Friday, October 24, 2008

Culture of inanity

Previously in the Dumbing down of our political discourse, I had observed Ezra Klein's swan dive into the "Politico sewer," its headline gurgling, RNC shells out $150K for Palin fashion. Ezra got in a twit over the money spent on Sarah Palin's new wardrobe as if this item deserved Serious Outrage. My reaction can be summed up with an impersonation of one of the other Blog Boyz... So stupid!

Yesterday, Bob Somerby dissected the same Politico article, but unlike Ezra who joined the Village carnival, the astute Daily Howler laureate "darkly chuckled" at author Jeanne Cummings' disingenuous attempt to use voters to hide her whipped-up insipid froth stewed over "primping and dressing on the campaign trail." Truth is: hasn’t been the voters who have focused on the kinds of trivia seized upon in Cummings’ piece. It wasn’t the voters who focused on Gore’s “clothing hues,” or on Edwards’ vile haircuts. It was the mainstream press corps—people like Cummings, who is lying here, right in your faces. It has been the mainstream press which has pushed this inanity. And in doing so, they have served power.

Please remember the basic rule, the rule we’ve discussed for so many years: It’s never the press corps which pushes these topics, if you let the press corps tell it. Inevitably, the press corps attributes its conduct to others—to “late-night comedians,” to “political rivals,” or, in this case, to the voters themselves. But people like Cummings are never truthful about where the inanity comes from. The inanity comes from people like Cummings. They pimp it, then lie about that fact, thus hiding their reasons for acting.

Whose interest does inanity serve? Let’s review the past dozen years. When it comes to candidates’ clothing, which party have these idiots flayed? Duh! Gore was savaged for his clothes—and Edwards for his haircuts. (John McCain’s shoes? Nice try!) And of course, Cummings is lying by omission when she so sweetly types this:

CUMMINGS: In 2000, Democrat Al Gore took heat for changing his clothing hues.

Actually, that took place in 1999, when Cummings’ cohort—helped by Cummings herself—was staging its twenty-month War Against Gore, the war which sent George Bush to the White House. About this war, Cummings lies by omission. She remembers the months-long attack on “clothing hues” (November 1999 was the cruelest month.) But she has somehow forgotten the other attacks on Gore’s deeply vile, troubling clothing...

Somerby ticked off some of the fashionista attacks against Gore: his three-button suits (or four-button suits, darhleeng, Arianna quibbled with a sniff and "not the way most American males dress."), his polo shirts allegedly worn to attract female voters, and hemmed up trousers to show off his shining bright cowboy boots.

Honest to goodness! This was newsworthy because why? Well, of course, it wasn't then like the kerfuffle now over Palin's wardrobe, a convenient segue to rehash the sins of major Dems. In Bob's incomparable truth-telling style, he lets us know whassup with the nonsense (with emphasis):

Cummings forgets to tell the whole truth, citing what you’re allowed to know. And of course, she forgets to mention the flip side of her cohort’s inanity: The way Bill Bradley’s old neckties and shabby shoes proved that he was authentic, unlike Gore. (Bradley said he hadn’t bought shoes in 25 years—and they pretended that they believed him!)

She forgets the war her own cohort waged. And of course, by Hard Pundit Law, she pretends it was done by “the voters!”

Let’s be frank. Inane complaints about clothing and grooming have killed your interests in the past dozen years—and now, they engage their inanity once again. At the Times, the inane Patrick Healy is on the front page; inside, Eric Wilson has a companion piece! (At the Post, they had the decency to restrict Givhan’s musings to page one of “Style.”) But make no mistake: Inanity exists to serve power. If progressives let inanity continue as part of press culture, it will be used to defeat them again.

Today, power has fled from Saint McCain; it’s time for a Dem to clean up the messes, as Clinton was allowed to do, long ago. (The attacks began as soon as he started.) That’s right! Things are so bad in DC today that power has fled the GOP! But don’t worry! Power will turn back against your tribe—and they will defeat you once again, through the uses of their inanity.

If we were smart, we’d try to stamp out this culture—the press corps’ culture of inanity. In the future, this culture will be used against you, as it has been used in the past. But your leaders on cable are being paid millions. To tell you the truth, they aren’t very smart—and they enjoy having fun.

We know, we know—you’re enjoying this too! That’s what the other side counts on.

And the Blog Boyz whiff the carrot dangling at the top of the media ladder and climb as quick as they can toward the "culture of inanity," visions of dollar signs gleam in their eyes. For others, the game is to convince you to pull ol' Uncle Buzzy's finger.

POSTSCRIPT: The title of my post was taken from Bob Somerby. But you know that, doncha?