January 26, 2006

Failures of the Punditry

On TPMCafe, Reed Hunt delivers a rant on Maureen Dowd for her aspersion on the Democratic leaders and, in particular, on her naming Al Gore as one of the Democrats who are incapable of showing the leadership needed against the Bush's "national security scare-a-thon". It was a righteous rant and one you should definitely read in full. He provides a stirring defense of Al Gore:

Let's start with Al Gore. He was the subject of never-ending ridicule from Ms. Dowd while he was in the White House, while he ran against George Bush, and since that date. Many of her colleagues at the Times and most other mainstream media writers have for years repeatedly disparaged Al on a variety of personal grounds, burying as deep as they could his obvious qualifications for the Presidency. They have distorted facts, exaggerated minor matters, and ignored major advantageous comparisons between Gore and his political rivals.

If you can catch one of the critics off-guard, they will tell you that Gore is to be blamed for 2000 because the "election should not have been that close." Actually, for an incumbent vice president running for the Presidency the election is almost always very, very close; it is very hard to win against a 'change' candidate when there's an 8-year record to carry, no matter how good it may be.And let's just skip over the fact that in the third quarter of 2000 the country had negative economic growth, thanks to Mr. Greenspan's earlier interest rate rise and the onset of the stock market crash.

Despite all that, Gore won the popular vote nationally by a reasonably large margin. More important, perhaps, researchers have demonstrated that by a margin as high as 100,000 he prevailed in the popular vote in Florida as it was cast. Specifically, a very large number of voters, particularly in African-American precincts, punched the Gore chad, did not leave it hanging, but emphasized their vote by writing in Gore's name. The machines did not count their ballots because the handwriting negated the punch. These Gore votes would have been counted in any statewide recount by hand.

...Now this is all old news. It would be old news for Ms. Dowd if she had reported it or written it at the time or since. But instead it is, we must suppose, part of her basis to declare that Gore is not the "right" person to represent in public the views that she herself holds, although she is a representative part of the media assault that belittled Gore all along and helped produce the result in 2000. Somehow, she apparently blames Gore for not overcoming her contribution toward delivering the election to the wrong person. Gore at any rate has not pitied himself or asked for apologies from her or anyone else. But, like someone whose bad driving helped cause a car wreck for others, perhaps Ms. Dowd could at least not belittle those who were wronged, a group that includes the plurality of voters in the United States.

I fast forward to the present. Gore is now publishing a book on global warming -- something that no other Presidential candidate has ever had the depth or ambition to do. He has done a documentary on it. He tours the country to address large crowds on the topic. She doesn't mention this, or perhaps even know about it. This is leadership, but in her view he is not "right."

Gore has given a series of speeches, more than once in Constitution Hall, on the subject of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Lawyers praise these speeches. Thousands on the Internet read them and praise them. Ms. Dowd could have attended any of them, or read them all if she so chose. The Administration took the last one so seriously that it responded immediately and vigorously, and continues to do so. But Ms. Dowd does not mention any of that; her paper scarcely mentioned Gore's last speech; she certainly won't quote it. Instead she blithely declares him not to be a "right" person for responding to the Administration. Just why would that be? Because she doesn't like his jokes (too self-deprecating for her?), or the fact that he is sincere (too sincere for her?), or his deep knowledge of the issues (too much thinking, when that's her line of work?). Maybe she doubts his motives -- after all, he has nothing to gain economically and isn't running for President, so he must be hiding something!

Reed is correct in saying the media and the liberal punditry must look to its own part in giving control to the disastrous Mr. Bush. As meticulously documented by Bob Somerby, the media was more than anxious to pile on Gore. He was stiff. He wasn't truthful. He was fundraising in Buddhist temples. And gosh, he was boring. The media did everything they could to take him down a peg and boy, they did a bang up job. But now some see the consequences of their deal with the devil. Yes, Gore did make some mistakes (selecting Lieberman as his VP was the most obvious in my opinion), but he clearly would have made a better president and the majority of Americans knew that too.

People like MoDo are trapped in their preconceived notions and their old mistakes, having been sold a bill of goods by the propaganda the Republicans (Luntz, Gingrich, Limbaugh) have been repeating over and over and over again. Propaganda that says Democrats are hapless and not to be trusted. She reminds me of the Senators and Representatives that voted to grant power to Bush to execute a war against Iraq and then have been incapable of admitting that they also have some responsibility for the state we are in because they could have said no. But as you know, if you don't admit there is a problem, you can't fix it. Too many people have not admitted that they made a mistake and so they cannot understand how they can prevent making the same type of mistake again.

With MoDo and so many of the punditry, because they never saw their part in abetting the Republican lies, they continue to be unsuspecting carriers of the poison into the body politic. It would be nice if they realized they need to re-examine what caused them to be so mistaken in their earlier judgments. Perhaps the "angry left" can provide enough of a wakeup call that they finally look at the problem, but I'm not too hopeful because they would have to seriously want to listen to the complaints.

Meanwhile, Al Gore looks better and better everytime he speaks. I surely wish he was in the Senate, because I'm sure we would get the filibuster our country so desperately needs to stop Alito.

Posted by Mary at January 26, 2006 12:08 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |

After dumping on one candidate and then seeing what a disaster Bush is, pundits and journalists are like anyone else. The least likely thing they are to do is to admit mistakes about the past because they realize it damages their current credibility.

So the dog that got kicked before only gets kicked harder now. The rest of us just take another bite in the butt. Nice job here.

Posted by: The Heretik at January 26, 2006 07:04 PM