The elite media’s hangover after its protracted celebratory reunion—”Hey, remember when we mattered?—once 91-year-old Mark Felt revealed himself as “Deep Throat” last month has been vicious. Caught off-guard, the we-know-better-than-you crowd stumbled into a pit of indignation reacting to Karl Rove’s pep rally at a fundraiser for New York’s Conservative party on June 22. Rove, playing to his base, said that in the wake of 9/11, liberals wanted to “prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.”
President Bush’s political strategist knew it was a win-win confrontation: At a time when GWB’s poll numbers are slipping—although by reading The New York Times you’d think they were as low as Jimmy Carter’s—Rove rallied conservatives with predictable but crowd-pleasing denunciations of luminaries like Michael Moore and the goofballs at MoveOn.org. In the next news cycle, as Rove no doubt anticipated, profiles of courage such as Sens. Harry Reid (who’s called Bush a “liar”), Chuck Schumer, Jon Corzine, Chris Dodd and John Kerry (labeled Bush an “idiot”) were in a dither, demanding Rove’s apology or resignation.
The White House’s response was a crib from Kerry’s crib of a Bruce Springsteen song during last year’s campaign: No surrender.
A June 25 Times editorial was typical, calling Rove’s politically motivated comments “absurd and offensive” and claimed “Americans of every political stripe were united in their outrage and grief.” I guess that means that Americans who knitted conspiracy theories blaming either Bush himself for the attacks, or Jews for the murders in Manhattan and Washington have no stripes. Better yet, the writer said that Rove’s blast was “the surest recipe for turning political dialogue into meaningless squabbling.” This is rich (pun intended) coming from the Times, a paper that has done more to incite “meaningless squabbling” (Krugman, Rich, Dowd, Sulzberger Jr., Sanger, etc.) in the United States than any other media organ on the left.
Those who tote up the number of flagrantly hypocritical editorials published by the Times (I’m on a fourth abacus in just 2005 alone) had to notice that one day before, June 24, the paper was rhapsodic about the dangerous Supreme Court decision to expand the use of eminent domain. The editorialist had the grace to note that the Times has benefited from government seizure of property to build its new headquarters, but this institutional view must’ve confused readers who’ve been tricked into believing Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and his co-owners stick up for the “ordinary” American. A sample: “New London’s development plan may hurt a few small property owners [but screw them!], who will, in any case, be fully compensated. But many more residents are likely to benefit if the city can shore up its tax base and attract badly needed jobs.”
One, it strains the imagination to believe that these displaced “small property owners” will be “fully compensated,” since it’s a one-sided transaction with no free market bidding. Second, will the Times, which is paring down its own workforce, create more jobs at its new building than those lost by the businesses it shooed away? It’s possible, of course, just as the Yanks’ Carl Pavano might win the American League’s Cy Young award.
(This appalling ruling, by the way, is going to be an explosive issue, both in the contentious Supreme Court nomination fight and the 2006 midterm elections. That the liberal wing of the Court favored the rich over the working class gives John Edwards’ “Two Americas” slogan a completely new meaning. As John Fund noted on June 24 in The Wall Street Journal’s online “Political Diary” (sub. required), officials in Freeport, TX, have already announced plans to dispatch two seafood companies to accommodate “the construction of a 900-slip private marina,” the result of which will be a loss of jobs.)
Another ruckus was created by the release of ex-Times magazine editor Ed Klein’s sloppy book The Truth About Hillary, with an initial printing of 350,000 copies. It’s a trashy effort by a trashy writer—although Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter, who mimics Michael Moore in his attacks on Bush, saw fit to buy an excerpt of the book for his July issue—and not worth reading. I did skim The Truth About Hillary and found little to recommend: Didn’t The American Spectator ruin its reputation a decade ago by piling on the Clintons?
Klein’s book was greeted by almost unanimous condemnation, including conservatives like The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan and Fox’s swollen talking head Bill O’Reilly, but The Los Angeles Times’ media critic Tim Rutten, in concert with ex-magazine editor Tina Brown (who was given a charity column in The Washington Post), really went, as dippy Sen. Trent Lott might say, nuclear.
On June 25 Rutten wrote: “Every once in a while, something hits your desk and makes you wonder whether there really isn’t an argument to be made for book burning… Prurient in its focus, shameless in its methodology and vile in execution, this volume is a near-perfect example of what has come to be called ‘bio-porn,’ a particularly noxious subgenre of the polemic literature that nowadays infests our bestseller lists.”
Rutten’s rant would’ve been far more valid if he’d at least acknowledged the vast number of books sold in the past four years that attack—often as recklessly as Klein does Hillary Clinton—George W. Bush. Just to jog your memory, here’s a number of titles that haven’t elicited the same scorn from the likes of Rutten: Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception, The Family, American Dynasty, Bushwhacked, Bushworld, The Republican Noise Machine, The Price of Loyalty, House of Bush, House of Saud and Cruel and Unusual.
The aforementioned attempts to make a buck off gullible left-wing lemmings are probably required reading at Harper’s magazine. At least that’s the impression editor Lewis Lapham—another economic populist who condemns corporate America while dining and drinking at Manhattan’s toniest restaurants—gives in his July “Notebook.” Lapham facetiously worries about the mental health of his underlings, writers who darken the office with gloomy “stories about the perfidy of the Bush Administration. They come forward with so many proofs of whatever crime against liberty or conscience they happen to have in manuscript or in mind (the war in Iraq, the corruption of Wall Street, the ruin of the schools, the nullification of the United States Senate, etc.).”
Granted, it was unsettling when the U.S. Senate was disbanded earlier this year, but like the affluent Lapham, who hasn’t come to expect some sort of coup from Bush every month?
The fearless editor, that lonely beacon of truth, says that America’s citizens live in a “make-believe democracy,” led by Bush, “an illiterate lout forwarding freight for a rapacious oligarch.” My goodness, have another highball and Marlboro Light, Lew. At the risk of appearing like the simpleton GOP supporters that Lapham regularly demeans, I will remind this noble blueblood that voters did have a choice last November, and enough voters rejected John Kerry so that Bush’s “rapacious oligarch” could rape and pillage this country, from sea to shining sea, at will.
Oh, wait: It slipped my mind that November’s election was also “make-believe.” Too bad Lapham isn’t an imaginary character in an episode of The West Wing.