The New Old Frank Rich

This morning Frank Rich has the temerity to write:

What I saw on television last Sunday was the incipient second coming of the can't-miss 2000 campaign of Al Gore. That Mr. Gore, some may recall, was not the firebrand who emerged from defeat, speaking up early against the Iraq war and leading the international charge on global warming. It was instead the cautious Gore whose public persona changed from debate to debate and whose answers were often long-winded and equivocal (even about the Kansas Board of Education's decision to ban the teaching of evolution). . .

Come on Frank. Are you going to be the old Frank Rich again?

Bob Somerby has detailed how bad the "old" (and not so old) Frank Rich was:

Special report—Frankly, that’s Rich!

READ EACH INSTALLMENT: We had to laugh when a certain pundit reviewed Al Gore’s deeply troubling new film. But then, Frank Rich has produced this sort of nonsense for years. Be sure to read every installment:

PART 1: Gore was right on every big judgment—but Rich is in love with a narrative. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/31/06.

PART 2: Gore had made a string of sound judgments. But omigod! Someone laughed at his jokes! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/1/06.

PART 3: Rich says Gore was right in 2002. In 2002, he said different. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/2/06.

PART 4: Before the Swift Boats, Rich invented Love Story. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/5/06.

PART 5: Right to the end, he Frankly proclaimed—Gore was a clown, just like Bush. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/7/06.

Uh oh:

Frankly, Rich was always ready to mock the two hopefuls—and to say that Bush and Gore were just alike. After Super Tuesday, for example, his haughty wisdom was ours to admire:

RICH (3/11/00): Eight months to go—but hey, who's counting?—and we're stranded with two establishment, tightly scripted, often robotic candidates who are about as different from one another as J. Crew and Banana Republic. Both are wealthy, Ivy-League-educated boomers who took safe paths through the Vietnam War, whose career advancement was greased by their dads, who advertise their intimacy with Jesus, who reek of smarmy soft money and who will do anything to win, whether it be Mr. Gore's lying about his own Congressional voting record in a debate or Mr. Bush's heartless exploitation of women's fears of breast cancer in a scurrilous attack ad.
Poor Frank! The voters had selected a matched set of bozos! Bush and Gore were just alike! Yes, it was hard to get much dumber than this—even before we saw Bush run a war. But as Rich gazed down at Bush and Gore, the great savant saw no real difference. And yes, they were both like Bill Clinton!

RICH: In the true Clinton manner, both are also chameleons, ready to don new guises in a flash—from Mr. Gore's down-home wardrobe to Mr. Bush's last-minute emergence as a champion of campaign finance reform, patients' rights and clean air. The substantive disputes between the men are, in truth, minimal in a prosperous post-cold-war era when both parties aspire to Rockefeller Republicanism (literally so in that each standard-bearer is the prince of a brand-name American dynasty).

Frankly, what was the difference? Rich asked. And there you see the dumb-ass judgment which eventually sent George Bush to the White House—and gave us our miserable War in Iraq. There you see the type of Rich insight we got all through Campaign 2K

Old Frank? He's baaaaack!

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    Why did Gore play slow (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by jondee on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 10:19:08 AM EST
    pitch with Shrub after attempting to tear Perot a new orifice? Did his Madison Avenue consultants tell him that the boy king/fratboy was too likeable for a public frontal assault; or, was it that in spite of perceptions to the contrary, that Bush/Gore had too many deeper "interests" in common to risk tearing the mask off of a system that they both have exploited?

    The Gore that went after Perot as if he were the scourge of humanity could've publicly reduced a gibbering idiot to an even bigger gibbering idiot if he had really wanted to.

    What? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by koshembos on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 12:17:00 PM EST
    Have no idea what you guys want. Gore was the most god awful candidate for president one can think of; he was even worse than Kerry who was terrible. We should never forget the Democrats immense ability to nominate bad candidates. It seems that we are now going for a trifecta with Gore, Kerry and Hillary.

    Are we talking about old Rich or an old disease afflicting the Democrats?

    My take on Gore (4.75 / 4) (#7)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 01:05:03 PM EST
    Is he would be an "A" President, but he was a "C" candidiate (I think Kerry was a "C" candidate as well).

    That doesn't change how he was treated by the media  versus how GWB was treated, nor does it change the fact he did get the majority of votes and arguably won Florida, by getting the most votes there, had the state wide recount not been stopped.


    Frank's analogy is strained (4.50 / 2) (#4)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 11:45:29 AM EST
    for at least 2 reasons:
    1. The media  (not just Rich) hated Gore  and went out of its way to depict him in the worst light as possible. They panned his campaign at every opportunity. So far I haven't seen that with HRC.  
      the Washington logic that a flawless campaign is one that doesn't make gaffes, never goes off-message and never makes news
      was applied to GWB, not to Gore.
    2. HRC is a better speaker than Al Gore of 2000 (and arguably of the new Al Gore). For better or ill, that does go along way in shaping percption.

