Supplemental: Exit Biden, cast as Lear!


A classic press corps episode:
Obviously, we had no way of knowing what Joe Biden was doing or thinking over the past three months.

Our best guesses were these:

It seemed fairly obvious that he hadn’t initially planned to run for president. In 2013 and 2014, there was no sign that he was harboring any such plan.

This spring, or perhaps this summer, that seemed to change—and on Sunday, August 2, a strange new reality took hold. On that day, the New York Times executed its ludicrous front page/opinion column twofer, in which a front page news report about Biden was “sourced” to a Maureen Dowd column—sourced to a column which offered no source for its principal claim!

Everyone agrees not to notice when the Times stages such gong-shows. At any rate, this was the day that we were told that Biden’s dying son had asked him to run for the White House with his last few nouns.

With his last few words, the dying son had chosen to slime the Clintons one last time! This was par for the course for Dowd, a major departure for Biden.

We think Biden has behaved badly from that day to this. This very week, as he neared the announcement, he was weirdly reinventing his previous accounts of a major event, the death of bin Laden—and he was embarrassing himself in today’s New York Times:
HARRIS AND MARTIN (10/21/15): Mr. Biden was not the only one seeming to eye Mr. Obama’s voters on Tuesday. A few hours before the event here, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign released a list of more than 50 black mayors supporting her campaign, more than half of them from South Carolina, an early nominating state where Mr. Biden is expected to compete aggressively should he run.

So far, Mr. Obama has done nothing to signal that he would bestow such a blessing on either his vice president or his former secretary of state. But Mr. Biden did his best to suggest that he and the president are all but joined at the hip.

He said the two of them spent four to seven hours every day together, that the president had given him veto authority over every cabinet pick, that he never disagreed with the president ideologically, only tactically, and that even their families were close.

“My grand-children and his children are best friends,” Mr. Biden said. “They vacation together.”
Mercifully, that last paragraph has been removed from the on-line version of this report. We’re reproducing it as it appears in our hard-copy Times.

(Lest anyone think we’re playing favorites: In our view, Candidate Clinton has embarrassed herself in her recent fawning to black voters too.)

As of early August, our best guess was this: Biden was trying to establish himself as the person his party would think of first if Candidate Clinton imploded under the weight of the email brouhaha. That said, his efforts produced a classic press corps episode, with the pundit corps restricting itself to a narrow set of scripts.

The press corps wanted Biden to run, if only for the excitement. Beyond that, many of our major pundits don’t like Candidate Clinton.

They don’t like her at all.

For those reasons, a tired old script was dragged from the can, a script in which Biden was dripping with “authenticity” and Clinton was a conniving phony.

The pundits have plenty of practice with this dull-witted old narrative. They used it extensively in Campaign 2000, when Candidates Bradley, McCain and Bush were loaded with “authenticity” and Candidate Gore was the fake.

Starting on August 2, this script returned to wide use. Beyond that, everyone agreed not to notice the fact that Biden was behaving rather erratically, not unlike an aging Lear wandering on the moors.

Even this week, as he prepared to relent, Biden was reinventing old stories and embarrassing himself about his grandkids’ vacation habits. Only then did the pundits start to let themselves note that Mr. Authenticity was perhaps somewhat off track.

We think that column about the late Beau Biden was one of the most unattractive plays we’ve ever seen from a candidate. We assumed the source of the tale must have been Hunter Biden, so badly did the use of that story reflect on the possible candidate.

Through thick and thin, we don’t think we ever saw a pundit brook a single thought about that. They had their script, and they knew what it said. Their script said “highly authentic.”

Our pundits dutifully stuck to their script. As we have in the past, we ask you again:

Are these life-forms human?

The problem with their group assessments: Let’s approach Lear from a different perspective.

In the famous play, the aging king can no longer tell which of his three daughters is “authentic.” His judgment is badly wrong. He sends Cordelia away.

Our pundit corps is like that. Unfailingly, the people they hallow as “authentic” have ended up lying in their faces.

(Remember Candidate Dole, their authenticity king in 1996, in the New Hampshire primary? Of course you don’t! By law, such things cannot be discussed! For the record, we like Bob Dole! Pretty much everyone does.)

