The children have been reciting their scripts!

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2021

Also, recalling the Clinton trial: Anthropologically speaking, the upper-end American journalists will typically have one great skill. He or she will be skilled at repeating whatever his or her last ten colleagues just said.

In the past two days, the children have been displaying this skill as they recite this script:

It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment vote in history! 

The children have all been reciting it! At this link, you can see it said in the New York Times, but by now you've seen and heard it everywhere else.

American pundits have taken numbers and stood in line, awaiting their chance to recite. In this case, their proclamation doesn't amount to a great deal, starting with the basic fact that there have only been three other such votes in all of American history.

(In 1867, Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, actually came within one vote of being convicted. That said, he hung on to every Democratic vote, of which there were only nine.)

At any rate, the children have all been reciting that script, and there's nothing they enjoy more. Over the weekend, we thought we'd review the way the Senate vote went in the Clinton impeachment trial.

This is what we found:

At the time, there were 55 Republican senators, 45 Democrats. Clinton had been impeached by the House on two separate counts, each of which stemmed from the fact that he'd engaged in oral sex without first seeking permission.

All 45 Democrats voted "not guilty" on each of the two counts. Here's how the Republicans voted:

Republicans voting "not guilty:" Five Republicans voted  "not guilty" on both counts. Four of them hailed from New England:

Susan Collins, Maine
Olympia Snowe, Maine
Jim Jeffords, Vermont 
John Chafee, Rhode Island
Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania

Back in those days, the New England states still tended to elect moderate or moderate-seeming Republicans. Today, only Collins remains.

In 2009, Specter switched parties.

Republicans voting both ways: Five Republicans voted "guilty" on one count, "not guilty" on the other. The only such person of current interest is Alabama's Richard Shelby, who voted "not guilty" on Saturday.

At the time, Shelby was an interesting case. In 1986, he'd been elected to the Senate as a Democrat. In the November 1994 elections, the GOP took control of the Senate for the first time in Shelby's tenure. 

Shelby switched parties the very next day, establishing himself as the Alabama senator of the permanent majority. Five years later, when Clinton was tried, he voted one way and the other.

Republicans voting "guilty:" Most Republicans voted "guilty" on both counts. Below, you see some people of current or permanent interest:

Mike DeWine, Ohio
John McCain, Arizona
Mitch McConnell, Kentucky
Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania
Jeff Sessions, Alabama

Senator Murkowski (R-Alaska) also voted "guilty" on both counts. In those days, of course, that was Senator  Frank Murkowski. Today, it's Senator Lisa Murkowski, Frank Murkowski's daughter.

High comedy during trial: An array of scripts drove press coverage during the Year of Impeachment. In the mother of all such scripts, Monica Lewinsky was persistently described as "a 21-year-old intern."

In fact, Lewinsky was 22—almost 22 and a half!—when her relationship with Clinton began. She never exchanged a word with Clinton before she was 22.

Technically, she was still an intern at the time of their first encounter, but she had already accepted a federal government job, which she started something like ten days later. As such, she was only an intern for the first ten days of her roughly two-year relationship with Clinton.

She was never 21, and she was an intern for only the briefest of moments. But as the children went on TV and recited their scripts, she remained a "21-year-old intern." The reason for this designation is perfectly obvious:

That age, and that job description, are both symbols of youth and innocence.  The bogus description the children recited drove home their novelized point.

The sheer stupidity of their conduct was and is hard to top. As we noted, Jay Leno would get Lewinsky's age right in his Tonight Show jokes, but the leading stars of the upper-end "press corps" just never stopped getting it wrong.

This led to a sad but comical moment during the Senate trial. One of Clinton's lawyers, Greg Craig, finally felt he had to explain. In the process, he rebutted an illogical accusation, one we won't bother to explain:

CRAIG (1/20/99): There is no dispute about the critical facts that Ms. Lewinsky was young, very young, too young when she got involved with President Clinton. But her age didn't change between November 1995 and January 1996. Her birthday is in July. 

She was 22 years old in November and 22 years old in January, despite the fact that every [House] manager persists in stating, erroneously—not perjuriously, erroneously—that she was 21 years old when she first became involved with the president.

Nothing of any importance in the case took place between December 1995 and January 1996.

She was an intern in the early stages of that period and she became a government employee. So, it didn't change the relationship that she had with the president. It modified her title. Any dispute over this immaterial issue is silly.

Even under oath, "every manager" persisted in making the erroneous claim about Lewinsky's age, Craig noted. He was referring to the House members who were arguing the case in the Senate—and yes, needless to say,  that included Lindsey Graham.