    For the record, if you asked me who is the best prepared person to be President in America today (who hasn't already served), I'd say hands down Al Gore. That was my judgment in 2000 along with a majority of my fellow citizens.

    An intersting question is whether or not HRC would make the top 5 in that list. I'd say yes. Even if First Lady is a cermonial post, clearly HRC was the most activist First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt. I look at it this way, she is a brillant woman in her own right (first in her class at Yale) she's tutored under the most briallant American poltician of our age and you would be a fool not to know she was was in the loop on most of what happend in the Clinton administration. Whether you like her or not, whether you like the Clinton administration or not, you have to concede the obvious. Whether or not she has the judgment to hold the post, is another question.

    Mitt Romney is the candidate that actually fits the caricature that Frank Rich is trying to construct today and the media in general constructed around Al Gore iin 2000. That the media hasn't noticed this yet, is quite interesting.

    As an aside note, if you read Justice Jackson's posthumous memoir That Man: An Insider's Portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt, or Jonathan Alter's The Defining Moment, or David M. Kennedy's Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945, or Donald A. Ritchie's Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932  one of Roosevelt's more maddening abilities was to make everyone walk away from a meeting thinking Roosevelt agreed with their position, only to find out differntly later, when the decsion was finally made.  Both Alter and Ritchie (?) campare this trait of FDR to Bill Clinton.

    It may be maddening, devious and underhanded, but its a useful ability in politics, which as Mr. Dooly observed "ain't beanbag".  Jefferson in his day was also considered devious.  My point is the idea that a calculating politician is one to be avoided is absurd on its face. Show me a politican who isn't and I will show you a failed politican. I expect a politican to be devious. What I want to know, is what can and will that politican deliver?

    To sum up I wish the media would spend less time on the criticism that a politican is calculating (that's a given)  and more time on what's promised and the ability to deliver, who the candidate is beholden to, and their track records. Without relying on opposition research. Can that politican in the words of Molly Ivans, "take the special interest money, drink the their liquor, screw their women and still vote againt the special insterests?"

    Who you callin' devious? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Demi Moaned on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 09:45:23 PM EST
    Gore Vidal is perpetually quoting Nixon:
    He got Richard Nixon's growl and scowl just right. "General Eisenhower was a far more sly and devious man than people suspect," Vidal mimicked. "And I mean those words in the very best sense."

    I have to admit he's infected me with his own enthusiasm for this one.

    Hillary and Gore (1.00 / 1) (#8)
    by diogenes on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 01:53:16 PM EST
    Why are people acting like Hillary is the nominee already.  Maureen Dowd, who people can read for free in the Times now that Times Select is gone, describes her as a nag who is literally wearing down everyone over 16 years until she can be president.  She clearly plans to answer no questions. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/opinion/30dowd.htm
    People who disagree with her don't like her; people who agree with her are resigned to her (like Mike Dukakis).  
    Maybe the libs prefer Edwards because he's more liberal but if you're going to pick a centrist then why not pick Obama?  
    Studies show that people don't sue their doctors for malpractice if they like them.  Who needs eight years of a president who no one likes and who is elected because the Democratic machinery put her as the nominee and because a republican has no chance (though they said the same of Dukakis and Bush).
    The media haven't said much about the blatant pandering ploy of the $5,000 bond.

    That Dowd article (none / 0) (#9)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 02:45:33 PM EST
    could serve as a second example of BTD's point. Dowd was another of the catty sorority sister of the 2000 campaign who made inane commentary attacks on Gore's style rather address his substance.

    Dowd may or may not like HRC personally. Who cares whether or not she does. Dowd's personal likes and dislikes are not the issue. What Dowd should be writing about is the substance of HRC's platform.

    That would, of course, require Dowd to do some homework and have some understanding of the issues- healthcare, Iraq, you name it. Apparantly she would rather phone it in. HRC may be wrong, woefully wrong, on all of the issues, but having W's advisors complaining  they think HRC is "in your face" ... I mean read this and tell me with a straight face that it addresses any real issue:

    Some of W.'s advisers were more cutting about Hillary in the Sammon book.

    "This process is not going to serve her well," one said, adding: "She's going to be essentially saying, `Elect me president after I've spent the last 16 years in your face. And you didn't like me much when I was there last. Give me eight more years so I can be a presence in your life for 24 years.'"

    Others do not underestimate her relentlessness. As Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, once told me: "She's never going to get out of our faces. ... She's like some hellish housewife who has seen something that she really, really wants and won't stop nagging you about it until finally you say, fine, take it, be the damn president, just leave me alone."

    That doesn't have a g@d d@mn thing to do with the issues.

