Carlson goes on, at considerable length, about how Bush “bond[ed] with the goof-off in all of us” on that plane. Persistently, she portrays the press corps—and herself—as if they were feckless teen-agers. On the plane, “[Bush’s] inner child hovers near the surface,” she writes. And not only that; “Bush knows how to push the buttons of your high school insecurity.” But then, “a campaign is as close as an adult can get to duplicating college life.” Bush “wasn’t just any old breezy frat brother with mediocre grades…He was proud of it,” Carlson writes, approvingly. This seems to explain the press corps’ preference. “Gore elicited in us the childish urge to poke a stick in the eye of the smarty-pants,” she writes. “Bush elicited self-recognition.” Yes, those sentences actually appear in this book, and yes, they seem to be Carlson’s explanation of Gore’s lousy coverage. “It’s not hard to dislike Bush’s policies, which favor the strong over the weak,” she writes. “But it is hard to dislike Bush.”
Carlson spends little time on those Bush policies, “which favor the strong over the weak.” By contrast—as noted in Thursday’s HOWLER—she spends lots of time complaining that the Clintons would subject her to tedious policy chatter. It is perfectly clear that “the goof-off in Carlson” has little interest in such major tedium. In India, she falls asleep when Mrs. Clinton limns health care, and she can’t understand why Candidate Bill Clinton, in 1992, would talk to her about welfare reform. Talking to Bush is much more fun. “As he propped his rolled-up sleeves on the seat back in front of me, his body leaning into the conversation, he waggled his eyebrows up and down like Groucho Marx, mugging across the aisle,” she relates. You’ll probably think that we’re being unfair. Read this book and you’ll see that we aren’t.
No, Carlson spends little time on Bush’s policies, though it’s clear who she thinks they favor. For example, she briefly mentions Bush’s legislative approach after the 2002 elections. “After his big win in the midterm elections in 2002,” she writes, “Bush lurched further in the direction of protecting those who have against those who don’t.” But she spends much more time discussing the way Bush provided better food on his plane. Mmmm! “There were Dove bars and designer water on demand,” she recalls, “and a bathroom stocked like Martha Stewart’s guest suite. Dinner at seven featured lobster ravioli.” Apparently, Bush’s policies reflect the tastes of “those that have” even when dinner bells chime.
Mark Penn used the word "cocaine" twice, a week ago -- in response to Matthews' prodding. Tucker Carlson has used it on his show nine times since then; Matthews has used it 12 times on Hardball. And the two have used the name "Hussein" in connection with Obama 11 times this week.
MATTHEWS: (angry) Michael, Michael, there's a big difference between what happened to Al Gore and John Kerry. John Kerry got hit unfairly by the Swift Boats attacking his service to his country. They conflated his opposition to the war when he came back which we can all argue about, and his service to his country which is not really arguable. They trashed him.
But in terms of Al Gore, he's the one who said he created the internet, he's the one who put out the word that he's the subject or the role model for Love Story, that he pointed the country's attention to Love Canal. He stuck himself into that story.
And when Marty Peretz's daughter wrote that story in Vanity Fair a couple of months ago, I'm sorry, she didn't make the case. Gore got himself in those problem areas by vanity and showing off an trying to make himself cool. But John Kerry got unfair treatment. I think it's a big difference guys.
Crowley: that may be so, but it's not how many Democrats feel.
CM: Well, why would expect a partisan to think anything more than partisan? That's what partisans think? Of course they think they were rooked. Everyone who loses an election thinks they were rooked and they blame it on the umpire.
Crowley: That's the audience they're speaking to.
CM: Yeah, well how about getting into the land of truth and understanding?
Last week, I noted that in October, Washington Post reporter Anne Kornblut telegraphed the coming media assault on Clinton during an appearance on Tucker. Here's what she said at the time:
KORNBLUT: I have to say we in the media are spoiling for a fight. Usually we are biased in favor of a good tussle at about this point. ... I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere between now and January 3, now that we know that's when the Iowa caucuses are going to be, to see some kind of reverse, some kind of Obama surge or an Edwards surge. Something that is going to knock Hillary down a few pegs. Whether it's a media creation, or something that actually happens on the ground. I would be shocked if there were nothing like that.
This week, Kornblut participated in an online discussion with Post readers, during which she was asked about that quote. Here's how she responded:
KORNBLUT: I wish we were that powerful! Bottom line is, we're not. I can assure you -- what is happening on the ground in Iowa, where I've spent a lot of time the last few months, is happening at the level of average voters here, who pay extraordinary attention and make up their own minds (albeit with the help of paid advertising). All I meant then, and still believe, is that Democratic voters do not like easy coronations and never would have just decided Clinton is the nominee without casting a single ballot. Most races tighten at the end, as this one is. And pretty soon, we'll know how it turns out.
That is pretty clearly not what Kornblut said in October.
Gloria Borger: "We take people to the top of the mountain and then once we get them to the top of the mountain, it's our job to knock them down." [9/10/06]
Brian Williams: "[I]t does seem true over the years that the news media almost reserve the right to build up and tear down and change their minds and like an underdog." [9/21/00]
Howard Fineman: "We want a race, I suppose. If we have a bias of any kind, it's that we like to see a contest, and we like to see it down the end if we can. And I think that's partly the psychology at play here." [9/21/00]