwalutaspelltemple@gmail.com }. If you are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back your husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend. contact Chief Nwaluta Mallam Zack, E-mail:{ Nwalutaspelltemple@gmail.com } Thank you so much Sir Chief Nwaluta Mallam Zack, i will always be testifying about your good work. Tom Brice, NY, United States.

  10. 5 years ago I had warts, I was treated with some liquid applied to the warts they continued to grow and spread... The next 2 doctors did laser surgery to remove them. 1 year after the surgery, they grew back close to where the 1st ones were' so I was finally told it was hpv. I have had it for very long time, I contract it from my cheated boyfriend and I found out he was also infected and I end up the relationship between us. the warts was so embarrasses because it started spreading all over I have be dealing with this things for very long time the last treatment I take was About 2 years ago I applied natural treatment from Dr onokun herbal cure, a week after applying the treatment all the warts was gone. it's now 2 years and some months I don't have single wart or any symptoms of hpv. wow"" it's great, Dr onokun has finally cured me. Anyone living with hpv contact Dr onokun for natural treatment.
    His email address: dronokunherbalcure@gmail.com