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, January 04, 2004
Meet the Presstitutes

Clark was on Meet the Press today and did quite well. But the show itself was a potent display of why any sane person would rather meet the latest gaggle of 'Survivor' contestants than the hopeless crowd in the Washington media.

The first eight questions were largely host Tim Russert quoting back various statements Clark has made in the campaign about Iraq and terrorism. It was more an effort to make Clark respond to imaginary misstatements or express amazement at the fact that Clark has shown the effrontery, while running against Dear Leader, to actually criticize him than to explicate his views, but at least it did give Clark an opportunity to talk about vital issues.

Russert proceeded to the meat of the interview, the Howard Dean section. The next 20 questions were largely about Howard Dean, with a few about Bill Clinton. Russert asked why Clark isn't beating Dean, made numerous invitations, which Clark refused to accept, for Clark to engage in some Dean-bashing, and finally spent six questions establishing what Clark has already said scores of times, that he is not running to be Howard Dean's VP choice.

After asking 28 questions, not one of which discussed any aspect of domestic policy, Russert then said, "Do you believe that there is a need for you to be specific about policy, particularly on the economy and taxes?" To be fair, Russert did proceed to ask some questions about domestic policy, altough he seemed less interested in the substance of Clark's proposals than in spinning them as tax increases. Clark largely ducked the questions, promising to announce a new tax proposal in a speech in the next few days.

Russert's interview was less than impressive, and was followed by an interview with Iowa journalist David Yepsen, who managed to answer all questions with a banal mixture of the obvious and the cliched. From Mr Yepsen we learned that his paper sponsors debates, "as a service to Iowans" who are concerned about "the economy, jobs, health care, the war on terrorism". Howard Dean has, "a very strong base" because he has, "energized a lot of new people", but, "Dick Gephardt has been a very strong contender here". Granting that there are a lot of people out there who don't already know these things, the likelihood that many of them are watching MTP seems remote.

It was a challenge, but the show managed to go downhill from there, with a panel discussion largely dominated by the spectacurly inane Bill Safire. Safire's meandering ruminations, focussed on his own obsessions with the Clintons and entirely divorced from any reality distinct from his own addled mind, have recently been an embarassment to Alzheimer's patients everywhere. Safire to this day has yet to figure out, or even begin to suspect, that Wesley Clark is actually a presidential candidate rather than an errand boy running some strange covert operation for Bill and Hillary. Today Safire declared that, whatever he says now, Clark will actually runs as Dean's VP when he is given the order by Bill Clinton. The end point of all this, of course, is to promote Hillary's candidacy.

Years ago, I tried to write a satire of the notorious fantasy/soft core bondage porn writer John Norman. Inevitably, it failed. Norman's bizarre and violent misogyny is already so over the top that an attempt to mock it by making it even more excessive necessarily results in something that requires a strong stomach and a twisted sense of humor to appreciate. And it doesn't help that his prose style actually sounds rather like a cruel satire of bad sword and sorcery writing. Safire is entering Norman territory, sounding every day less like a stupid pundit and more like a vicious parody of bad punditry.

Devoid of insight, offering a mix of prissy complaints about usage and tired abuse of the Clintons, Safire is truly an embarassment to the Republic and an insult to those who actually care about the country's politics. And yet, in Washington media circles, he continues to be treated as some sort of national treasure, routinely being invited to high profile and prestigious gigs such as MTP and News Hour, while having a regular opinion column in the most prestigious newspaper in America. Without working at all hard, I could name 50 bloggers who have more interesting and original things to say than Safire. The more difficult challenge would be to find many who don't. Do the people who pay him such respect even stop to think what a devastating, and accurate, condemnation they make of their own useless class by hailing Safire as among its most august and valued members?