None of this stops them from playing again. When it comes to such assessments, they seem to enjoy being wrong.

(For “I Got Fooled,” click this.)


  1. Bobfans, you've been kind enough to tell me that the reason Bob doesn't criticize HRC for doing exactly what the press is doing is Bob's role is to criticize the press. The press are expected to tell the truth!

    That in no way implies Bob favors HRC over all other candidates. It's (again) merely because HRC is not part of the media and Bob is a media critic. Got it, makes sense.

    One question, when did Biden join the press corps?

    1. This article is about how the press corps has treated Biden. Go back and read it again.

    2. Really?

      "We think Biden has behaved badly from that day to this. This very week, as he neared the announcement, he was weirdly reinventing his previous accounts of a major event, the death of bin Laden—and he was embarrassing himself in today’s New York Times:"

      That is not about the press, it's about Biden.

      That said, I noticed that Bob finally had something to say about Hillary and the Alabama DMV issue.

      "(Lest anyone think we’re playing favorites: In our view, Candidate Clinton has embarrassed herself in her recent fawning to black voters too.)"

      He's been discussing that issue for weeks and this is the first time he acknowledged that Clinton embarressed herself. But then, as he notes, he doesn't want to be accused of playing favorites. Even though he does, of course.

      Regardless, at least this put the whole "Bob only criticizes the media" nonsense to rest.

    3. It not being nonsense, "this" (your idiotic trolling that is) hardly puts it to rest.

    4. All, Sighing, in all you fine work I have never seen you once offer a refutation of a commenter or mount a factual defense of Somerby. You do, however, offer a perfect example of the tribalists he so painfully describes.

    5. @ 3:30..."when did Biden join the press corps?"

      He has been a soldier in the War against Clinton/Gore since 1988.

    6. I agree. I'm not sure Biden has behaved well in recent months, but it is unfair to blame him for the crap from Dowd and others. The interview questions about his kids are not tied to anything.

    7. Biden should have commented on the Dowd column. When he was silent, he implicitly corroborated the truth of her column. His silence was the problem, not what Dowd wrote.

    8. Wait. If what Dowd wrote was the truth, why did Biden need to say anything? And if what Dowd wrote was the truth, why isn't the problem a blogger who implied it was a novel?

    9. Because it appeared that Biden was using his son's dying words to send up a trial balloon about his campaign. That is such a cynical and callous action that Somerby gave him the benefit of the doubt by implying it was a novel (made up by Dowd or leaked by Hunter). Biden needed to correct the record. That he let it stand is therefore revealing of his intentions. And not in a good way.

    10. You avoided the question well. If the column was true in its representation of the conversation, as you say his silence corroborates, why is his silence a problem?

      Somerby has now come to assert that he always thought the source was Hunter Biden. If so, wasn't he dishonest not to share that "guess" with his readers rather than note repeatedly she did not reveal a source then imply Dowd made the whole thing up?

  2. Howler Dictionary of Deceptive Terms

    Fawning: Term applied in rare cases to statements by someone who ignores repeated posts in the Howler demonstrating facts. The term may not be used if if the same statement is uttered by a dumb, lazy, liberal media figure.


    "Governor Bentley is insisting that the closings had nothing to do with race, but the facts tell a different story.... Alabama is living through a blast from the Jim Crow past.

    Governor Bentley has offered the same excuses we've always heard to justify laws that disproportionately affect people of color—... It reminds me of that old saying: "You find a turtle on a fence post, it didn't get there on its own." Institutionalized racism doesn't just happen. People make it happen."

    Disappear: To avoid inclusion of a fact or statement which might contradict a favored meme:

    Example: (See example in Fawning)

    1. People Who Can ThinkOctober 21, 2015 at 5:14 PM

      The meme: the press have been misleading you.

      It's not been contradicted, your sad efforts notwithstanding.

    2. Howler Dictionary of Deceptive Terms (Part 2)

      Slime: To compliment one's own family in comparison to another is a mortal insult to that other family.

      Example: "arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values."