Craig noted the fact that the House managers kept misstating Lewinsky's age.  They weren't doing this on purpose (i.e., perjuriously), he generously pretended to claim.

Craig was much too Washington-savvy to note an attendant fact. Every major American pundit had been misstating Lewinsky's age for the past year too! Misstating her age was a part of the script, and our children do love to recite them.

It was a script, and the children all knew it. Most experts are willing to say that this is their only known skill.

Eventually, President Clinton was acquitted. The vote was 50-50 on one count, 55-45 in favor of conviction on the other.

In early March, Candidate Gore began to campaign. The children started attacking him instantly, for reasons which history makes perfectly obvious.

That said, recorded history is highly selective, especially where the conduct of upper-end elites is concerned. Our top historians know that they must never discuss that subsequent upper-end "war against Gore," the war which let George W. Bush squeeze into the White House.

The children kept attacking Gore as their final shot at Clinton. They attacked his clothes; they called him a girl; they invented a string of crazy claims he had supposedly made. 

He'd lick the bathroom floor to be president, Chris Matthews wouldn't stop saying. (He was Rachel's favorite pundit. Her drinking buddy, Greta van Susteren, was Trump's birther caddy at Fox.)

Half of them did this during Campaign 2000; the other half looked away. People are dead all over Iraq because of the way they played. 

Today, their names have changed, but their skill set hasn't. Despondent major top anthropologists insist that we're wired this way.


25 comments:

  1. "Anthropologically speaking, the upper-end American journalists will typically have one great skill. He or she will be skilled at repeating whatever his or her last ten colleagues just said."

    If you let us rephrase it for you, dear Bob: liberal-goebbelsian dembots in the media parrot liberal-goebbelsian talking points received your liberal zombie cult HQ.

    And of course this has absolutely nothing to do with anthropology, dear Bob. Zombiepology, more like.

    "Clinton had been impeached by the House on two separate counts, each of which stemmed from the fact that he'd engaged in oral sex without first seeking permission."

    Tsk. Here you're lying, dear Bob, we are sorry to say. As we remember it stemmed from the fact that he'd lied in
    sworn deposition and obstructed justice. Lying is not nice, dear Bob. But of course you're a liberal, so for you it's the most natural thing to do. How sad...

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  2. I believe that Arlen Specter voted "not proven" as they do in the Scottish Parliament. Arlen didn't realize that he was not in the Scottish Parliament.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Moldy old senile failure Pelosi gave Trump a pass by not letting any witnesses in the impeachment trial.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beutler was the only witness Dems wanted.

      Delete
    2. @1:29 -- the role of the House is to indict, the role of the senate is to try. Witnesses could have been heard in the senate portion of the impeachment process but the Republicans didn't want them.

      Delete
    3. From TPM:

      "Pelosi uses President’s day message to Democratic colleagues to announce independent commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection..."

      Delete
  4. "each of which stemmed from the fact that he'd engaged in oral sex without first seeking permission"

    This is ridiculous. First, Monica committed the oral sex, not Clinton. Second, she stated in her deposition that she was the aggressor. Third, how does a woman give a man a blow job without permission?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe that phrase, "without seeking permission," was Somerby's snide knock on consent laws, his way of ridiculing women who object to being assaulted.

      If he wants this discussion to be taken seriously, he should stick to the actual charges. There are enough younger people around who may be confused by his stupid "joke".

      Delete
  5. Somerby says:
    “It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment vote in history!”, and he claims that “you can see it said in the New York Times.”

    That isn’t what the Times said. The Times actually says:
    “Seven Republican senators voted on Saturday to convict former President Donald J. Trump in the most bipartisan vote for a presidential impeachment conviction in United States history.”

    The 10 Republican Senators in the Johnson case voted to acquit, not convict. And clearly, we can all compare and contrast the numbers in Clinton’s trial with Trump’s.

    Does anyone think Somerby is just careless when he does this?

    He has descended into his own version of shitty, misleading paraphrase that he used to roundly condemn. It’s his own version of Script, and it’s pathetic.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It isn't clear to me who Somerby is referring to when he says "the children." The media work for corporations, they define an audience and then try to appeal to it with programming, in order to make their business financially profitable. Their on-screen talent are selected with an eye to that purpose, the bottom-line. The media is not progressive or liberal, but capitalist and corporatist.

    We liberals (and progressives) are not responsible for the content of shows or the behavior of hosts, much less their guests. We don't supervise journalists and reporters and we don't solicit or approve editorials and opinion pieces. We are consumers. We watch and read and sometimes send comment letters, but we don't have a lot of influence on their behavior. Just our own.

