Friday, November 09, 2007

Political Pornography, Part II - Barely Legal Edition

When I read this post over at Hullabaloo the other day, I cringed all the way through. The very idea that a candidate's children should be subject any kind of scrutiny at all is deeply offensive. Even if they are adults (as Jenna and Barbara Bush are, as Chelsea Clinton is) they are not public figures by any stretch of the imagination. Of course, the trashing of Chelsea is old news; Limbaugh used her as the butt of a horrific joke on his short-lived television show back in the 1990's, at a time in her life when all young people, young men and women, are over-sensitive, and their self-image is never very strong.

I am an equal-opportunity disdainer of this kind of tabloid-style fake journalism. I find it disgusting that some people somewhere find it at all newsworthy what Jenna and Barbara Bush did during their college years, or during their early post-college excursions overseas. The fact that some criticism leveled at them came from left-wing blogs did not keep me from thinking that it was grossly wrong and has no place in our public discourse.

The two articles in question, in The New Republic, and Newsweek, are just about the most awful pieces of non-journalism I have seen in a very long time. Bob Somerby admits today that he sent the info to digby. On this particular bit of garbage, he writes:
Do you have any idea how dumb you have to be, as a male, to write panty-sniffing garbage like this in the year 2007? How mindless a magazine has to be to put this rot-gut in print? According to Newsweek, Romano “graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University in 2004 with an A.B. in English and a certificate in American Studies.” Simply put, that’s a tragic admission.

Endless: Alas! Though culture is always part of the mix, the sense of male privilege driving these pieces (“droit de sophomore”) seems to be bred quite deep in the bone. Omigod! Absent appropriate guidance, each generation of young, callow males turns out just as dumb as the last one. Almost surely, many progressives thought this type of churlishness had been snuffed out by the early 70s, at least among “liberal” men. But these attitudes return with each generation. We gentlemen are just more resentful—therefore, dumber—each and every time.

Consequences: Do you trust a magazine which would print such a piece to cover the White House campaign of the first viable female candidate? In the past few weeks, Clinton has been trashed by Chris Matthews in astonishing ways; his lunatic conduct continued last night. (Tucker Carlson is little better—although he’s less influential.) Few “liberals” have found the heart to complain—or even to notice what’s happening. But then, our liberal leaders have long ignored Matthews’ woman-trashing, going all the way back to the late 1990s (more on these topics next week). This is A-OK with our tribe. Absent the unusual person like Digby, our tribe doesn’t even notice.


A final note about consequences. When you see a collection of liberal scribes who think it’s OK to trash young women this way (down to age 6), do you think they will ever defend you against the wider values of their plutocrat bosses? . . . Do you think a bunch of boys who sniff their way through underwear drawers will ever stand up to the Russerts and the Matthewses? To the powerful interests which hired them—which stand behind them? Their empty hearts and outstretched hands are perfectly clear as they publish this swill. They’re letting you know who and what they are. . .

If this is the kind of political smut that will be peddled to us in the next twelve months, all I can do is quote Bette Davis: "Hang on boys. It's going to be a bumpy night."

Virtual Tin Cup

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