Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Sunday, July 07, 2002
The Beltway Bozos

Bob Somerby is back with another fine Daily Howler. In it, he quotes a Washington pundit (Charlie Cook, but it doesn't matter which one, they all say the same thing) talking about Gore's recent speech:

Listening to former Vice President Al Gore’s graceless remarks over the weekend, when he effectively blamed his 2000 presidential campaign loss on “polls, tactics and all the rest,” one question kept coming back to me: “Does he really believe what he’s saying?”…[F]rom my vantage point it seems that Gore was the weakest link in the Gore/Lieberman campaign—not his pollsters, his strategists, his tacticians or his other consultants. Even if it were the campaign's fault, it is completely tasteless to blame others - but, in this case, it simply isn't credible for Gore to pass the buck.

What was Cook so upset about that Kaus, in quoting the same column (July 2), referred to him as "the normally mild-mannered campaign maven Charlie Cook "? Well, essentially Gore said that he ran a bad campaign. Which is what every pundit in the beltway has been saying non-stop for a year and a half. Except it was Al Gore, so most of them didn't want to settle for 'bad' and called it the worst in recent history.

In other words, Gore was agreeing with what the pundits said. So naturally, they all jumped up to blast him.

Beltway pundits are, like most unintelligent pack animals, consistent. Partying like it was 2000, the hack pack who couldn't attack Gore for what he did say, all attacked him for what he didn't actually say, but they decided he had said - that the problems of the campaign were the faults of his aides and not his own. Apparently they all believe Al Gore, who has been running his campaigns for 28 years now and been around them since he was a child, never noticed in all that time that the candidates make the final decisions and set the tone of a campaign.

Bob Novak noted that Gore "named no names", in other words criticized nobody but himself, and drew the same conclusion that he was criticizing everybody but himself. And just to show he was in campaign form, Novak managed to work in two explicit and one implicit references to Gore 're-inventing' himself and one to his wardrobe.

On Capital Gang, Margaret Carlson was even more incoherent. Aside from hitting her spin points, she seemed to have no idea what she was saying:

CARLSON: Absolutely. And Mark, you know, right before that second debate, and speaking of consultants, Rick Berke in the "New York Times" reported that the consultants showed Al Gore the parody on "Saturday Night Live" of himself, and as a result, he was like a figure out of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in that second debate.

But Gore never knew who he was. Was he the alpha male in the earth tones? Was he the, you know, aggressive hard hitter? And if a guy can't run his own campaign and his own consultants and is blaming them a year and a half later, that's not very presidential.

And even though I don't think he had the best advice in the world, and he had way too much of it, be a man, don't blame them. Take the blame yourself.

And, by the way, if he had good advice right now, he wouldn't revisit 2000 even for a second.

She started out by - blaming Gore's consultants! She then proceeded to hit a string of old favorites: stiff "like a [wax] figure", "never knew who he was", "earth tones", "alpha male". She goes on to say that he was right in saying he got bad advice, but condemned him for blaming the advisers while studiously never mentioning he hadn't said that.

It always amuses me that these imbeciles just repeat the same pet phrases over and over - and it's Gore who gets trashed for being robotic.

HUNT: Mark, I've written a number of times over the last year and a half that Al Gore did, did -- before he considers running again, has to explain that jury (ph) performance in the 2000, why he was able, how he was able to snatch defeat during the greatest economy of our lifetime.

After hearing his explanation, I wish he'd go underground for a while now, I -- it was just terrible. It was not, it was, it was, it was also not accurate, it wasn't the consultants that were responsible for that dreary debate performance, it wasn't the consultants that were unable to distinguish between Clintonomics, which was loved by most Americans, and Clinton's character, which was despised by most Americans.

It was Al Gore that was unable to distinguish between the two, and so therefore just went into his own shell position on that.

Carlson has just said that Gore is foolish for talking about 2000. Hunt says Carlson is wrong and Gore has to talk about it, but manages to phrase it as a criticism of Gore rather than of Carlson. Gore's speech was closed to the press and neither Hunt nor other reporters heard it - but he still goes on to trash the explanation he has "heard" Gore make. It seems he has confirmed his opinions with so many fellow pundits by now that he is completely unaware that he is attacking not Gore's unheard speech but the voices in his head making up an imaginary Gore speech.

But if Hunt's content was peurile, at least you can't fault his eloquence: "I -- it was just terrible. It was not, it was, it was, it was also not accurate."

Damn, I wish I could turn a phrase like that.

Kausfiles on Friday actually noticed that Gore was being blamed for something he never said. He then goes on to criticize - Gore, of course.

Could this be one of those cases of instant pack misintepretation? I suppose so, although there were also things Gore could have said to prevent that intepretaion -- like "I had a great staff. I'm talking about my own mistakes here" -- that he apparently didn't say.

In other words, if somebody attacks you for saying something you never said, it must be your fault - you should have not said it more emphatically.

It's interesting that in this rehash of the old Gore themes, the "Gore is a liar" theme doesn't seem to be in play. Of course, that's the one that has to be backed up by some sort of facts, and if the pundits go back to it at this point, they run into the problem that in almost all of his 'lies' Gore told the truth and the reporters lied. So it's safer to go back to the 're-inventing' theme - absolutely anything Gore says or does without exception can be, and I guarantee will be, dismissed as him trying to re-invent himself yet again.