The New York Times on a mission: In our view, Candidate Castro's surprising mean streak has been one of the stories of the Democratic debates.
He did it again at last Thursday's debate. Surprisingly, Castro seems to have revealed a side of himself which is unattractive.
Castro's behavior was widely discussed after last Thursday's debate. But the largest takeaway from the debate involves that monologue by Candidate Biden.
We'll start with the multi-part question posed to Biden. That question was nothing to boast about, but as he responded, the current Democratic front-runner went on a meandering roll:
DAVIS (9/12/19): Mr. Vice President, I want to come to you and talk to you about inequality in schools and race.At that point, Biden began discussing Venezuela. But it seems to us that the exchange presented above raises a very basic question—a question which comes from our culture's problematic Elite Cognition Files.
In a conversation about how to deal with segregation in schools back in 1975, you told a reporter, "I don't feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I'll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago."
You said that some forty years ago. But as you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?
BIDEN: Well, they have to deal with the— Look, there's institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Red-lining, banks, making sure that we are in a position where—
Look, you talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title I schools. Triple the amount of money we spend, from 15 to 45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise, the equal raise to getting out—the $60,000 level.
Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home, we need—we have one school psychologist for every 1500 kids in America today. It's crazy.
The teachers are—I'm married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. We have—make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds go to school. School! Not daycare. School. We bring social workers in to homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children.
It's not that they don't want to help. They don't—they don't know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television—excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the, the— Make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school—a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there. There's so much we—
DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: No, I'm going to go like the rest of them do, twice over, OK? Because here's the deal. The deal is that we've got this a little backwards...
Bowing to the rules of her guild, ABC's Linsey Davis started by quoting something Biden said forty-four years ago, in 1975.
(To watch this exchange, click here, move ahead to 2:06.)
Alas! A type of selective "gotcha journalism" has been a plague on the system for decades, sometimes with the candidates' troubling "quotations" dreamed up—indeed, invented—by the press corps itself.
In the last two presidential cycles, the selectivity has taken on a dismaying chronological dimension. In 2016, pundits journeyed back twenty years in time to attack Candidate Clinton for a term she'd used on one occasion in 1996.
Last Thursday, Davis reached all the way back to a time before she herself had been born!
Davis' vaguely-formed question was built around an extremely old bit of gotcha. But in his answer, Biden wandered the countryside, once again raising questions about the possibly declining state of his cognition.
His sentences didn't seem to parse. He jumped from one topic to another, scattershot fashion.
As Biden's comments meandered, he did, in fact, make a series of glancing references to a range of rarely-discussed educational topics—to the levels of funding for low-income schools; to the so-called "20 million word gap" (or 30 million, or four million); to the role of parents in the education of kids who come from low-literacy backgrounds.
But Biden took this journey in a semi-coherent way—and inevitably, the cognitively-challenged upper-end press corps ended up clucking about his use of the term "record player."
(Charles Blow, in this morning's Times: "[H]e gave a rambling, nonsensical answer that included a reference to a record player." However rambling it may have been, the answer wasn't nonsensical—unless you're ignorant of the issues to which the answer referred.)
As a group, upper-end pundits chuckled in unison about Biden's meandering answer. In their latest standard repeatable group assessment, they announced that the "record player" reference was funny, a source of amusement.
They love it when they all get to say the same things and tell the same wonderful jokes. They've been this way for decades now. For such reasons, we've questioned the state of their cognition since 1998.
At any rate, that was a stumbling, disjointed statement from the Democratic front-runner—from the oldest major party front-runner in the history of American politics.
Biden's statement reinforced questions which have been coming, not without reason, from The Elite Cognition Files. But so did the typically silly way the upper-end "press corps" reacted.
Our question is this:
Can a major modern nation survive when its upper-end elites are functioning on such low cognitive levels? As we raise this obvious question, we note an important change in the weather at the New York Times, a newspaper branded as the liberal world's brightest and smartest and best.
On Sunday, August 18, the New York Times announced a major new approach to journalism, The 1619 Project. Last Friday, in this widely-read essay, Andrew Sullivan praised the quality of much of the project's initial work, but he also said that this new approach is "as much activism as journalism."
"The New York Times Has Abandoned Liberalism for Activism." So reads the headline which sits atop Sullivan's widely-read, worthwhile piece.
It seems to us that the New York Times has chosen to pursue several types of "activism" in the past year or so. Here's a question we'll ponder this week, even as we analyze Biden's meandering answer and the way the mainstream pundit corps responded to it:
Our question comes live and direct from The Upper-End Cognition Files. Do you feel that the Times is smart enough to undertake missions like these?
Tomorrow: Problematic cognition levels at the New York Times