Friday, May 4, 2007

Defending the Dean

Rightwing columnist Kathleen Parker, who specializes in providing white folks a "respectable" vocabulary to whine about blacks, turns her attention to David Broder's column on Harry Reid and the surprisingly united response of the Senate Democrats to it in Banal outrage San Francisco Chronicle 05/04/07. What Parker learned from that episode is ... bloggers are mean and uncivilized.

Creative, you say? Not really. It's just the standard complaint of journalists about bloggers, particularly liberal bloggers. What was interesting about Parker's complaint is that it shows how nervous she is about the Senators' response. She's about as explicit as one could expect, surprisingly explicit I would say, about her nervousness over the fact that Senate Democrats saw the need to fight the press over false "scripts" that aid the Republicans.

You'll recall that David Broder, the Dean Of All The Pundits, did a column in which he compared Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to the very memory-challenged Republican Attorney General, Abu Gonzales:
The Democrats' Gonzales Washington Post 04/26/07. His column opened like this:

Here's a Washington political riddle where you fill in the blanks: As Alberto Gonzales is to the Republicans, Blank Blank is to the Democrats - a continuing embarrassment thanks to his amateurish performance.

If you answered "Harry Reid," give yourself an A. And join the long list of senators of both parties who are ready for these two springtime exhibitions of ineptitude to end. (my emphasis)
Now, I can't claim to do a daily representative survey of the liberal blogosphere. But the Democratic bloggers I saw addressing this column focused on two things primarily. One was what a lame-brained comparison it was on the face of it. The other was the clear implication that Broder knew in his esteemed role as Dean Of All The Pundits that there was a "long line" of Democratic Senators who were eager to have Reid alleged exhibition of "ineptitude" end. This strongly implies without precisely saying so that some Democratic Senators are ready to oust Reid as leader.

I realize I'm covering some of the same ground as I did in an earlier post. But the Dean's pronouncement on Harry Reid is a gift that keeps on giving.

Problem is, when other reporters went out to follow up on this, astonishingly they couldn't find any evidence of this widespread discontent with Reid's leadership among Democratic Senators! And then the Senators themselves sent a letter to the Post expressing confidence in and support for Reid:
Sen. Reid's Fine Leadership 04/27/07. The Dean Of All The Pundits got caught more-or-less making s*** up, in other words.

In the exotic corner of reality which Kathleen Parker's consciousness inhabits, David Broder is part of the Liberal Press Conspiracy against George Bush the Commander Guy, the Republican Party, and all other things godly and wholesome. But pundit solidarity summoned her to the battlements to defend the Dean against those dirty hippies in the blogosphere, in the Senate Democratic Caucus and wherever else they might rear their hairy heads. And when I referred to Parker's corner of "reality", that wasn't a typo. Because she did show in this column that she is actually capable of registering the reality outside her head, at least this one time:

From the assault subsequently directed at Broder - from other journalists, political operatives, left-wing bloggers and even the entire 50-member Senate Democratic Caucus - you'd have thought Broder had had an intimate encounter with an intern. ...
Broder committed no such dastardly deed, but merely did what he has done for the past 35 years. He called it as he saw it - just as Reid claims to have done, and that his defenders seem to find so refreshing.

Nevertheless, the 50 Democratic senators felt compelled to respond. Doesn't the U.S. Senate have more important matters to attend to than David Broder?
Of course, her actual perception of reality is nearly smothered by being wrapped in Bill and Monica - these people are just never going to stop drooling over the Starr Report porn, are they? But she actually managed to see what happened, if only through a glass darkly.

And that is,the Democrats fought back against Establishment press misconduct. If they hadn't, by the time the Sunday morning gabfests rolled around, the phony Broder script would have had taken on a life of it's own, and we would have been seeing things like: "How Serious Is the Democratic Revolt Against Harry Reid?" "Harry Reid: On His Way Out as Leader?" "Can Harry Reid Recover From His Missteps?"