    So, I don't believe we are the children. I don't think those so-called children do as much colluding as Somerby says they do. I don't think they receive morning talking points (the way conservatives do) and I don't think they have a coordinating committee or that they censor each other. They do their jobs as best they can, some better than others, all trying to approximate truth while also being interesting and entertaining.

    So why call them children? It is a demeaning term and I don't think it is deserved. It is Somerby's way of insulting people, without having to make a case for why they deserve to be called names. Sort of like what he claims was done to Al Gore during an election campaign, no doubt instigated by his political opponents.

    Does Somerby have any idea how many times Bill Clinton was called "Slick Willy" during his campaign? And the things they called Hillary? But he thinks Al Gore was hugely mistreated because he was joshed about claims he did make about his involvement in creating the internet.

    Al Gore needed to develop a thicker skin. So did Somerby, obviously. Gore's problem was that he was not a strong enough candidate to endure the mild ribbing he got. He was the grown up kid that everyone loves to tease because they only have one persona -- uber serious and nerdy. He had no chance against a candidate with an actual personality.

    And then he rolled over and let the Republicans win by not contesting the FL vote. If people are dead in Iraq, it is because Al Gore didn't fight for the presidency.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The age of consent in Washington DC at that time was 16 years old. What difference does it make whether Lewinsky was 21 or 22?

    ReplyDelete
  8. This whole column is just Somerby's way of reminding us that Bill Clinton was impeached too.

    Let's compare the crimes: (1) blow job vs (2) incitement of insurrection to overturn a lost election.

    Even if you are a conservative, it is hard to see any equivalency between these two supposed crimes. Clinton's impeachment was pretty obviously politically motivated. Trump's was motivated by the desire to protect the peaceful transition of power and defend democracy. Not much equivalence there either, in my opinion.

    So, why does Somerby think that bringing up Clinton's impeachment will do anyone any good? Perhaps he is trying to salve the wounds suffered by The Other as the crimes of Dear Leader were exposed to public scrutiny?

    Or maybe Somerby is telling a different Big Lie -- that liberals are just as bad as conservatives, or some such. It is hard to know Somerby's intent, since he never states anything directly and he makes up so much shit these days.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Every major American pundit had been misstating Lewinsky's age for the past year too! Misstating her age was a part of the script, and our children do love to recite them."

    Somerby has apparently forgotten what it was like to work before the internet was available. With the internet, you can find out Lewinsky's true age in seconds. Before the internet, it took time-consuming research. It is not surprising that a journalist might assume that a colleague had the age right, lift that fact, and go on to the important part of whatever they were writing. This is more likely how such errors are propagated.

    Instead, Somerby hypothesizes some sinister cabal of fact-changers with intent to make Lewinsky appear slightly younger than her real age. The purpose of this manipulation is never clearly explained by Somerby. You could call this laziness, but it doesn't rise to the level of collusion. I wouldn't even call it lazy, since the press of deadline imposes pressure on journalists and wasting time on a trivial detail wouldn't make them good journalists at all.

    Somerby pretends to be a persnickety perfectionist but he is actually lodging these specious criticisms for a reason. I suspect he is being paid to put on a false liberal front and spread discord on the left. I can't imagine there is much pleasure in this. But if he is being paid, is he then any better than the people who work in journalism, even on their worst day? His lies are surely worse than someone who accidentally picks up a mistaken fact, checks it against a second source (which also calls her 21) and then runs with it. Somerby knows what he is doing and it stinks.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Somerby keeps saying that we should be talking to The Other to find out what they think and why they follow Trump. Chris Parker and Rachel Blum surveyed MAGA enthusiasts and found out just what everyone has already been saying. What explains MAGA is not economic anxiety (everyone has that) but high levels of racial and gender-based resentments.

    https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/02/what-explains-maga

    Judging by what Somerby writes here, I think that explains Somerby too -- those high levels of racial and gender-based resentments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meanwhile, Bill Maher seems to be organizing his political views around the fact that he cannot get his solar installation approved by local inspectors. White privilege insulted! And he subjected everyone to a pair of alternative medicine quacks who were insisting that covid escaped from a Chinese weapons lab in Wuhan, despite the fact that WHO said that was extremely unlikely, after inspecting such labs. Their evidence was that the mutated UK and South African versions seem to be worse than the original and viruses don't do that (in other words, they have no evidence). More misinformation. I hope Maher ultimately decides to be the Libertarian kook he is, and stops pretending, like Somerby, to be any kind of liberal or progressive.

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  11. In other words the strategy Republicans used almost worked on the vote and completely worked on the media. The Democrat's didn't.

    ReplyDelete
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