Kakutani at war: Even as we summered in chic southern Maine last week, we continued to behave like award-winning citizens.
In that role, we watched the bulk of CNN's hour-long "Town Hall on Climate Change," which aired last Tuesday night.
Anderson Cooper's guest for the hour was Al Gore. We were impressed by what we saw, and also somewhat saddened.
We were very much impressed by the continuing depth of Gore's knowledge. It seemed to equip him to discuss every topic which arose.
Within our impoverished pseudo-discourse, you rarely see a politician, or anyone else, display so much knowledge of any subject. We were very much impressed by the way the much-maligned Gore has kept up.
We were saddened when we compared the remarkable state of Gore's knowledge to the array of ludicrous claims which have steadily emerged from the current occupant of the Oval Office, a fellow named Donald J. Trump.
Gore didn't get there, but Donald Trump did! How in the world did that happen?
Long ago and far away, Candidate Gore didn't get there. Last Tuesday night, he displayed an endless array of knowledge about the onrushing endless summer he first discussed in detail in his widely-praised 1992 book, Earth in the Balance.
As someone who knew Gore when he was a teen, we were impressed by the depth of his knowledge. But alas! As we start measuring icebergs in terms of which state they most resemble, we also felt fairly certain that this knowledge will be of little use, that it's too late to avoid the summer which will drown significant parts of the world.
Upon our return to our sprawling campus this week, we've tried to clean our desk of certain topics we hadn't quite gotten around to discussing.
Today, that takes us to this recent piece in Slate, in which one of the youngsters cheekily explored the possibility that Michiko Kakutani, the long-time New York Times book critic, is “the stupidest person in New York City.”
For background, see Thursday's report.
News flash: rather plainly, Kakutani isn't that "stupidist" person, or anything dimly like it. The youngster at Slate was just having some fun with the silliness and snark which now helps define the silly worldview of the new, younger end of the guild.
In the course of enjoying her snark, the youngster listed six reviews for which Kakutani has been name-called down through the years. We were struck by the dog of war which didn't bark—by the absence of the worst review Kakutani ever wrote, a review the snarky youngster at Slate has almost surely never heard of.
Kakutani has been a Times book critic for 34 years. What was her worst review?
It's a piece she wrote at a time of war. It's this lengthy front-page piece from November 1999, in which Kakutani reviewed the books of five White House hopefuls. That included the aforementioned book by the aforementioned Gore.
Briefly, let's be specific. In the strictest sense, this wasn't exactly a review of Earth in the Balance, which had received a rave review in the New York Times when it actually appeared, seven years earlier.
Kakutani's front-page piece was a retrospective on several candidates' books. In the course of the lengthy piece, she devoted about 800 words to Gore's now-ludicrous tome.
Why was Gore's widely-praised book now so silly and stupid? Because, dearest darlings, a war was now on! We refer to the war against Candidate Gore which that well-intentioned youngster at Slate has quite likely never heard mentioned.
In the main, this war was being conducted by the upper-end mainstream press—by the Washington Post and the New York Times—not by the "right-wing noise machine." It was, for example, being conducted by the hiss-spitting columns of Maureen Dowd, who had just been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her work on Miss Lewinsky.
Kakutani has been described as "one of Dowd’s circle of extremely close female friends at the New York Times." There's nothing wrong with that, of course—until you read the 800 words in question.
When Gore's book appeared in 1992, it had been hailed as a masterful, highly knowledgable work. We'll offer you links below.
That was then—but this was now. Now, it was 1999, and Candidate Gore was being chased all around by the mainstream press corps. Rather plainly, this was happening because he was seen as the press corps' last shot at the reviled Bill Clinton, who had escaped impeachment in February of that very year.
The following month, Gore had announced that he was running for president; a poisonous war had started up within days. By late November, the war would be expressed in the first paragraph Kakutani composed about Gore's now-ludicrous book.
It had been a critically-praised best-seller. Now it was peddled like this:
KAKUTANI (11/22/99): Vice President Al Gore emerges from ''Earth in the Balance'' (Plume), his 1992 book about the environment, as the quintessential A-student who has belatedly discovered New Age psychobabble. Like his speeches, his book veers between detailed policy assessments (predictably illustrated with lots of charts and graphs) and high-decibel outbursts of passion, between energetically researched historical disquisitions and loony asides about ''inner ecology'' and ''spiritual triangulation''—asides that may help explain his curious affinity with his feminist consultant, Naomi Wolf.Gore's book was now marked by its "loony asides," loony asides which may help explain "his curious affinity" with his feminist consultant, who was being trashed all over the press corps that month in a savage, misogynistic orgy which every good liberal chose to permit and many good liberals helped author.
