Our own tribe's criminal cluelessness: We're going to postpone our review of Dana Goldstein's account of "the reading wars."
Instead, let's consider our liberal tribe's remarkable cluelessness concerning the basics of recent political history. More specifically, we refer to the decades of political history which put Donald Trump where he is.
Sarada Peri was a speechwriter for President Obama. Yesterday, she published a piece in the Atlantic concerning President Trump.
Peri warns that Donald J. Trump may well willing to cheat to win re-election. We can think of more possible examples than she does, but much of her essay makes perfect sense. The highlighted part of this remarkable passage seems to make no sense:
PERI (2/18/20): Lying, of course, is only one challenge. The Democratic nominee will also have to contend with cheating. After the 2016 election, the journalist Katy Tur offered an applicable analogy. She said that what made covering Trump as a reporter and running against him as a candidate so difficult was the way that scandals stuck—or didn’t stick—to him. Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state was like a stain on her shirt that people couldn’t get past, because it was the only mark on an otherwise clean shirt. But Trump had so many stains that “you couldn’t tell if it was a stained shirt or if it was just supposed to be that way.”Peri goes on to enumerate some of the ways Trump might be willing to cheat. We direct you to her remarkable claim about the reason why Candidate Clinton was damaged by the reports about her email server.
According to Peri, the Emailgate matter hit Clinton so hard "because it was the only mark on an otherwise clean shirt." The cluelessness displayed by that statement is very hard to compute.
In fact, the email matter hit Candidate Cinton so hard because it was the ten millionth scandal or pseudo-scandal the press corps had laid at her feet. For many voters, it reinforced a set of negative associations which dated back to 1992.
Peri seems to be roughly 40. (She graduated from Tufts in 2001.) Especially by modern press corps norms, that almost makes her "old."
Still, that means that Peri was still in middle school when the sliming of Clinton began. Almost surely, it was this constant prior sliming of Clinton which made the email matter hit so hard with a whole generation of voters.
Beyond that, it was almost surely the constant prior sliming of Clinton which explains why newspapers like the New York Times pursued the topic at such massive length. Let's take a (truncated) look at the record:
Peri would have been in a freshmen in high school when Rush Limbaugh suggested on his radio program that Clinton was involved in the death of her friend, Vince Foster.
She still would have been in high school when Jerry Falwell began selling a videotape called The Clinton Chronicles, a crackpot film which attributed an array of mysterious deaths to Clinton and Clinton.
The story starts before that. Peri would have been in 7th grade when the "Presidential Bitch" t-shirt caper began. Briefly, we'll quote Gene Lyons:
LYONS (7/13/16): Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear: specifically to September 1992, when Attorney General William P. Barr, top-ranking FBI officials, and—believe it or not—a Treasury Department functionary who actually sold "Presidential Bitch" T-shirts with Hillary Clinton's likeness from her government office, pressured the U.S. Attorney in Little Rock to open an investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton's Whitewater investment.The never-ending Whitewater pseudo-investigation sprang from those seamy roots. For more about the selling of the "Presidential Bitch" t-shirts, read Lyons' 1995 book, Fools For Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater.
Peri would have been an undergraduate in 1999, when Chris Matthews began sliming Clinton as "Evita Peron" and "Nurse Ratched." That said, Matthews kept it up right through the Democratic primaries of 2007 and 2008, along with many others.
Perhaps Peri may not remember the early episodes which formed the foundation upon which the email claims took root. But Obama was already in the White House when Bob Schieffer and John McCain helped touch off the endless and bogus Benghazi narratives which dogged Clinton from September 2012 right through the 2016 election.
Was Emailgate "the only mark on an otherwise clean shirt?" On its face, the claim seems astoundingly clueless, but it betrays an ugly fact about the way our liberal tribe has played the game these many long hapless years.
The wars against the Clintons and Gore were largely conducted from within the mainstream press corps. These wars were often based on the flimsiest logic and evidence; many claims were simply made up.
The claims against these figures were endless. That said, a code of silence surrounds these events, and Peri's essay seems to extend it. It's astounding to think that a person of Peri's status could have written the passage we've quoted. Even sadder is the fact that the Atlantic chose to put the passage in print.
What explains the mainstream press corps' war against Clinton, Gore and Clinton? The question has never been answered, mainly because the question has so rarely been asked.
What happened within the mainstream press corps has stayed there. Careerist children agreed not to rock the boat. Dearest darlings, use your heads! Careers hung in the balance!
Did the Emailgate matter hit Clinton so hard "because it was the only mark on an otherwise clean shirt?" Almost surely, the Emailgate matter hit Clinton so hard with many voters because it was the extension of decades of pseudo-scandals aimed at both Clintons and Gore.
Routinely. these pseudo-scandals were invented and pushed by the mainstream press, not by the right-wing machine. This pattern obtained through November 2016, with the New York Times extending its decades of crackpot enmity in various ways.
Careerist liberals have agreed that these stories must never be told. If Peri's as clueless as that passage makes her seem, it may be because she's simply never heard these stories.
At any rate, that ridiculous claim in the Atlantic captures an era of willed self-defeat. The liberal world ignored the misogyny and the pseudo-scandals every step of the way, except to the substantial extent that liberals produced the abuse.
We were then shocked by Clinton's defeat! Has any tribe in political history ever been more pathetic than we are?