Posted tagged ‘Sarah Palin’

Quote of the Day: Batsh*t Crazyspeak/GOP Deep Thinker edition

March 14, 2010

On the subject of noted political philosopher and moral exemplar Newt Gingrich, here’s Grover Norquist as quoted in The New York Times. (h/t  Atrios)

“He’s out there working with and building a broader movement,” Mr. Norquist said. “As we know from Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, you don’t have to be president to be part of the conversation in American politics.”

No you don’t.  But it appears you do have to be paranoid, divorced from reality, insurrectionist and unqualified.  (Warning — that last link is in the spirit of rickrolling.)  Which is, I guess, suitable company for you to aspire to, Mr. Disgraced Former Speaker.

Seriously:  this is a measure of how debased the GOP has become, and how nonsensical the whole notion of a “conversation” in American politics now is.  What can you say of a party that is willing to elevate as thought leaders people for whom ideas reduce to this kind of thing on the significance of Cosmo centerfold Scott Brown’s election prop:

“What if I have to haul a moose?” Mr. Gingrich said, to laughter. “You cannot put a gun rack in the back of a Smart car.”

Seriously: This kind of rhetoric is fun, I guess.  But it is designed to make its listeners dumber, less capable of working out what might or might not make sense in a world in which reality is not whatever it is Fox News claims it to be on any given night.  Remember: Gingrich is the man that Republicans turn to for policy ideas.  He sees himself as a visionary and an agent of change, and his friends do him the kindness of taking him at his word.  Hence the impact of his deep conclusion on energy policy: “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less,” which became the McCain/Palin gamechanger, “Drill, baby, drill!”

And mah point (and I do have one): It is that the impossibility of meaningful bipartisan engagement on actually governing the country  — and making some stab at reversing the catastrophic damage to US wealth and power going forward done by 8 years of Bush misrule — does not rest on the heads of the Congressional GOP alone, not by a long stretch. This isn’t a problem of elected officials pursuing a strategy designed simply for short term electoral advantage.

Rather, what you have is the more-or-less complete capture of the entire party apparatus — the think tanks, the media contacts, the grass roots connections (Gingrich hearts him some teabaggers, by the way) — the whole shooting match (and, yes, I’m looking at you, Dick “Deadeye” Cheney) by people who simply have no interest at all in actually forming and implementing political solutions to the problems that attend either daily life or the long term prospects of the country.

They don’t for two reasons: the first is that true believers think that there are no problems, only obstacles placed in the way of the best of all possible worlds by the interference of government; and the second is that many, even most of the elite players aren’t true believers in much of anything, except the main chance.

That’s where Gingrich lies, on the evidence.  Here are the last relevant quotes from the Times piece:

Like Sarah Palin and others who have discovered that they can command a political platform and a good income without running for office, Mr. Gingrich remains relevant by having built himself into a one-man industry churning out speeches, books, films and policy positions…

…He sits atop an empire of interlocking policy groups, political networks and media enterprises with a total of about 60 employees. His chief vehicle is a policy center calledAmerican Solutions for a Winning Future. It has 1.5 million online members and raised more money ($8.1 million) in the last quarter of last year than Ms. Palin and Mitt Romney, another potential 2012 candidate, combined. His group is a so-called 527, which can accept unlimited donations, while the others have political action committees, which are restricted.

That is:  if you want to understand what motivates the seemingly farcical willingness of people smart enough to know they’re uttering fact-denied nonsense, follow the money.  As Dennis G. is documenting over at Balloon Juice, you have to recognize that much of the modern GOP is simply a con game, populated by familiar American figures, the plausible, smiling, confident/confidence men, spouting rivers of words designed to so thrill their listeners that the audience’s pockets don’t even need to be picked; the marks rise up in ecstasy to empty their wallets on their own.

Nice work if you can get it.