Gore's book was now marked by its loony asides—and, of course, by its "psychobabble," along with its "high-decibel outbursts of passion." You may as well know that, at this point, the upper-end press corps was building themes which questioned the mental health of Gore, so strange were the many misstatements they were pretending he had made, so suspicious were they of his "affinity" for that good-looking feminist consultant.
In 1992, Earth in the Balance had been described as a work of erudition. Now, it was a compendium of looniness and outbursts of passion, some of which may have involved his curious affinity for "that woman, Ms. Wolf."
Astonishingly, Brian Williams was asking, night after night, why Gore was wearing those polo shorts, which seemed to be some sort of troubling sexual signal to female voters. The lunatic Matthews was asking lunatic questions about Gore's extremely troubling three-button suits, and about his troubling status as "today's man-woman."
Meanwhile, Wolf was being slimed within an inch of her life. How could you tell the conservative press from the mainstream press at this point? In the conservative press, you were allowed to say that Gore might be having an affair. In the mainstream press, you were only allowed to suggest it, as Kakutani kinda sorta maybe possibly did.
Ten days after Kakutani's worst review graced the Times' front page. the newspaper's Gore reporter, Katharine "Kit" Seelye, joined forces with the Post's Ceci Connolly to invent the latest troubling misstatement by Gore—a savagely ballyhooed alleged misstatement which was, in point of fact, a flat-out misquotation of what Gore had actually said.
Some high school students proved that fact. Our star reporters quickly got busy, finding a way to ignore them.
This is the war which was underway when Kakutani's worst review appeared. The slightly snarky youngster at Slate has likely never heard this.
Why has that youngster never heard? Because of the code of silence! Because of the agreement by the Dionnes, the Alters, the Chaits and the Marshalls that the history-changing events of this war must never be discussed.
This war was staged by the upper-end press, not by the right-wing machine. People like the ones we've named earn their glorious lucre within that guild, whose conduct must not be discussed.
We discussed Kakutani's worst review in real time (links below). In 2007, we discussed it in more detail. For today, we'll only say this:
In the course of her 800 words, Kakutani managed to mention Naomi Wolf on three (3) separate occasions! Wolf had nothing to do with Gore's book, and she wasn't an environmental adviser. But Wolf was the focus of the War Against Gore during that astonishing month. Kakutani, on page one, chose to take part in that death-dealing war, which was breathtakingly stupid.
People are dead all over the world because the Dowds, the Riches, the Kakutanis behaved in this prehuman fashion. Between their work and the code of silence, the dumbing-down of the American discourse picked up a great deal of steam.
This was Trumpism long before Trump. It was Matthews who was name-calling Hillary Clinton at this juncture, not the talented builder. This early Trumpism played a vital role in creating the world we now inhabit—a world in which Gore was too "loony" to go to the White House, but Candidate Trump was thoroughly enabled, by your favorite corporate liberal stars, until it was much too late.
That kid at Slate has never heard this. The generation preceding her has kept her barefoot and clueless.
The endless summer Gore discussed is now bearing down upon us. On the brighter side, Trump is about to start a war as a way of changing a hundred such subjects.
Last night, a certain major cable news was busily selling the car. She told us to pop some popcorn so we could watch "the great Joy Reid" filling in for Lawrence, followed by "the great Brian Williams."
We're quoting what she actually said. And yes, it's the very same Brian Williams, the one who obsessed about Gore's deeply troubling shirts. Meanwhile, on The McLaughlin Group, Lawrence was still pimping Gore as a liar in October 2000! People are dead all over the world because these idiots did this.
We thought Gore was impressively knowledgeable last Tuesday night. But hustlers like that unnamed star don't notice such things, and that well-intentioned youngster at Slate has never been told how we got here.
Kakutani's worst review appeared on page one of the Times. People are dead all over the world, with millions more to follow.
Their deaths will come in Donald Trump's war, which may help him rid himself of that meddlesome special counsel. After that, their deaths will come in the endless summer your cable stars largely ignore. It's not entertaining enough!
Make no mistake. In large part, this is an artifact of our corporate liberal world. As part of the cultural dumbing-down which let Donald J. Trump ascend to office, that youngster at Slate has never been told these things.
Because of her elders' code of silence, she likely hasn't heard the first word. Because she's a good person who's still rather young, she's likely to see endless summer.
Visit our incomparable archives: In real time, we discussed Kakutani's worst review in a four-part series.
To state the obvious, we were talking to the hand! At any rate, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/1/99. After that, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/2/99.
Early in 2007, Gore's documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, was about to win an Oscar. We revisited Kakutani's review, offering examples of the way Gore's book had been reviewed when it appeared in 1992.
We were talking to the hand! At any rate, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/23/07. Scroll down to "Special report: Global dumbing!"
That kid at Slate has never heard this. What happened in the msm has stayed in that guild's gruesome heads.