      It is especially egregious when the slimer is a repeat offender, as in: "the dying son had chosen to slime the Clintons one last time!"

    3. Note the article in the NY Times today describing the rivalry between Biden and Clinton.

    4. Noted. What does that have to do with stating that "arguing the White House should not revert to the Clinton's and the country would be better off with Biden values" constitutes choosing "to slime the Clintons one last time."

    5. References to Clinton values lends support to the repeated conservative attempts to gin up scandals against the Clintons. Democrats shouldn't be doing that. It is bad enough to have a decades long vendetta without members of Clinton's own party joining in. It is one thing for Biden to feel competitive. It is another to lend support to conservative smears. That's what he did. Clinton values are arguably no worse than Biden values. Biden's dog whistle to the "scandals" raised by the right wing is ugly and that is why the word "slime" was used.

      If you believe that the right was correct about the Clintons and their character, you are not much of a progressive. So, those who ask "what's wrong with what Biden said" are unfamiliar with the long history of attacks (see Fools for Scandal and similar exposes) and need to reeducate themselves or join the other party. Pretending Biden has a moral high ground is ridiculous, what with his plagiarism, his handsy touching of young women and the way he treated Anita Hill. Those things were verified, not made up by conservatives.

    6. There was no reference to Clinton values.

      What your comment demonstrates is that any statement that the Clintons should not return to power coupled with any positive statement about someone else is thus an endorsement of all things ever said about the Clinton's. That makes you as silly as the person who considers such a relatively mild statement to constitute sliming.

    7. "Pretending Biden has a moral high ground is ridiculous, what with his plagiarism, his handsy touching of young women and the way he treated Anita Hill."

      Yes, true progressives slime Biden, never Clinton.

    8. @ 2:59 shame on you for being so touchy. 1:56 could have said Biden should not be allowed to return of public office and the country would be better off with Clinton values. That is real slime.

  3. I thought Biden was Hamlet and the Press Corps was Lear. And Dowd of course is Lady McVibrator.

  4. "Our best guesses.....

    We think Biden has behaved badly......

    Through thick and thin, we don’t think we ever saw a pundit brook a single thought about that....

    Are these life-forms human?"

    Of course Bob didn't brook a thought about that either. His only guess in real time was Dowd's column was fiction.

    1. When Bob Somerby has "no way of knowing" he reveals his guesses at exactly the right moment he can prove the press corps was not only wrong, but followed the same script he alone discovered and revealed in his epic, The War on Aloysius Gore (and Clinton I&II).

      He knows what everyone agrees not to say or hear. He knows who everyone likes and dislikes. Even if they are not really human, which is understandable since his stable of daily companions are not only not human, they aren't real.

    2. You mean the analysts are a figment of his imagination?

    3. No, just the sprawling campus.

    4. What kind of idiot takes a literary device literally?

    5. What kind of idiot thinks making fun of a comedian telling the same joke over and over is taking him literally?

  5. Biden tested the water and found the temperature too cold, so he used his son's death, once again, as an excuse for not running. It isn't that he's afraid his numbers aren't high enough against Clinton's or that he is concerned about his liabilities -- there just isn't enough time left to prepare a candidacy, what with the funeral and all. Never mind that he has been preparing his candidacy all along and has given many signs of an intended run, including wooing donors and supporters. There is just no time left. Right. What does that say about the sterling Biden character -- his authenticity?

    1. Wow. This mocking of Biden around here has sunk so low that you can't even consider it possible that a father's grief over the loss of his son might have been a factor in his decision not to run. Nope, it's merely an "excuse."

      Have you no decency?

    2. Not when he was silent after his son slimed Clinton in his nounless last words and let Dowd novelize it while the rest of wandered clueless in the dark suspecting the worst of his remaining son.

  6. The important thing to remember is that any criticism of Hillary is ipso facto unfair, "sliming", or inspired by an irrational hatred of the Clintons, partisanship, or sexism.

    1. You obviously haven't seen the Huffington Post sliming Clinton right now. Can you believe their continued noisome photo selection!!!!

  7. Bob doesn't do much better with Shakespeare than he does with John Westly Harding, but at least he has good taste.