Image: E. W. Kemble:  “Travelling by Rail,” illustration from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn of the King and the Duke being tarred and feathered and ridden on a rail after attempting to perform “The Royal Nonesuch.” 1884

A Sad Note Sent to Mr. David Broder

February 10, 2010

Here is a slightly edited text to an email sent to David Broder, on the occasion of reading his thoughts (sic) on Sarah Palin’s ascent to political heavyweight status.  (h/t Josh Marshall)

Dear Mr. Broder,

I know it will pain you to hear this from a 51 year old reader, but I grew up on your political writing.  You were the best, and I learned a great deal that I’ve put to use in a writing career of my own.

But you share this with another former champion who fears the effects of too many more blows to the brain, Kurt Warner.

It’s time to retire.

Speaking, no doubt, as one of the elitists — or at least, certainly, as a member of an elite — excoriated by Ms. Palin, your assessment of the half-term governor missed on three levels.

1)  You got the affect wrong.  You have a sense of what is off in Palin’s presentation in your remark that she wore poorly in the suburbs in the last election.  Hers is not a populism of the mass against the few, but rather of one pissed-off minority against the many…and that’s what wore so ill last time out.

Her line “How’s that hopey-changey stuff working out for you” is not how Huey Long rallied his supporters, nor John Edwards, nor the best high-low campaigner of a generation, Bill Clinton.  Rather, it’s the language of the mean-girl clique in high school, striking out at those less fashionable than they, whom they yet suspected might win the marathon of life, however many high school sprints they lost.  Those who were stung by such jibes then haven’t forgotten, and there were a lot of them/us.

That’s why Tina Fey was so destructive to Palin — she has that vibe pitch perfect, and she knows why it grates….that you don’t suggests your ear is going…and that’s death for a columnist of the zeitgeist.

2)  You underestimate the meaning of seemingly minor slips.  That handprompter stuff matters for the same reason that Gerald Ford’s stumbles did, or Quayle’s “pototoe” gaffe did.

No one thought those were essential to the quality of either man, but they reinforced already present impressions:  those guys were dumb.  The dominant perception of Palin at the end of the campaign was of someone with enormous performance skills who was out of her depth as an actual prospective leader.  She’s already compounded that by her inglorious exit from a governorship that was already, within Alaska, seemingly taxing her powers.

Now, seemingly, she needs to be reminded that she is supposed to be able to talk about energy.  It may seem trivial to you…but when those Americans not overwhelmed by her ability to read a prepared speech think about Palin not as a kind of political entertainment — a role at which she undeniably excels — but as an actual leader tasked with, say, dealing with the Iran nuclear buildup or ensuring that FEMA doesn’t blow the next Katrina, then stuff like this matters. And it does, as I know you once knew, for reasons the “dean of the Washington press corps” shouldn’t need reminding:  because it reinforces what we already, as an electorate, think we know about Palin, which is that however rousing she may be on the stump, she’s a lightweight.

3)  You underestimate the American voter.  You quote her (and I’m editing the quote a bit) as saying:

“And then I do want to be a voice for some common-sense solutions. I’m never going to pretend like I know more than the next person. I’m not going to pretend to be an elitist. In fact, I’m going to fight the elitist, …I want to speak up for the American people and say: No, we really do have some good common-sense solutions.”

Well, fine.  But even if the Republican Party is putting this notion to the test, still, in bad times even more than in good, there comes a point in any campaign when you have to say more than you will provide common sense solutions.

You actually have to say something about what those solutions are.

In fact, Mr Broder, if you approached the job the way you once did, you’d wonder:  what would a President Palin do about the fiscal ramifications of the status quo in health care and pensions?  What does Palin plan for Iran and Afghanistan and relations with China., or salaries for Wall St. execs…and so on.

And you’d find out either that she wouldn’t tell you…which, over time, becomes an enormous vulnerability that a candidates as sophisticated as, say, Mitt Romney would exploit with glee..or that she would, which is, as you know, death to a persuasive populism, (and would give a debater as thoroughly expert as President Obama an enormous opportunity).

