Wednesday, April 29

If We Can't Have A Better Narrative, Can't We At Least Find Better Narrators? Vol CLXXI

GAIL Collins, in the latest installment of The Conversation, her ongoing discussions with David Brooks, apparently the Times' attempt to make either or both of them appear more tepid:
But my big question is how long the Democrats can refrain from becoming appalling.

Too late, but you only missed by a few decades.
When the Republicans took control in 1994, even those of us who were saddened about what the change would do to the Clinton agenda had to admit the Democrats had it coming. They’d been in power most of the time since the New Deal, and had become way too arrogant and inward-looking. They didn’t believe the public would punish them, either for corruption or for ignoring the voters’ complaints and concerns.

Okay, so the early 90s was the time when I really started smoking crack, as opposed to the three or four times daily of the previous five years, so maybe it's my memory that's faulty, but the Clinton agenda? Wasn't that the one whose cornerstone was National Health Care, which was shot down by the Democratically-controlled Congress? And the colossal stink over Don't Ask/Don't Tell, the sorry-assed Fish Nor Fowl non-solution reportedly spurred by fears of what the Democratically-controlled Senate might do in response to an executive order?

A bit simplistic, sure, but our point is how did the '94 midterms make a politically-savvy reporter fear for an agenda which was already in shreds and a Presidency which was already encircled by Clinton Scandals, Inc., spurred on by egregiously erroneous Times reporting by Judith Miller Jeff Gerth?

And the rest, if anything, leaves us more puzzled. Arrogant and corrupt those Democrats may have been (but remarkably so, Gail? For Congress? Y'know, since you've already bought two scoops of Republican Revolution Hallucination, you can get our Rainbow-Winged Spumoni Pony for just $1.25 extra), but "didn't believe the voters would punish them"? This is the party which had turned tail and skedaddled at Reagan's shadow, and a dozen years later there still wasn't anyone rounding up stragglers. Bill Clinton his own self rose to national prominence in the mid-80s drive to Make Democrats Indistinguishable From Republicans. Okay, maybe they didn't think they could lose control of Congress, but Thinking About the Party comes in, at best, at #4 on any Congresscritter's list of things to worry about, and the first three are "Get myself reelected".
What surprised me was how fast the Republicans became worse. The bloom was off the rose before you could say Tom DeLay.

And if there's something just plain odd (read: "precise transcription of the GOP talking-points version of history") about that construction--not to mention the notion of that Post-Reagan Revolution, post-Dixiecrat defection, DLC-heyday deficit-cutting Democratic Congress as the direct descendants of the New Deal--the idea that one would be flabbergasted by the speed with which a "revolution" led by a congenital liar and transparent con man like Newt Gingrich could "turn into" Tom DeLay is simply off the charts. I mean, one did not need to be a Democrat (or even just an admirer of The Clinton Agenda), a skeptical reporter type, or even particularly well-versed in contemporary politics to know, long before '94, that Gingrich was a public scoundrel of the highest order. Anyone who actually believed The Contract with America was a "Contract" "with" "America" was too gullible to live. Hell, after that it took me three more years to once again accept "The" as an English article, but then I live next door to Danny Burton's district. For cryin' out loud. Forget policy, which is too wonkish and boring for most Times pundits; by 1994 the details of Newt's first divorce were widely disseminated. I'm sure they were familiar with that.

Speaking of which, hasn't Newton Leroy Cincinatus Gingrich spent enough time in the public arena? Isn't he supposed to be back t' plowin' by now? I mean in the fields, not in his publisher's secretarial pool.


map106 said...

Okay, I'm sorta drunk, and I've made a fool of myself on this board more than once, but I just gotta say, I can't understand why more people don't read and comment on your blog. Your knowledge of history astounds me, perhaps because I have none. Your snarkiness is unparalleled, and the rhythm of your sentences is mesmerizing, and this comes from a technical writer of 20 years, who, all evidence to the contrary, makes a point of being the Ernest Hemingway of technical writing--not cryptic...oh why waste your time explaining it to you.

'Course, I just recently attended an Easter dinner (of pizza, but we did color eggs) during which the hostess (a naturalized citizen originally from Germany) stated, after her son admitted that he never read a book in high school, that no one in his right mind ever read Moby Dick. I had to admit that I had read it twice. I didn't admit that I enjoyed it though.

Brendan said...
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Brendan said...
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Brendan said...

Y'know, since you've already bought two scoops of Republican Revolution Hallucination, you can get our Rainbow-Winged Spumoni Pony for just $1.25 extra ...

!!! **** <3

(Speechless, is what I mean to say.)

@map106: The reason this commenter doesn't leave more comments is similar to the reason I didn't ask many questions of my other favorite teachers: sometimes, it's better for me just to shut up and listen.

And I never cut class.

heydave said...

Personally, I always look for the snark. But when hat stand after hat stand (reporter after reporter, if you're the Times) blathers on so blissfully, pointing out how "down" now looks so "up," I just stare and let someone else snark. I'm easy that way.

Brian said...

I jsut want to add my dittos (smirk) to map106's comment above. I love the flow of your prose, Riley. Plus, I'm an ex-Hoosier (Fort Wayne) and I like the home state flavah!

Anonymous said...

Hey hey hey, Nap106 -- elitist that I've been ever since Fabian epitomized, for all Thinking Teeners, what the adult world of commerce was all about, I prefer keeping these precious Dog droppings to myself and to those discerning souls who have had enough good luck to get washed up on Dog's shore, enough native curiosity to guide their dinghy back on a daily basis, and enough intelligence to reinforce Mr Rile's divine cerebelligerosity-against-teh-machine with their own commentary.

Plus, self-indulgently living in Hawaii, 3 to 6 hours behind the standard-blogtime curve, I get to spew commentary without being relegated to cue-number 163 and below.

So let's be quiet and celebrate our current serendipitous state of exclusivity-without-walls. It all may end abruptly, should the Dog trot away to the likes of Ariannaland and Bloggy Numerical Success.

Aloha to those sharp Riley canines,


Brian said...

Not Arriana! Tell us it is not so.

He would be lost amongst the Homeopaths and woo-meisters!

StringonaStick said...

When I first started reading blogs, I had a brief period where I thought "hey, I'm a pretty good writer, I should do this too". Then I came across Mr Doghouse and Driftglass in the same week, and I decided not to add my clutter the 'tubes when there are such excellent writers already plowing those fields. I'm happy reading and admiring!