    Of course W's advisors didn't like her in the first place. Clearly polls suggest that isn't true of all Americans, but for Dowd to pretend that all or even a majority of Americans despise HRC is completely dishonest.

    A pox on both Dowd and Rich.


    He was wrong about Gore, but (none / 0) (#2)
    by Geekesque on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 10:19:54 AM EST
    he has Hillary pegged.  Her laugh is a clear indication that she has no intention of answering the question.

    Why is it so hard to admit that Gore's campaign (none / 0) (#3)
    by seabos84 on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 11:14:37 AM EST
    sucked, that it was incompetent?

    Did the fascists lie, cheat and steal to win ...?

    yawn ... oh wow!

    they did !

    Like OMG!

    Is it right that various MSM characters repeated the fascist talking points that Gore wasn't much different than Bush - another spoiled rich brat?


    oh, by the way, when doesn't the MSM repeat the fascist talking points? um, 1980? 1984? 1988?  ... jeesh.

    Can we have candidates who do MORE than whine cuz the liars f$$$ing LIED?

    Our candidates take in scores, nay, hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions, AND they should hire people who can defeat the lies ... why is that so complicated to understand and why is our side so incompetent implementing it?

    you win fights in 2 ways - you beat them at the rules which exist, or you re-write the rules to win your way.  

    We lose, we snivel, we whimper, we shake our highly educated heads and wag our tome creating fingers


    I knew bush jr. was a spoiled, elitist liar preppy puke when I first saw him debating Anne Richards on t.v. in '94.

    I'm glad Al's found something to do, and to hell with ALL excuses blaming anything but Gore for Gore losing to that puke.


    Except Gore didn't lose the election (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 11:49:22 AM EST
    he lost the post election fight. Daley was right when he said it didn't matter that to rule for Bush, the felonious five would have to take positions contrary to thier previous ones. All you had to do is count the votes and Gore didn't have it on the court.

    On the Supreme Court there were five, who found a way to get their votes counted twice when many of my fellow Floridians, couldn't get their votes counted once.


    oh my! (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 04:00:27 PM EST
    the new/old frank rich is the same as the new/old dowd, connolly, et al. lazy liars who couldn't be bothered to actually listen to someone seriously discuss policy, because it "bored them". they'd rather be with their rich, republican buds, in their nantucket enclaves. this is what passes for MSM punditry: brain damaged twits.

    what did you want gore to do, walk a high-wire without a net? hey, kerry went wind surfing, wasn't that "exciting" enough for you? god forbid you might want someone who actually has a clue for president. no, you'd rather have some dufus, who can't even string together a complete sentence, in his nominally native tongue.

    who says HRC is "despised by most of the country"? the polls don't reflect it. everywhere she goes, people are genuinely thrilled to meet her. unlike bush's events, HRC's audiences aren't culled, to eliminate anyone who might disagree with her.

    HRC has been in the political trenches for most of her professional life. she's smart, experienced, good sense of humor, and pretty much makes all the other candidates, of all parties, look like naifs by comparison.

    i hope she wins the democratic party nomination, i'll be first in line to vote for her. when she does, i hope she runs a no-holds-barred campaign, and rips rich & dowd a new one, in public.

    now that would be entertaining!

    Not Bush, but Obama compared to Hillaryt (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 06:54:20 PM EST
    The proper comparison is not the reaction to Bush but the reaction to Obama at their respective events.
    Elect Dodd if you want, but I'd rather see Obama  lead a Democratic Congress than a Hillary presidency  create discord and promote gridlock with repubs and blue dogs.  People forget that Bill's first two years with a Democratic majority were a failure and his presidency only worked when he became a counterpuncher against the GOP Congress.  Whoever wins in 2008 will have a Democratic Congress.
    What we really need is Hillary versus Obama one on one in the general election.  Any doubts on who'd win that one?    

    As soon as I saw this (none / 0) (#12)
    by andgarden on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 07:05:48 PM EST
    I thought of Bob Somerby.

    again, obama who? (none / 0) (#13)
    by cpinva on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 07:14:26 PM EST
    at the moment, sen. obama is pretty much an empty hat; nice guy, well spoken, well educated, smart and pretty wife, cute kids. i understand he looks good in a bathing suit too. no, i don't want to see HRC in a bathing suit!

    that said, with sen. obama, "there's no there, there." give him time though, and he will get the experience for a future run. it might not even hurt to have HRC mentor him. in the long term, they'd make a formidable pair.

    What we really need is Hillary versus Obama one on one in the general election.  Any doubts on who'd win that one?

    none whatsoever, and it wouldn't even be close, HRC would win going away. with an obama v clinton, you have form v substance. take a guess on who has the substance?

    that's what scares the republicans, because pretty much all their candidates suffer in the "form v substance" comparison. it won't take long for the general voting population to figure that out, once the conventions are over.