So — what I’m trying to say is that this column is both wrong and sad.  Wrong, because you have no idea what Palin sounds like outside the circles in which you already know all the changes to be rung.  You take a speech to 1,200 paying customers as an indication of her ability to transcend enormous real and atmospheric limitations…and you don’t ask if there is any other source of insight beyond your own gut feeling, and those of the same people you’ve hung with for way too long.

And that’s what makes it sad. You used to be a contender.  Hell, you used to be the champ — and that for years.  But this is tomato-can stuff.  There is no actual reporting (which is what made your old punditry so strong, that base of actual non-obvious information and experience sought from the ground up), there is no actual analysis, there is no thought given to whether Palin’s attempt at populism is modeled on the same lines as successful populist insurgencies of the past.  There’s nothing, in fact, except some guy’s response to an energetically delivered nasty speech.

You used to be good.  You could be still — but only if you put in the same kind of effort and distilled the insight captured in the arc that connects the two artworks I’ve chosen to illustrate this post.  But you’re not even trying anymore.  It’s time to go fishing.

Sincerly, and regretfully, from someone who’s read and admired you for the better part of four decades.

Tom Levenson.

Images:  Tintoretto, 1518-1594, “Self Portrait as a Young Man,

Tintoretto, “Self Portrait,” 1588.

Because it is still possible to laugh amidst the wreck health care and spectacle of GOP children, who, unchecked by grown-ups, vandalize the home we call America…

December 17, 2009

…that laughter this morning induced by this and this.

I could not resist typing the words “Sarah Palin” into both the Tiger Woods Mistress Generator and the Jersey Shore nickname generator.

The results?

From Tiger’s computer-modelled psyche:

Congrats, your Tiger Woods mistress is Candy Chin from Flagstaff, AZ. She is a 27 year old wedding photographer. You know she’s telling the truth because she has pictures to prove it.

And from Jersey:

Your Jersey Shore nickname is: S-Cat

(The code generates different results with each iteration, so, of course, YMMV.)…

Dumb, I know.  Pointless.  Trading in vile stereotypes and all that.

But sweet FSM I’ve been needing something to break the gloom, and this has, for the nonce.

Image:  Mary Cassatt, “Children on the Beach,” 1884.

Not My Usual Patch…but this line brought back such fond memories

October 21, 2009

2nd Update: I realize I wasn’t being entirely clear. What’s striking about Siskind’s nonsense is not simply its content, wild enough, but that she wrote this not in the heat of the election and/or its immediate aftermath, but this month, after the spectacular melt down of whatever remained of temporary-Governor Palin’s plausibility. That’s what made Siskind’s doubling down so engrossing, in the same way one can’t look aside from a seven car pileup in the next lane.

_________________

Led to the astonishing (I’m in my first-cup of coffee glow, still, hence the politesse) Amy Siskind by Steve M., I chanced to bask in the glory of this line:

“I am a lifelong Democrat who for the first time in my life voted Republican in the 2008 elections. I did this for one reason: McCain selected a woman as his running mate.”

Has Ms. Siskind forgotten that Samantha Bee had nailed this argument long before?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Not My Usual Patch…but this line br…“, posted with vodpod

Has Ms. Siskind really concluded that there is no bar so low that she would choose chromosomal complement over any judgment of fitness for the job?

Does she really, in this October of our discontents actually think that the Sara Palin of fact, rather than form and fantasy, would as Vice President allow her to sleep soundly at night?

If so, I’m impressed.

Horrified, but impressed.

That is all.

Update: It seems to me that Siskind is an example of what DougJ correctly excoriates as the jackass quality of high-Village contrarianism.  Siskind is a dull writer (not terrible, just not capable — or interested, perhaps — in delivering any pleasure in her use of language); she’s a deeply pedestrian analyst (Palin trumps Obama because he merely celebrated the NCAA women’s basketball champs, whilst she actually played XX chromosome prep ‘ball); and she’s prone to twisting her facts to and past their tensile limit to defend her “daring” challenges to alleged conventional wisdom (Palin is “open-minded, a centrist and a party noncomformist,”  except, of course, she’s not*.)

