A crackpot named Fiorina: Yesterday, we said we're living in a watershed era—an era which features the death of the gatekeepers.
Journalistic gatekeepers used to protect us from hearing crazy ideas and claims. Republican and Democratic party gatekeepers used to protect us from being exposed to crazy White House candidates.
All those protections are gone. We're constantly hearing crazy ideas and crazy claims from crazy candidates. Many voters can't seem to identify them as same. They never had to exercise such skills before.
Meanwhile, crazy people are quite widespread in our for-profit media. At one time, craziness was a disqualification. Now, craziness is virtually a job requirement.
Candidate Fiorina is a bit on the crazy side. Years ago, a crazy person like Fiorina wouldn't have been permitted to run for the nomination of a major party. In Tuesday night's debate, one of her statements was so crazy that Gail Collins even noticed part of the problem:
COLLINS (12/17/15): Let’s see, what else? Several candidates seemed to think terrorism on U.S. soil is entirely due to “political correctness.” Carly Fiorina promised to bring back “warrior class” generals like David Petraeus who “retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear,” skipping the part about giving classified materials to a biographer with whom he was having an extramarital affair.Colins was able to notice the oddness of the remark about Petraeus. On Fox Business, they noticed that the oddness of Fiorina's full remark extended light-years beyond that.
Below, you see Fiorina's fuller statement, which was delivered with her trademark sense of fury and grievance. Below that, you see the further correction of her lunacy, courtesy of Stuart Varney, who is normally one of the biggest hacksters on Fox:
FIORINA (12/15/15): One of the things I would immediately do, in addition to defeating them here at home, is bring back the warrior class—Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, Keane, Flynn. Every single one of these generals I know. Every one was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn't want to hear.Angrily, Fiorina said she knows all the generals! But uh-oh! As noted on last night's Maddow Show, General Keane retired in 2003. He's never even spoken to Obama, Keane told Varney on Fox.
VARNEY (12/16/15): Did you in fact, general, give advice to President Obama, which he didn't want to hear and didn't take?
GENERAL JACK KEANE: No, I have never spoken to the president. That's not accurate, and I never served this administration. I served the previous administration.
(The angry claim about McChrystal also didn't make a huge amount of sense.)
Under the old rules, a person like Fiorina wouldn't have been permitted to run for president. Now, with party gatekeepers gone, all such protections are gone.
To the extent that they actually care, the press corps doesn't seem to know how to deal with such craziness. It doesn't matter with Fiorina, who has ceased to be a significant factor in the Republican polls.
But to the extent that they actually care, the press corps has shown little sign of knowing how to deal with the serial craziness of Candidate Trump. We're talking about his serial, repetitive factual howlers, not about his policy proposals, however unusual they may be.
That said, Trump made a basic budget proposal in September which, by any traditional standard, is essentially crazy. But so what? The budget proposal was barely discussed, despite its manifest lunacy.
(On CNN, Erin Burnett told Don Lemon that Candidate Trump was "in his wheelhouse" with the crazy budget proposal. Around the press corps, the crazy proposal was barely discussed. At this point, no one even seems to feel the need to pretend.)
The danger for liberals is failing to see the role we play in this process. For our money, this latest piece by Rebecca Traister represents a brand of near-crazy—a brand of near-crazy which helps the topsy of the overall crazy continue to grow.
All the rules have been thrown away. The whole world is typing up novels.
In Annie Hall, Alvy Singer's books all had the word "death" in the title. Our novels all revolve around the use of the B-word. Increasingly, it seems to be the only framework we know.