It's also worth remembering that although the Dean Of All The Pundits was picking up on a Republican/FOXist/OxyContin-radio meme about Reid's "lost" comment, the Dean added his own twist to it: the Senate Democrats want to get rid of this guy. It's not just that he was echoing a Republican partisan theme, which he was. It's that he was adding his impeccably Establishment primature as the Dean Of All The Pundits to a claim that was false, that there was some kind of live sentiment to get rid of Reid as Majority Leader that not only was happening but was comparable in intensity to Republican dismay of Abu Gonzales' meltdown.

Again, this wasn't "the rightwing" inventing this story. This was the Dean Of All The Pundits writing in the Washington Post, our Pravda on the Potomoc. And the Senate Democrats realized that this was malicious enough and potentially enough enough damaging to their message that they stomped it out. Right away. The Democrats are going to have to fight the Establishment press scripts like this for a long time if they are ever going to be able to do the things that need to get done.

Naturally, Kathleen Parker doesn't process it exactly that way. She is so shocked, shocked to see the Democrats giving so much attention to shooting down a dysfunctional and phony press script that she apparently blocked out all memory of the constant, non-stop, often-hysterical ranting from Republicans for the last, oh, 40-some years about the Liberal Press! Liberal Press! Liberal Press! But let's give her a break. That's become such a part of the landscape that it's practically background noise. But Democrats taking on our "press corps" for their dysfunction - that is something that's more unusual!

Parker said that their reaction was "unusual, if not unprecedented". She's gasping in astonishment. But she tsks-tsks that it "betrays a disturbing hostility to legitimate criticism." No, this is not the Onion. After the antics of the war cheerleaders these last several years with their blasts of venom at anyone daring to criticize Dear Leader Bush and his war of liberation in Iraq, we can only marvel that the Senators' straightforward, brief statement calling out the Dean for just making stuff up shows Parker a "hostility to legitimate criticism."

My favorite comment in this column is Parker's shocked, "Though Broder is a great political writer, he is not the president of the United States." Lord only knows what sort of firing of neurons in her brain produced that cryptic statement.

What does all this have to do with mean bloggers, you ask? Well, I was going to explain it. But when I looked again at how she got there, it doesn't make much sense. It's something about how bloggers are often anonymous, and this led Paul Begala to criticize the Dean Of All The Pundits, even though Begala wasn't anonymous, and, well, you know, bloggers are bad. Especially the liberal kind. And we need lofty-minded thinkers like Kathleen Parker and the Dean Of All The Pundits to sort through this complicated political stuff for us:

One wonders where these same [dirty hippie blogger] thin-skins were when Broder was leveling his sights at the Bush administration. Was Broder a gasbag when previously he lambasted the Bush budget deficit, the tax cuts for the rich and the mess in Iraq?
You hippie bloggers didn't realize that the Dean has been an aggressive critic of the Bush administration and the Iraq War, did you? Like I said, in Parker's world, the Dean is part of the Liberal Press Conspiracy whether or not any real live liberals think of him that way.

A fair treatment [from legitimate journalists, not hippie blogging "thin-skins"] of Broder's recent column would consider the broader context of his body of work, but fairness is missing from this debate [because the doggone dirty hippies in the Senate and the blogosphere are mucking it all up by putting their tie-dyed nonsense out there]. Also [missing] is respect for those, like the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broder, who have toiled long in the fields to earn the kind of forum others [you know, hippies, thin-skins, flower-power protesters] merely feel entitled to.

The absence of fairness and respectful dissension [from the dirty rude hippies] - and the decline of civility wrought by our nation's [hippies running-wild] unhinged narcissism - now there's something worthy of outrage.
Yes, why can't those dang blogging hippies be civil like Kathleen Parker? Look at how she started off her column. She didn't even use the word "blowjob" when she brought up Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton out of the blue. Yes, we disgusting bloggers could learn some manners, and high-minded political thinking, too, from our betters like Parker and the Dean.

Does that mean we get to make stuff up, too? If not only Rush but the Dean Of All The Pundits can do it, it must be all right, huh?


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