But she’s a playah, Daily Beast and all that, because she’s hit on that tired old formula that turns on the embrace of (false) intellectual courage.  Kaus, as DougJ points out, is the past master this — but so is the laughable Jonah Goldberg, for those that care about the company they keep.

These are the folks that will say whatever it takes (as long as it is satisfying to that section of the elite that signs big paychecks) to paint the other side as dupes and/or liars.

Everyone thinks that climate change is a problem?  They’re wrong — and only, say, Leavitt and Dubner have the intellectual chops to see through the delusions.

Everyone believes that Obama will serve the cause of gender equality more than a McCain led, Palin involved adminstration?  They’re wrong — and only Siskind has the courage to point out that Palin is a woman…or something.

It’s a great tactic if all you want is a gig.  But beyond that, you’ve got to remember a couple of things.  You get a choice:  you can either resign yourself to the soul-eroding cynicism of knowing that you are uttering nonsense for the money/fame/cocktail party acclaim (are you listening, Peggy Noonan?); or you have to train yourself into belief, which means you have to be willing to will a noticeable drop in your intelligence, your ability to take the measure of the actual world around you in order to preserve that belief inviolate.

*This last link just to illustrate that whatever else she may be, Palin is not a “party nonconformist,” but rather a face of a recognizable wing of the GOP.

Against Ta-Nehisi Coates…

October 24, 2008

…or rather, against his defense of white racism. The post is a meditation on why women are, in his perception, so harsh on Sarah Palin; his epiphany came when he tried to imagine a black equivalent to the Palin candidacy — and he couldn’t:

A brother in that position not only would not be considered for 2012, he would be impeached when he returned to governorship for embarrassing the state, and then have his ghetto card revoked for embarrassing the local Negrocracy.

For this, the writer is grateful, which makes perfect sense.  It’s better by far to have a strong sense of standards than some unthinking identity commitment.

That’s the implication of the Yiddish phrase, “A shande fur de goyim” — a shame before the non-Jews. Nothing could be worse than to be such a schande; it’s why Jews, or at least  those I hang with, wince with every Jack Abramoff or, to channel a different era, why Abbie Hoffman’s use of the phrase to describe Judge Julius Hoffman during the Chicago Eight trial was such a potent barb.

More deeply, we have a lot of history that tells us it is better on every level, from the moral to the practical, to be not merely no worse than the majority societies in which most Jews live, but to be closer to blameness, to bring no scandal to our names and homes. So, thus far, I’m with Ta-Nehisi.  But then he goes on to write who he could or would wish to credit for the existence of such internal correctives:

White racists have taken a lot of heat on this blog. But the truth of the matter is that they may be the single biggest promoters of black excellence in this country’s history. There is a reason Tony Dungy was the first winning coach in Tampa Bay’s history–he had to be.

Again, from where I sit looking over the ethnic/race/identity sorrows of history, I know that there is a partial truth here.   I’m enough older than Ta-Nehisi to have Jackie Robinson’s story as the archetype of the pressure on the standard-bearer.  There is no doubt that Dungy did a very hard thing — much harder than most watching him grasped, I think — but Robinson was literally in a league of his own on the need to combine superlative performance with extraordinary internal strength and self-control.  (For the record, I’m not so old that I ever saw Robinson play; but his was the story we read in grade school.)

The same dynamic played out time and again in public and in private Jewish lives — including the importance of public heroes finding someway to express both a particular and a universal greatness; think of Sandy Koufax refusing to pitch on Yom Kippur and you have a hint of the balancing act involved.

But where I think Ta-Nehisi goes wrong is in giving racists themselves credit for the excellence of a Dungy or anyone else.  I don’t doubt that there is a forged-in-fire power to the notion of proving oneself despite the efforts of those with evil intention to thwart you. But Ta-Nehisi goes astray (IMHO) when he writes this:

… A little bit of bigotry would have prevented all of this [the Palin debacle]. So to all the Ferraros out there I have one request–more racism please. It improves our stock. It makes black people, a better people.

