Thursday, April 17

Campaign 2008: Finally, A Good Reason To Watch More Porn.

David Brooks, "No Whining About the Media." April 16

HONEST to God, if you could make this stuff up--and you can't--what would you do with it? First, the nation's Newspaper of Record decides that giving David Brooks 800 words worth of nothing twice a week is insufficient; we need his instantaneous passive-aggression on the non-issues of the moment, presumably on the grounds that all the kids today are into this "blogging" thing. And then the man who has turned sniveling into a career tells "his readership" to stop whining about something. And that something turns out to be the conduct of last night's "debate", which, with apologies to the Firesign Theatre, managed to achieve a new low in Low, however impossible that seemed just hours before. Not to mention its being just the sort of thing anyone who reads Brooks for the intellectual content would already have been cheering.

(Campaign '08 ads are all over the teevee in Indiana now, which explains why their handlers had local teleprompter readers ape excitement over our recently reclaimed "relevance". Meanwhile my Poor Wife, registered Democrat, gets four phone calls a night from people who, I suppose, imagine they are "participating in the system", or even "making the world a better place". Apparently volunteer work leaves them little or no time to see their man or woman's commercials six times in an evening, since that would make the starriest-eyed young idealist rummage the garage for anything huffable. This is why I've long felt that the major disaster visited on the human race by the rise of technology is not Weapons of Mass Destruction, but the eradication of smallpox.)

Anyway, back to Brooks. It's difficult to believe he imagines his moderate-Republican act fools anyone, as it has all the subtlety of a Billy Dee Williams malt liquor commercial, but, he does:
First, Democrats, and especially Obama supporters, are going to jump all over ABC for the choice of topics: too many gaffe questions, not enough policy questions.
I understand the complaints, but I thought the questions were excellent. The journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities. Almost every question tonight did that. The candidates each looked foolish at times, but that’s their own fault.

Okay, leaving aside--for a moment--the idea that George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson are "journalists", exactly when did this become their "job", and when did the "job" expand to include hosting duties on these low-budget, faux-democratic spectacles? It's one thing for these morons--and, tell me, what worse selections than Gibson and Stephanopoulos are out there?--to secretly (har har) try to manipulate our domestic politics into tabloid-level ratings busters (an idea which is at least ten years out of date, as no self-respecting junk-news junkie would try to cop a fix from the fucking networks anymore). It's quite a different matter to celebrate this shit as the vitally important work of a Free Press.

And shit, even Brooks knows better:
We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall. Remember how George H.W. Bush toured flag factories to expose Michael Dukakis. It’s legitimate to see how the candidates will respond to these sorts of symbolic issues.

Th' fuck?

I have to admit, long-time political dilettante that I am, that I had, indeed--are you sitting down?--completely forgotten how George H.W. Bush had toured flag factories. He presumably toured them while walking, and in the company of their CEOs and/or plant managers, but I don't want to assume too much. That this exposure stemmed the tide of Dukakismania and made the world safe for the most vapid presidency of the modern era managed to escape my notice. In fact, I thought we had all agreed to pretty much forget the entire Bush I administration as good for nobody. Evoking the most idiotic campaign ever conducted in a nation with sewage treatment plants as a paragon of sensible Chief Executive Selection is simply dumbfounding. Fer chrissakes, Bush I then lost the following election because he vomited on Kiichi Miyazawa. Which for Brooks, I take it, demonstrated to the American people he didn't really have the intestinal fortitude for international diplomacy.
Second, Obama and Clinton were completely irresponsible. As the first President Bush discovered, it is simply irresponsible statesmanship (and stupid politics) to make blanket pledges to win votes. Both candidates did that on vital issues.

The above was written by a self-styled Reaganaut.
Both promised to not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 or $250,000 a year. They both just emasculated their domestic programs.

Both promised one thing or another. We are required under the terms of Ever Writing About David Brooks to point one of these out per column, lest anyone argue he's on the Op-Ed page because he writes so well.

We're no economist, mind you, but we will point out that the present occupant of the White House, a Fiscal Conservative, has cut taxes while conducting a number of wars. In other words, if nothing else there's always deficit spending, which was just fine with Republicans from 2001-2004.

(This reminds me: the one good thing about Indiana's upcoming primary--and by "upcoming" I mean "several tortuous weeks from now"--has nothing whatsoever to do with the still-contested Democratic Presidential race, but with Dan Burton's sinecured head being on the chopping block. I don't know if he's dropped the pathosesque "I had to shine shoes so my alcoholic father could buy nickel beer" series, but his new ad shows Senator Clinton, then Senator Obama, while intoning that he's the only man to keep their Librul TaxnSpending in check, as a crawl ticks off the awards he's won from Murricans United Against Taxes On White People. This despite the fact that the only Bush-era, record-deficit spending bills ol' Sureshot hasn't voted for were the ones whose calls conflicted with his tee times.)
The second pledge was just as bad. Nobody knows what the situation in Iraq will be like. To pledge an automatic withdrawal is just insane.

Right. This is no time to let insanity creep into our conduct of the Iraq war.

