I know that people like to imagine otherwise, but the ruling coalition in this country (ruling because it has no more ability to govern than it has sufficient democratic instincts to do so) consists of a bunch of standard-issue Weekly Standard neo-fascists (I'm bringing it back! Why are "conservatives" like fascists? Because they are! Short, but it didn't take three years to get into some semblance of publishing shape, either) throwing shit at a wall to see what captures the, you should pardon the expression, "imagination" of the public. Which I suppose we all, fascist or not, do to some extent, but only these guys and their sorry-assed centrist Democrat dopplegängers get theirs broadcast by major networks or published by the Newspaper of Record.
(Speaking of the Gray Lady, I heard someone say that Kristol would be taking the Bill Safir(e) chair. It's true those two enjoy the commonality of being lying fascist bags of shit, but Safir(e) in his heyday was at least lively, even if you wouldn't have left your nine-year-old alone in a room with him. Kristol's taking the Tierney chair, folks. Tierney represented the Times' Pander Offensive; he was the New Yawk editor's idea of the sort of Midwesterner who finds David Brooks such a delightfully contrarian 19th century mind. In this, as always, we find a reassuring cluelessness, as when a regional symphony orchestra backs Van Halen, or Celine Dion tries to rock out. No Midwesterner reads David Brooks. Few have even heard of him. At any rate, the Tierney experiment is now officially a failure and it's time to return the space to the paranoid ravings of well-born East Coast hucksters, where it belongs.
(We can't pass this by without noting that Andrew Sullivan called Kristol "an extremely talented writer", proving that some people can't tell the difference between a Bartok string quartet and the mock pleadings of a buggered cabana boy.)
Where was I? Oh, so look at Hillary's cleavage. You would not have described it as such. Your grandmother would not have described it as such. It raised no boners beyond the terminally infantile erections of Right Blogtopia, and merited only a half-hearted What The Fuck among adults, but it was on the "News". And look what's happened since. The diapered fantasies of your mewling Chris Matthewses and your puking Tim Russerts, barely contained in the best of times, started boiling harder than an Irish dinner. (By the way, does anyone imagine either of these two has ever had sexual relations without both themselves and the victim being dead drunk?) The smooth-shaven Barack Obama suddenly had a message, and John Edwards suddenly had one that was being heard, his former Breck Girl locks now a Kennedyesque mop. Clearly some switch had been thrown, dear reader, and the resultant light was invisible to anyone with a healthy adult sex life.
Now, this points out a couple of things about the string pullers. One, they obviously realize that sex sells, as we all do, but they also know that infantile notions of sex sell best of all. It wasn't Gennifer Flowers got the faithful all riled up; it was the thought of Paula Jones kissing the Bent Clenis™. It wasn't schtupping Monica, it was leaving a stain. If Larry Craig had been caught in a Watergate suite with a male aide it wouldn't have played three days outside of Idaho. And two, I believe we can take it for granted that they share the Don't Fuck Mommy/Look I Made A Poo-Poo frame of reference; nobody with a healthy sex life could possibly care. We are under perpetual attack by the forces of infantile sexuality, not in a reasonably-well-adjusted, specialist-publication way, but in an Oh My God In A Public Men's Room! How Disgusting, and I Hope They Have More Pictures On A-18! sense.
Of course the real point is power, as it always is for the well-born erectile-deficient; leading the New American Gladiators crowd to the polls is just a means to that end, so once something like this takes hold it gets attached to "important" concepts (if it were all about sex Russert might begin to catch on at some point, though I doubt Matthews would) like Mike Huckabee Is Too Religious (a concept as wistless as the Clinton cleavage, and no less effective. As Jay B pointed out, seven years ago the EmEssEm were outraged someone would embarrass a Presidential candidate by asking him to name the president of Pakistan; now it's outraged that an utterance can be parsed to suggest an unfamiliarity with how its paperwork is progressing this week).
So I was not really surprised when NBC's Richard Engle broke the weekend wall-to-wall Bhutto: The Islamic Elvis bit (someone needs to explain the "she cracked her skull on the limo door" thing to me, though. Is this supposed to suggest it was suicide or something? Are they planning to indict Dr. Nick?) for this:
New bin-Laden Audio Proves Surge Is Working
(although I thought he should have added "Besides, he's too religious,") because that's exactly what NBC's "terrorist experts" said about the last bin-Laden audiotape, and hey, you go with what you know, plus the alternative--having accurately reported the truth about "al-Qaeda in Iraq" for the last four years--is as unthinkable as it is impossible. Still, it's plenty amusing to hear the same guys who were painting him as Goldfinger a couple years back now analyzing the terror threat contained in an intercepted 8-Track message to his evil hordes. Is it any wonder that the abiding symbol of our last war on Islamofascism is a cartoon mouse giving 'em the finger?