No, it does not.  I don’t think you could or should credit racism for what Dungy can claim as his own achievement, nor that of Einstein, perhaps — or more on point for a science-and-public life blog — the life Percy Julian lived.

Percy Julian is not as well known as he should be.  Get introduced to him out here, and or watch the excellent two hour biography that NOVA broadcast a year or so ago.  Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who plays Julian, is worth the price of admission on his own, and to brag a little, my wife, Katha Seidman won her second Emmy for her design of the show.

The short form:  Julian was one of the pioneering synthetic chemists of the between the wars period and just after WW II.  If you have ever used a cortisone cream, other corticosteroid medicines, or birth control pills, you owe Dr. Julian a debt of thanks.

He had a great career; he was honored (belatedly); he got rich — all good.  He also was bedeviled by racist constraints from childhood through to the time he was getting his own company off the ground, and in particular institutional and individual bigotry kept him from the first career he intended to pursue, that of an academic chemist, pursuing whatever research that seemed to him most promising.

That he made an enormous contribution to his field as an industrial chemist is a tribute to just the kind of determined excellence Ta-Nehisi celebrates in Dungy.  But the price paid, the cost in opportunities not just lost, but actively barred has to be accounted for too.

I’ll stipulate that Ta-Nehisi knows this very well indeed. For my part, I’m lucky that my ethnic identifier, in this country at least, is farther removed than his from our own versions of the ghetto and Jim Crow.  It was my great-grandfather that made it out of the old country, and his stories have not survived the passing of the last of his own children.

I am not completely tone-deaf to irony and sarcasm either, nor the echoes of that supremely useful phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations” as applied both to Governor Palin and such sometime-symbolic figures as the athlete formerly known as Pacman and Mike Tyson.

But I still think that Ta-Nehisi is undercounting the persistant tax that bigotry imposes on its targets.  You could call it the Julian tax, the daily toll exacted in the pursuit of excellence constrained within limits not of your own choosing.

I’ll stop here — but for a truly beautiful meditation that touches on this theme (and much else) look to Bill T. Jones’ memoir The Last Night on Earth.

Image:  Ben Shahn “Sign on a Restaurant, Lancaster Ohio” 1938.  Library of Congress [http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/085_disc.html].  Source:  Wikimedia Commons.

I Have Seen The Light: A Revelation on Reading David Brooks This Morning

October 3, 2008

David Brooks is Sarah Palin.

You can see what I mean in five minutes with today’s Times op-ed page.  On the one hand, this, from Brooks.  On the other, this from Paul Krugman.

I have to admit to a certain weariness of spirit everytime I pick up Brooks’ “work” (sic — ed.) these days.  How often must one say the same thing in a slightly different context:  that Brooks is a glib hack, too lazy to do even the minimal work required to flesh out his preconceptions with even the most fragile of veneers of fact or experience?  I complained here that he wasn’t even trying anymore, and nothing in today’s effort suggests otherwise.

Of course, given the reach of the pulpit he possesses from which to bully the rest of us, he needs to be stomped as often as he rises on his hind legs. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance (as Sarah Palin reminded us last night explaining why she wants to kill Medicare).*

So here goes.  Today, Brooks argues (a) that because Palin spoke in complete sentences, she met the “survival” test; (b) she was just folks, and though such casual style won’t wash in the elevated circles in which Brooks travels, it could do very well out there in flyover country.

By the way:  I’m not kidding about the disdain for his alledged fellow GOP supporters Brooks displays these days.  Here’s the same notion in his words:

To many ears, her accent, her colloquialisms and her constant invocations of the accoutrements of everyday life will seem cloying. But in the casual parts of the country, I suspect, it went down fine.

Memo to all those casual parts of the country.  Now y’all know what Serious ™ conservatives think of you.