OKAY, now let's say you are The American Broadcasting Company, Inc. You're owned, fittingly, by the Walt Disney Company, the second largest media corporation in the world, with $35.51 B in revenue last year. And the best you can do is Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos? The Wal-Mart version of Charles Kuralt, and a guy whose career can only be explained by America's continued love affair with Talking Chipmunks? They didn't just grill the next Democratic party nominee for President on Bosniagate, Wrightgate, Bittergate, and flag pins, aka All The Important Issues; Gibson nearly went postal over Effective Capital Gains Tax Rates, a matter it has to be difficult to get his accountant interested in this year. And Chuck's contribution to "journalism" included this:
And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased. The government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

Which, again, given our general indolence in economic matters it's shocking to have to point out that fucking of course revenues rose when the rates were dropped, since the people who actually have Capital to Gain naturally waited until tax rates were lowered to realize it. It's not as if the Republicans have been doing this sort of thing in secret, is it? This is really like arguing that since the grocer sells more ground beef when he marks it down $1 a pound he ought to give the stuff away and retire wealthy. As for 100 million people owning stock, assuming they do and that doesn't include the (much greater) number who own mutual fund shares, most of 'em aren't day traders, and they're not so wealthy as to make stock-trading decisions based on short-term tax rates.  

Incidentally, this sort of thing is the product of Charlie Gibson being groomed for a week so he can mouth this sort of thing.  It's not his response to some errant comment or candidate's evasiveness; this is what a roomful of people came up with for Charlie Gibson to bring up.  

I'd vote for whomever called Gibson full of shit first, but no one does, and Senator Obama benefitted from the Won't Someone Stand Up For the Seven-Figure Wage Earners of the World approach when Gibson conveniently overlooked another of the Senator's "Social Security is in crisis" bits.   (For fuck's sake, can we start replying to this every fucking time that we somehow managed to find enough money to conduct wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while cutting taxes, and that the expenses we've admitted to were great enough to operate Social Security without a penny of tax revenue coming in?) 

As for Stephanopoulos, at least he's an equal-opportunity idiot:
Senator Clinton, when Bill Richardson called you to say he was endorsing Barack Obama, you told him that Senator Obama can't win. I'm not going to ask you about that conversation. I know you don't want to talk about it.

and: you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?

Not that it requires further comment, but we note here that Jeremiah Wright gave up his student deferment in 1961, spent two years in the Marines, transferred to the Navy and served through 1967. George Stephanopoulos heroically broke out in hives from the stress of serving as a Clinton spokesman.


heydave said...

So, you're in PT and you take a bullet for the team by watching that crap?

I'll have what you're smoking, sir.

Anonymous said...

I have never been happier that I skipped a debate than I am this morning.

Vivek said...

and, tell me, what worse selections than Gibson and Stephanopoulos are out there?

I don't know about worse, because this sort of thing is hard to quantify, but NBC's trio of idiots comes to mind.

R. Porrofatto said...

Thank you. When I read Brooks I can only splutter helplessly at the screen. Plus I just heard ABC's own Jake Tapper on NPR telling me that the first hour or so of witless interrogation was all about character, performed as a public service because it's we who are demanding to know about flag pins, and by asking them we all get "closer" to "knowing" the candidates. I spluttered all over my radio.

Thank G_d (the "_" is a courtesy to your more orthodox readers. His real Name is "God") that Charlie finally got to the most important issue concerning our faltering economy that's on everyone's mind these days -- the fucking capital gains tax.

Julia said...

See, I feel so silly. Here I thought that the "no new taxes" pledge was kind of a big deal for Bush 1, being as he used it instead of punctuation for the entire campaign. Brooks even thinks breaking it lost him the election.

Musta not visited enough flag factories that time.

arghous said...

I have to admit, long-time political dilettante that I am, that I had, indeed--are you sitting down?--completely forgotten how George H.W. Bush had toured flag factories.

How could you possibly forget that? It was the pivotal point in the entire campaign!

It happened right after that Boston Harbor photo op Bush did. Uh, maybe not... Oh, yeah, it was right when he stood by that shiny new tank. I'm sure of it... Hold it -- no, that wasn't it. Maybe it was about that time he was oiling that revolving door? Naw...

Anyway, it happened that time with the thing. And Dukakis never saw it coming.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it was about that time he was oiling that revolving door? Naw...

I thought it was when he showed the voters that he was willing to learn and grow by standing amazed by supermarket scanner technology. Even venturing anywhere near a grocery store proved he had the common touch.

Distributorcap said...

cannot read Brooks --- smug little prick he is. he thinks he is smarter and more insightful than he is....

i gave up the times when kristol came along -- but i swear it is brooks that i dont miss more

as for abc's debate --- it was more entertainment than a debate -- they didnt even broadcast it live to the west coast

RobW said...

As long as we're remembering the 1988 campaign and its relevance to this debate, I believe that one of those two, maybe it was Gibson, was demanding that Clinton make a "read-my-lips" pledge not to raise taxes. They actually used that phrase. Read my lips.

That's no joke. They repeatedly badgered her, trying to get her to say, "Read my lips, no new taxes."

Seriously, does the political news media have any institutional memory at all? Did they just rewind and erase the tape of everything that happened before 2000?

It's obvious that they think we're all a bunch of morons, but do they think the candidates are that stupid, too?

kate said...

No Rob, they are the morons, we're just too dumbfounded to go out and kill them.

I was actually studying journalism (communications they now say) when in college around the time that Stephie was allowed to become a media queen. It was one of the events that made me realize journalism as it once was practiced really doesn't exist anymore.

Gibson's public fretting about the capital gains tax only exemplifies their absolute lack of membership among the commoners.

I truly do believe that Stephie thinks himself a hard-hitting journalist ala Walter Cronkie, Dan Rather or Ed Murrow and Charlie believes he channels the worries of the masses whilst perched in his Park Ave apartment or Farmington Ct. compound.