Last, Brooks alleged that Palin had reached debate parity with Biden; that she was a radical alternative to Washington insiders; and that, while no game-changer, her performance was an unexpected, “vibrant and tactically clever” tour de force.

There are of course, problems with this interpretation.  Two big ones.  The first is that the column as a whole is a list of nicely constructed platitudes presented with no clear connection to what actually happened.

In fact, much — really most — of the piece could have and may well have been written before 9 p.m. last night.  Except for the fact of Palin’s black suit, and the fact that she can pronounce the name of the president of Iran, more than half is Brooks waffling on about terrified GOPers hiding behind sofas and the grand significance of casual Fridays to the great scheme of things.

Such airy generalization is the trick that bored college students use to flesh out the last three hundred words of an eight hundred word assignment.  As I’ve said before, if I were surnamed Ochs or Sulzberger, I’d want a refund.

But this same laziness – or worse — caused Brooks to miss the key story he thought he was covering.  The question the post-debate polls asked was simple and obvious:  Did Palin do what was necessary in the debate?  Did the debate persuade the uncertain that Palin was ready for the job she seeks?

Brooks can’t answer that question.  He couldn’t even ask it, because unlike musings on politics as performance, this one could be answered in ways he still does not wish to accept.

And it was:  within the statistical limits of the polls, the answer was no; her numbers on this question were effectively unchanged, at least as a first reaction to the debate.

That fact leads to the conclusion that Brooks is struggling to avoid: The fact that Americans by a notable majority in the context of such a divided electorate see her as unqualified reflects not on her, but on the man with whom those polled disagree:  John McCain.

This blog exists as a defense of empiricism and the use of the analytical methods of science to interpret the raw data of experience.  There are, of course, lots of pundit/hacks who daily commit sins as bad as those of Brooks — willed ignorance, cherrypicking of data, ignoring contrary facts, howling intellectual solecisms and all the duplicitous arsenal of the ideologically blinded right.

But I have to confess that Brooks gets my goat more than most precisely because of his pretention to scientific respectability — his musings on neuroscience, his assertion of soft-science knowledge and authority.  It’s BS — a facade and a fraud.  Today’s offering is the latest of a “what I thought while seated in the smallest room of the  house” tossed off little number.

We deserve better from the New York Times.  Hell — the Right deserves better from somone supposedly representing the view from that side of the debate in the most visible of positions.

And of that David as Sarah reference:  Compare Brooks’ offering today with Krugman’s.  Now, whatever you think of Krugman, he is, like Biden, expert in his area, aware of the ground of experience, deeply knowlegable.  His column today, not about the debate, focuses instead on the financial crisis and its broader economic implications.

It’s not a particularly data-dense column — but it makes reference to facts, it suggests reasonable inferences from those facts; it provides a framework for pursuing some of the top level claims more deeply (and Krugman does, in fact, get you the latest awful numbers for you in his first blog post of today) and so on.

Again — while I’m a Krugman fan, others surely disagree.  But when they do they are forced to engage him on the ground of the data and his argument.

Brooks exerts no such compulsion.  He has his talking points; he is glib and plausible.  Pushed even a little, it becomes painfully obvious that there is no there there.

Isn’t in time the Times had mercy on this out-of-his-depth man and sent him back to the Weekly Standard wading pool in which he can’t hurt himself so easily?

Image:  Artist unknown, “The Swaddled Twins” dated 7 April 1617. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

David Brooks, again

September 5, 2008

There is one truly mortal sin in all of science:  to create data that do not exist, to make stuff up.  It’s called fraud, and, when uncovered, it marks the end of at least one career — and often, as collateral damage, of those connected, often only very loosely with the original deceit.

In journalism simple fraud also gets you a ticket out the door; Jason Blair is now planning to work in human resources, I hear.

But more subtle frauds do not merely survive; when committed by the right person, in defense of a crucial narrative, they actually persist, and worse, gain prominence and traction to influence the most important political decision the victims of such frauds can make.

Exhibit A:  David Brooks’ latest.

Andrew Sullivan calls today’s column “poignant.”  I guess that’s right, if you, like Andrew have had a long history of friendship with Mr. Brooks.  I am unburdened by such ties of affection, so I’m free to be a little more harsh.

In this column, Brooks is trying to argue that, in fact, a toaster is rabbit — or that the McCain Palin pair are who they say they are.

Now, where I sit, that’s the job of the candidates, to present a claim for themselves that others — first responders being the press — can then test against hard ground of reality.

This role Brooks has abandoned, with a retreat so thorough it’s hard to remember when he actually did give a damn.

E.g, he writes of Palin

Millions declared themselves qualified to judge her a bad mother.

Yeah?  Who?  Remember it was the McCain campaign that released the news of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, and Barack Obama who told his supporters and all of America that kids were off limits.

The notion that somehow the evil liberals leapt to judge Palin is not supported by any fact that Brooks has (or I reckon, can) cite; it is simply part of the fundamentalist projection machine, as documented by someone whose reporting has consistently outshined Brooks’ the comedian — yup, the funny guy — Jon Stewart.

The tactic here:  If the facts on the ground don’t suit, Brooks appears to have concluded, make up a just vaporous enough claim to avoid close scrutiny.

And then there’s this.

And what was most impressive was her speech’s freshness. Her words flowed directly from her life experience,

What — well maybe, except that Governor Palin’s teleprompter skills were put to work on a speech retooled from one originally written for the expected male nominee.  Again, you can’t quite nail Brooks with the same pure charges of fraud for the word “freshness” — except to note that it is a false claim on the face of it, an opinion that could not be held by a rational observer in possession of facts commonly known.

But worst of all is the claim Brooks made near the top of his column:

Her career in Alaska has been nibbled on the edges, but the key fact is this: When the testing time came, she quit her government job, put her career on the line and took on the corrupt establishment of her own party.

Not a single clause of that is true.  She took on an unpopular governor in alliance with a now indicted Senator at the beating heart of her party’s corrupt establishment.  And as for her career:  her troubles are increasingly well documented — from regressive sales tax increases and reckless accumulation of debt in her tenure as Mayor to the abuse of power investigation she now faces.  To Brooks that may be nibbling around the edges — but for someone whose claim to power rests on experience and ethics, those are issues that strike to the core of who she is.

I could go on — it’s my habit, after all, and Brooks has a seemingly inexhaustible font of hackery — but the real key fact is this:  Brooks’ column today repeats, in near lockstep, the McCain/Palin campaign’s narrative of the last few days.

As he sees it, or rather repurposes someone else’s carefully tested themes, it is not the new man from the party out of power, but an old reformer joined by a young reformer who offer the true possibility of change in a Washington that has, in Brooks’ words aroused McCain’s  “burning indignation at the way Washington has operated over the last 12 years.”

Nowhere does Brooks address the question raised by the opposition:  what change can be expected from a man whose voting record suggests near perfect lockstep with his GOP colleagues over the last eight years?  Maybe he has an argument to counter that Democratic Party attack, but rather than deploy it, he’d rather repeat the McCain campaign’s official fantasy of a freewheelin, freethinking man — and that’s not reporting, nor even punditry.  Brooks’s column could have been “written” by a stenographer.

Is this fraud?  No, in the end, I guess not.  Making facts up, creating characters, putting words never spoken or thoughts never conceived into print is what counts as journalistic fraud, just as actually faking data, reporting on experiments never done, or done with different outcomes, is what truly constitutes scientific fraud. You dont’ get fired for misinterpreting real data. (usually)

But it’s a species of deceit nonetheless.  It repeats other people’s claims uncritically.  It verges on unequivocal dishonesty with the nasty jabs at unnamed critics; it is merely credulous, the work of a hired hand pushing a message that his working brain, were it ever to fire again, couldn’t swallow whole.

Image:  Kobi, “Two Rabbits,” 19th century.  Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco.  Source:  Wikimedia Commons.